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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Penguins could be class of East

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> The Penguins begin their 47th season with a 10 p.m. game in war-torn Vancouver, and my outlook for the team is just about as rosy as most others.

If Sidney Crosby is healthy — the phrase that will precede almost any view this year — there will an elite skill level combined with a seven-deep D, superb penalty-killing and one of the league’s best in goal. The only lingering issue along with Crosby’s health is the power play, but I think people are really going to like what Steve Sullivan brings to the left side, at times the left point. The skating is still very much there.

The Capitals, Lightning, Bruins and Sabres will provide serious competition, but the Penguins could be the class of the East. I really like, in particular, Washington landing Tomas Vokoun. They could still use an impact blueliner to go with Mike Green, but Vokoun is a big addition.

Here is fellow columnist Joe Starkey’s look ahead to the season.

>> Brooks Orpik is leaving open the door to playing tonight. The Penguins need to remind him that he’s missed the past two playoffs to injury. I’ll take Orpik in those months over this one, thanks.

I spoke with Orpik shortly before the charter left Pittsburgh, and his update on his health was that he feeling sometimes good, sometimes bad. That’s not good enough.

>>The Steelers’ locker room was mostly missing two key elements yesterday on the South Side:

1. Fun.

2. People who play defense.

The paper-basketball court, the shuffleboard table and everything else that had been serving as entertainment was in total non-use by the athletes yesterday morning when I was there and, according to our Mark Kaboly, during the second media availability later, too. The place was drop-dead serious, actually.

As for the defense, not sure what to read into that. I didn’t see half the linebackers, hardly anyone on the line, most of the secondary … during a half-hour availability in which almost all of the offense was through. Including Ben Roethlisberger. Some avoid the media as a matter of course, but this was exceptional.

Maybe they were being serious somewhere else. Couldn’t hurt.

>> One of these dates, we will lift the apparent federal decree that Phoenix must have pro sports teams.

What an awful sight last night, those 10,000 empty seats for the Diamondbacks’ victory. Almost as embarrassing as the NHL owning the Coyotes another year in a transparently desperate move to make hockey work in a market that just couldn’t care less about sports.

>> Is there really no one bothered by the Brewers being in danger?

That’s your model out there, Pirates fans.

>> We will have our weekly chat at noon, the usual time, usual place. You know by now that you can begin posting entries as early as 6 a.m.

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