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Wakeup Call: The Achilles’ five-hole

.

Brief and to the Point …

>> My Friday mini-column for the Trib’s playoff Insider feature is about the Flyers’ goaltending.

Such as it is.

I’ll repeat that Joe Starkey and I flipped regular column days because of travel plans. Joe takes a look this morning at the Wizard of Oz factor.

>> The other thing that changed was that the weekly chat will be today at noon.

>> For those who struggle with reading beyond headlines, here’s a link to the Monday column in which I asked the Penguins after Game 3 to not bother returning to Philadelphia “until you’re prepared to take the ice with some semblance of dignity, discipline and, yeah, maybe even a shift or two of defense.”

If you or anyone you know claimed I advised the Penguins to unconditionally forfeit Game 4, then you flat-out didn’t read the column.

That’s not a backtrack on my part. It was right there in black and white on Monday morning.

>> Raise your hand if you were really worried Neil Walker would hit. He’s 9 for his past 20.

On the other hand, the Pirates still have a stunning six position players with batting averages below .200, and poor Yamaico Navarro is still seeking his first hit through just five at-bats. The small-sample-size thing is starting to wear off. Some of these players would do well to start hitting this weekend.

>> That’s it for me here, as I’ll save most of my thoughts for our hourlong talk this afternoon. Heading over to cover the pucks again tonight and for however long the Penguins preserve their season. Even if that’s two months from now, I’ll be with them every step of the way.

81 Comments

  1. I didn’t catch any of the heat you took for the column if you did so on Twitter. But whoever was claiming that must not be able to read. I agreed with everything you had to say on game three. Especially with regards to Arron Asham. Nothing Matt Cooke ever did made me as sick as what Asham did and I can honestly say I hope he never dresses in a Penguins uniform again.

    DK: It wasn’t that much, Matt, but it’s part of this ridiculous pattern of people feeling totally comfortable criticizing something they clearly didn’t read.

  2. I’m very curious to see the lineup by the Pens. I think you leave the D intact and drop out Park/Vitale for Adams/Neal. I really liked the 7 D and I really liked Tangradi.

    Much better coaching job by Bylsma, complete with a 3rd period timeout with the score 10-3 that really showed that there will be no letting up.

    It really is amazing how the complexion of a series can change so quickly. A long way to go for this Pens team, but if Fleury plays well tomorrow and we hold the flyers to 2-3 goals I will finally come out of my fetal position while watching the games and get some confidence.

  3. All we have left is hope. Gotta believe!

  4. Matt…I feel the same about Asham, but it breaks my heart. He’s a favorite of mine and when I watched the video and heard Shanahan say that Asham had **never** been fined or suspended, it made me realize just how incredibly frustrated he and the other players must have been. Now, at 34, coming off a low-performing year distinguished by several injuries (including two concussions in the last year alone) I think he will be lucky to be picked up by anyone. Not a great way to end a solid career. I hate what he did, but I’m keeping a good thought for the guy just the same.

  5. Um hello, the Flyers goaltender is named Bryzgalov, not Achilles. Maybe you should pay closer attention.

  6. @ Jordan

    I agree about Tangradi. I’m not sure why the Pens don’t seem to like him. It seems like he plays a hard nose game, goes into corners and back checks. Sure he hasn’t scored, but he’s mostly played on the 4th line. I hope they keep him in there is well.

    I wouldn’t make many changes to tonight’s line-up. Get Neal and Adams back in there and keep the 7 D.

    Dejan keep up the great work… you are a staple of my pre-gym morning reading!

  7. DK,

    Fantastic articles all around on the Pens this morning. Please pass along my appreciation to your colleagues and yourself.

    Love the Wizard of Oz theme. I believe the team could use the “Cowardly Lion” as motivation for a major upset of 4 straight wins. The 72 hr. attitude adjustment with the team. Great insight! “Prideful Anger!”

    The team is back on the yellow brick road one step at a time.

