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Wakeup Call: Fleury looking fatigued?

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Brief and to the Point …

>> My Wednesday column takes on the increasingly popular comparisons between the current Penguins and other great teams from the franchise’s past. Notable among them, of course: 1993.

Which team do you feel was best, especially if you subscribe to Phil Bourque’s theory in there?

>> That was Marc-Andre Fleury’s 63rd game last night, which might or might not explain giving up five goals on 18 shots to the Islanders. The outcome itself doesn’t matter much to me, but it should be of concern that this team is primed for a long playoff run, which can take up to two months. Numerologists will back me on this: A goalie does wear down. It’s not as scientific as counting a pitcher’s pitches, but the games and the saves and the kicks in the head from Paul Martin do add up.

Was this worth it?

This was a CBC analysis on the topic in October.

>> More than two months after the Steelers’ loss in Denver, Mike Tomlin finally did his first public interviews yesterday at the NFL meetings in Florida.

You can find the results of that questioning on our Steelers page, including Tomlin asking himself the biggie about who hired Todd Haley.

If he knew it was of such great interest to us all, why stay silent for two months?

>> Pedro Alvarez singled off Cliff Lee – a liner into center — and struck out three more times yesterday. He has struck out 18 times and walked once in 39 at-bats. He batted .191 last season. He patently ignored management’s open request to play winter ball.

But it’s only some scurrilous “rumor” that he could open the season in the minors.

Who could ever start such a ridiculous thing?

66 Comments

  1. *sigh* I know you’re being facetious, but that hit from Martin on Fleury wasn’t Martin’s fault. Fleury had no reason whatsoever to be where he was and Martin, who was trying to chase a guy down, couldn’t stop in time. I’ve been fretting about Fleury’s stamina for a while now but there’s nothing to be done about it. The Pens simply don’t have a steady backup even if Johnson can make it back from his “injury” before the end of the season. (I’ve never bought that he’s hurt at all. I think the whole thing has been a gambit to give Theissen a try and see if he stuck.)

    Loved your column today but I have to disagree on one point. I think the Pens D is playing *the same* as what you describe of the ’93 team. Brooks Orpik sort of pointed it out in his postgame interview tonight. They’re slacking, relying on the fact that the offense can put up stellar numbers. That won’t fly in the playoffs. The D, even when completely healthy, has always seemed to me the Achilles heel of this years’ Pens.

  2. I was pleased to FINALLY hear the Pens players take a tough stance about the ‘run and gun’ hockey the Pens have been playing. The Geno line doesn’t even try to play defense. As Brooks “coup leader” Orpik stated, “they were just trying to outscore the Isle, not concerned about defense.”

    Just what I wrote about on yesterdays blog, and am reposting today given the Pens performance against the Isle…
    “This team of Pens, (prior to Crosby’s return), remind me a lot of the Capitals from two years ago. Run/Gun and high scoring against weak teams, and winning against strong teams when they are ‘lucky’ or ‘get good bounces.’ But you only have to look at Malkin’s plus/minus to know, his line gives up almost as many goals as they score. In fact, the defensive lapses this team makes are front and center when the backup goalies play…when Fleury plays, the team wins because he pulls magic out of his hat every game, robbing two or three ’sure goals’ most every game. [execpt when Fleury has an off night, then this team loses to crummy teams like the Isles, and we fans get to see just how crummy they have really been playing.} #FleuryforMVP

    The Geno line has been eye candy, just as Ovie was in his hay day as far as pretty shots and goals. But Malkin has added 10 points to his plus/minus since Sid returned to the lineup. Geno has 90+ points, and a plus/minus of 18 [he was a plus 8 until Sid’s return]. Sid has 25 points and a plus/minus of 16.

    I’m not real hung up on the plus/minus as stat, as there can be all sorts of things that influence it. However, in this case it is a warning. Geno’s play/and the Pen’s run and gun style this year has paid less attention to defense , and is reminiscent of the Capitals style from years past.

