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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Great day for hockey

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column, of course, is about a certain comeback. I freely offer advice that I know everyone will ignore: Relax when watching Sidney Crosby take contact.

>> I have seen the number of media descending on Pittsburgh for Mario Lemieux’s return game, for the 2006 All-Star Game at PNC Park, and for the Steelers’ most recent AFC championship game, and I’m legitimately curious to compare that to the number descending on Consol today.

That might sound crazy on one hand — the NHL doesn’t compare in national scope to Major League Baseball or the NFL — but hockey also has its own diehard brand of news outlets, notably those across Canada who still travel wherever the story happens to be. They’ll be voluminous today.

>> Anyone worried about the Penguins’ toughness going against the Islanders should know this: They’ll enter this game with no fewer than three players who have completely KO’d their fighting opponents in the past couple years.

Deryk Engelland has done it, Arron Asham did it just recently, and Brent Johnson, of course, shattered the jaw of Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro.

Is that a record of some kind?

>> I didn’t get all the excitement about Andy Dalton after the Steelers’ win in Cincinnati last week, but I sure did after watching the Bengals’ quarterback nearly pull off a huge comeback yesterday in Baltimore. Kid’s the real deal.

>> Said it before, and I’ll repeat: The AFC is nothing special. It’s there to be taken.

>> Count me in the not-all-that-excited pile regarding the Pirates’ possible — not yet confirmed — signing of Clint Barmes to play shortstop.

Those who like the move are doing little more than comparing him to a highly negative, and not all that accurate public perception of Ronny Cedeno. Well, half of everyone wins that argument. I’m looking more at a .300 career on-base percentage at Coors Field and .312 last season in Houston. That doesn’t get me any more excited than replacing Ryan Doumit with 36-year-old Rod Barajas.

That’s not to say they’re bad moves. They’re just not good moves, either. They’re just … there.

>> My weekly appearance on the online-only TribLIVE Radio will come at 11:30 a.m., live from Consol Energy Center and surrounded by all things Canadian.

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