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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Your turn behind the bench


PHILADELPHIA — Brief and to the Point …

>> My Monday column invites the Penguins to stay exactly where they are — Pittsburgh — and spare the franchise further embarrassment in Game 4.

Those are my thoughts in there, and I want to hear yours:

What’s the biggest problem?

What would you to do address the team before Game 4?

Was James Neal’s hit worthy of a suspension?

There’s no question Arron Asham is deserving. Don’t feel that way about Neal.

>> This was what Neal Huntington had to say to reporters Saturday in San Francisco in regards to Pedro Alvarez: “We’ve played … what, seven games so far? An awfully short sample. He’s working hard to get better, to take what he does in pregame into the game. We have to get about six other guys going — and Pedro is included in that — before we start talking about other situations.”

Really kind of running out of stuff to offer on this topic.

It’s all yours.

>> Also in the all-yours department: If anyone saw Pitt uber-recruit Steven Adams on TV the other night, would love to hear your impressions of that. Was traveling across that state as that went on.

>> Ben Roethlisberger, at the Yankees’ opener, opines on New York’s two (three?) quarterbacks.

Borderline related, but there are mounting descriptions of Roethlisberger as having slimmed down a bit. Not sure what to make of that, if wholly accurate. The Steelers clearly want him to do less scrambling.

>> My weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio will be today at noon.


  1. Steve a says:

    I find it interesting out of all those penalty min in that game Matt Cooke some how did not have one of them.

  2. Playoffs by 2012 says:

    If you’d have told me before this week started that the Pirates would have won more games than the Penguins, I’d have said You soooooo crazeee!!! Who’s crazy now??

  3. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Great column.

    Perfectly captures the mood of the majority of Pens fans.

    Surprised we’re here but we are…it’s 3-0.

    Difficult to comeback? Yes.

    Impossible? No.

    We’ve seen some amazing feats from our Pittsburgh sports teams over the years.

    I remember a famous line Willie Stargell told his teammates when the Pirates were down 3-1 to Baltimore in 1979. He said “we may not win the series but let’s show the world what the Pittsburgh Pirates are all about.”

    Win or lose in Game 4, the Pens need to play one good, tough hockey game. Not all of this idiotic nonsense, cheap shots, taking horrible penalties to kill momentum. Everyone has to be on this same page and not want to be the guy that lets everyone down.

    I think they’re done, though, because the Flyers are a deeper team. They have more players who can create scoring opportunities and put the puck in the net. Puts a lot of pressure on the Pens at all times, whether it’s even strength or on special teams.

  4. Maddamma says:

    Watched the game with some friends. One brought a guy from his office who is a Flyers fan. During the second period, i looked at him and said, “Sorry about this. I don’t recognize my team out there. This is not what they are about.” Then I left and got away from the game altogether – at that point I didn’t even care if they one. I was embarrassed to be a Pens fan today. Time for Mario and Shero to address the team and remind them about the values that their city and organization represent.

  5. Arriba Wilver says:

    I got nothing to add to what you said in your column about the Pens. Nothing.

    On Pedro? I don’t like throwing the word “delusional” around too freely, but Neal’s comment and some of the other comments coming from management about Pedro are beginning to sound like they are deluding themselves, for whatever reason. I know a bunch of righties are coming up, so maybe Neal’s just engaging in Nealspeak, and they are going to see what he can do over the next stretch of games. But, man . . .

  6. CWalton_67 says:

    Pens biggest problem is, and has been, lack of veteran leadership. They shouldn’t need it at this point, but clearly, they do.

    An unfortunate and frankly, unforgiveable end to a very fun season. Do work, Mr Shero.

  7. Deb says:

    Bylsma looks and sounds beaten in the press conferences. He needs help.

    You have never said directly, what is your take of benching Crosby from the power play? Message sending? if so what message? how did the team and Crosby take it behind the scenes?

  8. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Flyers have been impressive in pretty much every phase of the game. Hate to say it but’s true. As many have said, they’ve shown a lot more will. Far more discipline.

    The goaltender hasn’t been that great, which may leave the door slightly cracked.

    They’ve started fast in many of these games. Look to do that again. Hopefully they can get up 2 or 3 goals again. Then pull it back some and protect things in front of Fleury a lot more. They played that way last year quite a bit with Crosby out. They can’t go full throttle the entire game the way the defense is struggling. Too many times the defense is getting caught too far up leading to break out opportunities for the Flyers.

    Get the lead and protect. Turn it over to Fleury and hope he plays lights out the rest of the way.

  9. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Crosby said it wasn’t frustration. Then it was just stupidity.

    Take your pick haha

  10. Don G. says:

    I think your description of the Letang cross-check is a little bit overboard. That cross-check happens 100 times in an NHL game.

    DK: I know. That’s not the time to test it.

  11. Amber says:

    Dejan, there are so many questions I have.

    Is this something that seems to be internal? As in a problem in the locker room?? Just can’t think of how blindsiding this is. What are your feelings on there being a problem in the locker room maybe?

    Also, what changes can be made in the offseason? The first one for me has to be figuring out what to do with Martin. I’ve tried defending him but there’s just nothing left to do.

    If Asham is benched… does that mean Vitale plays or does Dan go to a guy like Tangradi to come in?

    Awesome article in Monday’s paper! Loved it

    DK: Glad you appreciated the column, Amber. I’ll take the first of what you acknowledge is a long set of Qs: Both Brooks Orpik and Sidney Crosby spoke today of there being “no finger-pointing” in the locker room. In both cases, neither of them was asked about that. Came about on its own. I’m not going to speculate. I genuinely don’t know what it means. But I follow patterns, and that one’s been in place for a couple days.

    But look, if your room is all is just sunshine and roses after three games like this … you’ve got far bigger problems than even if they were at each other’s throats.

  12. Clint says:

    This team has never been able to replace the grit and solid D of Scuderi and Gill in 09. That is not to say Shero has not tried, but Michalek and Martin have failed miserably in that role. The dilemna will be their contracts are albatrosses, and no around the league is going to want to take them on after their performance this year. Brooks Orpik looks like a shell of his former self, and I have never seen him so victimized since the Theirren days where he was banished to the wing.

    Pens have great depth in the line with Despres, Morrow, Harrington, and Strait, but will be hard to crack through in the cap mess that is the blue line. Pens will also need to find some young legs on the forwards who can score. Does not seem like Tangradi will be that guy, and Vitale is a checker. Bennett will need polishing.. but Philly showed you can blow up your core and reload rather quickly if you hit on the right pieces. Crosby and Malkin are going nowhere, but Staal, Kunitz, and Kennedy could all be on the block if Shero really wants to reshape the forwards.

  13. JonnyNemo says:

    This team seems lost, and not evenly slightly prepared. What exactly were they doing in those days off from the end of the season? The belief that you can force any team to play YOUR game when your game relies on breakout passes from the D, which the flyers have prepared for and learned how to read, is short sited.

    The idea that you don’t play a style to fit the team you play against in the playoffs is the reason why these playoffs may end so early. You can’t play your style if it’s not effective against the team your playing.

  14. Leah Backus says:

    It’s honestly hard to pick a single, “biggest” problem. I do think it lies somewhere in the intangibles. Leadership. Heart. Chemistry. Humility. I have no idea how popular this opinion is going to be, but it was a huge mistake to let Talbot go. I said it at the time. Those intangibles are the biggest parts of Max’s game. When he left, I think a lot of the leadership in the room left with him.

    In the big picture, after all the emotion dies down, I think people will realize a couple of key things that led to this. One, the defense didn’t have a lot of time to gel due to injuries. This is proven by the fact that they were much, much better the last half of last season when they were all healthy, all year. Two, Crosby’s return created an unavoidable set of problems that there was very little time to solve before the playoffs began. It’s not his fault, or anyone’s. When you have a guy like that healthy, you have to play him regardless of how he fits into a lineup that’s already playing well.

    I continue to believe that the Penguins management has ample skills to address these problems and will do so, perhaps in surprising ways, in the off-season. I can’t see #66 or Shero being happy with the status quo, let’s put it that way.

    Here’s hoping the guys can pull out at least one win, for pride’s sake.

  15. Charlie Chaplin says:

    1. Pens game was pretty bad all around today. I have to say its hard to watch a team get pushed around physically and mentally while being out coached.

    2. The best example of the Pens was the 3rd goal (the 3 on 2), the Flyers played it to perfection, cross pass, guy to far post. Michalek ended up as a trailer on the play. Terrible defensive play.

    3. Neal should be concerned of a suspension. 2 head shots in 3 minutes. Although they were hockey plays and not WWE plays so he might ok. Oh, wait or is it the opposite? Cant remember?

  16. Ken says:

    I am somewhat ashamed of the Penguins play tonight, almost to the point where I was when I watched that Penguins/Islanders game.

    The Penguins are playing the worst hockey I have seen in many years. No goalie, no defense, and especially no team hockey.

    I think that Fluery may have not been rested enough coming into the playoffs and his psyche was at an all time low.

    The defense, and not just the d-men, has been horrendous, to worried about scoring goals instead of playing team hockey.

    Ray Shero has some work to do after game four, because as much as I want it to happen, I don’t see the Pens making it out of round one again.

  17. Pete D. says:

    If that wasn’t frustration, I don’t know what is. Why is Fluery suddenly spooked and playing with zero confidence? Why is Crosby losing his cool so much lately? How come Asham was the Pens’ best post season player last year and now he’s back to being a goon? So many individual questions pile up to a U-Haul packed to the brim with baggage. It goes to show that talent alone can’t win. They need to play the Byslma system and make better decisions. Everything they’re doing wrong is solvable, it just comes down to if they have too much pride to play a clean, blue-collar style hockey game without trying to get fancy. Work harder. Think before you pass the puck. Know who you’re covering in the defensive zone. Keep it simple.

  18. Charlie Chaplin says:

    Also, Pens face possibly tough next 3 years.

    – CBA may not increase cap, or may even decrease it
    – Martin/Michalek untradable. If I am a gm I make sure the Pens have to keep them
    – Over $40 million of $60 million payroll in Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Martin, Fleury, Michalek, Staal
    – Money is obviously tight since they are the only team in the league to charge for color out shirts and raised prices so high
    – #problems

  19. Mario Lives says:

    @Amber I’m thinking the same thing regarding an issue in the locker room. Maybe I’m grasping for straws, but this doesn’t make sense. Something isn’t right in that room. This isn’t the Pens team we had grown accustomed to the last 5 years. They thrived under adversity. I just can’t explain this.

  20. Alisha says:

    It’s not a talent thing; it’s a mental thing. I don’t know when they lost it, but at some point over the course of this season, the Penguins have lost the ability to bend without breaking. Bylsma’s system is beautiful…but it only works if everyone is on the same page, and man oh man, are they scarily discordant right now. They’re so used to it coming easily to them that now that they’ve tried a few tweaks against the Flyers and they haven’t worked, they’ve just completely gone off the deep end. Just wheels off.

    Fire Bylsma? Nah. Blow up the team? I don’t even think that’s necessary. It has nothing to do with their talent, but their identity, and…their identity changed mid-season from defense first to offensive juggernaut. They haven’t found a balance yet. Unfortunately…that’s not something that can really be fixed in one game.

  21. Nate says:

    1) I’m not watching Wednesday’s game live on TV, instead I’m DVR’ing it then fast forwarding (only to stop at goals) to avoid a prolonged, painful ending. If they win I”ll watch Game 5 live and with some hope.

    2) I’m not upset about the Penguins perceived frustration and physicality, both teams were into it. The Pens have come apart at the seams due to the lack of timely goaltending (Fleury repeatedly giving up really soft soul/comeback-crushing goals) and a sincerely lack of team defense.

    3) The general sloppiness on team defense has been noticeable for a couple months now, really apparent during the final couple weeks of the season, and punctuated in the playoffs. The Flyers play a very misdirection, potentially dizzying, criss-crossing offense that capitalizes on turnovers. To win Game 4, the Penguins forwards and defensemen need to clog the middle, play a bit of dump and chase, be patient, avoid penalties, and not allow any SH goals. THEIR goals will come. Blysma’s playing lipstick on a pig – with the pig being loose run-and-gun regular season hockey – not tight, smart, timely playoff hockey.