    While fun to watch, that type of play doesn’t win the Stanley Cup. It will maybe win you one best of seven series, (although the Caps haven’t even been able to achieve that) but what it primarily does is win individual players a trophy or two, and nothing more. Geno may win the Hart, as mostly it has become a secondary award for whoever wins the Art Ross. But the player most important to the Pens championship hopes is Fleury.

  3. Deb, a couple points. The Pens have had an eleven game win streak and an eight game win streak. Are you saying all those wins have either come against weak teams or been from “luck”/”good bounces?” Because that’s not what I’m seeing. In fact, if anything, the Pens outperform the really good teams and play down to the weaker teams.

    Second, I can’t speak to Kunitz or Neal, but Malkin has developed into a fine defensive player in the last year or so. He may not be all hustle, but he’s been there when he needs to be. Don’t discount, also, that Malkin tends to take somewhat long shifts fairly frequently which impacts his ability to backcheck (and also would affect his +/-).

  4. When I read Mr. Brown’s story about Tomlin’s comments, before I read yours here, I didn’t get the impression that “Tomlin ask[ed] himself the biggies about who fired Bruce Arians and who hired Todd Haley.”

    The story quotes Tomlin as saying “‘He didn’t,’ Tomlin said. ‘I hired Todd Haley as well, which is the next question, which is another funny one to me. Don’t get me wrong. Art Rooney owns the football team. He can do what he wants to do, but those directives did not happen.’”

    Sounded like he was answering a question, at least about whose decision it was to replace Arians. Am I missing something? Did he “answer” a question that he knew was on everyone’s mind, but didn’t wait for someone to ask it? Because I assume you put “asking himself” in italics to make a point.

    DK: You’re right, AW. It was just the Haley portion. Fixed.

  5. Anyone who watches the Pens in person realizes that Malkin needs to shore up his centerman defense before the playoffs begin. It’s even clear on TV, just slightly not as obvious.

    Give Thiessen 4 of the final 6 starts, with him and Fleury splitting the final two. Let Fleury get some rest and have the team focus on all-around team defense to protect Thiessen. That strategy will help them ease out of their sloppier “run-and-gun” ways of late, avoid a first round playoff loss, and get that right offense/defense balance back.

    Then again, it’s clear that the Pens are an attacking team. When this style of play is going 100%, they are not the Capitals run-and-gun style, they are flying down the ice due to excellent backchecking by the forwards, defensemen stepping up in the zone, and speed.

    It’s beautiful hockey, but there’s a fine line I guess.

    DK: Fair point on Malkin, Nate, but bear in mind that the Penguins don’t practice conventional center defense. The high forward — or F3 in Dan’s scheme — is responsible for rotating back.

  6. JAL’s The Sunshine of Your Smile Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2012

    5 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/2012-pittsburgh-pirates-spring-training-broadcast-schedule/

  7. 7 Bucs Dugout

    The Worst Players To Appear For The Pirates On Opening Day, 2007-2011

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/3/27/2904347/the-worst-players-to-appear-for-the-pirates-on-opening-day-2007-2011

    Bucs Dugout Podcast: The Pirates’ Roster, What To Do With Kevin Correia And Pedro Alvarez, And More

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/3/27/2907257/bucs-dugout-podcast-pirates-pedro-alvarez-kevin-correia

    8 Rumbunter

    Opening Day Reminiscing – 2010

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/03/27/opening-day-reminiscing-2010/

    9 McEffect

    Erik Bedard’s Velocity is Down

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/03/erik-bedards-velocity-is-down.html

    10 WHYGAVS

    I have no idea what to make of Pedro Alvarez right now

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/march-2012/i-have-no-idea-what-to-make-of-pedro-alvarez-right-now.html

  8. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 The Kittanning Paper

    BUFFONE: Alvarez is on Short Leash with Fans

    http://www.kittanningpaper.com/2012/03/28/buffone-alvarez-is-on-short-leash-with-fans/25953

