TribLIVE
Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

« Font size »
Decrease | Reset |Increase

Wakeup Call: Thanks to Penguins fans

.

Brief and to the Point …

>> Been a few years since I covered pucks on a regular basis, and I could go on and on here about how much I enjoyed doing it again over the past season. But I’d hope that shows on a daily basis.

Thank you to those of you who read who are old enough to remember my initial few years on the Penguins beat, as well as to those of you who accepted me this time around. Heaven knows, that isn’t easy in this particular community.

I’ve long said the three most dangerous words you can ever say to a hockey fan are: I KNOW HOCKEY.

No fan feels their knowledge, passion and loyalty being threatened quite like the hockey fan. If you know the Xs and Os of a penalty-kill, then someone else will top you with all the names of the forwards on Edmonton’s fourth line … of their AHL affiliate!

Anyway, ill-fated as my Penguins-win-the-Cup pick was, I’ll stand by my original calls of Nashville winning the West, Los Angeles upsetting Vancouver, and Washington and Ottawa being better than most people think.

>> A special thanks, as well, to Mario Lemieux, David Morehouse, Ray Shero, Dan Bylsma, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, James Neal, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury for their trust throughout the year. They are superlative people who are the lifeblood of a superlative franchise.

In particular, I want to emphasize one more time how fortunate our city is to have gotten Crosby back.

That seems to be getting taken for granted, but it shouldn’t. This is someone who, just a couple months ago, was bouncing around the country seeking answers to a condition no one could even identify. His future was uncertain, as a player and a person.

Imagine how much a full summer of health, happiness and yeah, a little chip on his shoulder placed by the Flyers, could mean to 87 next season.

>> All the defensemen in Wilkes-Barre should be told that these Calder Cup playoffs are Stage 1 of their tryouts for next season. Let them know — especially Simon Despres, Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo — they’ve got a real chance at making it in Pittsburgh.

The notion that there’s no room up here was perpetuated by management, and it’s time for it to end.

Oh, and email a copy of that memo to Joe Morrow and Scott Harrington, too.

Why not?

>> Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin were expected to wear their poker faces for their annual pre-draft news conference yesterday on the South Side, but one could get the distinct impression they genuinely don’t know who they’ll take. Or even the top target.

I know this much: All things being equal between a nose tackle and most other positions — and much talk has focused on Memphis behemoth Dontari Poe — I’ll take the other positions. In the modern NFL, you’re going to see teams use a nose tackle on less than half the defensive snaps because of all the three- and four-wide sets. I don’t want to see a first-rounder invested in that.

And that’s especially true if a middle linebacker — Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower is a common projection for the Steelers — is in the mix.

With Lawrence Timmons at one steady spot and another top talent in the middle, you’ll see a lot less double-teaming against LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison on the outside.

>> If you believe, as I do, that nobody’s more knowledgeable than Baseball America about the sport’s developmental level, you might want to spare yourself from this scathing assessment of Pedro Alvarez offered by some major-league scouts via BA editor Jim Callis.

Comments

  1. Greg says:

    Why leave out Geno in your “special thanks” section in today’s post?

    DK: I singled out those I dealt with most closely, Greg. Nothing to read into it.

  2. Deb says:

    DK,

    I will say I greatly enjoy reading your blog and your articles. You bring good insight, spark delightful conversation, and always seem willing to end heated debates with a handshake. Much appreciated and well done.

    I first encountered your writing when you were covering the Vancouver Olympics. I enjoyed your writing style, and approach, and was interested in the Olympics, so I looked you up on the Post (I never follow baseball) just as you were expanding your job duties.

    However, I have,in recent days, remembered your Olympic introduction paragraph and am wondering if you have jinxed all the City’s sports teams in your new position. “…known as the kiss of death on sports teams….family grateful never covered Steelers…”

    So, next year,focus on undoing the jinx, and Pens win the Cup/Steelers win SuperBowl OK! … :-)

    DK: Thanks, Deb, and thanks for your very early insights most mornings. Hope you’ll still check in. Just because sports are out of season doesn’t mean they leave the news. Not anymore.