    Crosby = Lion
    Sully = Dorothy
    Pens D = Tin Man
    Philly = Wicked witch
    Lord Stanley = Wizard

    Suggestions for other caricatures?

    DK: Thanks, David. Will do.

  8. JAL’s Cool Water 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/

  9. Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    The 2012 NFL Draft: A Bunch of Stuff that I’m Pretty Sure Will Happen

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/18/2957005/the-2012-nfl-draft-a-bunch-of-stuff-that-im-pretty-sure-will-happen

    BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 24 — Pittsburgh Steelers Select Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/18/2957014/2012-nfl-mock-draft-pittsburgh-steelers-donta-hightower

    BTSC’s 2013 NFL Mock Draft

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/19/2922721/btsc-first-round-2013-mock-draft

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Analyzing The Steelers 2012-13 Schedule

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/04/analyzing-the-steelers-2012-13-schedule/

    22 Steelers Gab

    Steelers Talking with Prospects, Including Memphis DT Dontari Poe

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/04/18/steelers-talking-with-prospects-including-memphis-dt-dontari-poe/

  10. Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    The Big East Was as Incompetent As Believed

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/19/the-big-east-was-as-incompetent-as-believed/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Can Pitt Football Contend For Big East Title In 2012?

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/19/2958737/pitt-football-pittsburgh-pathers-big-east-expansion-acc-louisville-cincinnati-rutgers-recruiting

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Varsity Club Enhances Spring Game
    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52232

    26 WV Illustrated

    Spring Game Provides Opportunity For Good Last Impression

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17585925/spring-game-provides-opportunity-for-good-last-impression

  11. PENGUIN BLOGS

    27 Pensburgh

    Steve Sullivan’s reaction was priceless

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/19/2960072/steve-sullivans-reaction-was-priceless

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Cech – No Camp Nou concern

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11668/7684963/Cech-No-Camp-Nou-concern

    Hart – Derby remains crucial

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11679/7684047/Hart-Derby-remains-crucial

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 19th 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-19th-april-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Sporting Lisbon, Atletico Madrid claim Eurpo League semi-final first leg wins against Athletic Bilbao and Valencia

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/sporting-lisbon-atletico-madrid-claim-eurpo-league-semi-final-first-leg-wins-against-athletic-bilbao-and-valencia/story-e6frey4r-1226334001003

  12. Title song Cool Water Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers, 1948 Standard written in 1936 by Bob Nolan. This 1948 recording was the biggest hit, peaking At 9 and spent 13 weeks on the chart. The song has been recorded by many, including Frankie Laine, Odetta, Marty Robbins, Burl Ives, The Shadows, Fleetwood Mac, the Replacements, and Joni Mitchell. Roy Rogers was a founder of the Sons of the Pioneers and they appeared in many of his films.

  13. I sooooo enjoyed the Wizards column…thanks to you guys for making my coffee even more enoyable :)

    A lot of people should go back to school for reading comprehension classes BEFORE they post replies that make them look…like they need reading comprehension classes. DK, your Monday column was clear as a bell to me.

    I’ll be glued to the television set this evening!

  14. Man I wish people would get over Game 3. It’s like you never saw a game like that before. I completely agree with Sid on that. Unless you are playing, you have know idea.

  15. My hand is raised. I was worried that Walker may be in for a year-long slump. Great year last year but isn’t Mr. Consistency in my mind yet.

    Speaking of sample sizes, how can 5 at-bats not be considered a small sample size? What exactly is wearing off with that?

  16. @DK

    Did you just accuse me of not reading your column and just the headline? I assure you that i read your columns in full…BUT i was amused by the 180 you did by predicting a cup then saying they shouldnt show. And you bringing up the defense before game 4 is pointless when I and others tried telling you that the defense is not cup worthy with 7 and 4 playing key roles. Dont worry DK i aint mad at ya…but maybe from now on you make your predictions more carefully so that you and other columnists dont raise the fans expectations in a cruel and unusual way. As far as today goes with neal and adams being back and strait and despres having experience in juniors playing against alot of phillies players…i hope its strait in the lineup instead of 4…but what do i know?