    12 Philadelphia Inquirer

    Lee, Podsednik lift Phillies over Pirates

    http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/144428365.html

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Preview

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-tsn-aan-outlook-pit-20120327,0,520909.story

    14 Beaver County Times

    Perrotto: Bucs’ Presley finally at top of the list

    http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/perrotto-bucs-presley-finally-at-top-of-the-list/article_9c1d149e-3ec0-502b-98ab-74a937b927a5.html

    15 San Frisco Chronicle

    The art of the stolen base

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/27/SPOH1NN1E9.DTL

  9. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers WR Antonio Brown’s Enthusiasm Should Put Him in Consideration for Captaincy

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/27/2905518/steelers-antonio-brown-2012-captain

    Behind the Steel Curtain 2012 Community Mock Draft — Select A Team!

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/27/2906851/behind-the-steel-curtain-2012-community-mock-draft-select-a-team

    Steelers Pick Up Three Late Draft Picks, Giving Them 10 Overall

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/27/2905488/steelers-pick-up-three-late-draft-picks-giving-them-10-overall

    21 Steelers Depot

    - A Quick Look at Cortez Allen, Steelers Next Nickel Cornerback?

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/03/a-quick-look-at-the-tape-on-cortez-allen-the-steelers-next-nickel-cornerback/

    22 Nice Pick Cower

    Writing On The Wall For Mendenhall and The Draft?

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/03/26/writing-on-the-wall-for-mendenhall-and-the-draft/

  10. Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Sweat But Do Not Panic

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/03/27/sweat-but-do-not-panic/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Big East (Finally) Releases 2012 Schedule

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/3/27/2906131/big-east-finally-releases-2012-schedule

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Childress Adjusting Well To The College Game

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=51797

    26 WV Illustrated

    West Virginia Joins The MAC As An Affiliate Member in Men’s Soccer

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17265317/west-virginia-joins-the-mac-as-an-affiliate-member-in-mens-soccer

  11. PENGUIN BLOGS

    26 Pensburgh

    Kris Letang missing morning skate, more lineup details

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/3/27/2906044/kris-letang-missing-morning-skate-more-lineup-details

    Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Everton cruise into semis

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,,11065_3500537,00.html

    28 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 27th March, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-27th-march-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Champions League Pictures

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/picturegalleries/9169897/Champions-League-action.html?frame=2178994

  12. Title song The Sunshine of Your Smile 1916 John McCormack. Written by Leonard Cooke and Lilian Ray the song has been recorded many times. After being a big hit in 1916 it made the charts again in 1980 in a version by Mike Berry. John McCormack was one of the most popular singers of the era and continued to perform into the 1940s. McCormack died in 1945 but a life-size bronze statue of him was unveiled in Dublin , Ireland in 2008.

  13. While I wouldn’t bring Pedro north because win or lose the only thing anyone will care about is “What did Pedro do” since the organization seems committed to doing so. I would find the best hitting instructor from outside the organization have him look at and evaluate the holes in his swing, also the changes he’s made. I believe a fresh set of eyes are needed at this time. I agree with Keith Law that they rushed him through the minor leagues ignoring the flaws and promotion that was based on success only. He said “he would leave him in AAA this entire season. This one is on the Pirates not the player.

  14. When I heard Niskanen was out, I thought, well, Letang will play double duty and Lovejoy is adequate. WhenI heard Letang was out, I thought s**t we’re in trouble. Add to that, the rest of the team still isn’t playing defense, then Fleury having an off night equals disaster.

    Had even Letang been in, it might have been a different game.

    But I tend to agree with scapper in the game column, don’t panic yet. Every team lays and egg now and then. If they lose again tomorrow against the Isles, then I’ll jump on scapper’s wagon ;)

  15. Methinks something smells with the Tomlin interview. It’s a case of too much, too late, (instead of too little, too late.) Two months later? Yeah, I’m Mother Teresa ;)

    Leah, you’re spot on with regards to Malkin. He’s REALLY elevated his game, becoming more consistent both defensively and on face offs. (He still makes mistakes, but who doesn’t?).
    Deb ~ please quit the comparisons to Ovie. Ovie not and never will be the player Geno is.

