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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Final: Islanders 4, Penguins 1

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

Looking ahead to faceoff …

Game: Penguins (3-2) vs. New York Islanders (2-2-1)

Time: 7:38 p.m.

Site: Consol Energy Center

TV, radio: NBC Sports Network, WXDX-FM 105.9

Here is the official live summary.

Here is the the Trib’s Penguins page. Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe are on the scene.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Bizrow says:

    7 states to go

    Please sign in if you don’t see your current location listed

    Please post, even if you do

    I know, we need them all, but we need this one tonight

    Dejan’s Lunatic Nation – at the Trib,
    Arizona – Tucson, Chandler, Phoenix, Sunnyslope
    Arkansas – Rogers
    Austrailia – Mackay
    California – Bakersfield, San Francisco, UNION CITY, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Hollywood, Huntington Beach, Yuba City, Solana Beach, Yorba Linda, Yuba City*, Edwards, Long Beach, Modesto, Davis
    Canada – Toronto, Winnipeg, Moncton – New Brunswick, Ontario – Muskoka
    China – Beijing
    Colorado – Ft Collins, Estes Park*, Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs
    Connecticut – Cos Cob, Bridgeport, Wallingford, Norwalk, NEWTOWN
    Costa Rica
    Czech Republic
    Delaware – Newark
    Denmark – Greenland – Thule*
    District of Columbia
    Florida – Palm Harbor, Orlando, Valrico, Gainesville, Daytona Beach, Oviedo, Tampa, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Palm Beach Gardens, Cape Coral, Coco Beach (Major Nelson and Mary Ann), Niceville (Red Neck Rivera), St Petersburg, Pembroke Pines, Ft Lauderdale, Palm Beach Gardens
    Georgia – Marietta, Atlanta, Sandy Springs, Acworth
    Germany – Leverkusen/Cologne
    Hawaii – Honolulu
    Idaho – Mountain Home, Coer d’Aline, Mountain Home AFB*
    Indiana – Indianapolis, Burns Harbor, South Bend, Bicknell, Ft Wayne
    Iowa – Bettendorf, Humboldt
    Illinois – La Salle, Peru, Payson, Chicago, Palatine (3 inmates there), Lincoln Park, Grayslake, Algonquin
    Japan – Tokyo
    Kentucky – Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington
    Louisiana – Slidell
    Maine – Bangor
    Maryland – Arnold, Odenton, Severn, Baltimore, Waldorf, Hagerstown, Chevy Chase
    Massachusetts – Boston
    Michigan – Kalamazoo, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor
    Mississippi – Biloxi
    Missouri – St Peters***
    Nebraska – Omaha
    New Hampshire – Barrington
    New Jersey – Chesterfield, Princeton, Roxbury, Lebanon, Lincoln Park, Berkeley Heights, Somerville, Hammock, Barrington, Delran, Pennsville
    New Mexico – Mike
    New York – New York, Smithtown, Manhattan, Long Island, Nyack
    Nevada, Las Vegas
    North Carolina – Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, Raleigh, Charleston, Wilmington, Chapel Hill, High Point
    North Dakota
    Ohio – Cincinnati, Columbiana, Westerville, Green, Hilliard, Toledo, Louisville, Columbus, Perrysburg, Pickerington, Youngstown, Cleveland, Olmsted Township, Liberty Township, Warren, Oregon, Wintersville, Austintown, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base*, New Philadelphia, Powell, Canton, Salem, New Albany, Bloomingdale

