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An off-day Saturday: Orpik, Bylsma chime in on blown leads.

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As I laid me down to sleep early Saturday morning a voice from the bedroom stereo reminded me that there were only 35 days until Christmas. So, to get into the holiday spirit, with giving being better than receiving, I share these postgame thoughts from some Penguins on their penchant for giving away third-period leads — something they’ve done in 19 percent of their games (4 of 21) to date:

= Coach DAN BYLSMA, in his uniquely positive way, was not complimentary of his club’s defensive-zone play in the home win over Carolina:

“We didn’t do a good job in their offensive zone, and that (tying goal) was indicative. We prolonged their time in the offensive zone by some of our plays on the wall. We lost a battle on the wall, and they got five or six guys around the puck. We’re going to address and look at those situations. That’s not the kind of game, defensively, we want to play.”

The Penguins surrendered 33 shots in regulation. They are second in the NHL at 27.1 shots allowed per game, so high totals against them haven’t been the norm. Still, whatever Carolina is doing works; the Hurricanes also registered 33 shots through regulation in a 3-0 loss at home to the Penguins on Oct. 30. Interesting to watch going forward will be how much other teams learn from the Hurricanes’ success generating offensive chances.

Then again, D BROOKS ORPIKwasn’t as down on the Penguins’ third-period giveaway compared to previous ones.

“When did we blow this lead? At 6-on-5; that’s like giving up a power-play goal. I think you’re taking a look at it with a microscope a little bit. They’re coming off a 7-1 win, and they’ve got a good team that works extremely hard. The puck is bouncing pretty good at the end, and they just found an open guy. It’s not like it was 5-on-5 and we’re making bad reads and pinching in, taking chances we don’t need to. They pulled their goalie and they’re going all out to tie it up. That stuff happens.”

= The Penguins are off today, a day of rest before a busy upcoming week with road games at Florida (Monday) and Buffalo (Wednesday) and back-to-back 1 p.m. home games agianst Ottawa and Calgary on Friday and Satuday. Be sure to check out the Trib’s “Hockey Day in Pittsburgh” Sunday section for my look at the odd early-season schedule for the Penguins and Hurricanes, neither of whom would be considered whiners for complaining about having been given the short end of a stick.

= As you may have read, HBO crews were in town this past week for background interviews with many Penguins. Seemed like an exhausting week for the HBO crew. A preview of the “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic” will air Saturday night at 12:15 a.m. or immediately following the broadcast of World Championship Boxing. I’d encourage everybody to watch, though I’d be somewhat hyprocritical as I don’t subscribe to HBO. I’m also not buying the Winter Classic show’s name. Anybody have some suggestions how to tighten that baby up a bit?

G00d-natured jabs aside, I will be getting HBO for December and January so I can watch this long-named program, which promises to be gripping if, for no other reason, it will prove impossible for camera crews to have access to the Penguins and Capitals and not capture the genuine hatred many players on both teams have for the opponent. I’m no TV expert, but I have to believe this rivalry, which I assess is the most genuine in any North American sport at the moment, will make for “good TV.”

Cheers,

Rossi

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Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

 
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