  16. I can’t believe I am actually hearing comments that the Pirates rushed a player through the minor leagues. All I normally hear is people saying they take players too slowly and develop them at a slower pace than other teams. Taillon last year is the perfect example.

    When Alvarez was called up to the majors in 2010 I recall no one saying that it was too early for him. And you know what he actually performed quite well that season. If he repeated his rookie numbers last season I know we wouldn’t be having this conversation about him. Don’t get me wrong we wouldn’t be happy/content with the type of hitter he would be but I can’t phathom anyone thinking he should be sent down.

    Alvarez has already to a small extent succeeded on the major league level. Does that mean he shouldn’t go back to the minors? Of course not. I think he belongs in AAA but I don’t think it has anything to do with being rushed.

    By the way just to put things into perspective Alvarez slashes his rookie season were .256/.326/.461. Projecting his numbers out over a full season (650 PA) he would have hit 27 home runs, drove in 108 runs, had 150 hits and yes struck out a way too high 200 times.

    People wouldn’t be happy with that type of player nor should they be but I doubt anyone would want to send him to the minors. It is difficult for me to see a guy who was rushed putting up those types of numbers as a rookie.

  17. David,

    Your numbers make a good point and, as we all know, Willie Stargell struck out alot, too, but Pedro was on a 1 for 21 tear in Indy when they brought him up that first season. Last season, they worked with him mechanically and this season he’s all over the place mechanically as well, which shows a lack of confidence mentally. I’m not one to advocate shrinks and the like, but he needs some counsel in different areas. He needs to quit thinking so much and just do what comes natural–watch the ball hit the bat.

    Also, if Moskos and Watson are our only left-handed options in the pen, we need to
    at least talk to Grabow. But it’s not my money.

  18. Tomlin has never been one to seek out the media spotlight (to put it mildly), so when he said he felt no need to clarify or correct speculation about the OC hiring process, I tend to believe him. And really, it’s a big deal for fans, who will look for anything to discuss and debate, but how much does it matter to those within the organization? The team leaders from ownership down through the coaches don’t strike me as especially insecure. (Perhaps a few players, but…)

  19. Folks, go back and read the press clippings from 2010 season when the Caps lapped the field and won the President’s Trophy. The Caps outscored everyone, run and gun. Ovie was a +45 with 109points. He was being lauded for his new found defensive work..using offense off the rush as sound defense..unstoppable etc.

    The team owner was posting ‘our time has come’ and the sentiment was being echoed in the press. It was ‘beautiful hockey’ and ‘wildly exciting’ etc.

    Caps exited first round of playoffs. Run and Gun doesn’t work in the playoffs, and doesn’t win Stanley cups.

    And anyone (Im looking at you especially Yohe, given your articles in today’s paper) who thinks the Pens ‘defensive lapses’ are a recent trend, or ‘just since Sid has returned” needs to look back over the box scores of the Pen’s season, and watch some tape. This has been the trend all year. Fleury has been the difference maker. Flower’s unreal bailout stops have been the difference between a win and a loss many a night.

  20. Opening game of the season–Seattle and Oakland are 1-1 in the 10th. playing in Japan

  21. JAL – good stuff =)

  22. Final Seattle 3 Oakland 1 in 11 innings Ichiro went 4-5 and drove in 1 run while Dustin Ackley went 2-5 and drove in 2 runs

  23. deb – I wasn’t home and therefore could not watch the Devils game Sunday evening. However, I recorded it and was able to watch it Monday evening. Knowing the final score, I expected a smoothly played blowout. Afterwards, I was shocked. I told my son that if Flower hadn’t stood on his head, they could have easily lost that game 8-4.