    Pennsylvania – Downtown, Hopewell, Indiana, North Wales, Franklin Park, Forest Hills, Lansdale, Philadelphia, Du Bois, Reading, Crafton, Arnold, Wexford, Mt Lebanon, Canonsburg, Lancaster, Huntington, York, Boiling Springs, Philly suburbs, Morningside, Harrisburg, Lawrenceville, Bradfordwoods, Norristown, Hanover, Clearfield, Sewickley, DuBois, Plum Boro, Slippery Rock, Wilks-Barre, Sharpsville, Bessemer, Greensburg, Washington, Imperial, South Side, Duncansville, Newville, Sheppton, Grove City, Butler, Allentown, Ross Township, Blairsville, Flood City (Johnstown), Overbrook, Danny’s Hoagies, Baldwin, Economy, Sharpsville, Erie, North Huntington, Bellfonte, West Mifflin, Kennywood, Pleasant Hills, Beechview (Mad Turk, No 200), Macgunie, Mechanicsburg, Uptown, Cambria County, Mon Valley, Salisbury, Coraopolis, Emsworth, Cranberry Twp, Garrett, O’Hara Township, McCandless Township, 115 Federal Street, Bethel Park, Harrison City, Penn Hills, Kittanning, Dover, Lebanon, Upper St Clair, Rennerdale, Oakland, Scranton, Moon (RMU), State College, Erie, Penn Twp, Stowe, Elizabeth, Hermitage, Easton, Carlisle, Finleyville, Belle Vernon, Madison, Sellersville, Waynesburg
    The Philipines
    Rhode Island
    South Carolina – Duncan, Longs, Columbia, Bluffton, Greensville
    South Korea – Seoul, Mike
    Tennessee – Smithville, Nashville
    Texas – Tyler, San Antonio, Belton, Houston, Katy, Plano
    Utah – Salt Lake City, Provo
    Vermont – North Bennington
    Virginia – JAL, Hampton, Rescue, Richmond, Front Royal, Woodbridge, Suffolk, Warrenton, Springfield, Virginia Beach, Fairfax, Arlington, Yorktown, Henrico, Aldie, Manassas, Newport News
    Washington – Seattle, Nine Mile Falls, Spokane, Sammamish
    West Virginia – Martinsburg, Morgantown, Wheeling, Mt Olivet
    Wisconsin – Madison, Oshkosh, Hortonville
    Wyoming – Caspar, Lander

    302 locations represented in the blog,
    Honorary members
    Lemonaid Guy
    The Gunner
    Mr Roberto Clemente
    Mike Lange
    13 countries
    43 states, plus the District of Columbia
    Two planets, at least confirmed
    Honorable mention, England – London – Lisa
    Asterisks denote confirmed hero’s, military, police officers or firemen/ladies
    1/29/2013 5:32 PM

  2. Dave G says:

    Let’s go Pens!

    I predict a 5-2 victory tonight.

  3. Bizrow says:

    Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawaii, South Dakota, thats 4

    Now in grade school, circa 62, I coulda rattled them all off ;-)

  4. radio wave says:

    I’ve noticed on some teams in the league there are players out from junior Swaranne a five-game limit and the team needs to decide to keep them or send them back is there anyone on the Penguins roster in this situation

  5. Bizrow says:

    Alabama, thats 5

  6. Bizrow says:

    No, Mr RW, I do not think so

    Most all prospects, I think are in the minors

  7. Bizrow says:

    Top prospects being considered, that is

  8. Nope. No possible rookies brought up straight from Juniors this year.

  9. I’m expecting Simon Despres to be a positive factor tonight against Islanders.

    And Evgeni Malkin to give the puck away on the power play.

  10. Bizrow says:

    History is the best predictor of the future

    Except for Despres getting a point ;-)

  11. Bizrow says:

    Kansas and Oklahoma

    Thats the 7 that are not logged in

  12. Dave G says:

    Trib article this morning: Niskanen injury not serious… missing tonight’s game and should be day-to-day beyond that, but nothing extended.

    Trib Tweet at lunch time: Niskanen out 2-4 weeks with ankle injury.

  13. Bizrow says:

    Its not a knee though

    Thats good

    2-4 weeks in a short season

    We have some depth at D

  14. bobfather says:

    Keep hearing this stuff about stacked on D. When I see it, Ill believe it. Kind of like all this pitching the Buccos have had stacked in Indy. Never saw that, either

  15. Eric Bowser says:

    Sorry guys, just woke up from trying to sleep off a bad headache and just overall effects from the sinus surgery.

    Saw the Pens PP… really getting tired of repeating myself about how poorly Bylsma is coaching this team right now.

  16. Dan1283 says:

    Sorry if this has been mentioned but the blog is showing up blue with white text, except links and usernams are blue text as well. Is it my internet settings, the blog update not being complete, or just the way my browser (IE) is handling the new code and this is just how it’s going to be?