    DK: Yes, the entire entry was aimed solely at you. Come on.

    And if you still think the Monday column was unconditional in suggesting the Penguins should forfeit Game 4, I’m really not sure what else can be done to explain it to you. It’s written plain as day.

  17. @ DK

    Let me get this straight, 12 games–or 7.5% of the season–have been played and the small sample size thing is starting to wear off?

    Let’s be fair and be as critical when Cutch or Walker or McGehee or Jones have a 12 game slump in July or August.

    12 game slumps (and longer) happen, often, in baseball. But I agree that it is time for half a dozen or so PBC players (Presley, Tabata, Barmes, Barajas, etc) to put the bat on the ball.

    DK: I wrote “starting” to wear off. A bad month would by anyone would be damaging to the team.

  18. Count me in the group that is STILL worried about Neil Walker.

    43 at-bats without a single extra base hit is something to be worried about. Since last years all star break, Walker has provided virtually zero power.

    Most teams would be more than happy with a sure fielding second baseman who puts up a .270 average, but the Pirates just have to get something other than singles out of this guy.

    I do give him major credit for changing his approach at the plate from the very start of the season where he was making a habit of hitting 375′ high fly balls. Any offense is better than none.

  19. As I did on Wednesday at dinner time, I do today as well. I just have this confidence in my gut that says the Pens are going to bring it again tonight! Philthy’s GT situation is a problem, the Pens are not up against Brodeur or Quick here. As we all saw on Wed night, our captain #87 did his job leading the Pens to victory, staying away from any cheap nonsense that Philthy could bring. Love the 7 D too; fasten your seat belts folks, the roller coaster ride continues tonight!

  20. Brendan Shanahan.

    Go ahead and laugh. That was the punch line.

  21. I loved your column after game 3…It said everything I believed my myself…I have done my share of coaching over the years and one of the tenets of my philosophy is teasching kids to lose with dignity. Game 3 was an embarrassment and your column hit the nail on the head.

    DK: Dominant majority of those who actually read it felt same as you. Thanks!

  22. DK, your article on the Flyers goalies is completely irresponsible and off the mark! First of all, not all the goals allowed on Wednesday went through the “five hole,” and neither has any injuries to his achilles tendons. Typical shoddy reporting. Wrong again.

    Now that the commenting is done, let me actually read the column.

    DK: Ha!

  23. @David #7

    Munchkins = TK, Kunitz, Park

    DK:

    One has to wonder about the psychological effect of Bryz taking no part of the blame for game 4 and throwing his D and team under the bus?

    Speaking of larger sample sizes, with Bob’s record at Console, undefeated the past 2 seasons, if I am Coach Lav, I slide him between the pipes for game 5.

  24. The only thing I had against your column after Game 3 is that you focused on one game that wasn’t the Stanley Cup clinching game. After you call for the Stanley Cup in one article it seems kind of odd that you would devote a whole column to one game that occurs in the middle of the first round of the playoffs.

    As for the Wiazrd of Oz story I always wonder why people leave out ToTo. He deserves a place.

  25. Milo and scapper ~ LOL! Keep it rollin’

    Fillet ~ munchkin can also be Briere ;)

  26. Hartnell can be a flying monkey

  27. To the fans going to the game tonight (wish I was). I remember a couple of years ago during the season, Fluery was struggling with his game. For some reason, before a game against Tampa, the fans at CEC started chanting FLUERY, FLUERY before the pens even came out on the ice. Fluery went on to have a great night and also kept playing great after that. Fluery specifically pointed to that moment as a confidence builder for him. He knew the fans were behind him. If you are going tonight, or know someone who is, ask them to do the same thing! We need him to play well!!
    Go pens!

  28. DK, Your Monday column was outstanding! I got your back.

  29. How did Rinaldo escape a suspension? I mean seriously it was an unprovoked attack on a defenseless player and in an interview he admits it and says he has no idea why he did it. No suspension? What a joke.