    But I think this is a passing “slump” that started with the recent Winnipeg game, when the Jets dared to play “Run & Gun” with the Pens, and the Pens decided it was more fun to play that way, which they have continued the past few games.

    a quick check of the stats shows that the Pens have the second greatest goal differential in the Eastern Conference, having scored the most goals and given up the third least. So I don’t think an argument can be made for an entire season of “Run & Gun”. They have gone through a bad defensive stretch these past few games, but I expect that DB will get their attention and get them back on the correct track.

  24. Just finished listening to the A’s vs. M’s game from Japan. oakland announcer said both teams were using “the expanded rosters.”
    Does this mean that they were carrying minor leaguers who were in camp for St, and were made eligible for these two regular season games?
    If yes, bogus.

    DK: No, it’s fair. When I covered the Penguins and Predators in Japan in 2000, each team was allowed to bring a third goaltender because it’s so hard to get someone on the other side of the world if a player gets injured.

  25. I think Ackley is going to turn out to be a heck of a player.

    Hope they didn’t “rush him” ;-)

  26. Dave J ~ well said.

  27. Wanted to run an idea by you all:

    In light of the playoff race in which the Pens are now embarked, I wanted to throw out an idea for a new Playoff Format. I think we can all agree that the current format is flawed (where the 6th spot is often the most desirable, particularly more desirable than 4th or 5th, and sometimes more than 1st where you might catch a hot team that fought to make it). Often the 16 best teams don’t make the playoffs (Dallas was left out last year despite having 2 more points than the Rangers). And in the West, top seeds like Detroit often have to travel across the country in a first round series against West Coast teams (a real disadvantage vs. teams in other series/in the East).

    The New Alignment (4 Conferences of 7 or 8 teams) was rejected by the NHLPA partly due to concern over the playoff format proposed (inter-conference 1st 2 rounds, then a “final four”). I can’t blame them; think about the “Atlantic” this year (NYR v. NJ, PIT v. PHI, Washington doesn’t even make it)…it would be a bloodbath and despite those teams possibly being the very best in the league, they most likely would do too much damage to each other for anyone to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    So here is my proposal: Realign the teams as planned (4 Conferences) but instead of inter-conference playoffs, the Top-16 teams based on points make the playoffs. Conference winners get the top-4 “seeds” and then the next 4 highest scoring teams get the next 4 “seeds.”

    The Twist: These top 8 teams get to CHOOSE their opponent. Teams would certainly weigh different things (travel/timezone, match ups, injuries, how “hot” a team is, etc.) such that it is no guarantee that the 1st place team automatically would choose the team with the lowest points. For example, this year the 1st place Blues may choose to play Dallas rather than Los Angeles, even though LA has fewer points.

    Then in the second round, the best teams remaining (Conference Winner first, then each subsequent team with the most points) get to choose from the lower teams remaining, etc.

    Things I like about this format:
    -Ensures the top 16 teams make it to the dance.
    -Rewards the best teams by letting them pick who they play.
    -You could have ANY two teams in the Stanley Cup final.
    -It makes the regular season meaningful all the way through in that more teams are in the hunt since top 16 make it no matter what conference AND the higher you get in the standings, the more choice you have in the playoffs.
    (One ‘con’ here is that the Trade Deadline would suck even more. More teams in contention means less big trades…but maybe you move the deadline back a bit and that creates some action)
    -It’s something no other professional sport does.
    -The first round selection could be made into an event with representatives from each team (GMs, Coaches, Captains, etc.) attending and announcing the selections. You could have instant analysis of each series by commentators/analysts/etc.
    In subsequent rounds, the selections wouldn’t have to be a big event, but could be something that is streamed on NHL.com or something, with each team teleconferencing their selection.
    -The series themselves would be even more intense because the team ‘chosen’ would instantly be able to play the disrespect card and the ‘choosing’ team would have to prove themselves right.