    Oh yea, re: the game, I’m really not liking this power play makeup. I’d almost rather see a guy like Vitale out there just crashing the net and wreaking havoc than watch these guys continue to play cute on the perimeter until Malkin turns it over with a lazy pass. Not sure who I’d take out, but it feels like too much starpower, not enough ham and eggs.

  17. T.S. says:

    Now there’s the Paul Martin we all know and loath.

  18. Sarah says:

    Good Lord that was a sloppy play. 1-0 Isles. Awful.

  19. Eric Bowser says:

    terrible turnover by Martin, Cizikas fakes out Fleury behind the net with Reasoner in front and Orpik hesitates to give Cizikas enough time to sneak around to the other side of the net to get the wrap around goal.

    Isles 1-0

    Pens are playing really bad and that’s a concern as I’ve seen a ton of hockey so far this season and many teams are already playing well within their system. A lot of simple hockey and right now, guys like Crosby and Malkin are trying to do too much.

  20. TJ says:

    Am I watching a replay of a previous game? Seems really familiar too me…. Powerplay can’t even get set up, Martin with a turnover, literally no consistent offensive pressure. Only thing missing is a Malkin turnover followed by a penalty.

  21. T.S. says:

    Hopefully you didn’t see the Paul Martin giveaway behind the net. You might ask for some Tylenol with codeine.

  22. Eric Bowser says:

    I’m already taking percocet, which isn’t helping and seeing that turnover by Martin, Fleury’s gaffe, and Orpik hesitation doesn’t help.

  23. TJ says:

    Paging Mr Kunitz, Mr. Chris Kunitz, the Penguins would like you to participate this season.

  24. poz says:

    Teams smell blood in the water when the Pens are in their own end. Pressure the puck and wait for the turnover that is coming with far too much regularity.

  25. sidelinespensfan says:

    The Penguins know that the lockout ended and they can start playing hockey now, right?!?

    This is just frustrating right now:
    -Still waiting for Crosby to make his first Crosby-like play of the season
    -Malkin has continued to be a turnover machine
    -The third and fourth lines are not contributing at all- not scoring and hardly possessing the puck and wearing down the opposition.
    -Not sure it is possible for the power play to look worse.
    -Bylsma’s “system” continues to look like it puts the players in poor positions to succeed.

    The best thing about this team is that all it could take is one game to turn everything around. The talent on this team is capable of going on some exceptional runs, they just need some support to make it happen.

  26. Eric Bowser says:

    It is Groundhog’s Day….

    …sadly, people think it is effort.

    The issue is misplaced effort and frankly, Bylsma did nothing to change fan and media discussion blaming Mike Yeo for the power play issues. Now that Yeo is gone, seems very few people in the media or fans wanted to point to coaching as the issue.

    Pens have world class talent and they can’t bring the puck up the ice, they can’t have a dynamic attack in the zone?

    Yet, when the team is struggling, Bylsma can’t even change up the scheme to go very simple with 2 men in front of net and just fire pucks. Flat out refuses to adjust anything in his systems.

    That has failed the Penguins for 3 straight playoff failures… already tuning up for another.

  27. bpn8pitt says:

    Im probably in the minority, but I still think its early to pass judgement. I mean really, werent the Pens a different team April 2012 from Jan 2012?

  28. TJ says:

    Its early to pass judgement yes… But this isn’t a team that saw a dramatic make over on the roster nor a coaching change. So its not like the system nor players are new to each other. I’m sorry I just don’t see anything dominant about this team right now. Nothing.

  29. poz says:

    On a more important note. Just read from the beginning. Hope you feel better soon Eric. And there is some selfishness in my sincere desire you heal quickly. We need you strong and focused as we suffer through the preplexing poor play by the Pens.

  30. poz says:

    I believe there is reason to be concerned. This is the similar undisciplined play that we saw end of last season. And in a short season “early” becomes “late” quickly.

  31. Bizrow says:

    Its early, lets see

  32. Eric Bowser says:

    This is some of the worst mental hockey you can see being played by a team. Everyone is turning the puck over and biggest offenders are Crosby, Malkin, and Letang.

  33. Eric Bowser says:

    horrible icing by Orpik

  34. Eric Bowser says:

    I would normally agree but when was the last time we saw a significant adjustment by Bylsma?