  30. The Pirates Prospects article on Clemente seems to be back with a different url. It disappeared for bit.

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/bandi/demythologizing-clemente/

  31. DK,

    Did you just say the small sample size is wearing off and then throw Navarro under the bus for an 0 for 5 start?

    And there are plenty of struggling guys throughout MLB. If I have time I’ll look for a few. Ryan Doumit is batting. 250 with a .604 OPS in a lineup with Mauer Morneau and Willingham for Twins but all singles (until his first HR last night) and averaging a K every game. Oh and Ryan has thrown out 0% of base runners in the 5 games. Too bad we didn’t pay 9 million to keep that, huh? Or if we had paid 9 million for Maholm, I am sure we would have been at least 6-6, right?

    DK: I used the word “just” in front of Navarro’s AB count.

  32. You coach kids to practice dignity and your handle is Sarcastic Sword? There is an oxymoron in there somewhere.

  33. Wicked Witches of the East (the dead one at the beginning) — every single person at the Philly Daily Rag, I mean News.

    Glenda the Good Witch — DK :-p

  34. Jandy,

    I really didn’t want to include the any of those filthy flyers onto Team Munchkin, particularly one that has been a thorn in the side of the Pens for so long. But duly noted.

    We should be quite thankful Rinaldo was not suspended. His antics have led to 46 minutes in penalties this series (26, 16, 2, 2) and he’s a minus 2. He was a -1 in games one and three, so even when the Flyers were winning he was still a negative.

  35. Side note – I am choosing to spend my entertainment time and dollars on the Battlin Bucs tonight in person rather than the Pens. Hoping to up the Bucs record in my personal appearances to 7-3 in my last 10 in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

  36. I’d like to dispute the notion that Eric Tangradi played a good game in Game 4. It only seems that way because he’s usually so pathetic that simply forechecking and chasing the puck – in other words, playing a routine, average hockey game – actually looked impressive coming from him. It’s like when Pedro Alvarez hits a solo homer every 30 at-bats and people praise him because their expectations are so low.

    I don’t believe Tangradi intended to pass the puck to Staal on that goal – he tried to throw it towards the net and it happened to ricochet to Staal. Watch the replay again.

    What really drove me crazy was that later in the game, Sid set him up coming down the slot for a perfect shot, and he instead passed back to Sid, who had no angle. If you’re not going to shoot there, in that situation, with a 7-goal lead against porous goaltending, when are you EVER going to shoot? I’m trying to hold out some hope for this kid, but it’s really hard to do.

  37. On the As am situation. People are way over compensating and throwing him under the bus. He doesn’t deserve it. He coss-checked him high in the chest with malice, then threw a gloved punch as the player went to the ground. All reactionary and not premeditated and in reaction to a ‘leaving his feet’, launching high hit by Schenn.

    In contrast, Rinaldo with premeditation, cross checked a Penguin with malice, over and over, and the when the Penguin is pushing himself up with his hands and is defenseless, Rinaldo smashes him in the face with TWO gloved hands. Asham’s vs Rinaldo at least half as repugnan. NHL’s decision 4 vs 0.?

    Sorry Asham deserves no more negativity heaped on him. He defended his teammate with a little too much vigor.

  38. As shaky as Bryzgalov was, Bobrovski was absolutely terrible. The numbers don’t tell the story, but Bob was about a beat behind on every play and every shot. It was so bad I honestly wondered to myself whether Bobrovski was stoned; I’ve not seen a goalie that off in quite some time.

    It goes without saying that if Pittsburgh can rattle Bryzgalov again, the Flyers are in real trouble. The Penguins should keep with the same defensive approach as in Game 4, dress seven defensemen (yes, I’d bring Martin back in the fold) and keep Tangradi in the lineup. Get guys like Neal, Kunitz, and Tangradi to drive hard to the net early and make a presence in front of Bryz. Forget pretty plays, just get traffic and unload shots from everywhere. Open up an early lead and then… just sit on it. This Flyers team does not cope well with shutdown defense…

  39. By favorite part of The Wizard Of Oz was when the blog trolling sock puppets welcomed Dorothy & Toto to Munchkinland.

  40. Milo,

    My favorite part, also, coming from a blog-trolling sock puppet himself. For those of you who still remember the one constant through the years, baseball, our unfreed Matt Hague is hitting .125 at Indy. Must have taken the demotion harder than was indicated. Josh Bell had 2 more hits last night for WV.

  41. DK,

    I thought you Monday column nailed it. I believe I said it then as well. They were a disgrace to themselves, the coaches, Mario, can, and the city.

    Maybe they read your column and decided not to piss you off….I kid.

  42. Whatever It Takes, We Walk Together. It’s A Great Day For Hockey.

    Go Pens.

  43. All of this Wizard of Oz talk made me wonder for a second if I hadn’t woken up in a parallel universe where the Flyers were locked in a playoff battle with their arch-rivals, the Kansas City Penguins…

  44. Lucky-

    I wouldn’t worry about Hague. That’s why I was in favor of him staying down at Indy to begin the season, to get his game action hacks.

    Sitting on the bench and getting a handful of AB’s at the top level wasn’t good for him in the beginning of the season. I think he’ll pull through and be back up with the club in June/July time frame, barring injury to Pedro, Jones, or McGehee.

  45. Anybody else want to weigh in on the vote on who is the bestest Pirate fan on the planet? My vote goes to RobertoForever.

    Although he does put me in mind of the SNL episode about the Earl of Douchebag.

  46. Ryan,

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I won’t raise my hand on Walker, either. He’s had slumps before. This one was more glaring because it was the start of the season. My concern is Barajas. He never hit for average, really, but his situational hitting has even been poor. Barmes should come around, too.

  47. It’s easy to write off each struggling Pirate’s slump as a “small sample size,” but what makes it disturbing is that it’s most of the lineup, and when you combine all those at-bats, it makes for one pretty alarming slump.

  48. @DK

    Yes clearly i thought you were only referring to me…geez over react much? Dont take it personal that i was amused by the 180 you did…and if it wasnt a 180 you still predicting a cup? :) DK, overall i love your work but when you make wide eyed predictions you open yourself up to criticism. I mean you criticize for a living so why am i explaining that to you? ANYWHO I realize that vegas had us as favorites but so what? Its hockey…not only should pittsburghers know how unpredictable hockey can be but we should also know what championship teams look like. And this pens team with 7 and 4 playin key roles most certainly was not. Now with despres and strait playing sound d and a trap occassionally in place im intrigued.

    DK: The Cup prediction was setting what I felt was a reasonable expectation for this roster and its specific set of circumstances. I was well aware when I wrote it that there was a chance — as there is with any prediction, “wide-eyed” or other wise — that it won’t be correct. That’s always the case. Look at Green Bay this past winter.

  49. Fillet, yes, let’s keep the Filthy Munchkins out of our munchkinland :)

    Milo and Lucky, what would Ozland ever do without all us blog-trolling sock puppets??? it would implode!

    CWalton, preach it brother!

  50. The hope going into the season was that Clint Hurdle would have difficulty deciding whether to sit Tabata or Pressley when Marte gets called up.

    Looks like that is going to still be a tough decision, except who stays will be the lesser of two evils.

  51. @Wilver

    LOL.

  52. Barajas is what he his. Seems to be an upgrade defensively from Doumit, though that doesn’t take much. He is an all-or-nothing type hitter. That’s nothing new. I will take his D over his O. Kinda how I feel about McHenry back there. Who cannot like that guy. I’ve asked the question before; Does he have what it takes to be an everyday catcher? I don’t know.

    @NMR- I figured Presley, but I do believe his stick will come around, not too worried about him as a hitter. Tabata looks lost right now. I figured come July McLouth would be traded for a AA player, Marte come up and play LF, Presley to the bench. I do think Tabby has more upside though. I’m still sticking with that plan.

  53. @Nancy- The link worked

  54. There isn’t a hitter alive that hasn’t had a slump. I’m happy with where the record is thus far, though of course I’d rather have it flipped around. The pitching that the Buccos have faced is the best in the league, if not all of baseball. They held their own with the best of them and their starting rotation went right along with them. The defense has looked pretty good, even Pedro, minus a couple throws here and there.

  55. DK,

    The downside of being accessible on this blog and Twitter is that EVERYONE regardless of intellect and reading comprehension can comment on your writing.

    I loved the “Don’t show up..” article as I sure you did. Must be thrilling to be able to inject your ‘fan’ side on occasion and put in some opinion. As you continue to stretch those muscles, I’d expect more of this, although you’ve already had your share of criticism with the “Captain-gate” and your strong opinion with the Penn State affair, both of which I thought you were spot on.

    As for me, I’ll be a believer when they win GAME 6. Until then, its just hope.

    DK: I don’t mind the criticism. Never have, never will. The issue is criticizing without even reading. The “C” column remains the biggest example I have, by far. All of two sentences of that column were about the meeting. That’s it.

  56. DK-” Look at Green Bay this past winter.” I prefer not too!!! I still hate those guys. Where I live, Aaron Rodgers is GOD. He’s from this area.

    But I think the Pens showed why you predicted it in game 4. THAT’S the team everyone expected to see, though I doubt anyone predicted 10 goals.

  57. If I don’t see her each day, I miss her.
    Gee what a thrill, each time I kiss her.
    Believe me I’ve got a case,
    on Nancy, with the laughing face.

    Wall Street Journal, high class.

  58. Milo’s a poet and we didn’t know it!

  59. @Jandy

    Phil Silvers wrote that for Frank. I love that song.

  60. For his daughter, correct?

  61. Haha,

    There would be no contest for the ‘bitterest’ Pirate fan.

    Puts me in the mind of the uneducated, naive townspeople in the Monty Python skit about Burning a witch, lol.

    Specious logic leading to a call to fire, bench, demote and ridicule their ‘commitment’ based on a TV viewing lol.

  62. Darn, now it’s “uneducated, naive, blog-trolling sock puppets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  63. I am still trying to figure out what a blog-trolling sock puppet is:)

  64. The winning lure at this years Bassmasters Classic?

  65. @NMR

    We used to use nightcrawlers but we were uneducated, naive fisherman.

  66. One can be educated and naive

  67. A blog-trolling sock puppet is one who has no notability. (Or is not a legend in his own mind).

  68. NMR- I dont know where your question comes from, this one I actually know. Won by Central Florida’s own, Chris Lane. He used the flipping/pitching method and used a creature baits, Texas rigged…yes I follow that sport and fish in tournaments as well. That is my dream, just as DK’s is to be talking here with us.

  69. I can get more indepth with that subject if you wish.

  70. Well played as always, Milo.

    @Ryan – I’m one of those snobs with the fly rods. Far too refined to dwadle in matters of largemouth bass and baitcasters.

  71. DK,
    I missed today’s chat.

    I wanted to ask who do you think will start at quarterback for The Power and do you think they have a full-blown QB controversy?

    DK: Argh! Show up on time next week! Get it together, man.

  72. I understand, spoken like a true Pennsylvanian….its cool. I’ve dabbled with that as well, especially up here in NorCal, its a pretty big deal. I did it more when I lived in Alaska. Fun times, but nothing beats the adrenalian boost of hunting down the largies and of course weighing them in come tourney time……addictive.

  73. TC- Seriously?

  74. @Thunder

    I can tell you without hesitation that Beau Elliott is the finest center in the league.

  75. RobertoForever—Huh? I think at least my insult was very direct and understandable. But what do I know? I guess I’ll have to wait for you to tell me.

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