  3. Keith says:

    Stick around for a few more years, Pittsburgh press covering the Pens is better for having you around. I remember our chats from way back ranging from the Pens to movies like Chasing Amy. Agree that changes must be made to the club. Tough to pin any one player, as the D was awful from top to bottom and Flower has wilted badly in the three past springs (2008-09 he was 30-14, 2.31gaa, .920sv%; 2010-12 he is 12-14, 3.12gaa, .879sv%). The Pens have gone from potential dynasty to a fragile bunch of also-rans/underachievers in record time. Complete overhaul of defense (prefer to keep Letang & Nisko) or goaltending or coaching staff wouldn’t phase me, BUT, it can’t be done for the sake of doing it. Of course, the successors must be upgrades (i.e., no Luongo, lol). I just have no confidence – and all the proof we need – that this group as it is can’t get the job done. As I don’t watch baseball, see yinz in a few months, DK.

    DK: Thanks, Keith. Man, haven’t seen a Kevin Smith flick in forever. Other than “Clerks 2.”

  4. Jordan @jsaunders_ says:

    Thanks for the hard work Dejan. Be sure to keep us posted of anything you hear regarding moves the pens make. For die hard fans the season never ends!

    DK: Same with reporters, Jordan. Times have changed. Thank you.

  5. Michael Ernette says:

    Dejan,

    I’ve talked to you more than a few times on Twitter, and again, I have to say that your blog hits a homer tonight. First, I cannot emphasize how much I agree that the key to the Penguins’ series loss was squarely on the defense. Marc-Andre Fleury has taken it on the chin for goals in the series, but I still assert that the turning point of the series was late in period 2 of game 3. The offense had pulled within one at 5-4. Pascal Dupius was burned center ice by Simmonds creating an odd man break that allowed him to skate sight unseen through the crease to go low and stick side on MAF. Having watched it several times (thank you, Armstrong DVR), Paul Martin was at Simmonds elbow on HIS stick side, and easily could have made a play to break up the rush. Martin simply took a mild swipe and watched the nail drive into the coffin. I don’t know if Shero will be able to move Martin and Michalek, based on their performances (hence, not exactly trade fodder at the moment), but it needs to be considered, in my opinion. Despres excited me late with potential, and from what I understand the farm system is deep.

    Second, I almost would like to see Pittsburgh trade up for Hightower, if they think he’s going to go early. That said, I don’t think it would be necessary, given the ACL during his college career, and you know as well as I do that GM’s shy away from knees. ILB only makes since 1st round, if Colbert is reloading for the future. One suspects this given the clearing of the Steelers Retirement Village earlier this off season.

    Finally, I think Pedro will be fine, if he (A) takes his training seriously, and (B) they quit listening to homers and allow him to develop in his time in the minors. Like the Pens, he has a head problem, and moving him up and down at the whim of angry fans isn’t helping. Just my thoughts.

    Later,
    Mike~

    DK: Hightower’s projections have been all over the place. Almost as much as Poe’s. But so much of that is gamesmanship, word getting leaked of phony deficiencies, that sort of thing.

    Thanks for the kind words, Mike.

  6. Jim Mullenax says:

    Dejan,

    Thank you for the excellent articles. I really enjoyed the piece on Jagr during the playoffs. Like many Pens fans, I was too busy feeling betrayed and unwilling to believe the Flyers had any chance at the Cup. I still don’t believe they do given what the west has to offer and the remaining contenders in the east, but it was very insightful.

    Looking forward to your thought during the off season, and I hope you will be covering the Pens again next season.

    DK: Much appreciated, Jim.

  7. TJA says:

    As one who is not a big hockey fan…your work this season, Dejan, has helped me to understand and really appreciate the sport more and for that, I offer my thanks. And thanks, also, to fellow bloggers for great input and comments regarding the Pens. Now, if only some of that class and success from the Pens could make its way to the the North Shore this summer…

  8. mayhay22 says:

    I watched Pedro in-person several times this spring and on tv since they headed north. Couldn’t agree more than with the BA assessment. The kid just doesn’t have it right now. His swing looks awful.

  9. Mark Fifield says:

    Dejan, (twitter) how many times have you had to explain how to pronounce your name? Anyway, been reading you for over 5 years now (you helped me out when PG went to plus…hehe) and I love reading your colums over here. Great twitter also! Does anyone actually read your columns or just dont understand sarcasm? Geez, its like on Family Guy, Peter didnt get it either. Keep up the excellent work.