    4) Someone, Jordan Staal maybe, said after Game 2, “we’re playing strong, we’ve seen the results in the regular season, the success will come”. No Jordan, it won’t. That phrase reminds me of the run-and-gun Capitals narrative after their playoff losses the last few years (with general healthy lineups). Nic Backstrom, “we had success in the regular season, it should translate”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Playoff hockey is an entirely different beast. Sloppy teams lose. The Pens are getting crushed.

  22. Abe says:

    It was starting to really get ridiculous during the second game against the Dodgers when Bob Walk and Greg Brown mentioned about 100 times how Pedro Alvarez hit one out of the stadium during batting practice. Who cares what he did during bp if he can’t even be trusted to hit a sac fly during a game. I chalk it up as a good at bat for Pedro if he just makes contact and doesn’t get rung up on a perfect pitch. When it gets to his place in the order I get that sick feeling in my stomach that I used to get when Ronny Cedeno or Lyle Overbay would step up to bat. At the very least he needs a good bit more time in The minors because his performances at bat and in the field are just hurting the team.

  23. Charlie Chaplin says:

    I personally think with all of the rumors this year (and articles like the one Dejan wrote) there is a “possibility” of lockerroom problems.

    To be clear – I am not saying there are but over the past year we have heard:
    1. broken neck that wasnt broken but really was but then it wasnt because the last guy we went to said it wasnt but Sids agent leaked to the press it was.
    2. The Pens were so upset with Rossi they had him removed (I know it was never verified, keep in mind I am just posting rumors)
    3. Secret team meeting, captain issue
    4. Backlash from pens front office on most negative articles.

    – my constant remains in all of these:
    The Pens come out full force and deny all accusations or rumors and now are being very forthcoming in putting to rest rumors that have not been presented to them yet.

    Just saying….connecting the dots….I aint no genius…..but I play one on the internet.

  24. Leah Backus says:

    I forgot to talk about the suspensions thing. Asham deserves to get the book thrown at him. I’m talking Matt Cooke-worthy games. And sadly, because I have been a huge fan of his in the past, I think he should probably be let go in the off-season. He under-performed this year and could be replaced with someone with more size.

    You didn’t mention Craig Adams, DK, but I had a thought about that whole fracas also. I liked that he was willing to step in and defend Crosby. It was similar to Godard taking the ten-game suspension for leaving the bench to defend Johnson last year. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. However…if I hear one more word about him pulling Hartnell’s hair from either Hartnell or outraged Philly fans, I’m going postal with a pair of clippers. He was grabbing the back of Hartnell’s jersey and you really can’t do that without getting a hold of some hair. Sorry. Some years ago, when Ricky Williams was playing for the Miami Dolphins, he was asked if his long dreadlocks were a liability since opposing defenders liked to grab them and haul him down by them from time to time. His answer was that his hair was his choice and if that happened, it was just part of the game. Hartnell could take a clue from him. (Later in his career, he finally did cut his hair.) Talk about whining. Sheesh.

  25. Ryan says:

    The issue is their identity. In the past, Crosby and the Pens would simply win in response to the Flyers buffoonery. Now, they’re unraveling, not knowing who they truly are.

    I think the regular season offensive sugar-high is leading to the biggest playoff crash I’ve seen this team have for a while. Does hockey have its version of 5 hour energy? The Pens will need some to come back from 3-0 hole.

  26. SD says:

    I really hope Craig Adams doesn’t get anything for the Hartnell incident. As Leah mentioned, he didn’t pull his hair but was going for the jersey. And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Crosby grabbing Hartnell because Hartnell was going to go after Neal who had been sent across the ice by the ref? I have no problem with Sid standing up for his teammate and for Craig standing up for Sid if that was indeed the case.

  27. Cari says:

    I think our biggest problem is the defense, but I think the problem is coaching / leadership / execution as much as personnel. Martin and Michalek have been disappointing, but I don’t think our problems would be solved even if we could somehow ship them off for better defensemen. The entire team seems to be bad at defense. Several players give away the puck easily and then fail to get back in time, and I’m nervous no matter who is out there on D.

    I have been trying to figure out if the problem is the system — if the coaches failed to work with them on playing good defense against a team like the Flyers — or if the coaches have tried, but the players are somehow failing to execute for whatever reason. It just seems like even if we don’t have the world’s best defensemen, the Pens should be able to implement a defensive system that performs much better than this.

    So basically, I’m wondering if the team hasn’t spent enough time working on a good way to defend against the Flyers, or if they’re just failing to do it for some reason. I don’t understand how the team could let the Flyers beat them the exact same way all year, and then let them keep doing it during the playoffs without any apparent adjustments.

    If they are just getting thrown off and losing focus, it may be an issue of leadership, confidence, and mental toughness. We’ve had just a few hints of locker room issues this year, but mostly the team has seemed okay — however, maybe they don’t have the solid identity and strong leaders (Crosby, Guerin) they seemed to have in the past. I’m sure Crosby is doing his best as captain, but the dynamic has to be different after the team played the majority of the season without him. The Pens just seem so fragile and undisciplined, like they can’t handle adversity. It’s awful to watch.

  28. Vince says:

    To sort of play devil’s advocate here…not a single one of us as fans have any idea how we’d TRULY react to what was happening out there if we were on the ice. Do we LIKE to think we’d have more integrity, class, and brains to play the game the right way and not engage in all the fighting and cheap shots? Sure we do, but we’ll never know. All we know is that we can sit behind our TV’s in our white arm chairs and call this team a “disgrace” for what they did. Have none of us had weak moments? Have none of us ever been frustrated beyond belief and snapped when someone else did/said something antagonizing or chippy? Have none of us simply just lashed out in whatever way we could lash out? Maybe we didn’t get into fist fights and cross check players in from of a national TV audience, but we may have behaved just as “badly” within the context of our own lives. I bet we’d be hard pressed to find anyone who watched the game today who hasn’t at some point in their lives completely lost their cool; they just didn’t do it on NBC at 4:00 on a Sunday as part of a professional sports team. It’s easy to judge when you’re not out there living it. None of us truly have a clue how we’d react in the heat of a NHL playoff series where we simply couldn’t do our job well no matter how hard we tried.

    Sure, the Pens make millions of dollars to do the things that they failed to do in this series well (play good hockey, keep level heads, stick to their game, etc etc). That’s the huge trump card. Many of the problems we’ll all have to deal with will never exist in their lives from the time they signed that first big contract. It is difficult to feel sorry for them and easy to judge them and hold them to a higher standard, but if they didn’t happen to have this completely (in the grand scheme of things) MEANINGLESS skill to shoot a puck around, they’d be accountants, engineers, newspaper reporters, lawyers, doctors, baristas, teachers, or police officers just like the rest of us. Heck, I’m sure a lot of these guys were one blown knee in juniors away from a career as assistant manager at Target. At the end of the day, the Pens are no different than you or I, and just because they’re under the microscope that they’re under doesn’t mean any of us should mean we should expect any kind of super human resilience. A million dollar paycheck and national/worldwide fame doesn’t make you any more or less susceptable of the extreme degree of human imperfection and vulnerability we saw on the ice.

    Personally, I’ve never held professional athletes to a higher standard than anyone else for any reason. These guys are just people, and I’m willing to bet many of us would end up reacting the same way they did this afternoon. It’s OK to be upset and disappointed, but we all live in glass houses. We just didn’t throw our stones in front of millions of people. We’ll never know how we’d react if we were players in this game/series. Am I excusing what we saw today? No, but I think a lot of us fans/media need to get off our high horses.

  29. Deb says:

    DK: I do not see why the Pirates won’t option Alvarez to AAA when we have Harrison Matt Hague and most importantly Casey McGehee who seems to get a hit all the time. Maybe you can make some light out of it for me. Also, what pitcher do you see falling out of the five man rotation when AJ comes back, I was thinking James McDonald. Thanks. Deb

  30. Leah Backus says:

    Vince…If I threw a tantrum at work when I got frustrated and things weren’t going my way, I would expect to be fired. In fact, I *have* been fired for that (if you read this blog a lot you know my mouth works faster than my brain a lot of the time). Following the rules and playing with professionalism is part of the Penguins job and something they’ve been very public about saying is important to them. I don’t think it’s wrong to hold them to a standard they, themselves, set.

  31. grandpagreg says:

    Playoffs have always been about defense, goaltending, and special teams. This team looks like it doesn’t know how to play without the puck. I think you have to question the coaching when this much talent looks so bad.

  32. Don G. says:

    I definitely agree that it was a bad time. And I didn’t mean to sound like I ignored the truth in your column, I take more issue with the inconsistencies of that kind of call than what you said. Still obviously him getting the boot was the biggest thing – if the Flyers had to have Timonen sit out for nearly the whole game just to get Letang to be out as well, I’m sure they’d do it every time.

  33. DutchPensFan says:

    I am embarassed to be a Pens fan today. If you lose, you need to lose gracefully. They were headhunting out there, which was disgusting to see. The Flyers are outplaying you, accept it and deal with it like a professional athlete. You are all role models. I saw a very ugly side of the Pens that I don’t want to see again. They should be forced to apologize to the city and their fans.

    Shero has his work cut out for him this summer.

  34. jefft says:

    Have to say…I turned the Pens game off after the first period & watched the Pirates…it’s hard to say, but it sickens me the way the Pens are playing.
    As for Pedro…good Lord, 0-3 yesterday, 2 K’s, both of which came with him swinging at pitches that were up at eye level. I really hate to throw conspiracy theories out, but I can’t imagine that anybody with baseball knowledge is watching him & seeing someone ready for at-bats at the major-league level.

  35. Thundercrack says:

    I was very surprised by Sidney Crosby. That was embarrassing. Now I know why, at times, he has a much different reputation around the league than here at home.

    Imagine the names we would have been calling Ovechkin or Jagr if one of them would have acted the way Crosby did yesterday. My guess is the names would have been much worse than ‘jagoff’.

  36. Dave J says:

    DK – Wasn’t it in the 1992 playoffs that the Pens were down 3-1 to the Caps and they totally changed their “system” out of the blue? They would get that first goal (similar to 2012), and then drop into a 1-4 trap. It totally frustrated tha Caps and the Pens won the next 3 games, the series and eventually the Cup. From what I’ve seen the last 3 games, these current “knuckleheads” (their present style of play) don’t have the discipline to make something like that happen.

  37. Mechanicsville Bill says:

    With the Bucs playing (I believe) 5 of their 6 this week against RHP’s, it’s incumbent upon Hurdle to get Pedro as many ABs as possible. I think at this point we can draw the conclusion that he’s never going to hit lefties for any sustained amount of success.

  38. John Lease says:

    I guess the Pirates are waiting until Pedro’s confidence is completely destroyed.

    Then, down to AAA he goes.

  39. JAL says:

    JAL’s That Lucky Old Sun Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

  40. JAL says:

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates Snap Streak With 4-1 Victory

    6 Rumbunter

    Its Not Just the Pirates: Kevin Correia Shuts Down Former Team, Now What?

    Ten Great Pittsburgh Pirates Stories Yet to Be Written

    7 McEffect

    Recap 4/15 | Pirates 4 Giants 1


    Game 9: Pirates 4 Giants 1

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs Ride Correia To 4-1 Win

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Return of the road warrior

  41. JAL says:

    16 Bellingham Herald

    Giants’ bats go silent in loss to Pirates

    17 Charleston Daily Mail

    Kingham settles down to lead Power to sweep of Greenville


    18 PBC Site

    Pirates reward Correia by preserving win

    Notebook: McCutchen’s shoes pay tribute to Jackie

    19 Bleacher Report

    Cincinnati Reds’ Bats Have Now Become a Cause for Concern

  42. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Weekend Check Down: The Big Stories of the Past Week

    Antonio Brown, Baron Batch, Curtis Brown, et al: The Emergence of the New “Tomlin Steelers?”

    Steelers All Time Players Draft for One Game

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Recapping The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Trades During The Mike Tomlin-Era

    22 Nice Pick Cowher

    Could Jonathan Martin Fall to the Steelers at #24? If So, Should They Take Him?

  43. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Are These the Answers You Were Looking For?

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Steven Adams Solid In Jordan Brand Classic

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Geno Smith The Best QB In The Big 12?

    26 WV Illustrated

    WVU Defense Looks to Improve Its Tackling

  44. JAL says:


    27 Pensburgh

    Game 3 Recap: Pens get thumped 8-4 in Philly, end not far now


    28 Sky Sports

    Rooney brace sends Utd clear,,11065_3495104,00.html

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 13th 2012

  45. JAL says:

    Lucky Old Sun, Beasley Smith and Haven Gillespie, 1949. This is the Frankie Laine recording that went to number 1 and spent 22 weeks chart. Recordings by Vaughn Monroe, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra all made the charts in 1949 and were often on it at the same time. Laine’s version was biggest hit. The song continues to be recorded today, most recently by Chris Isaak in 2011. Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney did it as duet in 2008. Laine had many hits and continued performing into his 90s and into the 21st century. He is also on many movie soundtracks.

  46. Ace McTasty says:

    DK, based on what you’ve reported as to what Byslma & staff are emphasizing in practice, it would certainly seem as though the coaches are being tuned out once it comes time to implement these things in games. This reflects poorly on Bylsma & everyone in that locker room, but especially the veteran leadership, including the captain. The t-shirts are nice but maybe it’s time for one captain instead of 20.

    The system was abandoned weeks ago. Composure is long gone. The team s embarrassing themselves every time they hit the ice. The Pens’ best players are not only being held in check by lesser talents, but DOMINATED by them. Who would have thought it 3 weeks ago, but they’re a dysfunctional disaster of a team.

    This isn’t as simple as Martin and Michalek (although they’re as much to blame as anyone). I don’t envy the task Shero will have this offseason of trying to figure out how to deal with this mess.

  47. Tim says:

    but nothing stood out like Pascal Dupuis failing to dump the puck on a penalty-kill late in the second, leading to Wayne Simmonds` breakaway goal that put the Flyers up, 6-4.

    I said the same thing. Not to put he onus on Dupuis, yet that play pretty much sums up the series. As a former D-man, this hurts to watch. It’s numbing. As far as the physical stuff, it’s playoff hockey, the Pens are frustrated and are reaching for straws. So be it. It happens. I’d be pissed too. Who is this hockey team?

  48. LeeFoo says:

    Famous Dejan quotes (pick the one he never said):

    “The Pirates will hit”

    “The Penguins will win the Cup”

    “Buy Circuit City stock”

    :) :) :)


  49. LeeFoo says:

    Everybody should read JAL’s “10 Pirate Stories yet to be written”

    Funny stuff from the Linkman.


  50. bman says:

    I don’t have any answers, but the Pens need to quit with the cheap shots. I, too, am embarassed to be a Pens fan today. I’ll try and see that tiny glimmer of hope that says they led for a majority of games 1 and 2; perhaps they can get a 2+ goal lead in Game 4 and hang on this time.

  51. Jandy says:

    I missed the end of the first period and the beginning of the second traveling home from visiting my grand daughter. However, I’ll say this: the Pens are being out-played thoroughly by the Flyers. I’m still not sure if Bylsma is at fault. Is he trying to get them to play better defense? Are they not listening? That doesn’t bode well either. Tuning out the coach means he will be gone, and I am a fan of DB. I am not sure if I’ll watch Wednesday or not. My heart is already heavy with seeing/hearing how badly we played, and our poor sportsmanship. I’m not saying none/some/any of it is deserved or not, but stooping that low only causes more problems than it solves.

  52. Jandy says:

    Lee, how many guesses do I get??? ;)

  53. JT says:

    First off let me make it clear that this disaster of a series falls on the players first, and foremost. However DB’s stubborness and refusal to make any adjustments certainly hasnt helped.

    Dejan I’d like to see if you agree,

    If I’m behind the bench the thing that I am changing is the breakout. DB is a stubborn, stubborn man, i understand he wants to “dictate how the game is played”. However, how can he constantly watch the Flyers two man forecheck wreck havoc on the Pens defenseman before he makes and adjustment? Bring a center down low to help with the break out. Also bring the wingers at least back to the defensive zone side of the red line. If the pens defense cant get the puck to them 120′ away anyway, they might as well come back to the same time zone and help play defense.

    The Pens put so much pressure on their defense to be able to make quick decisions with the puck and to be able to skate it out of trouble. But the Pens D core isnt built for that. Martin and Michalek are not bad players, but they are bad fits for the Pens system. Letang and Niskanen can thrive under Bylsmas system, Martin and Michalek are trainwrecks.

    Shero needs to make a decision this offseason, if Bylmas system is going to remain intact, then Martin and Michalek need to go, i know its not easy to trade players with big contracts like that. But each of these guys is worth that money in a system that fits them (like devils and coyotes)

    I dont care if they have little or no experience, Despres and Morrow need to be in the line up next season. Are they ready for the NHL? I dont know, but what I do know is being able to make quick decisions with the puck and skate well is a lot more important for a Bylsma defenseman than actually playing defense is and for the skills required, ill take them over Martin and Michalek

  54. Milo Hamilton says:

    The NHL should apologize to John Tortorella and give him his $20,000 back.

  55. Joe D says:

    How can the Pens organization continue to campaign against head shots, then turn around and act like that? I guess only the Pen’s stars are supposed to be protected. Mario once referred to the NHL as a garage league. The Pens are turning into a garage organization.

  56. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Nice piece, JAL. The other one on Rumbunter is good, too.

  57. Billy Ray Valentine says:

    I agree with a lot of what Vince says and I have no problem with the actions of Asham, Neal or Crosby. So the Pens were head hunting? Kind of like Schenn’s hit on Martin? I’m glad someone finally stood up to the bully and punched them in the nose. I dont see any difference in this and the fight Talbot instigated against the Flyers. But it changed the momentum and we won the series so it was ok. Seems like a double standard to me. Crosby was preventing the main Flyer thug from going after Neal along with the rest of the thugs, no problem with that either. You can only take so much before you will lose your composure.

    There are a lot of Flyers that have future careers in soccer too. They lay on the ice for minutes and stumble off the ice with the trainer only to miraculously come back and play. I would expect a game 4 sweep and hope that is the outcome. I would like the players to let that sting over the offseason.

  58. Jandy says:

    Milo, you’re off to a good start already this week lol

  59. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Im embarrassed to be a Pens fan after yesterday, Either Bylsma was supporting the actions or he was powerless to stop it – either way, a poor reflection on the head coach. As the panel noted on last night’s KDKA Showdown, this performance, foloowed up previously by game 7 losses at home in 2010 and 2011 at least puts Bylsma’s job security up for discussion. Hes no longer “Teflon Dan”……Splitting up Crosby and Malkin on PP speaks to coaching staff not knowing what to do so lets just break them up….Not being able to come up with a PP gameplan with both Crosby and Malkin on same unit is fireable. To use Crosby on #2 PP unit with Cooke and Staal is pathetic.

    At least Sid comes to play everynight. Couturier has eaten Malkin for lunch and totally taken him out of the series. I think the braintrust seriously needs to re-examine if the core needs reshaped. Malkin has 0 goals in last 11 playoff games…Fleury, aside from amazing performances in game 6 and game 7 in 2009 finals and maybe Game 7 vs Caps in same year, has been a sieve in the playoffs…Anyone remember he got yanked in Game 7 vs Habs in 2010…..This playoff performance has now allowed so many questions to be put on the table and all (from firing the coach to trading key pieces – Malkin and Fleury) are at least worthy of discussion.

  60. tk says:

    Completely agree DK. If the Pens are going to play like that then Mario should call Bobby Clarke and forfeit game 4. I put most of the blame on Bylsma. He is the head coach therefore he’s the man that could have put an end to that type of play. But who knows what’s said on the bench or in between periods, maybe he was the one that instructed the players to play like that. What a disgrace and another early playoff exit with the great Bylsma system.

  61. JAL says:


    thanks, glad you like it

  62. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Good column. Didn’t see the game, but that pretty much sums up what happened–or didn’t. On a bright note, Josh Bell had another hit yesterday and his early-season average is .308. The 5-year plan is now about 8 years.

  63. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    The Penguins are playing the way they are instructed to by their coaches.

    Bylsma must now fear for his job.

  64. Eric Majeski says:

    The optics of the Asham cross-check were bad, but I think it hit him in the chest and rode up. I can understand wanting to defend a teammate. To me, the punch he threw after Schenn was down was way, way worse. An inexcusable act, regardless of the thought behind it.

    Neal’s hit on Couturier looked terrible, but I don’t think it was the least bit intentional. I don’t think Neal expected him to turn into his path. The run he took at Giroux later was much worse IMO.

    As far as how they’ve managed to get themselves in a 3-0 hole, no point in trying to find explanations for the inexplicable. I have never seen a team just completely lose themselves like this.

  65. Jandy says:

    I just watched the video of Neal’s hit on Couturier. That hit is no different from MOST ALL of Hartnells’ hits this season.

  66. Jandy says:

    JAL, I got a kick out of the “10 Pirate Stories Yet to be Written”. LOL good stuff :)

  67. Aaron says:

    Brooks Orpik is just as much a defensive problem as Martin. He may not be the ‘turnstile’ like Martin but time after time he lines up for a big hit which leads to a break away for the other team. I know that is what endeared him to Pens fans, but he needs to be a little more weary when he choses to do that in the neutral zone.

    NBC just about makes me sick listening to it. After Schenn left his feet obviously to hit Paul Martin (who was already engaged with another player) the announcers were all saying how he didn’t deserve what happened next and how clean of a hit it was. But when Neal made his hit, they automatically say that he left his feet. I’m not sure what makes them love Schenn so much but its alittle odd. Schenn seems to make dirty after whistle plays every game. Karma was coming for him eventually. I’m not condoning what Ashom did to him, but someone was going to do something to him eventually.

    Loved the play of Neal, the only one really skating and shooting.

    Didn’t know Letang could fight like that. Wow.

  68. PF says:

    Will anything be made of Berube sending Simmonds after Neal? I thought the NHL was trying to put a stop to this type of behavior. They showed it on TV but you have heard nothing else of it.

    Sid going at it with Giroux and knocking the glove away was an attempt to get his team going. If the star with the concussion is going to go at it then maybe the rest of the players will step up.

    Letang’s fight was out of frustration and stupid. The Flyers will take Letang out of the game with Timonen anyday.

    BTW.. The Penguins have played horrible, the officiating is very bad and the Flyers goalie is bad. Only the Flyers skaters are playing well.

  69. Milo Hamilton says:

    Zbynek Michalek looked like a scared little school girl trying to avoid being hit yesterday. I should apologize if I offended any scared little school girls.

  70. PetroSteel says:

    Today was one of your best articles ever!!! Wow! Love it! It’s great when you lay it all out there. I feel your emotions/they hit home.

    The problem is that we expect that these Pens know better to not act a certain way. They have obviously not come across a more antagonizing team. The Pens have followed into the Flyer trap quite nicely. Should they know better, of course. They are frustrated. Guess what. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t act this way. They would not put forth the effort that I am seeing. This team is giving everything they have.

    The problem is that the current system that has been so successful doesn’t work against the flyers. Never did!!! They need to adjust their system. The coach’s need to relies that the current system (no matter how successful it has been) doesn’t work against the Flyers team. It does not work. The great coach’s (teams) adjust and make changes.

    If the Pens can find a system that that can frustrate the Flyers like they are frustrating the Pens, the Pens can come back. I say they can come back only because the Pens have great talent. Its going to have to take a great coach to figure it out.

  71. Ryan says:

    My three cents on the Pens woes:

    1. The Flyers (it pains me to say) are the hottest team in the league right now, period. They are a buzz saw; however, if Bryz plays the same way, they will be bounced before the cup finals.

    2. The Penguins MVP (Fleury) and the League MVP (Malkin) are complete no shows in the series. Malkin is being outplayed by a ROOKIE (albeit, a very good player) and Fleury is being outplayed by a guy giving up 4 goals a game. WOW.

    3. Game 1, being up 3-1 in the third (losing in OT) was big. The turning point was after Kennedy scored early in the 3rd, game 2 (5-4, feeling good). A couple minutes later, Lovejoy decides to turn the puck over to the only guy in the zone. Then, the worst rebound is handed to Jagr 10 feet in front of the net. 6-5. Game. Series. Over. Nothing that I have seen in three games tells me the Pens can win 1 game, let alone 4 games in a row right now.

    I want to be optimistic, but the realist in me says otherwise.

    @Charlie Chaplin
    Regarding the whole Rossi issue, it is technically a “rumor”. However, he has covered the Pens for a number of years, is a member of the Hockey Writers Assoc., etc. Just guessing here that he did not willingly give up the Pens beat. The writing is on the wall with this one. Note, I am not taking anything away from Yohe. He is doing an amazing job covering the Pens.

  72. Craig Smith says:

    You know what I’d do, Dejan?

    I’d Say It: Penguins will win Cup.

  73. JuniataKid says:

    “We have to get about six other guys going — and Pedro is included in that — before we start talking about other situations.”

    Here’s the other situation worth talking about right now: firing the guy who thought those six shlubs could be part of a major league roster.

  74. Craig Smith says:

    3 of the 8 Flyer goals in Game 3 should’ve been waived off. 2 more should’ve never happened – 5 total.

    1. Max Talbot’s first goal – Matt Niskanen gets held up and interfered with in front of Fleury, should be Power Play Pens

    2. Danny Briere’s Power Play Goal – Simmonds slashes Orpik right in front of the net – should be 4 on 4

    3. Matt Read’s first goal – Engelland is elbowed, held and interfered with by Briere

    4. Simmonds’ Power Play Goal and Talbot’s Power Play Goal – the situations should’ve been matching minors, not Power Plays for the Flyers.

    Thus, Pens should’ve won 4-3.

  75. Okel Dokel says:

    @JT – I think your assessment is spot on. Further, they tried to adapt the system when Sid came back and like everything in hockey it has an ebb and flow. Right now all of the bad is being exposed by a team that is fast, good and can take it to the Pens.

    That said the Flyers are not much better on D and have lots of trouble with the Rangers.

    I guarantee the rough stuff will be back next game. This is not going to be pretty.

    One question. Sid said he liked, “no one on that team,” does that include Max? if so, who is going to put Max on his butt next game?

  76. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Craig Smith

    Hope you’re being sarcastic because if not, you’re simply delusional.

  77. Craig Smith says:

    If I was a GM, Paul Martin would be the highest paid player in the AHL… Brent Johnson would be the second highest

  78. Craig Smith says:

    I’m not being sarcastic, Milo. And I know a lot of you are afraid to say it, but it happened.

  79. Craig Smith says:

    Watch the highlights again. If you aren’t blind as a bat, you will see EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

  80. Craig Smith says:

    The majority of the penalties last night, in summary:

    Flyer initiates/commits initial infraction: Matching minors
    Penguin initiates/commits initial infraction: Power Play Flyers

  81. Adam says:

    The biggest issue is the defensive unit, not just Paul Martin. PM is playing poorly but he and Michalek are easy scapegoats because that’s what has been written all season. Orpik playing just as bad as both, maybe worse. Letang making mental mistakes, Lovejoy, Nisky, etc. It’s all of them, not just one or two.

    Fleury’s failure to make big saves is a killer. He isn’t giving up a ton of weak ones, but he is expected to make big saves, not just the routine saves.

    To address game 4 I wouldn’t have given them a day off as Byslma did. He appears to be a deer in the headlights and always has been in playoff losses. No adjustments, no emotion, just gives the company line and goes down with the ship.

  82. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Craig Smith

    Just as I thought. Delusional.

  83. Dan B says:


    I’ll be happy to change the subject to Steven Adams for a moment. It’s hard to take much from these high school all-star games, but it actually wasn’t nearly as free-for-all as the McDonald’s game last year w/ Birch. That said, definately still a guard/forward 1st game, w/ the bigs doing their best to stay involved. Just look at Nerlens Noel w/ only 4 points.

    If you saw the box score, he took two shots (lay-ups), made one (other was a tip), 4 free throw attempts didn’t look super fluid, but maybe jittery since he’s not used to the scene. Led his team in rebounds, by staying active in the low post. He was scored on a few times, but not generally his man, and he forced some tough shots to go along w/ at least one block.

    He looked really comfortable getting up and down the court. Reminded me of Birch last year, but doing it w/ a much bigger frame. He was constantly coming to the top of the key to screen for guards, even though you could tell there were no real set plays; and he often seemed to gesture and give direction. He was physical defensively away, especially away from the hoop, where he would really use his strength to lean on guys and make it difficult for them to get open. He was easily able to establish offensive position deep in the box w/ his big frame, and there were actually a few attempted post feeds, but like Pitt this year, not very timely or effective.

    The downside was probably a few times I thought he could have been stronger w/ his hands, either with the ball or going for a rebound. Also, there’s just really nothing to comment on his offensive game w/ the ball, because it’s really not that type of game. His one lay-up was a little slip feed at the rim.

    In general, he’s clearly athletically gifted at his size and willing to play defense, rebound and set-screens, but also quite able to establish low post-position; and I think Dixon would be wise (to put it mildly) to encourage this aspect of his offense, especially with the prolonged shooting droughts his team continually had this year.

    So looking at Patterson to run the half-court offense, w/ the addition of an inside-out game they sorely missed this year and really missed since Blair.

  84. Jandy says:

    Ooooh boy…here it comes!

  85. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Like the baseball thread the other night, we have some excellent hockey GM’s today. I think some of these ladies who post on here should run the team. They make a lot of sense when you read their entries. Not much delusion among them.


    I care about your opinions. Keep ‘em comin’! (Solidarity among posters)

  86. Ryan says:


    I agree Fleury’s game relies on making a “big save” in addition to routine saves. Unfortunately, he is not even making routine saves now (see Flyers first goal, game 3).

  87. Jandy says:

    Craig Smith, let me point something out to you:
    Whenthe Islands/Pens had their infamous Long Island Battle, did not Mario Lemieux express his displeasure publicly, calling that brand of hockey a “travesty”?
    DO you honestly think Mario liked how the game played out yesterday?
    If you answer yes, YOU are indeed delusional.

  88. Jandy says:

    Lucky, you’re the best poster on the board! ;)

  89. JohninOshkosh says:


    I care. You deserve enshrinement in the Dejan Kovacevic Blog Hall of Fame.

    The Hall is located in downtown Pittsburgh, of course.

  90. Milo Hamilton says:


    Keep em coming. We can all use the laughs.

  91. Milo Hamilton says:

    The only thing missing yesterday was a Ned Braden striptease. An absolute disgrace (sorry Beano).

  92. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thanks, Jandy. Does that mean I’m “rapidly rising in notability”?

  93. Jandy says:

    Craig Smith, not only are you delusional, but you are on something.
    Same IP address? LOL, how childish. I’m taking my hockey stick and going home WAH!

    Talking trolls, look in the mirror, friend.

    OK, I’m done, you no longer exist.

  94. Jandy says:

    Lucky, darling, you ARE NOBILITY. That’s better than notability ;)

  95. Adam says:

    DK – I haven’t seen this asked yet, but could Fleury’s performance be due to being overplayed in regular season? You were advocating resting him down the strech. Curiuos your take now.

  96. Jandy says:

    LOL well, that was entertaining :)

  97. LuckyNKentucky says:


    I consider that a compliment. We’re hardly the same person, but they are good company.

  98. gregenstein says:

    Craig Smith – “I, on the other hand, am rapidly rising in notability because of my ability to say the things that the mainstream sports analysts refuse to ”
    By commenting on Dejan’s blog? The only thing the Penguins showed yesterday was that they too can play like the former broad street bullies. I have to agree with Thundercrack…they showed for all to see why they have the whiner reputation…

  99. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Jandy @Lucky @Oshkosh

    We need professional help to reintergrate our personalities.

  100. Jandy says:

    OMG! I wonder if Dk is a psychologist too????

  101. JohninOshkosh says:

    Next “Blog Troll” meeting is this Tuesday night at 7:00 under the Clemente Bridge. Bring a snack.

  102. Jandy says:

    Beer too????

  103. NMR says:

    What. Just. Happened?

  104. JohninOshkosh says:

    Excellent question, NMR.

  105. Milo Hamilton says:

    My fault. Should have ignored it.

  106. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Who needs a psychologist, Jandy? We have Mother Teresa and REAL hockey comments from a “notable personality”, the legend in his own mind above. (Not blog trolls or sock puppets). I’ve been called a few things in my many years of life but those are 2 new ones. Great fun on a Monday AM! And we are all nobility. The Bible says we’re “kings and priests of the Most High” especially you ladies. Can’t preach on here, but it’s still fun to sneak one in on occasion.

  107. Okel Dokel says:

    I am not an advocate of what the game devolved to yesterday. Mario was involved in a few scrums in his day when he felt the liberties begin taken were over the line.

    What I saw yesterday was a frustrated team taken completely off its game. I am hopeful HCDB did not not advocate the actions but only time will tell.

    I expect the Flyers to start head hunting as soon as they establish a two goal lead. Berube is a goon as was shown yesterday and repeatedly throughout his illustrious career. He advocates this crap, he coaches it and he drills it into his players head. He used to coach the Philadelphia Phantoms. Ever see what they sold as “hockey” with that team?

    The Penguins are the only team team where these antics work – they must get rid of this “thing” they have about the Flyers. It is now affecting how they play.

    BTW I also think the Flyers are well coached in other aspects of the game. There positioning and puck support in this series has been a thing of beauty.

  108. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Have to tell ya’all (yunz), this is the most fun I’ve had on a Monday morning in a long time. Haven’t stopped smiling for an hour. The weather is lousy here (no, I’m not in Altoona or Pgh., contrary to some other opinion), half the office is out turkey hunting and the ones who are here won’t do anything, but it’s been great fun. Appreciate all of you (us) (me),

  109. Jandy says:

    Lucky, preach it, Brother!

  110. Jandy says:

    Milo gets 5 minutes in the sin bin for not ignoring the notability ;)

  111. NewGuyTim says:

    Talbot’s shorthanded goal in the 1st and Dupuis’s gaffe that led to Simmonds’s goal were the most backbreaking. Pens fans will need to form a support group to get through this series… just excruciating to watch. Because you can see that the talent and the skill is there, but they just can’t put together a complete game. Still holding out hope for some reason.

  112. Milo Hamilton says:

    Something to consider about the shelf life of NHL head coaches.

    – Bob Hartley Colorado fired a year and a half after Cup in 2001.
    – John Tortorella Tampa fired 3 seasons after Cup in 2004.
    – Peter Laviolette Carolina fired a year and a half after Cup in 2006.
    – Randy Carlyle Anaheim fired 3 years after Cup in 2007.

    Should someone be nervous ?

  113. NMR says:

    In this day of video games, fantasy leagues, and 24/7 sports talk why is it that every teams play is an immediate and constant referendum on a given coaches “system”?

    This isn’t Nintendo. The Pens offensive defense has had nothing to do with the failure of a “system”. It has everything to do with failure of hockey plays.

    If Dan Bylsma is fired in favor of a fan favorite (Dale Hunter) or good ole boy club retread (Ron Wilson/every other “new” NHL coach), I won’t shed a single tear for him because he won’t last a month on the unemployment line before another team gladly snaps him up.

  114. NMR says:

    As for Sid’s behavior, he did nothing dirty, nothing dangerous.

    As much as people continue to close their eyes and see him as a perfect little choir boy, he’s not. He’s a tough, emotional, chippy hockey player.

    I’ve been much more disappointed with a certain NHL MVP’s mouth open, Pedro Alvarez expression while he plays Houdini on the ice.

  115. JT says:

    Not to excuse any of the things that the Pens did yesterday, their behavior was embarrasing, especially Sids. However, it’s amazing to me that nobody is talking about Couturier’s hit on James Neal.

    Was I the only person that saw Couturier skate up from behind Neal and elbow him in the back of the head near center ice in the 3rd period? Went unpenalized, and then James Neal lost his mind after that. I am not excusing Neal’s hits later on, but the hit Neal recieved was far worse than any other hit in that game.

    Officials opened the door to have a circus of a series and thats exactly what it has become. Its a shame

  116. Milo Hamilton says:

    To make my position on Bylsma clear. I’m not saying he should be fired, just that it is a real possibility.

  117. Barb says:

    Just read your other article on calling up the kids from Wilkes-Barre. Couldn’t agree with you more. Go back to your homes and start the off season now. I’m amazed at how our cracker jack recruiters can get us a Geno, Sid and Fleury but can’t pick out a defensive player to save their life. Honestly, I just want to put this horrible ending behind us and start fresh in the fall.

  118. Jandy says:

    JT ~ I agree on the officiating problem. it’s hockey and they can’t/won’t see everything, but it would be nice if they’d catch some of these nasty, sneaky hits. But, again, don’t lower yourself to the goon level. Play hockey to win, that’s the best revenge.

    Milo, I’m sure Bylsma himself is thinking of it too.

  119. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    DK: Owe everyone an apology for the guy posting here earlier. He’s been addressed.

  120. Jandy says:

    But, DK, he was amusing…for a short time :)

  121. SeanE says:

    To move on to Ben. It seemed to me that last year I noticed that he was slimmed down significantly at the start of the season (guy had to fit into a tux you know) but he put on the weight as the season went on. This seems to be a pattern. Not sure if it is intentional or not…or if it really matters. Just my observations.

  122. Fred says:

    Just an ugly game and series. No defense no goal tending. Wish they can come back but probably is insurmountable. In reality neither of these teams would be destined to go on much further this year. Both teams have given up way too many goals. The Flyers against any team with a decent offense and good defense will lose in four games the next go around.

  123. REK says:

    Full disclosure Saturday night was not the first time I have seen Steve Adams on tv, saw one of his prep school games; have also seen some videos online.

    Runs the floor very well, good skills with the ball, looks for teammates from the high post, has nice form on his jumper and plays around the basket with both hands. Defends the lane well and has good awareness on defense.

    Seems to lack explosiveness, and also needs to improve his strength. Seems to be missing the competitive & aggressive attitude that other big men in Saturday’s game displayed.

    My concern is that his skills may not translate to Pitt’s style. His game seems more suited to a more open and up & down style than how Pitt generally plays. Not sure he has the fire or the motor (had to drop a couple recruiting cliches) to dominate down low.

    I think he is an upgrade over Taylor (who let’s not forget won the skills competition at his McDonald’s game) but I don’t think he’s a program changing type player.

    Would love to hear what others thought.

  124. BenderHeel says:

    DK: I’m at a loss as to how you can so strongly criticize Asham while excusing or downplaying Neal’s TWO transgressions. In my opinion, Neal’s headhunting was worse; at least Asham was immediately responding to something and, I’m sure, did not intend to hit Schenn so high (the punch? c’mon, it barely glanced. Schenn was faking anyways – or he had a miraculous recovery in only a couple minutes.)

    But Neal blindsided Couturier when he wasn’t even playing the puck and left his feet to shoulder him in the head. Then he used his hands to hit Giroux in the head. Two head shots for no reason whatsoever except for a clear intent to injure the others involved.

    And then Neal conveniently went to the bench afterwards, leaving the others to deal with it.

  125. Jandy says:

    Benderheel, the hit Neal put on Couturier was classic Hartnell. He never gets penalized for them. And Couturier saw Neal coming, he HAD to, and turned away from him. Rather dumb. I didn’t see the hit on Giroux, so I can’t comment on that.

  126. BenderHeel says:

    And Bylsma should be on the hot seat after the way this team has fallen apart/imploded. Yes, he’s done an admirable job in keep the team together the past two seasons, but he also has all-world talent (and some other good assets) at his disposal.

    If Brian Strait or Ben Lovejoy are better than Simon Despres, then the Pens are going to be awful on defense for a couple years.

    Brooks Orpik has been brutal in this series too, although his poor play has been overshadowed by Paul Martin’s atrocious “defense.”

  127. CWalton_67 says:

    @NMR–very much agree regarding Bylsma. Don’t think we need a referendum on all the Pens “core” players either. This is a pretty shocking set of losses, some of the worst ever, but all the talk of trading any of these guys is nonsense at this point. I understand the emotional response by fans, it’s hard not to feel almost betrayed, but Shero won’t be sending any of these guys off any time soon.

    Clearly, Martin and Michalek have been disappointments, and so has Asham, who I thought would assume something of a leadership role on this team, so Shero has some work to do, but I’d be really shocked if Bylsma were fired. He’s not perfect, but way better than most.

  128. Billy Ray Valentine says:

    I see comments about Mario looking disappointed after the game and shaking his head outside the locker room. The assumption is that this is in response to the fighting/retaliation but nobody knows that. Maybe it’s in response to the overall performance of the Pens. Maybe he thinks the officials let the series get out of hand early with the chippy play. Maybe he is reacting to MAF looking like a rookie goalie for three consecutive playoffs. Maybe it is in response to the “dirty” play but no one knows that until it comes from his mouth.

  129. Nancy52 says:

    Where’s the “leadership” on this team? Fleury (not all his fault) and Malkin have
    disappeared. Yes, 11 have been Stanley Cup winners but the Gary Roberts,
    Bill Guerin and Trottiers are missing. Too many questions to enumerate…
    where did their focus go? Everyone will need to take a long hard look this

  130. jdmcb says:

    That was seriously depressing. My question is where is the desire? I see weak passes, no drive, and for $@(*&$ sake can someone please check the open guy in front of the net? At least three of the Flyers goals had an open man in the slot with 2 or 3 Pens waiting for them to pass to him…. Playoffs is about Defense first. Let the goals come when they will, but play Defense.

    Pens in 7? I can’t even write that with a period…

  131. NMR says:

    @CWalton – I owe you a bit of an apology for busting your pucks a while back after you were critical of the Pens D. I truly had faith until now.

    Regarding Bylsma somehow being at fault for allowing the type of goonish play to happen, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to think ANYONE has more say on the attitude and type of play than #66 watching from up in the box.

    Unless it comes out that Dan was telling his guys to pull that garbage, the blame falls on the players.

    They’re grown men. When push comes to shove, they’re going to do what their mind tells them.

  132. Elle says:

    Teams just don’t fall apart in three weeks’ time. The Flyers are playing unbelievably great, but they aren’t world beaters; they’ve had their brain farts in this series, too. Our guys just haven’t capitalized on them as much. I think one solid Pens-like win on Wednesday could plant a seed of doubt in the Flyers’ heads–something on which the Pens can build. Living in SE PA, I see probably 50-60 Flyers games a year, and I know it can happen. Laviolette isn’t a genius, either. Midway through the season, fans around here were asking if the Flyers were tuning him out. I’m actually much more of a pessimist than an optimist when it comes to these matters, but I guess it’s just the old fan who’s seen just about everything happen in the playoffs talking.

  133. Dan B says:


    I actually had a different take on Steven Adams based on Saturday’s action that you can read at comment #85, but I’ve only seen one video of the Noel game beyond that. I agree he runs the floor great, but I didn’t really see that as being his preferred game. In the half court he was directing traffic and setting numerous high ball screens for the guards, as well as establishing great low post position, two things that will translate well to Pitt’s offense. Also, while not for the entire time on the floor, due to the high pace nature of these games, he was often very intense defensively, especially against Noel, keeping a body on his man even away from the hoop. I definately think he’ll need to build some more upper body strength, specifically locking the ball into his hands with the ball and on rebounds. Glad someone else chimed in, as the hockey talk is brutal right now, which I definately understand.

  134. Fillet_Mimnaw says:

    Game 4 should tell a lot about what type of team this really is and what changes need to be made in the off-season. While I applaud the team unity (no finger-pointing) stance at least outside the room, everyone in there should be talking about personal accountability. I realize it sounds cliche, but it needs to be reinforced to win your battle, win your shift. Shift-by-shift the tide will change.

    The Pens are simply not playing smart hockey. At this stage of the game, it comes down to the little things and the Flyers are doing all the little things right. Perhaps the biggest difference is how often the Flyers are hitting the net with their shots. The Pens have had plenty of offensive zone presence but continually fail to get puck on the net. With as porous as the goaltending has been in this series, make Bryz beat you. Don’t let him off the hook because you had a blistering shot that went just wide.

    Sadly I watched the third period again last night after the emotions settled and unfortunately it didn’t look any better the second time. It will be interesting to see how the NHL responds with punishments and how in turn the Pens respond personnel-wise.

    Anyone remember the last time you saw Fleury with a smile on his face? Someone needs to remind both he and the team that there is no pressure in game 4. Go out and play and have fun. After all, a very intelligent man once said “It’s a great day for hockey!”

  135. JohninOshkosh says:

    Sorry to deviate from the excellent Pens discussion but I know Dejan has expressed his opinion about the Rock and Roll HOF before on this blog and twitter.

    Saw this from Axl on an entertainmet site:

    “Rose, the band’s frontman and ringmaster of the G N’ R traveling sex, drugs and rock and roll circus, declined to attend the induction, saying he didn’t want to be part of the ceremony because it “doesn’t appear to be somewhere I’m actually wanted or respected.”

    I didn’t listen to G N’ R back in the day (I was a left of the dial kinda guy) but definitely now have more respect for Axl, whom I may suspect is a long time reader of Dejan!

  136. Drew Barto says:

    Good morning, Dejan. I watched the replay of the Jordan Brand Classic on this past weekend and wanted to fill you in.

    It’s hard to make a declaration of greatness after watching an exhibition, but…

    * Adams’ size and skill level are on another planet compared to anyone on Pitt’s current roster. Unfortunately, viewers only got to see brief flashes of it, as he rarely got fed the ball inside. The guards were bringing the ball up the court and showing off the majority of the time.

    * He runs the floor extremely well. Way faster than anyone should ever expect from a 7-footer. This could create some serious match-up issues on run outs after long rebounds. Opposing big men will not be able to run the floor with him, and the forwards and guards will obviously be too small to defend him.

    * He is much thicker than I expected. Expected to see a skinny Dirk Nowitzki type frame, but appeared to be thicker and stronger than that, at least compared to his competition.

    * In Pitt’s system I don’t see him putting up outrageous numbers as a freshman, but something like 10-12 PPG and 8-10 RPG, which is still pretty good. Plus, I think he’s skilled enough to have a nice amount of assists for a guy at his position. His footwork seemed a little slow, so he could improve on that. Also a guy that could save Pitt 6-8 points per game with his shot blocking / shot altering ability.

    * Even without putting up gaudy numbers as a freshman, his skillset and potential will probably make him a lottery pick. A real shame because he will be a lot of fun to watch, and we’ll probably only get to watch him at Pitt for a year.

    I realize there’s no in-depth analysis above, but I wanted to give you some things that I took away from watching him for the first time.

    Keep up the great work!



  137. Jandy says:

    OshKoshB’Gosh ~ since when does this blog ever have just one subject/theme? No need to apologize, comment away :)

    DK: Very much agreed.

  138. AJS says:

    None of what the Pens are currently doing is blind sidning, or at least shouldn’t be to anyone who watched the other 6 games against Philly this year. They haven’t played well against themall year. And when this team doesn’t play well it gets chippy and frustrated and takes cheap shots on people. Especially against the Flyers. Watching that game yesterday I had a thought that was extremely embarrassing. Yesterday, the Pens looked like the Flyers have historically. Out of sorts, frustrated, and dirty. The Flyers looked like the Pens of old. Disaplined, antagonizing, and skilled.

    This was an awful first round draw for the Pens. The Flyers have been in their heads all season. The Pens are a better hockey team than the Flyers in my opinion, the Flyers just match up extremely well and are one of only a couple teams who can keep pace inthe scoring department. And they are so fast through the zone that even when the Pens do play their attacking style, the Flyers have enough speed to get behind the D-men who pinch to try to keep the attack going. It just spells disaster.

    Also, i saw a lot of people in social media calling for a goaltender change. It is hard to argue with that when you give up 14 goals in 5 periods, but honestly, i’m not sure what you want Fleury to do. 3 on 1 every 30 seconds is hard to handle. How about the other 5 guys stop giving up short handed beakaways(really 3 shorties in 2 games?) Changing a goaltender can spark a team sometimes, but when Johnny is your second option, I can see why you would just let Fleury go.

  139. tmp444 says:

    Looks like Neal is in for some trouble. From NBC Sports:

    “Pittsburgh Penguins winger James Neal will have not one, but two, hearings with NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan on Tuesday. It’s like double-secret probation, only not secret and we’re unsure about the probation part!

    Neal will be discussing the hits he laid on both Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux during Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.”

    IMO, Neal stepped-up yesterday when he needed to, unlike #71. The Couturier hit is questionable — his one skate definitely comes off the ice. I didn’t see the Giroux hit. Either way, if he is suspended by Shanahan for Gm 4, I don’t see the Pens having any shot at winning. Especially when they need to score at least 6 goals to have a chance.

  140. Scott says:

    Long time lurker, first real post.

    How viable is buying out Paul Martin? Doesn’t seem likely that any team would want to trade for him. Plus, his albatross of a contract basically ensures that if the Penguins did find a suitor, they’d be taking on as much cap as they’re giving up. If it’s financially possible, that’s the first move I make in the offseason if I’m Shero. Move 1B is ensuring that this was indeed Asham’s last game in a Penguin uniform.

    Bylsma shouldn’t be fired like so many are suggesting, but it’s right to label him as a problem I think, and he will definitely be on the hot seat going into next season. He’s been thoroughly outcoached the last three playoffs, and I’m not giving him a pass on the Tampa series like so many have. That was a very winnable series that Boucher just ripped away from him.

    These last three games have really indicated that something is broken in the Penguins locker room. What that is, I have no clue, but it needs to be adressed. Shero has some interesting decisions coming up this offseason.

  141. Fillet_Mimnaw says:


    I wonder if a bus-ride home from Philly last night would have sent the players a message from the Front Office and Owner’s suite? It could have been yet another “teaching moment” in recent Pittsburgh Sports history.

    I realize the coaching staff is put in place to win games but how about some self-imposed team penalties even prior to any NHL discipline? I know it isn’t likely but it would certainly raise eyebrows across the league and equally important set a tone in “the room.”

  142. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    Some of the comments I’ve read around the web this morning:

    ” HUGE apology to Mike Milbury from Pens fans. He was 100 percent right. ”

    ” Dear NHL, Please return Tortorella’s $20,000 to him ASAP. “

  143. JAL says:

    I am far from an expert on hockey but after watching yesterday’s game it seemed the Pens totally lost their discipline. I agree with Dejan’s column, it was terrible showing. They have been outplayed the whole series which is why they are down 3-0.

  144. CWalton_67 says:

    @NMR- no apologies required. This is a place for opinions and I enjoy the discussions here. I spent 22 years of my life defending people’s First Amendment rights, and am glad we can all take advantage of something as wondrous as the Internet to converse about subjects for which we have common interest.

    Amongst all the unacceptable behavior by the Pens yesterday, I keep coming back to Letang shushing the crowd after the fight. Just makes me cringe.

  145. Jandy says:

    Scott, let Bizrow know where you are from so he can add to you to the list of DK’s Lunatics :)

  146. Boise Bucco says:

    Maybe the Pens needed a good way to play the “nobody believed in us!!!” card again.

    Seriously though–I’m sorry, but I’ve seen awful. The Pirates a couple years ago were awful. The Penguins are more like a straight A teen that decides to smoke some pot and starts failing out of school. They just need a swift kick in the ass.

    For every disciplinary Mike Keenan/Michel Therrien type, there’s a Dan Bylsma-type player’s coach–and it seems like, in hockey, a team will go through a cycle where they need one and then the other. When they were all coming up thru the ranks from the Baby Pens they needed that structure; once they were established they didn’t need it anymore. Well, it looks like they need it again.

  147. jackdeloplane says:

    @ craig,

    I think you are confusing something with yesterday’s game. The things you describe happen in REGULAR SEASON hockey. This is PLAYOFF HOCKEY.

    Different animal, requiring different skill sets. I thought with 11 returning cup holders the Pens could play playoff hockey.

    I was wrong

  148. Charlie Chaplin says:

    You can not buy out contracts in the NHL. Plus Martin and Michalek have no trade and no send down to minor league clauses.

    They are stuck with those guys because if a gm is smart that would never trade for them even if they thought they could help them….why not keep the Pens up against the cap.

    To the poster who referenced by rumor of Rossi – thank you for the response and some clarification. I just checked his bio – he was head of the Pittsburgh chapter of the hockey writers association even.

    Wow – didnt know that stuff. Quite a bit of evidence there.

  149. Billy Ray Valentine says:


    Just like Talbot did when he wore black and gold

  150. Jandy says:

    Milo, I’ve always like Batch. He’s always ready, never complains, and is a great team player.

  151. Tim says:

    Thanks for the writings, DK, didn’t like your one today at all because it just plays too much to emotional responses rather than rational discourse on what is wrong and what to change, but of course we agree to disagree.

    My own thoughts:
    1) The current crop of defensive personnel was constructed for puck movement, so as a whole they are not track-a-jersey people. Orpik’s a great hitter and a good skater and puck mover but fails at latter. Letang’s best at all of the above but his choices and demeanor reminds me a lot of Subban in Montreal. In playoff hockey against skilled teams, I think need to eliminate time and space with some ability to play man on man with all five guys. No habits formed like that this year. First goal in the third yesterday was a horrific demonstration of sit and wait defense.
    2) With CBA expiring and cap maybe going down next year, been a lot of talk about amnesty allowed on one contract. Potentially you can eliminate Martin’s contract with that, but both him and Z have no trade clauses and Martin has a no movement clause, meaning you can’t bury him in Wilkes Barre. But guys like Despres and Morrow (and Gologoski) are carbon copies – puck moving defenseman without a lot of physicality for playoff hockey. I personally think Strait has been better than Despres all season long, Despres gets credit for being young but he wanders a bit like Martin does. There is no mix of style on present blue line.
    3) Shero has always populated his roster with experienced retreds (this year Sullivan, Park, Asham). Experience is getting badly outplayed by youth, energy (will), speed this series. Is the Flyers roster just more talented as a whole?
    4) The one adjustment HCDB made this offseason, the team quieted on penalties this year, sadly yesterday was back to last year. I agree that he deserves a lot of heat for lack of adjustments. What happens to the three year old mantra of ‘let’s get to Pens hockey’ when Pens hockey doesn’t work? You must beat different teams in the playoffs with different styles.
    5) Is the luster off the young crop of coaches this year? Reminder than Boucher flamed out in Tampa this year. I think DB lost his accountability battle himself when he refused to do anything about Martin’s horrid turnovers all year long.

    Never thought we’d get here this fast.

  152. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Ditto Jandy.

  153. Milo Hamilton says:

    Oshkosh better say he hates Charlie Batch or we’re gonna get called out again.

  154. Jandy says:

    Called out? Are we being “soff” again????

  155. Eric says:


    Full disclosure: Flyers Fan here

    As I said last night, great article. But I do have some follow up questions. One, even if we can accept that Neal’s hit on Couturier wasn’t dirty (something really debatable as it was on a player who has absolutely OWNED the Pens and Malkin in particular) this series, the puck was long gone (by hockey standards), he left his feet and targeted the head. That’s a penalty by the rule book. His hit on Giroux, left another star player, wobbly as everyone saw. That doesn’t happen when you get checked in the shoulder. That was a hit to the head. So Neal will get his hearings but if Shanahan stays consistent, Asham will be gone for the series and Neal will walk away with a fine. You can’t be suspending 40 goal scorers. As for Adams defending Crosby late – beyond punching Hartnell from beyond and not squaring off properly, what do you feel about a player coming to the aid of a player who is clearly the aggressor (Crosby) but is then unwilling or unable to defend themselves. If Crosby isn’t ready to fight Hartnell he shouldn’t be shoving his fists in the guys face. And please note, as a Flyers fan of old, Bobby Clarke was the king of this back in the day, throw some punches and let someone else fight your battles. I didn’t like it then either. By the rules Adams should be suspended for starting a fight in the last five minutes of a game but like Malkin a few years ago, we all know that ain’t gonna happen.

  156. Jandy says:

    Oh wait…silly me….the “same person” agenda…OshKoshB’Gosh, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, say it, man!

  157. bill says:

    Neal Hit #1: definitely late, definitely interference…but did not target head and did not lead with elbows. Fine at worst.

    Neal Hit #2: definitely came from a long way away to make that hit so definitely a penalty. Giroux ducked at last second which brought the head contact. Given Webber was only fined for his assault, should only be a fine here also. Unless they try to say #1 makes him a repeat offender before #2.

    Regaining discipline will be far easier than regaining the abilty to play defense unless they go to some form of a trap.

  158. AJS says:

    I don’t know what to think about Bylsma right now. I think the system he wants to run is perfect for Playoff hockey. The problem right now is getting the players to play it. They haven’t been and no matter how loudly he screams it they still don’t play it. He’s losing the team right now and that is a bad, bad, thing. I don’t think you fire him right now. See if the swift kick in the keester they are getting from the Flyers wakes the team out of its superiority complex and gets them to realize they just can’t play this way. And it has been like this for more than just the series against the Flyers. Much of March was spent playing loosey goosey hocky as well.

  159. Milo Hamilton says:


    Have you seen this ? It’s a story about what we were talking about last week – the Pirates local TV contract.

  160. AJS says:

    Wow Bill. That is almost the complete opposite of the way I view the hits. The hit on Cotourier wasn’t late. Teh puck was NEVER EVEN NEAR Cotourier. The puck got cut off at the blue line. Neal had plenty of time to see this and lay off. He came from the center dot all the way to the boards. Definitely a charge, left both feet, and made contact with the chin. Didn’t lead with an elbow though or anything. This is a model example of the kind of hit that Shanahan just gave as an example of somethign that wouldn’t be tolerated.

    The second hit, the puck was there and he hit him hard. He definitely lined him up and there was definitely intent. However, if it isn’t directly on the heels of the one they just let go it probably doesn’t get near the attention as it does coming off the blatant non call fromthe first hit.

  161. Kevin B says:


    With the buyout, the money isn’t the problem, although its alot, but we would feel the cap affect for 6 years. However, with all of the young entry level contracts, we could technically survive that.

  162. AJS says:

    So just like everything else over the past 20 years, the Buccs dropped the ball based on relatively poor timing.

  163. JohninOshkosh says:

    I officially am not allowed to comment about player personnel that are not residents of the iconic field located just north of me. I am too afraid that the Wisconsin secret police will strip me of my state citizenship and confiscate all my Leinenkugals and cheese curds if go public and betray the secret anti-Packer underground here by discussing any other NFL team.

  164. bill says:


    I will look at #1 again but I am definitely NOT absolving Neal. I thought it was absolutely a penalty but I don’t see it as suspendable (unless I missed direct contact to head). will look again.

    On #2, puck was there but I thought it was a charge but not suspendable.

  165. Jandy says:


  166. Jandy says:

    The Neal hit on Couturier is a classic Hartnell hit….same thing, different person. Hartnell never gets penalized. That said, the left one skate, never targeted the head. I expect him to be suspended at least 3 games.
    I didn’t see Neal’s hit on Giroux. I’ll have to find a You Tube of it. Missed that part of the game traveling home from visiting.
    Adams, that’s an automatic one game suspension.

  167. bill says:

    anyone know if Schenn has a hearing for his flying elbow?

  168. Jandy says:

    bill, does the Pope crap in the woods? ;)

  169. John says:

    Similar sentiment to many others – basically embarrassed to be a Pens fan today…….maybe I missed something but has Bylsma made ANY tactical adjustments? If he has can someone point them out? Isn’t that what coaches are paid to do, especially in the playoffs? or is it that they just need to “get to their game”?

  170. Nate says:

    I love hockey fans on Twitter. From the “Crosby’s good, but I just don’t like him” to “Crosby better get eyes in the back of his head”, my question is: since when does anybody else care which athletes you “like”? As a Pens fan I can honestly say that I don’t dislike any other players to that extent.

    Also, what is the hockey fans obsession with negative-connotation-analogies to little girls and 12-year-olds? I’m expecting The Onion to do an article on that.

    Finally, who are Pens fan supposed to “hate”? Hartnell? Sure, he’s ugly and reputation for playing dirty, but he can score. Talbot? Intense and I wish he’d have come through for the Pens in the last couple years, but he has their # right now. Ovechkin? He’s good, but not as multi-dimensional as Sid or Malkin. Zetterberg? He’s great.

    I’d much rather vent on about my own team.

  171. jcurtis2010 says:

    I love hockey and have been a die hard fan from the beginning, but yesterday was one of the classless games I have ever seen from the Pens standpoint. I understand that the Flyers aren’t perfect either, but the difference is the Flyers kept their composure, while the Pens lost theirs.

    Watching the hits by Asham and Neal was embarrassing and the problems ran throughout the whole team. The Pens let the Flyers get under their skin and have gone completely away from their game. Yesterday was an embarrassment to Penguins hockey and if the Pens are going to lose and show little class doing it they deserve to get whooped on Wed. If the real Penguins show up on wednesday, maybe we have a series, but yesterday was not Penguins hockey. This whole series hasn’t but most disappointing has been the lack of class.

  172. bill says:


    LOL…sombody must have because they Pens have surely stepped in it!

  173. chuck snow says:

    Pens in playoffs-stunning
    Pirates on west coast-It’s the Pirates, the kool-aid needs some vodka in it.
    Ben slimmed down-Whoa

  174. Billy Keketsian says:

    Orpik, Michalek, Martin, all need to get gone. I can no longer stand how Orpik continually gets a free pass because he’s a good quote. His hockey sense is next to none and his physicality comes nowhere close to making up for that.

    Michalek and Martin were nicely insulated in defensive systems in low pressure markets, but now we see what they’re made of. Soft, poor decisions under pressure, and simply can’t take a hit. They simply do not fit in an up tempo system, so either change the system, or even better, get rid of a combined $9M dollars of uselessness.

  175. Jandy says:

    LOL Bill, thanks for taking that comment in the spirit it was intended. Great response!

  176. NMR says:

    Great find, Milo(and many thanks).

    Excellent research by Rob B. I haven’t seen any other article that has come close to providing as much detail on the local and national scene.

    You can say that the Pirates have “bad luck” in signing a deal right before the explosion, but those numbers look like a new deal wouldn’t even help much. The “haves” are adding and increasing faster than the “have nots”. $30m/yr more for the Pirates doesn’t make a difference if a dozen other teams are earning $60m/yr more because of their respective deals. Just puts more overall money into the same players pockets.

    With that said, there’s no reason other than incompetence that the Pirates couldn’t weasel their way into a deal similar to San Diego’s. I’ll take $50m over $18m.

    By the way, I was intrigued to read that Texas was the organization to break open the flood gates. They were the team that originally started the explosion of player salaries with Alex Rodriguez’s $250m deal. Now, they are the ones to figure out how to pay for them.

  177. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Like JAL says above, I’m far from a hockey expert, but I am an eternal optimist. (That’s why I’m a Pirate fan and always have been and was a Steeler fan before they ever won anything). Didn’t the Pens just win 13 straight a month or so ago? Evidence might indicate they’re in a state of disarray on defense and in other situations, but they could win four in a row and see this thing through. They are professionals, right?

  178. Jandy says:

    Lucky, to see them the last 3 games, you’d never use the term “professionals.”

  179. AJS says:

    Bylsma has not made any in game adjustments. However, that doesn’t mean he didn’t try. The team was playing so far out of their typical system that all I can think is that Bylsma’s big in game “adjustment” was to remind them that the way they are currently playing is not the way they have been taught to play. That doesn’t absolve him of any responsibility for not making a change, nor is it to say that this is absolutely what happened. But if his in game changes are anything like his between game changes, all I ever hear from him between games is “We didn’t get to our game. We are working on that in practice, getting back to our game.”

    It hasn’t been their game for over a month, his message isn’t getting through.

  180. AJS says:


    Amen to that. io just went and appologized to the big Flyers fans in my office for as I put it “whatever the heck you call that, because it sure wasn’t hockey.”

  181. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Thought that might be the response. Maybe the Wilkes-Barre thing DK proposed isn’t such a bad idea. I’ve often thought the Altoona Curve could hit better and play sounder D than the Pirates. Especially that year they won the Eastern League title and fired their manager.

  182. BenderHeel says:

    In my opinion, the Pens are playing like the Flyers of old – undisciplined and stupid, and choking in the playoffs. The Flyers are just playing smarter, tougher and more fundamentally-sound.

    @ Eric (the Flyers fan): You cannot be seriously criticizing Crosby for not fighting Hartnell, can you? C’mon. I mean, Crosby had already done the stupid and fought Giroux, who also had a concussion this year. Yes, Crosby roughed up Hartnell, who wouldn’t let go of Sid’s stick, in the view of Ray Ferraro, who was standing right there). But I didn’t see Hartnell really looking to drop the gloves with Sid. And isn’t it rather hypocritical for anyone to complain about the same antics that Hartnell employs on a regular basis? (Antagonize, feign the tough-guy routine, then turtle or back down.) I’m in Philly and regularly watch the Flyers, and he does it all the dang time. (And I’ll admit to being a closet fan of his – if he’d drop the side-show antics, that is. It’s like Hartnell forgets that he isn’t a fringe player anymore and is actually good at, you know, hockey.)


    Thank you, Dejan, for expressing what many of us certainly felt. That performance was an absolute embarrassment to Pittsburgh Penguins hockey.

    What discourages me most of all is how the team completely lost composure. With just under 10 minutes to go, down by three goals, the entire team just decided to collectively “goon it up”. With the firepower the Penguins have at their disposal, the kind of scoring they demonstrated throughout the series, and the shaky play of Bryzgalov, a comeback was well within reach. Instead, the team focused their efforts on extracting revenge in flesh rather than goals. At that point, the Pens conceded their respect, the game, probably the series: I don’t plan on watching Game 4.

    I’ve been an outspoken critic of Bylsma’s defensive approach for two seasons now. The high-risk, high-reward strategy employed by this defense and the refusal to play any type of containment (even when the Penguins have a sizeable lead) is the Achilles’ heel in an otherwise exceptional hockey club. And in this series, the Flyers are the better prepared, better disciplined, and better coached team.

    DK: Where have you BEEN?

  184. Peter says:

    Pens are fighting on the ice, fans are arguing with comments, there has got to be friction in that locker room…maybe a fight. I wonder who’s involved?

  185. Rob says:

    Great column today, DK. Really sums up how a lot of Pens fans feel.

    First off, no one should be taking anything personally the team does. You’re not the one in the uniform out there embarrassing yourself. This whole “ashamed to be a Pens fan” schtick I keep reading and hearing is stupid. Either you’re a fan or you’re not. I know fans invest a lot in the team in regards to time, money, etc, but we’re not the ones in the locker room.

    Second, Asham absolutely deserves a suspension. As does Adams. No way Neal should be suspended. Were his 2 hits cheap? Sure. But they weren’t as egregious as some people are trying to make out. Especially the Giroux hit. Giroux kind of ducked out of it any way.

    Third, it’s comical that Flyers fans talk about Crosby whining and diving when, did anyone see Schenn and Couturier after they were hit? Asham’s cross check was out of line, but Schenn acted like he had been killed. Pretty sure he didn’t miss a shift. Neither did Couturier. Not the first time Schenn I’ve seen Schenn embellish either. No one wants to talk about how he left his feet on the Martin hit. Whatev.

    @Relentless Forecheck: Completely agree about Bylsma’s system. It worked 1 year, but at that point the makeup of the team was different. They still had some discipline left over from Therrien, and defensemen that could, you know, play defense. Since then they’ve had nothing but disappointing ends to seasons, this being the crescendo. I just don’t see this working in the playoffs, partially because Bylsma refuses to adjust or tweak anything.

    The blue line needs a huge overhaul in the offseason. Also, everyone wants to criticize Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, and that’s fine they deserve it, but how about Brooks Orpik? Man, is he bad.

    I need to go do something else before I start throwing up.

    DK: Thanks, Rob.

  186. Eric says:

    @BenderHeel – I think you missed my overall point/question, which is this: If you shove your gloves in someone’s face and wrestle him, you should be prepared to fight him. Not, as Crosby did, push around with Hartnell until one of your teammates jumps in (and by jump in I mean, jump from behind and start throwing punches at a defenseless person). Hartnell is no angel but nor does he play his game as anything but, so you’re argument is moot. Crosby and the Pens on the other hand expect to be put at a higher standard and they blew it. Hartnell’s job out there is as an agitator but he always backs it up and often times gets the worse of his fights (see: Kunitz, Chris – second to last game of the year). Bottom line, if Sid wants to be a punk, great, then accept all the things that people inside hockey are saying and man up to it. He was able to deflect most of this – until a national audience saw otherwise yesterday.

  187. tim says:

    Now, when we fought, you had that eye of the tiger, man, the edge! And now you gotta get it back, and the way to get it back is to go back to the beginning. You know what I mean?

    See that look in their eyes, Pens? You gotta get that look back, Pens. Eye of the tiger, man

  188. JAL says:

    Very entertaining first half between Arsenal and Wigan. Wigan up 2-1 at halftime.

  189. JohninOshkosh says:


    Go Latics! I think they just might avoid relegation yet again this year.

  190. AJS says:

    I don’t view Crosby as the aggressor in that situation. Alright maybe I have my black and gold glasses on for this one, but i’ve been pretty clear who I felt was the more out of line team on the ice and it was the Pens, but Crosby pulled Simmunds back from attacking Neal. Hartnell came in and stepped in and shoved Crosby. Crosby put a glove in his face and then Adams came in to clean it up. Does Crosby get away with a lot, sure i’ll conced that. But that’s old school hockey, defend yourself best you can until the guy who’s role it is to protect you shows up.

    An argument can be had on whether this type of thing should have any place in today’s game(no it shouldn’t) but the fact is it still exists and until the league decides to make it a point to really crack down on it and remove fighting and headshots and goonery from teh game like international hockey, it will continue.

  191. Eric says:

    @AJS –

    I’d have to watch the whole sequence again but my recollection was that Simmonds was sent out, tried to get Neal to fight but he didn’t want to go. Done. If Crosby came to his defense, fine, but that would be WAY out of character for him, even given his demeanor and petulance during and after the game. I fully agree with you that these types of things shouldn’t be happening and the fact still remains that these players must not really respect each other – at least in the sense that they’re willing to injure one another if they’re mad, losing, retaliating or just dumb. Personally I’m for the ban of ALL headshots and until every one of them is a *real* punishable offense we’ll still be debating suspensions in certain cases and not others. And I say this as someone who is against anyone doing it. In recent memory, Mike Richards was fond of lining up defenseless players and it’s sickening to see guys with their arms up in the air, barely conscious no matter what team they’re on. Neal targeted both Couturier and Giroux’s heads and deserves to be suspended. Asham goes without saying. This is not only a Penguins problem though for one game, it’s league wide. I think much ink was spent on yesterday’s game because we were to believe that the Penguins weer above this, that comments made by guys like Tortarella (who’s player just got suspended for a flagrant elbow), Milbury (usually a tool) and Laviolette was sour grapes because the Penguins were going to win the cup hands down. Unfortunately, yesterday’s display makes those comments far more accurate than most of the casual hockey fan knew…

  192. Milo Hamilton says:

    Craig Adams is the 1st Penguin suspended for Wednesday’s game because of his instigator penalty yesterday. Asham & Neal have hearings tomorrow. Neal actually has 2 hearings. Really expected to be talking about this stuff a week ago.

  193. Robert Kistler says:

    Anyone ever think that Jordan Staal’s line is now ready to win this series, and subsequent ones?

    We all speak of how our third line is a force to be reckon with. Instead of always using this line as a defensive line against other team’s top units, why don’t we use our top lines to defend their top lines, and have our awesome 3rd destroy their 3rd and 4th lines. If Zetterberg and Datsyuk can play impeccable defense on our top stars back in the Cup finals, who is to say that our top offensive weapons are not capable of playing stellar defense that can shut down their top lines?

    We can do this!!! Just need to change our priorities. Just like Steelers football, DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!

    GO PENS!!!

  194. @Rob: I’m in agreement with you there, the Pens Stanley Cup under Bylsma had more to do with Therrien than Bylsma. I disagree with overhauling the defense, however. On paper, the Penguins defensive corps is as capable as any in the league. The Pens have four legitimate top-four defensemen, with Letang consistently discussed as a Norris candidate. Not to mention the Pens have depth for days to rotate through the five-six pairing. On talent alone, this defense is far superior to the group that brought the last Cup to Pittsburgh.

    There’s been some discussion on Crosby and whether or not he was in the wrong in approaching Hartnell. All I will say is this: after what I saw from Sidney Crosby during the course of that game and what I heard from him afterwards, I am disinclined to come to his defense over anything relating to that game. His actions were at times selfish, foolish, and just plain classless: he was the epitome of a pure punk. Don Cherry is spot-on: he’s got to eliminate this aspect of his game before he can truly be mentioned as one of the sport’s truly greats.

  195. cosmo says:

    where’s the leadership on this team? They needa grissly old vet again.
    Where’s Billy Guerin? Where’s Gary Roberts? WWGR DO?

  196. Eric Bowser says:

    I’m way late to the party today but I’ve been saying it for weeks, Dan Bylsma is on the hot seat after the last two playoff series and if the Penguins fail in the first round again, then he should be fired.

    Name me one schematic adjustment on the power-play, penalty-kill, defensive zone, neutral zone and offensive zone…. just one.

    I’ll save you the research, they haven’t.

    We’re talking about a franchise who famously got off to a horrible start back in the 90s under Bob Johnson’s one season as head coach and changed their style from an offensive juggernaut to a 1-4 trap that counter-attacked with a vengeance. You know, that team had Lemieux, Recchi, Stevens, Francis, Mullen, Jagr, Trottier, Errey, Coffey, and Murphy as offensive stars… way more than this collection featuring Crosby and Malkin.

    If Mario Lemieux and Badger Bob are willing to change up, then Dan Bylsma should be more than willing to relent and make some changes. It is obvious, Bylsma is nowhere near the coach many think that he is.

    Bylsma took a Michel Therrien trained team who were solid in their defensive zone but were not getting the offensive production and made an important adjustment, they went to an aggressive puck pursuit in the neutral and offensive zones but kept the same defensive zone assignments and system.

    Bylsma’s “system” has morphed into the infamous Eddie Olczyk hilarity that called for defensemen to pass the puck up the ice from behind the blue line to the forward standing at the opposing blue line.

    If the Penguins addressed the defensive side about six weeks ago, this wouldn’t be happening. Bylsma refused to admit to their problems even when the video and statistical evidence was staring at him.

    Game 4 is not the time to address issues, game one or two would have been the latest but after three games, get the stick of butter and put it on these defensemen because they are toast.

  197. Dave J says:


    Why can’t they make adjustments now? It would not be the first time that the Pens made a major change in the middle of a series. And if it doesn’t work, what will happen? They lose the series? Are they going to come back in this series by playing the way they have been the past 3 games? What’s that definition of insanity again?

  198. Karen22 says:

    What an awesome column! I have no idea how you were able to write anything after that fiasco (I am still is shock today), let alone a perfect expression of how we all feel. Maybe…just maybe…we won’t have to worry about the Pens returning to Philly for the sweep. I mean, shouldn’t the entire team be suspended, if for nothing else than impersonating a playoff contender? I won’t be watching, regardless.

  199. J. Sch says:

    @Robert Kistler,

    I could not agree with you more. Jordan Staal was one of the few people who came to play on Sunday. Tyler Kennedy is playing with tenacity. And how about Matt Cooke not being involved (I dont think…) in Sunday’s shenanigans?!

    Let’s see what this “third line” can do offensively on Wednesday.

  200. likeabugonarug says:

    I’m looking out on the web and can’t find any video. Has anyone seen any video that shows Couturier elbowed Neal in the head prior to Neal’s hit on Couturier, as someone stated on this blog?

  201. likeabugonarug says:

    Actually, Guerin’s on the Pens payroll. Maybe they should bring him in to speak to the team.

  202. Eric Bowser says:

    @Dave J – There’s nothing stopping Bylsma but himself. Honestly, down 3-0 is way late in the series to think a change will happen or will work. They’ve got so many things to change, I just can’t see it working to win four games in a row.

    The aggressive pinching of our defensemen has to stop, like 6 weeks ago, because the forwards are not doing their job with the F3 coverage.

    Then there’s the breakout, if our defensemen think they can pass the puck through a man along the boards, keep on trying because tee times are being taken at Oakmont.

    I’ll stop now because it fruitless, Bylsma isn’t changing, these players are not changing and Flyers have all the confidence in the world even while getting some of the worst goaltending one could imagine.

  203. Dave J says:


    Hey, I’ll gladly agree with everything you say if you can get me on Oakmont!

    Unfortunately, you are talking reality. I understand what you are saying, and it is all true. What I’m saying is why not try something truly radical, whatever it is. All it takes is one win to turn the momentum, and put doubt in other minds instead of the Pens. Of course, that would take flexibility, something that the current coaching staff does not exhibit.

  204. Tim says:

    One thing: enough about the holier-than-though Penguins and how everyone’s embarrassed by them playing Slap Shot hockey. How sanctimonious and boring. They’re angry, frustrated and disgusted by what’ happening so they said, “***** it” and fought back. They havent’ put up a physical battle in over a month, it was good to see them take it to the Flyers. They’re extremely talented, passionate men playing a violent sport and they had enough. Were some things over the line? You bet. But they stuck up for each other and that’s all that counts. It’s playoff hockey, they fought like hell to get here and now they are getting whooped. You do the math. Bottom line – there defenseman are physically weak and Bylsma’s attack scheme has it’s drawbacks in the playoffs. Thats’ why they are losing. As for Sid, he never claimed to be the Golden Boy. I like his nasty streak. All the great one’s had one. He’s just trying anything to get the boys going. I never new Pittsburgher’s (I am one of them) was so full of *******.

    DK: Don’t let the language happen again, Tim. Thanks.

  205. likeabugonarug says:

    Tim –

    You have multiple players on the Pens who have sat out with concussions. So, what do you want? You have our guys going after their heads with cheap shots. Sorry, but I don’t believe that is right. You can play violent without going outside the rules or being cheap. You can also stand up for your teammate without doing what Asham did. Especially since Martin got right up and started skating up the ice. Game one was a perfect example of that. There were lots of good, solid, hard, clean body checks. Game 3 was a joke and a remake of Slap Shot. That isn’t hockey. That’s frustrated players who know they are getting beat, can’t stand the team that is beating it, so they start the cheap crap. So if we are winning big Wednesday night are you giving a player like Rinaldo the excuse to start going head hunting at Sid or Letang or Malkin? And do you really think Philly will miss him if he’s not in the lineup?

  206. Tim says:

    First off, I didn’t see one clear cut head shot yesteday. Neal hit there guy upper chest, so did Asham (not a particular fan of the crosscheck, I have always thought cross checks have been SO undercalled in the NHL), Look, you go after guys base upon the hit, not based upon did he get up and walk away. Asham saw the hit, thought it was high and went after him. Once again, I’m not a fan of cross checks, or slashes or high sticks. All the fighting, PLEASE, we have been taking that crap from them for years. I know the difference between cheap head shots and guys wanting a little pay back, so don’t lecture me on head hunting. Sorry whateveryourhandleis, looking for a fight is one thing and a deliberate elbow or shoulder at someones head with intent to injure is another. And another thing, Giroux clocked O’Neal right before O’Neal hit him. It’s hockey, it happens, get over it. Mario isn’t ashamed of the rough stuff, he’s ashamed of his teams play.

  207. Mike says:

    I like the passion of the comments posted.

    Hockey is a sport of toughness, working as a team and professionalism. It is easy to lose your cool and take cheap shots at players when you are down, it is the stronger team which fights through adversity who wins the cup. The Pens have depth in their lineup, they can score, they can play well and were reported by everyone as the team to beat this year. The Pens started this dirty play towards the end of the year to send a message in the playoffs, has everyone forgotten April 1, 2012?

    Hitting in the sport is entertaining, but as being a hockey player in the past, hits put you out of the play and put your line in jeopardy being temporary out of position. The Pens have resorted to dirty pool, hitting players from behind, is that the kind of game which Mario would support?

    I am sorry to say, Sidney Crosby has embarrassed the team with his cheap shots and lack of leadership and should be stripped of his C. I believe Staal has played the game with professionalism and leadership surely lacking from Letang, Adams, Malkin, Asham, and Neal. Pulling hair? Really? Is this a 5th grade girlfight? Grabbing the players jersey from behind while a player comes to your rescue? I used to do that to my dad when I was 6 years old.

    The coach further embarrassed himself by trying to minimialize and deflect the blame and Sidney trying to explain his poor leadership, instead of saying “we need to get back to the basics or be more disciplined.” No excuse. The NHL and the Refs have let go many of the Pen’s pond hockey dirty tactics and it has blown up in their faces.

    My comment to the Pens’ organization…Everyone is watching and is embarrassed to be called hockey players next to your club.

  208. Robert Kistler says:


    Fighting has it’s place in hockey. I think we can all comfortably agree, that when Max Talbot fought Dan Carcillo, THAT!!! was a fight that had meaning and a game/series changing effect. For reasons like that, the argument of letting fighting still happen should be allowed. What happened on Sunday are all of the reasons why fighting should NOT be allowed. Talbot’s fight was out of pride, true belief, and a will to be able to change things to his entire team. The Penguins on Sunday was a childish team that had an adult temper tantrum. If it weren’t on the ice and just on the streets of Philadelphia, and if they were not famous athletes almost above the law (almost is for you Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagle), then they would all be thrown in jail. That is NOT something that hockey youth should not see as acceptable. (Even if Mike Milbury is not their to assault your child)

    The Penguins strive on having such a high class organization, discipline, and all other social positives. To do what they did on Sunday is like when we found out Tiger cheated on his wife with a pornstar. The Penguins can make up for it by winning the series, but obviously Sid the Kid, their leader has shown us that he still has some “kid” aspects and needs to grow up still. Talking calmly and assertively to the media is not what defines maturity. It’s your actions ON and off the ice.

    I still believe in our team, and always will. I 100% believe that Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma are what the team needs to be successful. I also believe, that the whole team can all take a page out of the Matt Cooke diaries and make a drastic change for the better.

    Let’s Go Pens!!!

    Thank you Dejan for the blog opportunities, and keeping it classy by telling Tim to express our emotions without being like a broadstreet bully.

  209. G says:

    I am embarassed for the Pens and I am a Flyer’s Fan. Sure I like the rivalary betwee the two teams. I dont mind the rough stuff, but come on with some of that. Adams has been suspended, and I know Asham will be too. I hope Neal is not. He knows what he was doing and let the players police themselves. Neal is hoping he get suspended, because he can not stand up for his actions. Like his own fans have said, he started it and ran to the bench. Simmonds went after him, I though Neal was going to cry. Let him play and dont be mad if someone goes after him. Let the players take care of this, suspensions will not work. I have lost respect for the Pens, sure I hate them but have repsected them. Everyone now see’s why no one likes Crosby. He is a crybaby and acts like a little kid. Maybe that why they call him Sid the Kid. I will send him some cheese to go with his wine.

  210. DM says:

    As a Flyers fan I am not going to talk about the infractions, penalties, cheap shots, or other rough stuff in the game as the team we are cheering for will cause you to look at all of that stuff differently. I will talk about what I think is the problem in the Pens locker room. No one on here has talked about Crosby or Malkin as the problem just as no one in Philly last year wanted to admit that Richards and Carter were a problem. It was thought to be imposible to replace the scoring and leadership that they brought to the table by those two players as such would be the case with Crosby and Malkin but getting rid of them has shown that Lavy’s system works just as Bylsma’s works extremely well if ALL players on the team and in the system buy into it and play it to perfection. Maybe what the Pens need is a major shake up and let a quiet leader like Staal take the reigns and rebuild from the ground up. The Flyers have shown that having lots of rookies in the lineup will hurt your team. In addition to that the Pens desprately lack veteran leadership i.e. Talbot, Guerin, Gonchar ect. They were the keystone’s in that locker room and they were never replaced. All of the talk about division in the Flyers locker room last year was also dismissed by the team as rumor and untrue and then a few weeks later bye bye Richie and Carts. Take it for what you will but that is what myself and many others see from the outside looking in is a divided group of EXTREMELY tallented individuals and not team working together and playing for eachother.

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