Marcel Goc close to a return, and other notes, by Rossi and Yohe.
Blogginess from the scene: Criticism isn’t needed of Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin, at least not in the opinion sense. Simple facts will do. They’ve now gone eight playoff games without a goal, including the four vs. Boston last spring. In this series alone, they’ve totaled eight assists, six of them secondary assists. In this game, Crosby had three shots on goal. Malkin had zero. Tanner Glass had five shots, meaning he had more than Crosby and Malkin combined. … I asked Crosby after the game if the Penguins as a whole took the foot off the pedal after a first period in which both stars, especially Malkin, played well. Crosby replied that, “We were short-handed a lot in the second period, so I don’t think so. It’s tough to keep momentum like that.” He’s right. But there was a lot of game all around that, and not a lot of star power. … Dan Bylsma canceled today’s practice. That also doesn’t require an opinion. … Bylsma had on the ice for the final minute of regulation what is by far his worst defense pairing, Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi. … Bylsma left the arena with his only timeout firmly in his pocket, one that could have been used to refresh one of the other pairings. … The top line, Crosby’s line, Watch the Foligno goal again, if you can bear it. It really does knuckle badly. … The officiating was terrible. I’m not coming close to blaming that for the Penguins’ loss. Doesn’t change the feeling. … Brandon Sutter was good. Really good. So was Paul Martin. Shame neither was on the ice for the final minute. … Lots of readers asking about Crosby’s health. How did he look in the first period? … What I think about what should happen if the Penguins lose this series hasn’t changed at all. … From the opposing perspective, it was an incredible scene at Nationwide after the Foligno goal. Not a soul left even several minutes after the three stars came out. Chanting ‘C-B-J!’ A truly franchise-altering moment.
We already knew all their opponents, as well as the home/road breakdown, so all that’s newsy here is chronology. Most interesting to me is that they open with 11 teams who combined to go 60-84 last season, including the Browns twice in the first five games, plus the Bucs, Texans and Jaguars.
It’s foolhardy to suggest any 8-8 team should romp under any circumstance, but it’s nonetheless obvious that the Steelers had better do well in this span. Because it gets a lot tougher after that, not to mention accompanied by more night games.
Brian Gibbons skates again, and other notes, by Rossi and Yohe.
Blogginess from the scene: You know, I’d been wondering if anyone else thought the Blue Jackets switched to that 1-4 too early in Game 3, and it turns out there was at least one other. James Wisniewski, one of Columbus’ better defensemen, spoke of how his team ‘went to a prevent defense that sometimes prevents you from winning.’ He didn’t cite the system, and he certainly didn’t reference Todd Richards, but the meaning was unmistakable. … You coach the team you have, not the team you wish you had. The Blue Jackets are built to forecheck. See Team USA, Sochi. … I don’t know if Gibbons will play or not, but I do know the Penguins don’t like to have injured players speaking to the media. He did so yesterday. … I asked Maatta if he was recovered from Sochi, or even just feeling fresh somehow: ‘I am now. The playoffs are here. This is the best time of year.’ … Dan Bylsma talked a lot about ‘ugly goals’ in his brief news conference. And I mention that only because it came in a somewhat indirect response to another reporter’s direct question about what Sidney Crosby and Malkin must do to score. Feel free to connect the dots between that and my reference to those two in the power-play column up there. … The 8.3 TV rating for Game 3 in Columbus was by far a franchise record. It’s roughly a third of what the Penguins will generally get, but it’s still a highly encouraging figure for the market.
Brooks Orpik didn’t just score … he did it with style, by Josh Yohe.
Sergei Bobrovsky faded late in the Columbus net, by Justin Boggs.
Jayson Megna makes his playoff debut and other notes, by Rossi and Yohe.
Blogginess from the scene: Coincidence or not, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal got going after a shift in which Joe Vitale gave them a hard forecheck. Not to take away from Jussi Jokinen after the guy got the winning goal with those two. Just saying. … Chris Kunitz had been almost invisible through two games, but he not only set up Stempniak’s goal but also quietly led the Penguins with six hits. … Easy to get the sense the Penguins are tired of answering questions about being outhit by the Blue Jackets. The most common counter is one akin to Sidney Crosby’s postgame line about ‘having the puck a lot.’ That’s a fair counter, but it’s got to be a whole lot more obvious than last night to negate the hit advantage. … A steady sight for road playoff games: Mario Lemieux waiting for the team as they enter the locker room. … Please tell me the Root Sports broadcast didn’t try to justify Crosby and Malkin not scoring in six games (now seven) by pointing out that it once happened to Lemieux. Please tell me that didn’t happen, because that would mean someone would have left out that Lemieux was a decade older at the time. Besides, if that happened, it would have been pretty petty. … Forget Brooks Orpik’s goal and appreciate instead how solid he’s been defensively. His critics have fallen silent. … The Blue Jackets mostly bemoaned their bad luck and bad bounces for the loss. Uh-uh. Look in the mirror, fellas. Three goals in less than three minutes is a gag and a half. And everyone in that building, I’m telling you, could feel it. … Still wonderful to see the city come alive for hockey. Great scene outside, even better inside. Imagine what a healthy Ohio franchise could mean for the NHL over the long term.
A full video recap from the NHL’s YouTube channel: