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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: The return of 71

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Anyone who saw Evgeni Malkin flying about the Consol ice last night knows two things:

1. The knee is fine.

2. He’s serious.

There’s never been a reason why Malkin shouldn’t be one of the top three players in the NHL at any point, something Michel Therrien once brought out of Malkin early in his career by showing him the daily scoring leaders in the newspaper and asking Malkin: “Where’s your name?”

For all the attention rightly paid to Sidney Crosby’s recovery, let’s remember that the Penguins could be getting two of these guys back, not one.

>> On a negative note, can anyone in the comments section begin to convince me that James Neal is good for anything more than looking like he’ll score goals someday?

With a couple exceptions, all I saw last night was more of the same: Pointless, long-distance shots. All shots high, even when rebounds would have been nice. Little in the way of passing instinct. There were times when he and Malkin worked well down low, but that was about it.

>> The Seahawks’ Raheem Brock announced on Twitter last night that the NFL fined him for going into Ben Roethlisberger’s knee Sunday. Accompanying that announcement was a strong complaint.

Brock will make this case once he appeals: Right tackle Marcus Gilbert whipped his leg into Brock after Brock beat Gilbert with a spin move. It was then that Brock fell forward into Roethlisberger.

But his case will be blown to bits by the video. Look for yourself. Does that look like a guy trying even remotely to avoid going into Roethlisberger’s lower leg?

>> No one expresses on a more regular basis their appreciation for Derrek Lee’s work than I do, I’m guessing. Watching him go about 450 feet yesterday in Phoenix, as well as two other hits, only adds to it. But it’s probably worth taking a step back and realizing he’s batting .387 — 24 for 62 — since coming off the DL. That’s not normal for anyone. And he’s done so in the context of a terribly lifeless lineup, making him look all the more grand.

Not suggesting the Pirates shouldn’t pursue him. They absolutely should. But a little context might be needed for those who think he’s still the Lee of his prime.

>> We will have our weekly chat today at noon, the usual time. You can submit entries as early as 6 a.m., though, if you can’t be there live.

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