  10. Denise says:

    Dejan,

    Thanks for your always insightful columns and blogs, I read them faithfully but don’t comment as often. I also really enjoyed your Twitter feed. When I couldn’t watch the Pens games, I could get a good feel for how the game went just from your comments.

    Denise

  11. Jon says:

    Dejan,

    Thank you for the great morning reading. First thing I read in the AM. Look forward to your off-season writings and Twitter feed as well.

  12. Kevin says:

    Dejan –

    There is a reason your blog receives 75-150 comments daily, your chat draws hundreds and your articles generate both so much praise and the “occasional” critic…you’re the best in the business and we are lucky to have you on our side!

    Keep on writing and we’ll certainly keep on reading!

  13. JAL says:

    JAL’s Singing the Blues 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/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Exploring the Arsenal: Previewing the Rockies’ Probable Starting Pitchers

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/exploring-the-arsenal-previewing-the-rockies-probable-starting-pitchers.html

    Prospect Trends — Week Ending 4/22

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/prospect-trends-week-ending-422.html

  14. JAL says:

    Pirates Notebook: Another Lefty Could Join the Bullpen

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/pirates-notebook-another-lefty-could-join-the-bullpen.html

    Erik Bedard’s declining velocity

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/bandi/erik-bedards-declining-velocity/

    Indians Hurt by Walks In Loss

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/indians-hurt-by-walks-in-loss.html

    First Pitch: Changes From Spring Training to the Regular Season

    http://blogs.piratesprospects.com/williams/first-pitch-changes-from-spring-training-to-the-regular-season/

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Minor Leagues: Alex Dickerson Heating Up, Justin Wilson Facing Walk Troubles

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/23/2970565/minor-leagues-alex-dickerson-justin-wilson

    Bucs Dugout Podcast: Pedro Alvarez, The Pirates’ Bullpen, And One Man’s Hatred Of Jim Tracy

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/23/2970286/bucs-dugout-podcast-pedro-alvarez-the-pirates-bullpen-and-one-mans

  15. JAL says:

    6 Rumbunter

    #PrayersForEmily

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/24/prayersforemily/

    7 McEffect

    Looking at Every Run the Pirates Have Scored This Year

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/04/looking-at-every-run-pirates-have.html

    8 WHYGAVS

    The Pirates’ offense is so bad … (How bad is it?)

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2012/the-pirates-offense-is-so-bad-how-bad-is-it.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Bucs, Rox Washed Out; DH Wednesday

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/04/bucs-rox-washed-out-dh-wednesday.html

    10 Hyzdu Headquarters

    Hey There Pedro

    http://hyzduhq.blogspot.com/2012/04/hey-there-pedro.html

  16. Jandy says:

    Where to start? DK, this blog is the BEST there is, hands down, for coverage, insight, humor, commenting, and friendly posters who help some of us along. I’ve been a Pens fan since the late 80′s, and while I consider that I know a good bit about hockey, I’ve learned so much more here. So, thanks not only to you, but to all the other fantastic posters who make my day, every day! You guys rock!
    Thanks to all of you here, I’m also learning more about the Pirates. Though I was warned to save my sanity, I didn’t listen, and now I’m doomed ;)

    I hope you don’t mind being stuck with me, because I’m not going anywhere.
    Keep up the good work, DK and God Bless!

  17. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 CBS Sports

    Colorado vs Pittsburgh Game Preview

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/preview/MLB_20120423_COL@PIT/rockiespirates-preview

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Lefty Colton Cain making his mark on the mound for the Bradenton Marauders

    http://www.bradenton.com/2012/04/24/4010994/lefty-colton-cain-making-his-mark.html

    13 Chicago Tribune

    Pirates Team Report

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sns-rt-bbo-pirates-teamreportmtze84oyfw0p0-20120423,0,7103175.story

    14 LA Times

    Be careful what you wish for? Dodgers finally play winning teams

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgersnow/la-sp-dn-what-you-wish-20120423,0,4819859.story

  18. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Stevenson Sylvester Sets His Sights On Becoming the Next Steelers Buck Linebacker

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/23/2968342/stevenson-sylvester-steelers-buck-linebacker-2012-nfl-draft-james-farrior-larry-foote

    Report: Mike Wallace Told ‘Some’ in Steelers Organization He Won’t Sign Until He Has To

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/22/2966705/report-mike-wallace-told-some-in-steelers-organization-he-wont-sign