    Thoughts?

    DK: Choose the opponent?

    Wow, that’s outside the box. Curious to hear others’ views. Thanks, Tyler.

  28. Pens are fine!!! They know what it takes. i think they have done it before. The loss last night was perfect timing to remind them what they need to do.

  29. I think #10 has the definitive argument on Pedro.

    When all is said and done, does ANYONE know what the heck to do with him? We all have our opinions, but….

    ……

  30. The thing I don’t like about choosing your opponent, especially in hockey, is that most underdog teams don’t seem to need any extra motivation when it comes to knocking off higher seeds.

    Choosing your opponent sends a message of: “Of all the other teams, YOU are the one we feel most confident about beating.” And human nature being what it is, that’s going to give the “chosen” opponent that much more heart and drive over a seven game series.

    I don’t think this kind of motivation matters in sports like baseball or basketball, but it would in hockey.

    That being said…pretty cool idea!

  31. Tyler, your system is very intriguing. I think I like it. But I doubt Gary Bettman would even consider it. ;)

  32. Biz:
    Compare Ackley at this point vs. PA.

  33. Every time I read or hear the name David Volek, I get chills down my spine, and I feel like throwing up. I wonder if that will ever go away..

    My only comfort is knowing that was the last good thing to happen to the Islanders, and they’re still stuck with Rick DiPietro and his ego for 9 more years. Party on, Garth.

  34. When Magic Johnson came to L.A. to play for the Lakers in 1979, Vin Scully was 52 years old & finishing his 30th year calling Dodger baseball. Now, 33 years later, Magic is Vin’s boss. Only in America.

  35. Milo:
    #36, great post.

  36. @Leah Backus- perfectly stated on all points.

    And I will repeat MY comment from yesterday. Any comparison of this Pens team to the Caps, or Malkin to Ovechkin is ridiculous. And frankly, embarassing. Not even worth a point of discussion.

    When the Pens play poorly, I will say so. And they have clearly lacked a commitment to the defensive zone at times this season. That becomes costly, because due to the nature of Bylsma’s system, they are encouraged to take chances to keep the puck in the offensive zone. When their commitment to getting back into the d-zone wanes, they are very prone to odd man rushes. Even with MAF playing as well as he has, that is a recipe for losses. They will get back on track, because they have something the Caps have never had–character.

    As for Fleury being tired, it’s quite possible, and a valid point for some discussion. Need to get #1 in some games. Not sure Thiessen is the answer at this point.

  37. Tyler,

    Your idea took some thought and is quite cerebral to say the least–more cerebral than I. You’re to be commended for the plan, even if it has zero chance of ever being instituted. I have to defer to the 3 hockey ladies, Jandy, Leah and Deb in that order. They have as much knowledge as most, except DK and a couple others who specialize in the sport. Some good logic in there though.

  38. CWalton ~ Zactly! Pens should never, ever be compared to the Caps ::shudder::
    I was thinking Beej would start an Islanders game, but it seems not. We shall see. I agree, Brad Thiessen isn’t quite there yet.

    Lucky, you sure know how to make an ol’ lady smile ;)

  39. Jandy,

    That’s what my wife says. (We’ll be married forty years in August). Unless I turn on the ball game.

  40. See, Lucky, I have my other half trained to watch hockey ;)
    Gotta work on baseball tho, he can’t stand it!

  41. Oh and congrats on forty years, Lucky, that’s quite an accomplishment!

  42. Jandy,

    Thanks. She deserves a purple heart. Your husband has good reason not to enjoy baseball with the big 2-0 approaching. Too much excellence from the Steelers and Pens to settle for the other product. Can’t blame him. You have to have been a Pirate fan practically from birth to still hang on to the hope. It’s getting better, but not there yet.

    Your husband probably could have enjoyed that championship Altoona won a couple years ago, since you live there, but then they turn around and fire the manager for having a mind of his own. Sound principles.

