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Post-playoff meeting with coaches set tone for Letang

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Second item on “The Lead” scroll for ESPN: Penguins look to extend 12-game winning streak. Of course, the first item was Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies, a shocker that stole the buzz in this city of so-called brotherly love from what could prove the best NHL game of the season to date.

= So, C EVGENI MALKIN and LW CHRIS KUNITZ each might play tonight, even though coach DAN BYLSMA was non-committal to either player dressing. Malkin declined comment after a morning practice, and I’m taking that as a sign he’s in. He doesn’t speak the morning before he plays, and he didn’t speak today. Draw your own conclusions — but before doing so consider that he looked sharp at practice for a second straight day. Malkin has missed the last four games with a sore left knee.

= Word is people are going to be blown away by Episode I of the “24/7 Penguins-Capitals Road to the Winter Classic.” The show debuts Wednesday night at 10 p.m. on HBO, and I’ve been told that those among us (cough, cough) who have long presumed these Penguins to be a bit underwhelming regarding lively personalities will be surprised with what we see. Producers in New York are receiving about 25 cartons of footage per day and they’re working around the clock (basically) to sort out what will and won’t appear on the shows. I’m cautiously curious to discover all the things I’ve missed over the last week because those cameras are catching the Penguins in a natural state as opposed to the front presented to the media. (A prediction: Nobody will feel worse after watching these shows than the local beat reporter who fights off fits of jealousy over the access that HBO cameras were granted.)

= C SIDNEY CROSBY will be on “The Price Is Right” on Monday. He will join Capitals LW ALEX OVECHKIN and former NHL star Jeremy Roenick for the “Showcase Showdown” on the popular daytime game show. Crosby and Ovechkin — clearly making good on a long-standing friendship (sarcasm noted) — will unveil a showcase package that includes Winter Classic tickets. Roenick will introduce a package that includes a trip to the 2001 Stanley Cup Final. Nobody will introduce Bob Barker because the show is now hosted by Drew Carey. A pity.

= Crosby is one of four Penguins among the overall top 10 in voting for the 2011 All-Star Game. He leads all vote-getters with 401, 754. His popularity isn’t a surprise, but the second overall standing of D KRIS LETANG has caught the attention of everybody associated with the online voting. Letang received more than 80,000 votes last week to keep the No. 2 position and the overall lead among defensemen at 293,584. All of those votes are write-in votes because Letang wasn’t on the original online ballot.

Translation: Penguins fans clearly control the world wide web.

MARC-ANDRE FLEURY is second among goalies with 218,350 votes, though he believes Montreal’s CAREY PRICE will hold him off because Canadiens fans will get out the vote for their club’s starter. (Sounds like a challenge to Fleury’s fans in Pittsburgh… oh, wait.)

Malkin is at 211,699 votes.

= Letang was mentioned Monday night on the NHL Network’s “On the Fly” as a possible Norris Trophy candidate. The season is too young for such talk, but he’s off to a nice start – one that, apparently, his coaches expected.

“Every year after the playoffs we sit down– me, Dan, and the other coaches – and they (instructed) for me to bring that type of game: the physical play; playing hard in my zone; not being afraid to shoot… they wanted me to play like that, and I came with that mentality this year,” he said. “They showed me clips from the playoffs, and said, ‘That’s how you play when you’re on it, and it’s really important (this season) because it’s on the line.”

= Also on the line: A win tonight would extend the streak to 13 games. That would make it the second longest winnings streak since 2001.

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. andy says:

    Rossi, love the blog, and hearing from you on the x. by far the best all around pens insight. Anyway now that my confession is over i have a question that i may be stretching with. I have regualr armstrong cable and no HBO package, i would kill to see the pens caps 24/7, but do not want to subscribe to HBO. If or when are there any plans to put this series on dvd? or is there any chance its viewable through purchase with on demand? lol im in panic mode, id love to see this and im just looking for something here.

  2. Donny says:

    Every time I think I’ve seen the worst officiating ever, the NHL refs outdo themselves. Letang gets tripped right in front of the net, and Cookie gets shoved face first into the net by three Flyers whithin seconds and who gets penalized? Cooke…for roughing. What the hell are these morons looking at?

  3. Jack says:

    While it would probably be really, really cool to go back in time I don’t know that my first stop would be the 2001 Stanley Cup final.

  4. Shawn says:

    1. OK, Dale Tallon…where do I sign?

    Count me in amongst those calling for Tallon’s “challenge” idea…we tied this game up. But the blind zebra’s are inept yet again.

    I have no idea where they would find replacements but the new crop of officials are just awful. I usually try to not say that after they cost us the win because it sounds like homerism. But I watch a lot of games…the level of officiating is awful all around.

    2. Love Johnny, but he was awful tonight. I thought he was having a bad game before he gave up any goals…which you don’t say too often. He was slow across the crease, he wasn’t tracking the puck well, etc. You would like him to stop most of those goals last night.

    3. Ben Lovejoy is not an NHL defenseman.

    4. I wouldn’t worry too too much about this loss. After we lost last night to end the streak, then had to travel home to face a resting Rangers team. I would have bet good money on the Rangers last night.

    Also, given the long break they have ahead, it seemed like the last day of school on the ice at times last night.

    5. I used to be among those open to putting 87 and 71 on the same line. Even though, they have been productive the past two games…I don’t like it.

    Sidney has been a complimentary player to Geno. Not enough pucks for those two guys. We need Kunitz back.

 
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