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Video: Immaculate Reception Documentary

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/04/video-steelers-immaculate-reception-documentary-right-place-right-time/

    23 Steelers Gab

    Colbert and Tomlin Chat Draft and Wallace in Pre-Draft Talk with the Media

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/04/23/colbert-and-tomlin-chat-draft-and-wallace-in-pre-draft-talk-with-the-media/

  19. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    24 Pitt Blather

    Goodman Update For Today

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/23/goodman-update-for-today/

    25 Cardiac Hill

    Pitt Football: Another Look At Redshirting Isaac Bennett

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/23/2965997/pitt-football-rushel-shell-ray-graham-heisman-candidates-isaac-bennett-pittsburgh-panthers

    WVU Blogs

    26 Metro News

    Holgorsen Participates In First Big 12 Conference Call

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=52315

    27 WV Illustrated

    WVU Defense Played with Something to Prove

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17653897/wvu-defense-played-with-something-to-prove

  20. JAL says:

    Soccer(football)

    28 Sky Sports

    Di Matteo – We’re good enough

    http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11095/7696749/Di-Matteo-We-re-good-enough

    29 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: Stories you need to read, April 23rd 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-23rd-april-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Manchester City lights up EPL title race as Manchester United draw 4-4

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/manchester-city-lights-up-epl-title-race-as-manchester-united-draw-4-4/story-e6frey4r-1226335851753

  21. JAL says:

    Title song Singing the Blues, 1956-1957, Guy Mitchell A bit country, a bit rock. Mitchell’s version took the top spot on December 8 1956, Love Me Tender by Elvis took over on December 22 but Mitchell retook number 1 on December 29 and stayed there until February when Pat Boone’s Don’t Forbid Me took the top spot. Singing the Blues has been covered by many, most recently by Cliff Richard & the Shadows in 2009. Guy Mitchell had six million selling singles and hosted an ABC variety show in 1957.

  22. diehard says:

    DK-
    Kudos and thanks as well for both your coverage and willingness to interact here.
    One thing I noticed again in this series that I found surprising about the Pens is how easy it seems to be to knock a lot of these guys off the puck. Crosby and Staal not so much, but when being on the ice with Jagr (although he’s always been among the best at that), Hartnell and Giroux it was really glaring how easy it seemed to separate our players from possession. As great as Malkin has been this year, his turnover rate has always seemed high (not placing blame, just observing).

  23. JT says:

    Thanks for all the great hockey coverage Dejan. You, Yohe and everyone else at the Trib blew away your competition this year. Not…even…close.

    Speaking of competition, I think the lack of real competition for roster spots on the Pens the last few years has really been evident lately. I mean guys like Craig Adams, Lovejoy..they should never be comfortable about their roster spot. Guys in the bottom six forwards and bottom 3 defenseman should always feel like they are in a true competition for their spot.

    I just dont sense that this is the case with the Pens. Bylsma seems to have “his” guys that no matter what will be in the line up. No, its not the reason the Pens lost, but still. After the pens PK disaster this post season guys like adams and his sub 50% FO…should not be a given to make the team next year…..Need some new faces. Some young players, hungry to make an impact in the NHL.

  24. Gregg says:

    Dejan,

    Thanks for all of your Pens coverage (and the other Pittsburgh teams). You make living in Chicago bearable for a Pittsburgh fan.

  25. Phil Grahsa says:

    Dejan: I don’t want this to sound like complaining now that the Pens have lost. When teams win, we talk about why. When teams lose, we also talk about why. I thought Sundays performance was shameful. The pens went out like kittens. No hard hitting furious action….40 shots on goal…goalie pulled…3-2 with 1 minute left. Philadelphia wanted it more—plain and simple. Their 40 blocked shots is testament to that. I was curious to your thoughts on the following……

    –this is 2 playoff series in a row where Malkin and Crosby disappeared ( 2010 Montreal and 2012 Philadelphia ). Giroux put his stamp on this series. He owned it. Where were our big guns? Neither Crosby nor Malkin took control of this series….they never took control of a game. Whats the problem here? Is it unreasonable to expect some Dominace like Giroux displayed??

    –I think we have lost a lot of leadership with the loss of Geurin and Talbot. No one has taken over those roles. Do we need to trade for someone like that?

    –I thought Philadelphia was nuts to unload Richards and Carter. Turns out I was wrong ( not the first time for that!! ). Is it time for the pens to “shake the tree?” I know we are in tough spot with Crosby’s long term health. Can he play a full season again? IF they feel that he can, is it time to package Malkin and Martin / Michalek for some rugged wingers? I think we need to lose one of those 2 defenseman to make room for Desperes, Morrow, Strait, Samuelsson.

    –what moves do you feel need to be made?

    I think we need to keep Staal long term. He’s proving more and more valuable.

    Thanks Dejan!
    Phil

  26. Karen22 says:

    Dejan—

    OK, I will declare: I DON’T KNOW HOCKEY. But, avid sports fan that I am, I’m always looking for a team to root for. We moved to Western PA just in time for the Lemieux era. Pens fan was born. I love to watch…never really liked to read about them (because I don’t know hockey)—until YOU! I DO know baseball (let’s just say it’s woven a thread throughout my life), and got hooked on your Pirates beat coverage and blog over yonder. I know you didn’t write this blog entry for kudos, but you must realize by now that your special writing talents have spawned a cult following. Thanks for the cheerful education! I will continue to seek out your byline and read everything you write. Curling, anyone?? (Perhaps deprogramming is in order).

  27. Dave G says:

    I saw the headline about the Pens sending three players down to Wilkes-Barre for the playoffs and I instantly thought Fleury, Orpik, and Malkin. ~~~~~

    Shame on me…

  28. jackdeloplane says:

    DK, this blog is like the Pens D, always entertaining and sometimes inoperable (like yesterday!)

    Enjoyed the insight.

  29. JaxBuc says:

    I bet Dejan is embarrased by the love-fest that has broken out this morning. We need some jabs from Milo, Lee or Drew (Drew? Drew? you still out there?).

    Although I enjoyed the excellent hockey coverage, I’ve got to point out that we are long overdue for the promised soccer column. :-)

  30. Nancy52 says:

    DK,

    As one who has been a hockey fan for a long time (my first game was a Hornets
    game not long after the Civic Arena opened) but lived on the left coast most of
    the Lemieux era. I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings about hockey and all
    things sports. This long time hockey fan has learned more than a little just reading
    you and the folks on this blog. Keep it up.

  31. Milo Hamilton says:

    @JAL

    Thanks for the Guy Mitchell song this morning. It made me think of my dad & put a smile on my face. Much appreciated.

    @JaxBuc

    Thanks for the shoutout, but I’m in too good of a mood now. Maybe that’ll change after I vote.

  32. Jandy says:

    ZING!

  33. Jandy says:

    I am afraid my post got lost in the middle of JAL’s links, so I am copying:

    Where to start? DK, this blog is the BEST there is, hands down, for coverage, insight, humor, commenting, and friendly posters who help some of us along. I’ve been a Pens fan since the late 80’s, and while I consider that I know a good bit about hockey, I’ve learned so much more here. So, thanks not only to you, but to all the other fantastic posters who make my day, every day! You guys rock!
    Thanks to all of you here, I’m also learning more about the Pirates. Though I was warned to save my sanity, I didn’t listen, and now I’m doomed ;)

    I hope you don’t mind being stuck with me, because I’m not going anywhere.
    Keep up the good work, DK and God Bless!

  34. JAL says:

    Milo

    Glad you enjoyed it, just going through the 1950s this week and picking some big songs from the era.

  35. JAL says:

    For anyone in the DC area, Paul Dickson will discuss his new book Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick at a National Press Club Book and Author event 6:30 p.m.

    I am introducing him.

  36. Vette60 says:

    Hi Dejan.

    Thank you for your insight this hockey season, although it ended much to early for all of us! You and the team back at the Trib make being here in Richmond a bit more bearable as a Pittsburgh sports fan.

    I think the Pens need some adjustment for sure on the back end – really expect Depres to be with the team next year. Let’s see what shakes out – maybe some wheeling and dealing around the draft.

    The rest of the playoffs should be interesting to watch just to see how things shake out – the West is certainly wide open with the likes of the Wings, Blackhawks, Canucks and Sharks all being OUT! Wow. Who would have thought that? The Preds, ‘Yotes, Kings and Blues all through to the next round…

    Take care,
    Randy in Richmond.

  37. Dave G says:

    Can’t get over seeing Alvarez, Barmes, Barajas on the NL All-Star Ballot.
    Gimme a break!

    Time for MLB to go back to listing just the STARS.

    The write-in option will always be available.

  38. Stew says:

    Dejan, as the brother of one of your fellow Trib employees, I must tell you how much I enjoy everything you write. I am very proud of my brother, but, when you joined the Trib, it made me feel even more proud that he is part of a great company. I’m not much of a Pirates fan, but, with the Pens’ early exit, I think I will watch some games and compare my thoughts to yours on this blog and your columns. Thanks.

  39. lu1209 says:

    Thanks, Dejan. It’s been great having you cover the Pens again! I’m a long time follower –back to the days of the original P-G Q&A and the “Great Dick Tarnstrom”. I have fond memories of an e-mail discussion we had when Ian Moran was traded at the deadline. It was quite distressing at the time. Funny how one’s perspective can change!

    I’m about as diehard a Pens fan as they come (and a long-time season ticket holder) and was very upset by the early exit. Some pieces of the team definitely need to change, but it was was fun to be able to watch, discuss, over-analyze, try-not-to-jinx, etc. the team that we have. I think people sometimes forget how far the Pens have come in the past decade and how lucky we are to have the players we have. In some ways, that makes it harder to except the early loss, but at least we had an awesome season cheering for Geno and not Rico Fata.

    I look forward to your off-season coverage and the excitement of the Draft coming to town!

  40. Fillet_Mimnaw says:

    Dejan,

    Thank you for the insightful reporting and columns as well as permitting us our musings here on the blog and via twitter. This is a great way for us fans to keep informed and blow off some steam or even get delusional with our grandiose thoughts.

    I went back and watched games 2, 3, and 6 specifically (thank you dvr). One thing that sticks out clearly is the lack of desperation in the defensive zone. And it’s not just singling out the D’men here, but forwards as well. Think back to both the cup runs and remember all the blocked shots and body sacrifices that were endured throughout those series.

    Another thing that is clearly visible is the lack of physicality by the defensemen. I am not giving Fleury a pass on some of those juicy rebounds but watch how much more physical the Pens were around the net in games 4 and 5. Think of Cooke coming back and cracking Briere in the closing minutes of game 5. Everyone else was locked up there as well. We haven’t had a physical presence since Gill left.

    I notice you didn’t mention Lovejoy in any of your comments in the blog today. I realize his turnover was costly but was it any more costly than a handful of others in the series (ie. Sully’s in game 6 that led to Giroux’s goal)? When he was healthy Lovejoy was one of the top 6 defensemen on the Pens this season although Martin and Michalek’s contracts solidified their spots in the line-up. It is easy to arm chair quarterback this season now, but looking back perhaps the biggest blunder of the coaching staff and front office was not addressing the play of 7 and 4 earlier in the season.

    Now we turn our full attention to the Buccos and this idiotic made for tv NFL draft. Let’s just hope the Pirates win more games than the Pens did this season.

  41. PhillyJake says:

    The BA article implies Alvarez is out of shape again. I thought he was in shape this year? What’s the story ?

  42. Brian Warcup says:

    Dejan,
    I’m incredibly thankful to have your effort and professionalism back covering the Pens. I first discovered your writing back in the days of the Pens Q&A on Fridays at that other newspaper that seems to be more and more just writing an opening article and linking to someone else’s story. You always have a fresh perspective and a lot of inside knowledge. The last couple of weeks watching games with the Twitter feed open have been outstanding, and I even managed to get a couple of replies (BattleMug on there btw).

    Keep up the great work!!

  43. NMR says:

    @PhillyJake

    I’m interested in when the scout saw Pedro as well.

    Anybody have the super secret Baseball America password?

    Regardless, I really didn’t comprehend the scale of bust Pedro is currently trending toward until that article. Maybe as a Pirate fan I’m desensitized, but I wouldn’t have put him at the all-time level until now.

    Not to toot my own horn, but I did say out of spring training that it would be best for Pedro to start out in Altoona. I’m sure Baseball America will be ringing me with a job offer any minute now.

  44. Milo Hamilton says:

    Everyone should be careful what they say. I think Mickey Loomis is listening.

  45. montyb says:

    DK, thanks for all the great Pens coverage this season. I moved to the Trib site with/because of you, and I have not regretted it for a moment. I’m glad your season doesn’t end with the Pens. Look forward all the future articles and of coarse the never ending blog.

  46. PhillyJake says:

    DK,

    Was just looking around the new site, and then I saw it: Sign in or Sign up!

    How long until the Trib starts charging ?

    DK: It’s for commenting. No charging on the horizon.

  47. Rob says:

    DK, Thanks for the blog!

    I don’t comment on every post but I read everyone and enjoy the perspective and ability to communicate directly with the author and of course the amazing Pittsburgh fan base. Living in Frederick, MD (not that bad of a drive which I try to do schedule permitting) it is nice to have a Pittsburgh pipeline. Why Root Sports canceled Sports Beat with Stan (and Guy) I will never know. If there was ever a city that would support such a program nationwide that was it. But I digress and I am very thankful for the insider venue that you provide.

    I would also like to thank the people that frequent this blog whether regular commenter or occasional 2 cents contributor like myself. The tone is always respectful and 9.9 times out of 10 thoughtful. I feel very welcome here and that is a credit to not only the Pittsburgh way, but to the person who moderates the comments.

    Thanks again DK,
    Rob

  48. BenderHeel says:

    DK:

    First, thanks for the great coverage of the Pens. I think you completely over-estimated the Pens and under-estimated the Flyers, but I think it’s great that you get to have your dream job as columnist and be able to offer your predictions and opinions on ALL of the Pittsburgh sports teams, which has to be awesome.

    Second, thanks….I think….for linking that Baseball America article. Gulp. I realize that it was just one AL scout who offered such a scathing assessment of Pedro, but it seems rather accurate. As I’m fond of saying, the proof is in the pudding, and Pedro’s pudding is rancid – and has been for over a year now.

    But, of course, there are no more scholarships on the Pirates………right.

  49. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    DK-

    I admittingly know very little about hockey. I think I have the basics down, but while reading your articles on the Pens, I do believe I’ve learned a little more this year. I have always been a Pens fan but, I think I learned more this year than any other because of your coverage. I thank you for that.

    Pittsburgh sports seasons aren’t over, we still have baseball!!

    I do appreciate your comments covering all things Pittsburgh. For a diehard that moved away many, many years ago, they are still my teams of choice. You’re coverage helps me feel back at home.

    Have you ever been hit up to do national work? I read the national guys from time to time as well and see no reason why you can’t hang with those guys.

    DK: Thanks, Ryan. There’s a common perception that anyone working at a local level must want to work at a national level. I’ll never leave Pittsburgh. Never.

  50. pgherinfl - Carl says:

    Wow Dejan! You scared me for a minute. I started reading your wake-up and thought you were saying you were leaving. Blew my mind, you can’t go you know!!! I don’t write on here very much but I read all your stuff. I don’t tweet or facebook so this is all I see of you.

    Keep up the good work!!!

  51. JAL says:

    @ Philly Jake

    The Trib is already starting to charge for some things. I drove to Pittsburgh for Saturday’s game and stopped at Trib booth for a free paper and they tried to get me to sign up to get the entire paper on the web for introductory price of I think $1 a week or $1 a day, don’t remember which, for a couple of weeks.

    DK: That’s the emailed e-edition of the newspaper. Not the website.

  52. AJS says:

    Poking around the new site. I understand not everything is moved over yet, but just the other day i was debunking the thought that the blogs are hard to find on this site. I mean there is a link right there that says “blogs.” it appears the new site does not have such a link. I couldn’t find it under sports either. or under the very special Dejan link. I had to come back to this site to find it. I hope that is fixed before the new site becomes the permanent home.

  53. Nancy52 says:

    @AJS

    Down at the bottom of all the pages is a link to “Bloggers” under “Features.”
    BTW, I like your initials…same as my mom’s.

  54. JAL says:

    Dejan

    Thanks for clearing that up on the e-mailed edition.

  55. Milo Hamilton says:

    Shero says there will be no changes to the coaching staff. Did he run that past Art Rooney ?

  56. Vette60 says:

    Just a quick food for thought…

    The goalies that are remaining in the West all have save percentages over .944 – Wow. Pekka Rinne is LAST on the list at that number…

    That’s courstesy of SiriusXM NHL Radio, but there was a comment that maybe this is turning into too much of a league dominated by the Goalie and defense. Do you want 2-1 games were everybody collapses after they are ahead or more free-flowing play? Another interesting comment was maybe the best thing for that type of play is IF the Caps won the Cup back during there run-and-gun days. Maybe a little less of the Defense first mentality..

    Food for thought.

    Randy via Richmond, VA.

  57. Eric Bowser says:

    I’m one of those, “I know hockey” fanatics but hey, what else am I going to be, one of those “baseball nerds”, Pirates made sure that won’t be the case, though Dejan knows I love baseball.

    Nothing better than to sit in centerfield in the rain watching Vincente Padilla throwing nasty curve after curve and get beat by an undermanned Pirates team. Can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Pirates team, though last year did at least do something for a few months.

    As for those Penguins, yikes, I didn’t exactly get a warm and fuzzy from Ray Shero this afternoon as he seemed to really emphasize the obvious, the upcoming CBA talks between NHL and NHLPA is going to go a long way towards what this franchise can do with their three center model.

    I think a coaching change needs to take place but unless Lemieux pushes it to happen, Shero doesn’t appear to be firing Bylsma.

    A whole lot of excuse making today on twitter after Shero talked about injuries. This team didn’t lose because of injuries. They lost because their commitment and execution to their defensive assignments were atrocious, the players and coaches did not adjust on the penalty-kill, Fleury was terrible, and for the second straight playoff season for Malkin and Crosby, they were outdone by others.

    It is going to be a long offseason with three key events.
    1) Entry Draft in June that will be held in Pittsburgh
    2) Free agency begins July 1
    3) Collective Bargaining Agreement between NHL and NHLPA

    Penguins currently have 18 players signed for next season that is $59,566,667 and if the cap stays at $64.3 million, that leaves $4,733,333 to sign a backup goalie, a defenseman, and three forwards.

    Defense is going to be an extremely difficult area for Shero to change because Paul Martin has 3 years left on his deal at $5 million per, Zbynek Michalek has 3 years left at $4 million per and that salary cap number didn’t include resigning Brian Strait and Matt Niskanen.

    If I’m rebuilding this defense, it starts with Letang, Simon Despres ($840k), and Joe Morrow ($925k), then mix-in Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. That leaves a huge need for a big physical right-handed defenseman to play on the second pairing with Despres and no problems to find a cheap 7th defenseman with Strait, Lovejoy Engelland, Carl Sneep, Robert Bortuzzo, Scott Harrington, Philip Samuelsson, and Alex Grant.

    The team has to find a way to unload Martin and Michalek based on their play and salary cap number, even if that means packaging a draft pick and taking back some money in the deal with a forward or backup goalie.

    Free agent right-handed defensemen isn’t exactly a promising group of players with Michal Rozsival, Dennis Wideman, Pavel Kubina, Cory Sarich, Jeff Finger, Joe Corvo, Radek Martinek, Sami Salo, Adrian Aucoin, and a bunch of other lesser knowns.

    Unless Staal or Malkin are being traded, Pens are unlikely to find a RH defenseman via the trade route as well, which leaves a left-handed defensemen.

    There aren’t many quality defensemen from left side as well with Barret Jackman, Ryan Suter, Matt Carle, Bryan Allen, Mark Eaton, and Hal Gill leading the pack. Suter is going to get a big deal from someone, though I think Allen fits more of the description for a big physical defenseman.

    From a statistical point of view, Penguins need to find a defenseman who has a high amount of hits and blocked shots. Below were the top defenseman with highest per game total (hits + blocked shots) per game
    1) Mark Fistric, Dallas – 5.67
    2) Brooks Orpik, Pens – 5.45
    3) Luke Schenn, Toronto – 4.87
    4) Alexei Emelin, Montreal – 4.84
    5) Dan Girardi, Rangers – 4.83
    6) Mark Stuart, Winnipeg – 4.75
    7) Ladislav Smid, Edmonton – 4.74
    8) Brent Seabrook, Chicago – 4.65
    9) Josh Gorges, Montreal – 4.65
    10) Eric Brewer, Tampa Bay – 4.55
    11) Greg Zanon, MIN/BOS – 4.50

    Good luck Shero…

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | Sitting Ringside | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports | H.S. Sports Insiders | Trailing Off
News: This Just In | Trib List
» Top TribLIVE.com Sports
» Top TribLIVE.com News
» Top TribLIVE.com Breaking News