  43. Lucky, we actually have gone to very few Curve games, hubby seriously doesn’t care for baseball. I just don’t understand it ;)
    The championship win was great, but it sure would be nice to see some more wins….they are scarce in Altoona too.
    I won’t even comment on the firing. Some things are better left unsaid ;X

  44. Ironically, Leah draws the greatest comparison between Malkin and Ovechkin with her “he takes long shifts which impacts his ability to backcheck.” That has been a complaint against Ovie for years (and a compaint against the Caps former coach for not reigning him in). Now it’s Leah’s DEFENSE? for Malkin? having a poor +/_ rating prior to Sid returning?

    OK….

    So to summarize…Malkin is slow to defend because he stays on the ice too long looking for offense? ok…and this was the DEFENSE OF GENO?…

    I do agree it is awful to compare the Pens and Caps, but the style is the same. An it’s not just the past few games. Go back to game tape. See how many games you hear Steigy say..”Fleury is really standing on his head” “Pens should be down by X if not for Fleury…” Also check Malkins +/_ for each game. Many games he scores two/three points and is still a minus player.

    That folks is run and gun. And it didn’t begin with the Jets game.

    Here’s a link to Pensunivere which I read frequently. Check the feed. Orpik said back 3/7 (prior to Sid’s return) as well as a bunch of other times, that the Pens were ‘trying to outchance other teams”

    http://www.pensuniverse.com/2012/03/blueline-beat-3112-31412.html
    Pens vs. Leafs 3/7 W 3-2
    -Niskanen earned his 16th assist on the first goal from Dupuis.
    -Orpik earned his 13th assist on the goal from Staal.
    -Lovejoy earned his 3rd assist on the second goal from Dupuis.
    ***********-This was not necessarily the best game for the defense, allowing the Leafs too many chances, but they were still able to come up with the win.**************
    -Thiessen got his second NHL start. After being down 2-0, he kept his composure and ended up stopping 22 out of 24 shots.
    -Niskanen led the defense with three shots on goal.
    -Michalek and Orpik led the team with three blocked shots each.
    -Orpik led the defense in ice time with 23:39. Malkin led the team with 23:56.

    Bylsma has allowed this style all year. Lets see if Bylsma can now do what Bruce Boudreau was never able to do: click the gear that shifts this team to a defensively responsbile one for playoff hockey.

  45. Tyler, #29. I would like to see the 16 best teams go. Forget about the conference or division or any other way you slice the teams up. You would get the 8 best teams playing the next best 8. Sort of think March Madness format: 1 versus 16, 2 vs. 15, etc., etc. It would make every team try to win to get those big seeds.

  46. At Pens practice today, Dan Bylsma tore into the team with a profanity laced tirade that would have made Bruce Boudreau blush. Gee, didn’t Disco get the memo that there were two teams on the ice & the Islanders played great & they have lots of talent and yada yada yada ? Guess not. Good for him.

  47. Milo ~ really? Wish I could have heard that LOL!

  48. @Jandy

    I’m not worried about them & Bylsma probably isn’t either. More than likely just a good time to get their attention.

  49. Milo, I’m not horribly worried either, but it p*sses me off when they play like they did last night against the Isles, when we NEEDED the 2 points to pass the Rangers.
    The biggest thing that concerns me now, is Letang being down again. He’s the most important link for everyone except Fleury to play their game well. Fleury just had an off night. He’ll be fine. The PP isn’t all that and a bag of doritos either. Lots of pretty passing and puck control does not equate into scoring. What’s the count now…2-for-24? That stinks!
    Get Malkin and Sid off the same PP and see if it doesn’t work better.

  50. Way to go Saint Paulie Martin, you finally hit someone but it’s your own goalie….

  51. tk, sorta funny, but that collision was as much Fleury’s fault as Martin’s, if not more. He read the play wrong, and admitted as much.
    Paul Martin has been playing much better. Now Michalek is the one I’m worried about!

