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Wakeup Call: Don’t change the D

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PHILADELPHIA — Brief and to the Point …

>> My special-edition Thursday column looks at the Penguins’ most important performance in the 10-3 annihilation in Game 4. It might surprise you a bit.

This is usually Joe Starkey’s day to column-ize, but we flipped days this week because of the Penguins being on the road. Mine runs today, and his will run tomorrow.

>> Do not change the defense.

For one thing, teams don’t change up after a win. Sure, James Neal will be back in the lineup. But I wouldn’t be changing anyone on the defense after the Penguins limited the Flyers to 25 shots and, if you watched closely, very few chances five-on-five. Colleague Josh Yohe said he counted maybe two of the quality variety.

That means leave Simon Despres, who was plus-2 in 13:05 of ice time, stays put. Brian Strait was a plus-3 in 12:01. Leave them in, and leave Paul Martin out, whether he’s legitimately injured or not.

>> When we grow up as kids, we dream of scoring a goal like Steve Sullivan did. What a beauty.

>> Pedro Alvarez has two hits this season in 27 at-bats, and both are home runs, including his shot to left in Phoenix yesterday.

Drives you nuts, doesn’t it?

I know Daniel Hudson made a mistake pitch, judging by the video, but you see that swing and that power and can’t help but wonder what it would all look like with contact.

>> That said, the Pirates are 5-7 coming out of a really rough stretch of opponents and pitching. That’s not all bad, assuming they can still hold their own — and have some semblance of offense — this weekend against the Albert-free Cardinals.

>> Duquesne did, indeed, lose out on Donovon Jack, one of the state’s top prospects at forward, and are now left with no one from Ron Everhart’s highly promising recruiting class. Jim Ferry really has his work cut out for him, essentially starting from scratch.

>> There will be no chat today. We’re pushing it back to tomorrow at noon because of travel.

Comments

  1. Deesh138 says:

    Thought Tangradi was excellent today as well. I enjoy what Vitale brings to the game, but I have to believe Park/Vitale sit on Friday in favor of Tangradi/Adams.

    Bryzgalov’s confidence laughs at the minimal size of Pedro’s confidence.

  2. Nate says:

    Let’s go Pens.

  3. CWalton_67 says:

    Agree on the defense. Martin must sit. And Orpik is correct, they have been terrible in front of MAF. But that doesn’t excuse his poor play. He’s unquestionably not the sole or even close to the biggest reason the Pens are down in this series, but once again, when his team needed him most, he came up small. He gave up three bad goals tonight, and in any game that the other team doesn’t implode, that’s not good enough for a win. So, I’m not sure that “he’s back” is an accurate description of his play

    Don’t change the D, but how about the PP, Dejan? Interested to hear your opinion on whether or not the leading PP goal scorer in the NHL goes back on the top powerplay?

    Also will be interested on others opinions as to whether or not the Pens decision to go with 7, rather than 6 defensemen made a real difference?

  4. twentytwo22 says:

    Fleury made a glove save in the third period and you could hear the bench smacking their sticks against the boards.

  5. Justin says:

    It says a lot that so many fans left so early. Yeah, their team was getting beat badly, but you spent lots of money to get in, why not just stay and at least give the team a nice booing for the trip to Pittsburgh? Dressing seven D turned out to be brilliant…definitely need to keep that setup, since the Pens usually use skill players with parts of the fourth line anyway.

  6. Happy G says:

    DK, small typo in your first entry above. The wrong final score.

    Tonight felt really good. It almost made up for three terrible losses. Well, not really. But I agree it’s good to see Flower being himself.

    DK: Where? Not seeing it.

  7. SD says:

    Loved the 7 D. I thought Despres and Strait aquitted themselves very nicely and it was nice not having to cringe every time Paul Martin got near the puck. Tangradi was good as well. I hope Dan keeps all the rookies in the game on Friday.

    I’ve been thinking about the PK – what if Bylsma were to throw Sid/Geno on to each unit. Both have PK’d before I believe and they might have some better anticipation for what the Flyer PP unit is doing. Something is not clicking on the PK unit and it has to be fixed, so just thinking out loud.

    On the positive front, I don’t think the Pens PP allowed any SHGs this time.

    One last thing – how great has Matt Niskanen been?

  8. Cari says:

    I agree — keep the defense exactly how it is right now.

    Craig Adams will probably return — like the first commenter, I also favor keeping Tangradi in the lineup. He played well tonight, and he won’t take the opportunity for granted.

    It will be interesting to see if they continue to dress 7 D.

  9. Leah Backus says:

    Obviously, Neal’s back. Adams is needed badly on the PK. For the love of god, leave everything else the way it is. Listen up, people, because I’m about to admit I was wrong. It doesn’t happen often. Watching the difference between the D tonight and the first three games made it clear to me what a huge liability Martin really is to this team. Now before you all go off on a hate-fest, I don’t think it’s his fault and I don’t think it’s because he sucks. I think it’s a chemistry thing and an inability on his part to play Bylsma’s system. He belongs with a team that is more defense-oriented like New Jersey (where he came from). I hope he and the team can arrange things so he can so somewhere he will be able to thrive and be appreciated. But please, let him stay “hurt” for a while longer.

    Someone asked me earlier tonight if I was getting excited again. I said no. I saw a lot that made me feel more hopeful. But it’s still one goal, one period, one game at a time. Keep on keeping the faith, guys.

  10. David W. Hannen says:

    Season Stats from K-Dro???

    AB’s 500+ BA .200 HR 40 K’s 150+ every year

    Would love more contact, but could settle for that.

    Boom or bust!

  11. scapper says:

    Who was named MVP and won the car last night?

  12. JAL says:

    JAL’s Sentimental Journey Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

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

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

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

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

  13. JAL says:

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Why Has Kevin Correia Been So Much Better On The Road?

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/19/2959331/kevin-correia-pirates-home-road-splits

    Pirates Pull Out Another One-Run Win, 2-1

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/18/2958676/pirates-pull-out-another-one-run-win-2-1

    Bucs Dugout Podcast: What Just Happened? And More On The Diamondbacks And Cardinals Series

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/18/2958318/bucs-dugout-podcast-diamondbacks-cardinals-pirates-jeff-karstens

    6 Rumbunter

    Two Out Lightning Sparks Pirates to 2-1 Victory Over Snakes

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/18/two-out-lightning-sparks-pirates-to-2-1-victory-over-snakes/

    7 Hyzdu Headquarters

    Some Life

    http://hyzduhq.blogspot.com/2012/04/some-life.html

    8 WHYGAVS

    Game 12: Pirates 2 Diamondbacks 1

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2012/game-12-pirates-2-diamondbacks-1.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs End On High Note With 2-1 Win

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/04/bucs-end-on-high-note-with-2-1-win.html

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Coming up big

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2012/04/coming-up-big/

  14. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 Yahoo Sports

    Fan’s Take: Is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Poor Offense Due to Clint Hurdle Over-managing the Starting Lineup?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/fans-pittsburgh-pirates-poor-offense-due-clint-hurdle-170800606.html

    12 Arizona Republic

    Depleted Arizona Diamondbacks falter late, drop series to Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/sports/articles/2012/04/18/20120418arizona-diamondbacks-lose-series-pittsburgh-pirates.html

    13 MLB Center

    How Long Do You wait?

    http://www.mlbcenter.com/articles/2012-mlb/mlb-struggling-teams_041812.html

    14 LA Times

    Was a pitcher once the winning and losing pitcher in a game?

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sports-legend-revealed-mauro-ruiz-20120418,0,2649060.story

    15 Chicago Tribune

    Pittsburgh Pirates – TeamReport

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze84inbw0v1-20120418,0,7505583.story

  15. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Going Negative on Sunseri

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/18/going-negative-on-sunseri/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Basketball: Injury Puts J.J. Moore Behind

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/18/2955869/jj-moore-injury-pitt-basketball-pittsburgh-panthers-recruiting-jamie-moore-jamie-dixon-steven-adams

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Hype And Expectations Just Talk For Smith

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52214

    26 WV Illustrated

    Smith, WVU Bring “Swag” to Big 12 Race

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17521499/smith-wvu-bring-swag-to-big-12-race

  16. JAL says:

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    27 Pensburgh

    Sweep Deez- Pens explode for 10 goals in huge Game 4 win over Philadelphia

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/18/2959104/sweep-deez-pens-explode-for-10-goals-in-huge-game-4-win-over

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Drog gives Blues the edge

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,19764,11065_3504876,00.html

    Royals enjoy “dream” promotion

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11673/7682100/Royals-enjoy-dream-promotion

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 18th 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-18th-april-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Blues striker Didier Drogba gives Chelsea Champions League semi-final edge over Barcelona with first leg winner

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/blues-striker-didier-drogba-gives-chelsea-champions-league-semi-final-edge-over-barcelona-with-first-leg-winner/story-e6frey4r-1226332758966

  17. likeabugonarug says:

    I hadn’t looked at the ice time stats. Didn’t realize that Despres and Strait had that much ice time. However, one thing to remember. Yes, that time allowed them to get their feet wetter in playoff hockey. However, the 3rd period wasn’t on the line as it has been in the earlier games. A lot less pressure on them, and another reason they saw quite a bit of time. What happens to them in the 3rd when the game means something?

    That said, you have to keep Martin on the outside for now. I still think him being signed originally was a good idea, but as Leah stated he may just not be a good fit for this team.

  18. Rob says:

    Biggest difference I saw last night was the breakout was much more controlled and patient. They kept a forward back, and the defense did not rush the pass. Games past it looked like the defense man carrying the puck passed while no flyer was within 10 ft. They waited instead of forced, which eventually forced a flyer defender to commit to the puck carrier. That looked to allow less doubling up on our forwards and opened some space. They reduced neutral zone turnovers greatly. Even when that didn’t work they did a much better job of clearing the blue line or at the very least icing the puck.

    Maybe just as important once they adjusted to the “new” way penalties where being called and they played very disciplined. They didn’t retaliate, initiate scrums after the whistle, and I don’t recall any lazy penalties after the first period. They adjusted and instead forced the play, Philly looked like they completely reversed roles.

    Fleury looked shaky on the 1st goal, and he had no chance on the 3rd. After that it looked like the team’s play actually picked him up. He looked much more like his old self as the game progressed, and he made some real nice saves when needed. Also looked like the D did much less pinching in the offensive zone, and let the forwards carry the play down low.

    Letang made some amazing plays. His anticipation in his own zone on the play which led to him drawing a penalty was amazing to watch.

    Last but not least I listened to the radio broadcast with a slight delay with TV (actually wasn’t that bad) and I miss Mike Lange’s play by play call and insight. I still don’y understand why he isn’t on TV. Stiegy is a much better color man, and there is plenty of room for Errey and ole 29′er behind the bench or in the studio.

    Let’s Go Pens! One shift, one period, one game at a time!

  19. Jandy says:

    “Listen up, people, because I’m about to admit I was wrong. It doesn’t happen often.”
    Leah, are you sure you’re not related to DK? ;)
    Just kidding. Serioulsy, you’re a lady with hockey smarts, and it’s not easy to admit being wrong. Kudos to you, Sister!
    I thought the rookies acquitted themselves well. Tangradi looked better than decent. With the incentive of his family watching, it must have helped. Strait and Depres should stay in the line-up. Put Neal and Adams back in. Adams is a MUST on the PK.

    I really would like a full explanation as to why Cookie was given a misconduct. He took heaps of abuse and I just don’t understand it at all.

    @Rob ~ I really cannot stand Steigy, but I sure do wish Mike Lange was back!

    Rinaldo had BETTER be gone at least 15 games. Vicious goon. Seriously.

    Buccos get another win! I’m getting excited! Hope they take some W’s from the Cards.

  20. JT says:

    Dejan,
    Did anyone else notice how much different the Pens breakout looked last night? I was here the other day writing about how the Pens need to help out their D on the break out. Last night the center was always back helping out the D. Pens centers were below the goal line more in this game than the rest of the series combine. Wingers were also a lot closer to the red line than the far blue line. Amazing how much better the Pens break out looked. I don’t care if that adjustment was just because of the rookies in the lineup or not IT WORKED, KEEP DOING IT. The Flyers also didnt sustain a whole lot of offensive zone time 5 on 5 last night either.

    Now whether thats because the Flyers were terrible last night, or the Pens figured out what they need to do to win…i guess well find out.

    The most frustrating thing about this series though, is that Bryzgalov has been hot garbage too. If the Pens had just poor defense and goaltending this series is probably 2-2 right now. Not going to get my hopes up yet, but i enjoyed everyone of those 10 goals as if it was going to be the last ones i see from the Pens this season.

    And that should about end the holier than now crap from Flyers fans, they managed to erase 30 years of dirty play from memory after 3 games…..still the Flyers.

    DK: Yeah, like I’d mentioned in that short piece a couple days ago, the Penguins have to move and work in packs, or everything they do falls apart.

  21. Billy Ray Valentine says:

    Rob

    I think you are spot on with breakout being more patient. They seemed much more controlled in their pace and play than the first 3 games. Its almost like going from a run and gun, fast break offense and bringing it down a gear or two. They did a much better job of controlling the tempo. The patience and spacing was better on the PP also. But just like every series in the playoffs it’s all going to come down to stopping the puck, aka saves.

  22. Milo Hamilton says:

    The two happiest people on the planet today ? Mario Lemieux & Ron Burkle.

    One more gate.

  23. Leefoo says:

    Pens win! Pedro hits a HR!

    I swear to God I saw a rhinoceros flying outside my window!

    .

  24. Jandy says:

    Lee~ Don’t get underneath it, you know what might happen! ;X

  25. Leefoo says:

    Dejan……welcome to the Harrisburg area!!! We actually have some Starbucks here.

    Enjoy!!

    West Shore Foo

    DK: Yeah, we found one on Paxton Street or something like that. Right across from this huge sporting goods/boats place.

  26. Milo Hamilton says:

    Rhino Foo.

  27. Jandy says:

    Harrisburg eh? I have family in Mechanicsburg.

  28. Leefoo says:

    Jandy…….where?

    I live in Mechanicsburg

  29. fillet_mimnaw says:

    First let me start by saying I am a very big fan of Craig Adams and his role on this team. However with the tremendous struggles the PK has been experiencing this series and even the last two late season Flyer games, why should he be a shoe-in to get back in the line-up on Friday? The PK was no worse last night with out him. He’s not on the ice for his offensive abilities.

    Neal in, Park out. The rest stays the same.

    Any word on Michalek? There was plenty of speculation before the game he was injured which is what forced the hand with the 7 D-men.

    If they stay with 7 D, how about mixing up the PK a bit and using a 3rd d-man up top?

    #PensIn7 #Believe

  30. Jandy says:

    Foo ~ Marble Street

  31. Jandy says:

    She works at Joseph James Jewelers downtown

  32. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Foo owns that jewelry store.

  33. Jandy says:

    Lucky, yeah and I’m Mother Teresa ;)

  34. Jandy says:

    Hey Lucky, how ’bout them Buccos??? =)

  35. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy,

    Ray Searage for Man of the Year again. “Where there is no vision the people perish”. Proverbs 29:18. The hitting should follow suit. His vision for that pitching staff is coming into full play. Brad Lincoln may finally be in a position to excel and the rest of the staff has really looked good so far. Pedro made some solid contact yesterday and, even though DK said he homered to left it was a solid line drive to right. Things are looking up. That hockey broadcaster on NBC Sports even said at the end of the Pens’ game that the Pirates had won. I don’t know what prompted that.

  36. Jandy says:

    Lucky, I didn’t watch the game, but I read the comments here in the game time blog. I’m trying to take this all in. I agree, there may be hope for Pedro. I sure hope so. Still think he should be sent down for a bit, but that’s why I’m not the manager.
    Seems our pitching has been decent or good enough to win, but the hitting was the problem. Looks like it’s coming around. Good to see. I can only hope to talk Hubby into watching some Pirates this summer :)
    As for the sports broadcaster, he’s like everyone else outside of the Burgh…if the Pirates win, it’s amazing lol

  37. JB says:

    Lucky,

    In regards to the announcer mentioning the Bucs, Mike Emerick is a HUGE fan. He absolutely loves them.

  38. Milo Hamilton says:

    @Lucky @Jandy

    NBC’s hockey play by play announcer is Mike Emrick and with the possible exception of Mike Lange, he’s the best in the business. Add to that, he’s a falling down Pirates fan. No joke. He tries to find a way to work them into every broadcast. During the gold medal game in the last Olympics, he even mentioned the Pirates were watching in Bradenton. And this winter, he was a participant in Pirates fantasy camp. Prior to his announcing days, he taught English at Geneva College in the early 70′s. That’s when he fell in love with the Buccos.

  39. AJS says:

    Foo-I’m over by the east mall(I don’t care what they say it is the east mall.) Between Union Deposit and Derry in Paxtang.

  40. AJS says:

    Doc is a big PA guy. loves the Bucs and also loves the Hershy Bears. He agreed to announce the AHL all star game last year because it was in Hershey. He reportedly tries to make it to at least one Bears game a year when his broadcasting schedule allows.

    I agree he is one of the greatest hockey broadcasters of all time, however in more recent years he’s slipped a bit. Can’t remember guys names, gets the score wrong on occasion, etc. i remember watching him in ’09 during the cup run and thinking this guy needs to hang it up soon.

    I was traveling Friday night and had the pleasure of listening to Lange on the trip. Listening to him call a Penguins goal is truely something special. And he always seems to come up with the best Langeism for the situation. When Bryzgalov gave up teh quick answer by Neal to make it 4-3 on Friday on a big juicy rebound and then threw his stick, lange didn’t miss a beat pulling out “Bryzgalov doesn’t know whether to cry or wind his watch!”

  41. NewGuyTim says:

    BOOM. Pens never should’ve been down 3-0 in this series. Despres and Tangradi should stay in the lineup for Game 5 — Park and Vitale should be out. I know it’s cliche but I really do hope the Pens take this series 1 game at a time. If they could just win 1 game at home, they would not only break the streak of home losses to the Flyers, but would also put enormous pressure on the Flyers to close the series out at home and definitively shift the momentum in the series.

    By the way, Flyers fans are mimicking Peter Laviolette and trying to pawn this loss off as an “off night”. All I can say to that is that when the score is 10-3 — that’s 10-3 — that’s indication something’s really wrong. Will be on the lookout for another “off night” in Game 5, though.

  42. LuckyNKentucky says:

    JB and Milo,

    Thanks for sharing that. We were bouncing back and forth, my son and I. He had the remote. Didn’t know who was broadcasting. Got some ties to Geneva myself in several different ways, dating back to the early 70′s. Couldn’t imagine why he’d mention the Bucs, but that explains a lot.

    AJS,

    Foo owns Union Deposit, too.

  43. Jandy says:

    JB & Milo….thanks for the info, I had heard Doc was a Bucco fan. He’s one of the FEW broadcasters I can stand to listen to :)

    AJS, I LOVE Mike Lange, I wish they’d bring him back to tv and get rid of Steigy. I can handle Errey.

  44. Jandy says:

    Lucky, I wish Foo owned the Buccos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Jandy, you’re so right. Then he could sink some of his millions into a real payroll.

  46. Blarge says:

    One win where Philly was on PK most of the second period when the game got out of hand. Let’s not get too excited. Don’t expect te Flyers to be that undicsiplined again.

  47. Jandy says:

    exactly, instead of buying up all of mechanicsburg!

  48. Leefoo says:

    Jandy….I live on Cocklin….

    Marble is the ‘poor’ side of town. lol


    AJS…near the East Mall? You have my sympathies…lol

    Out for most of the day….Jandy….if you’re ever out this way, perhaps you, AJS and myself could get together?

    The heck with owning a Jewelry store. I OWN Mech……lol

    ..

  49. Jandy says:

    Lee ~ our family doesn’t have a lot of “money”. We do have a large family, tho ;)

    I’ll keep you guys in mind :)

  50. scapper says:

    I think the people who are so down on Bob and Steigy must live in the Pittsburgh area and don’t get to hear other teams’ announcers on the NHL Center Ice package. Trust me, these two are gems. They have actual personality, unlike so many of the cookie-cutter, announcer-school types that say nothing all night long and say it in technically perfect voices.

    Mike Lange was great in his day, but he’s a bit hard to listen to these days. Steigy and Bob get me through the winter. Love them both.

    Just thought I’d throw some suppor their way, as it always seems so easy to pine for the early 90s Mike Lange. That guy is gone.

  51. Milo Hamilton says:

    Currently on ESPN’s crawl – BREAKING NEWS. Adam Schefter reports (only he knows, by the way) that the Colts will select Andrew Luck with the 1st pick in the draft.

    Shocking. I’m going to need a few minutes to gather myself.

  52. JAL says:

    Milo

    Most of runs as breaking news on sports and news station is not breaking news.

  53. Jandy says:

    Milo, clean up the mess, please ;X

  54. JAL says:

    that is most of what runs on them

  55. Nancy52 says:

    I think Doc became a Pirates fan as a kid in Indiana when he got Bob Prince
    on KDKA radio. KD carries great distances at night.

  56. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Nancy,

    You’re right. We even got it down here at night (500 miles away) when we first moved here. We were able to ear-strain through a few innings when the air was clear. Them were the days. Now, we get the replays on MLB. Hearing John Wehner prophetically call Pedro’s HR yesterday makes one homesick at times.

  57. NMR says:

    Pedro, Pedro, Pedro…

    Someone, someday, is going to figure him out. I just hope it’s a Pirate.

  58. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Was that Pedro’s first walk he drew yesterday? Hope he doesn’t forget how to run the bases.

  59. tmp444 says:

    11:15 am and nothing from the NHL about anything for Rinaldo. What. A. Joke. Besides his crosscheck to Michalek being in the back of the head instead of the face, which in my opinion is just as dangerous, there is absolutely nothing different between what he did and what Asham did. Nothing.

  60. Kenerdivanis says:

    @Milo

    Wow. I’m so shocked by that news, but if Schefty says it, then it has to be true. I mean, he is all knowing when it comes to the NFL.

  61. RELENTLESS_FORECHECK says:

    First, I must confess I did watch the game… even though I said I wouldn’t.

    Some good observations from Rob and JT, and some interesting points by Leah re: Martin.

    I’ll start by giving a nod to Bylsma and the coaching staff. I’ve criticised them in this series for not making adjustments, and they finally did for Game 4. For starters, they dressed seven defensemen. Forget for a moment the reasons behind the move: nothing sends a message that you’re putting more of an emphasis on defense than to replace a forward with another defender.

    Second, the coaches ensured the defense took a much more conservative approach, especially in terms of joining the rush. Only once did I see a defender (Matt Niskanen) carrying the puck across the red line and into the offensive zone. Even Letang was noticeably reserved, venturing only slightly beyond the red line and allowing the forwards to transition the puck through the neutral zone. Even in the defensive zone, there were minor adjustments to try and contain the opposing offense rather than neutralize it.

    The effect was profound. The defense was almost never caught deep, resulting in very few odd-man situations. The defenders, rather than racing back to catch up with the play, were able to keep the play in front of them and make the necessary adjustments. This made the job of the forwards easier since they were not trying to cover for a pinching defenseman and allowed them to much more readily pick up their defensive assignments. As a result of a much more conservative and organized defense in front of him, Marc-Andre Fleury faced fewer odd-man rushes and could concentrate more on the shooter. As the game went on he was able to settle down, get comfortable, and start to gain back some confidence. And, with the defense correctly deployed around him, his rebounds were much more effectively neutralized.

    This is the kind of hockey the Penguins must continue to play if they expect to have any chance in this series. Even with a more conservative defense and one of their top scorers out of the lineup, the Pens were able to explode for 10 goals. That should quell any argument that the Pens can’t put up the numbers if they play conservative defense.

    DK: This is a wonderful post, RF.

  62. Kevin says:

    I just want to say for the record that I will fight each and every one of you for the right to KEEP Mike Lange on the radio broadcasts!!
    I only say this because as someone who doesn’t have ROOT Sports, he is the only thing I have when it’s a “Hockey Night in Pittsburgh!”

    That being said, I couldn’t agree more that it was/is a mistake keeping Steigy on the tv side over Mike Lange…but a mistake to my advantage! I even love hearing the insights of the “Ol 2-9′er” – great pairing.

    Scrapper – it’s not that Steigy and Errey aren’t good at what they do, but I’d have to disagree that the old Mike Lange is gone…he is just as good now as he’s ever been (in my opinion). But I can agree that most NHL folks do fall into that “cookie-cutter” variety. How lucky are we in Pittsburgh!?

    My other two cents…Cookie got shafted on the misconduct.

  63. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    I am one that thinks Brad Lincoln has nothing else to prove at the AAA level. Glad to see him do well last night.

    Pedro hitting a HR is a nice sight to see, I’ll take a HR once or twice a week. The game before he hit put wood on the ball, that’s what it takes, eventually they will fall…or in his case, go over the wall.

    I don’t think I have ever seen a hockey game like last nights. The Pens still have a massive wall to climb, but if they continue to play like last night, nobody can stop them. Don’t change a thing.

  64. likeabugonarug says:

    My guess with the misconducts is the refs decided that they weren’t going to allow anything like the end of game 3. If someone got a penalty, they were also getting 10. What did Vitale do to even get a penalty? I didn’t even see him involved. But, he also got 10.

  65. NMR says:

    “My guess with the misconducts is the refs decided that they weren’t going to allow anything like the end of game 3.”

    Only in the NHL would this make sense. Instead of using penalties as a deterant, they are blindly doled out to anyone on the ice.

    Matt Cooke didn’t so much as stand up for himself and gets slapped with the same penalty as he would have gotten if he body slammed a Flyer to the ice.

    This league is just awful.

  66. Jandy says:

    NMR ~ exactly! This has my blood boiling! Cookie was told to either clean up his game or he would be gone. he did just that…and this is how he is rewarded? Please! NHL = Garage League!!!!

  67. NMR says:

    @Jandy

    Wait til you hear what Rinaldo just said. Mocking the fact that he hasn’t even been contacted by the league

    Honestly, the only man in the NHL thats any dumber might be Shanahan.

    Brendan? Hello? Nobody takes you seriously. Even the players think you’re a joke.

  68. Kenerdivanis says:

    Just saw Steve Sullivan’s goal again. OMG.

  69. BenderHeel says:

    Last night’s game may have been even more frustrating for me to watch because it just showed that this team NEVER should have been down 3-0 in this series, especially the way that it lost those first three games.

    Congrats, Dan Bylsma, for making a strategic adjustment!! A small, yet significant, acknowledgement that your “system” isn’t perfect and not to be tinkered with.

    The Pens exorcised some demons last night, but, alas, they need to win three straight while the Flyers just need one. I refuse – REFUSE! – to get my hopes up.

    But even if the Flyers win, they have to be quite concerned with their goaltending, yet again, in the playoffs. As a Pens’ fan here in Philly, it’s awesome to see it happening once again.

  70. James says:

    Dejan,

    I didn’t get the opportunity to post on your blog yesterday, but wanted to tell you that I thought your column on Jagr was the best piece I’ve ever read from you. I’ve always found your writings very insightful and fun to read. When I see “Kovacevic: …” in the Penguins headlines, I always think, “Alright! A new Dejan column! I’ll save that for last…”

    Regarding the column on Jagr, it was really refreshing to see you make that confession. I’ve always thought that the ability to admit when one is wrong is one of the best qualities a man can possess in this lifetime. It goes double for writers in my opinion. And you brought up such great points: 1) He still has a great chance at the Cup this year 2) That IS worth more than a chance at a statue 3) He really could have earned more money in Russia (his KHL team put up $4 mil) 4) He was right about his spot on the Flyers VERY dangerous power play and 5) Ray Shero didn’t seem to like the idea of having Jagr here anyways.

    I really do believe Jagr’s taken a bad rap in the ‘burgh. And I think he’s a lot smarter and thoughtful than a lot of people give him credit for. Granted, I think he could benefit from showing a bit of tact on occasion, but that’s another story. What he’s done for youth sports and the People’s Democratic Party in the CR shows that he’s clearly a very caring and considerate man. The Trib ran an article only a week ago, I believe, discussing the role he plays amongst his new team, how respected he is within their group, and how some players don’t think it jives with his reputation at all. I thought that spoke volumes.

    Anyways, your column spoke even more and I really enjoyed it.

    Best wishes,

    James

    DK: That’s exceedingly kind, James, and I thank you. Nicer still to have you here among us.

  71. Jandy says:

    NMR ~ What Rindaldo did was show everyone just how…STUPID…Shanahan and this Garage League really is. I really hate that word – STUPID, but it fits. And it’s a shame. I love hockey, I really do. the fact that it’s a fast-paced game keeps me glued to the television and wishing I could attend games in person. For Shanahan and the League to allow this to set unanswered is ridiculous. I hope something is said and done about it really soon. It HAS to be turning the casual fan away.

    K-nerd ~ that was awesome! I jumped out of my chair when Sully got that goal =)

  72. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    What to do with no games today?

  73. PetroSteel says:

    DK, I agree 100% regarding the Pens!

  74. Jandy says:

    Ryan, where’s Milo when ya need him? No doubt he would have plenty of ideas for you ;)

  75. ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    probably so, but since there’s no games, he’s probably taking the day off

  76. Kenerdivanis says:

    @Jandy

    That Milo is a fountain of useless information. :)

  77. NMR says:

    re: Sullivan’s goal

    I was watching the game with my better half, who is significantly more pragmatic on matters of sport than I, and she literally flinched at the sheer power of that shot.

    Combination of speed, grace, strength, skill…

    God I love this sport.

  78. Paul says:

    DK

    Are we sure that last nights offensive outburst by the Pens was not something like a light bulb being it’s brightest before it burns out ????

    If the defense can maintain the level of play that it had last night the there is still hope for us YET.

    LETS GO BUCS

    DK: Can’t forecast anything in this series, shift to shift, shot to shot. Insane.

  79. AJS says:

    @Foo

    Ya, I know the East Mall is ghetto fabulous. Fortunately, i live just far enough from teh city line that my neighborhood isn’t full of hoodlums. I live in what might be the nicest area in CD East area. Absolutely no one in my neighborhood sends their kids there. McD all around. If I were to have kids I would probably move on out. Growing up in Indiana County has me wanting to move up to Perry or down into South Middleton.

    Mandator sports portion of post: I don’t take too much from last nights win. The Pens ran up teh lead while the Flyers were in the box and then the Flyers were in such a hole they checked out. the Flyers won’t be as careless in game 5. Looking for a 4-3 type game tomorrow night.

  80. AJS says:

    @Jandy

    I didn’t expect Rinaldo to get anything more than he got. He cross checked a guy and gave him a couple gloves to the face. they gave him 4 and tossed him. The punishment fit that crime. However, i do agree that if the NHL wanted to really draw in more fans they would crack down on everything much harder. Rinaldo would have gotten a major and a game. Neal would have gotten 4. Asham would have gotten at least 10 and Tores wouldn’t be playing hockey anymore. but as it is, Rinaldo being suspended at all might have been a bit much.

  81. Jandy says:

    K-nerd…and extremely entertaining as well ;)

    AJS, I disagree on Rinaldo. He not only cross-checked him and knocked him down, but he continued to cross check him and hit him when he was down. That’s ridiculous. But eh, the league is a joke anyway so….

  82. NMR says:

    @AJS

    I definitely have to disagree on Rinaldo. Asham got four games for cross checking a guy up high and punching him in the face.

    That is EXACTLY what Rinaldo did, except that his act came while Michalek was down, making it all the more cowardly.

    Worse than that, Rinaldo openly admitted to his attack being premeditated.

    Do you honestly think the guy wouldn’t do the same exact thing the next shift he takes?

  83. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    Sorry for the delay in my replies today, guys. We just got back from the drive across the state, and I’m just now able to check in.

    Thanks for minding the store, as always.

  84. Nate83 says:

    I know they got to this point in a weird way, but if someone told me the Pirates would be 5-7 after the brutal schedule and starting pitching they had to face I think I would have taken it.

    It looks like we may have some good options for long relief as well on days that Morton or McDonald struggle. I still beleive they have too good of stuff to not allow them to at least try to develope as starters.

  85. Danch70 says:

    I don’t know about everybody else, but I don’t feel like the Pens series has turned dramatically.

    The smartest thing the Flyers did was back off in the third period. Fleury made 2 good saves all game … the save against Coburn in the 3rd and the save against Giroux in the second (that led to a Pens goal shortly thereafter.) The Flyers left no chance for Fleury to really find a groove and they didn’t give the Penguins practice defending the stretch pass. Until I see Fleury shut them down or the defense shut down the Flyers while they are going full bore … I am not a believer.

    Hey, it was fun. But the Flyers can easily close this out next game. I won’t be surprised.

    DK: You think just the Flyers backed off in the third? Looked to me like both did.

  86. likeabugonarug says:

    I agree that both backed off last night, especially after Malkin hit 10.

    In bringing up Shanahan and the league, did ANYONE ever mention a word from the league regarding Franzen’s spearing incident? I know he got a penalty, but to me he at the minimum should’ve had a hearing. Talk about doing something that could end a player’s life, let alone their career.

  87. Tim says:

    Agreed on D. Don’t want to blame Martin for all D’s follies, but you just know that Strait and Despres are thinking D, first, second and last. Ok, Depres might be thinking O last. Must give cudos where they belong: that Philly power play gives me skid marks. STAY OUT OF THE BOX!

  88. Tim says:

    Got to give the refs some credit, stayed on it and didn’t let the players get away with too much. Know it was a mandate, but they did what they had to do. It’s a shame what happened this season when some derelict decided they wanted to slow the game down by allowing obstruction back in the game. When you allow too much stick work to return, the players start to use it as a weapon.

  89. Danch70 says:

    Dk

    No I think they both shut off. They both were satisfied just skating it out. But in terms of giving fleury a boost of confidence, I would be more convinced if there were more quality stops. I too noticed the save leading to a score as an important moment. but Some have made too much about two periods of shut out hockey. Two saves is hardly stonewalling.

  90. radio wave says:

    I have been out of touch for a week cruising to Hawaii. What happened? The whole nhl playoffs seem upside down.

    DK: That’s about right, Radio. Welcome back. Sounds like fun.

 
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