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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.

Comments

  1. Shawn says:

    Has there been any explanation of the Kunitz goal? Talk about a gift.

    That should have never gone to replay…unless they were looking to see if the initial shot went it. But the ref clearly blew the whistle before Peters kicked it in his own net and even if he didn’t he can say that the play was dead in his mind.

    I try to say it when it goes against the Pens rather than for them, so it doesn’t sound like homerism…the officiating in the NHL is awful these days. I don’t know how to fix it, but…

    Also, Kris Letang is getting totally (hosed) by the NHL.

    This isn’t the old days where they printed up paper ballots for the all star game before the season started. It’s all done online. AND they have ALREADY added another defenseman to the list since the time voting started. I can’t say which one, but when you “add” a player to the list to vote for as a write-in (such as Kris Letang) he appears in the first open spot in the voting grid. Marek Zidlicky is now permanently in the spot where the write-ins appeared during the first few days of voting…meaning they added one more defenseman to the ballot and it pushed Zidlicky back a spot.

    So why can’t/won’t/are they not adding Letang to the ballot?

    Does Colin Campbell think he’s a “diving fake artist” too? Do they know Sid and possibly Geno will be voted in and don’t want 3 Penguins, so they are intentionally handicapping Letang?

    There is no reason he cannot or should not be on that ballot. He’s number #2 in defense scoring and is already a +9.

  2. Onetimer says:

    Just think, if Jordan had come back as scheduled, right now Rossi would again be dissing Sid and raving about having Jordan back had ‘turned the Pens around and set them on a winning streak of 4-0-1.”

    Although I like Jordan, and feel he adds to the team…the PK clicking at 80+% without him is pretty indicative of the fact that he is not critcal to the team. He is a great defensive forward (so is Sid) but neither can do enough to make up for Geno;s stupid defensive lapses on their line, which have in large part been responsible for the blown leads (except Boston)in games this year.

    Also, glad to read Rossi’s article acknowledging that the local media (and he in particular)has been underappreciating Sid.

    It is perplexing to me that Rossi couldn’t justify having Sid on his MVP ballot but could Ovechkin. In case Rossi hasn’t noticed, Ovechkin is really struggling this year. He has seen his coach discuss publically that his shifts are too long, and that he (as coach) can;t make Ovechkin reduce them {hello valuable team player and captain} and ovechkin is being outscored on his own team by Semin {who has more goals than Ovie} and has carried the offense.

  3. DAllison says:

    i don’t understand the contant line changes. The top line stays the same but that’s about it. Does Talbot ever get confused…”Am I a winger?…am I center?…Is this the 3rd line or 4th?” Malkin, they say needs chemistry with his line but it changes as does his position. Does Connor have nude pictures of Mrs. B that he’s getting so much ice time? I’d really like to understand…please…

 
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