  52. @Milo–glad to hear what you are reporting. And agree with that business about Disco not getting the memo about the Islanders. Including Tavarares, the Isles have no business beating the Pens for any reason. I have great confidence that Disco, unlike Saucy Face, will lead this team where it needs to go.

    Pens are often saved by the speed of Kris Letang–he covers for mistakes or forwards not getting back, and I think the forwards have come to depend on that a bit. Then, when he is out, any lack of commitment to getting back by the forwards becomes glaring, especially when MAF has the rare off night. And I am not buying any of the nonsense about Malkin not being a good defensive player. 71 is unconditionally a team first player, clearly committed to winning, and I am pretty is near the top of the league in steals.

    @Jandy–I said before I thought Pens should have PP 1A and 1B. Not because Sid and Geno can’t work together. They often do it very well, just not on the PP, for whatever reason. And I still say that another team’s penalty killers would have to be demoralized by killing the first half of a PP and then seeing 71 or 87 hop over the boards for the second half.

  53. CWalton, we agree: Letang is vital to this team’s overall defensive play and Sid and Geno should be on different PP units.
    As far as Malkin, I can’t believe anyone can’t see how far he has come as a player this season. His skating, his face-offs, his scoring, his improved defensive playiing. What do some people want, blood??? Sure he makes mistakes, show me the hockey player who doesn’t!

  54. Jandy, I agree that the collision was Fleury’s fault as much as Martins. But if Michelle Therien could use 1 word to describe Martin, it would be “Soft”

  55. I was kinda hoping Martin would be suspended for that hit on Fleury.

  56. and the roll continues! lol

  57. LuckyNKentucky, thanks for the compliment!! Sometimes I feel timid about commenting about such a male-dominated sport, but comments like yours make me feel more brave.

    Sheila, it wasn’t a defense, it was an observation. There have been many, many instances this season where Malkin has been double-shifted and/or played the entire two minute power play. Clearly, that’s going to effect his ability to backcheck if the need arises. If that draws a comparison to Ovechkin, all I can say is that I don’t think it’s a case of Coach B. not being able to “rein him in”. Rather, I think it’s a deliberate strategy made possible by Malkin’s superior conditioning and will to play.

    I think everyone is panicking unnecessarily about this whole “run and gun” thing. Judging from the interviews I’ve read and seen, the team knows what’s gone wrong and they’ll fix it. That’s the difference between this team and others in the league. They have the will, the character, and the personnel to win. Otherwise, they’d have given up in December. Do I think they’ll win the Cup? I don’t think it’s as done a deal as some others do. But I think the Pens will make a nice, deep run. I’m looking forward to it!

  58. Leah,

    Hockey may be male-dominated, but ladies know as much or more about it now and they seem to enjoy it as much if not more. With olympic womens’ hockey and all-around interest in the sport it’s come a long way since the Hornets played (won 7 games in the entire season) in the “Burgh. I followed hockey even then, but didn’t and still don’t know as much about it as you ladies. Now we have Sheila, too, and who knows how many of these others are ladies. Milo might even be one.

  59. @Lucky

    Did I miss something ? I’ll have to have a talk with my mother.

  60. Milo,

    Just kidding.

  61. ROFL Milo is rollin on and on…. =)

  62. @Leah

    I literally started typing a comment this afternoon stating how impressively the ladies of the blog articulate their hockey talk, but felt those who obviously do so well may be offended by my “surprise”. Honestly cannot pick out male from female except by name.

    @tk – I believe thats spelled “soff”

  63. Can Groat start a countdown to Pedro’s next at-bat?

    I mean, come on, Alvarez played in a ST game last night and DK only gives it 5 sentences in his blog? Who are these Penguins he’s writing about?

    Whats Pedro eating for dinner? When is his bedtime? How many hits would he have had in the batting cage today?

    I can’t get enough.

  64. 8 = Days until Opening Day
    283 = Days until Pedro’s first At Bat in Winter Ball

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