  35. Eric Bowser says:

    Engelland fumbles around the puck and Grabner blows by him…. 2-0 Isles

  36. Sarah says:

    Horrible reach/whiff by Engeland. Wow this is bad. Just when they had some time in the NY zone.

  37. Sarah says:

    Assuming they make the playoffs…..

  38. Sarah says:

    When he took Crosby off the PP?….

  39. Eric Bowser says:

    Pascal Dupuis…. great chance and shoots it wide.

  40. Eric Bowser says:

    Pens have 13 turnovers

    Isles have 4….

    But don’t let me fool you, Bylsma says they won’t have 0 turnovers because of the way the Pens play… yes, absurdity is great way to deflect the question.

  41. Eric Bowser says:

    THAT’S what a PP is supposed to look like…

    3-0 Isles on 1-time top shelf by Tavares

  42. bpn8pitt says:

    No thats all fair…For me, I look at it as the 6th game. They got over 40 remaining, right? Its gonna be a weird year. They just have to be one of the 8 out of the East for me…but maybe the criticism of Bylsma are valid.

  43. Sarah says:

    WTH was Martin doing so high? 44 was alone between Neilson and Tavares

  44. Eric Bowser says:

    another PP goal… 4-0 Isles

    Pens PK just standing around…..

    This is the kind of game that a coach gets fired…. just saying.

  45. bpn8pitt says:

    I know no one likes exhibition hockey, but isnt that what this is more or less? They had less than two weeks of practice and a scrimmage. I thought Caufield said that the other day but i could be mistaken

  46. poz says:

    So when is “it’s early” no longer an excuse? If it was one minor issue I’d accept it. But the team is a turnover machine. There is no flow. And even the announcers are wondering why the team is flat. Lot of issues right now with the Pens team.

  47. Eric Bowser says:

    let’s see how many bad turnovers Pens can have on this 5-minute major PP

  48. Eric Bowser says:

    Malkin 2 feet in front of crease and he passes the puck….

    Isles are pressuring the puck all over the ice on the PK and Pens can’t handle it… been an issue for 2 years.

  49. poz says:

    Doesn’t sound like the fans in attendence are buying it’s early yet. Other teams are improving as the season progresses. The Pens are heading in the opposite direction.

  50. scapper says:

    Funny Eric, I’ve been saying the same thing. This is, after all, the Penguins. Been known to happen.

    Imagine how bad things would be going if this weren’t a team playing “with an edge” and “on a mission.” Or if Sid weren’t going to skate rings around the league. Or if Letang weren’t primed for the Norris. Haha…the curse of Swami DK strikes again.

    Yeah, yeah…I know…long season…oh wait…

  51. Jordan White says:

    WOW. Nobody on the ice is going to stick up for a teammate there? In a 4-0 game? This might be the least tough team we’ve had in the Crosby era. Good Lord. Let the other team park in the crease. Board our guys. Jump every passing lane. Come with speed, don’t come with speed. Every player on the other team does whatever they want right now with no consequence. Skate up the ice, skate back down. ho hum

  52. poz says:

    The Isles coach pretty much said they intend to pressure the Pens and force turnovers. I don’t see why other teams wouldn’t follow the same pattern.

  53. Eric Bowser says:

    Sutter, Glass and Vokoun are the newbies…

    Same system, same players….

    … same issues.

    Pens went into this season thinking they could get away with the same old stuff and that should not have been the approach after teams starting exposing their breakouts in the second half of the season.

    Did Shero and Bylsma think teams were going to ignore the video from second half or the Flyers series?

  54. poz says:

    Milbury laughing at the Pens defense.

    DK: World laughing at Milbury.

  55. bpn8pitt says:

    They started 3-4 last year, man. At one point they lost 6 straight only to win 7 in a row right after.

    Lot of hockey left. Your like me with the Buccos and Pitt Basketball. :)

  56. Ron says:

    Hampstead, MD but West View is home

    Pens have too much talent to play like this (or od they). I don’t like to call for coaching changes but if Disco Dan can’t figure out how to get a power play to work with this talent then he needs to go. Maybe time to start criticizing Shero for how he has put this team together

  57. Eric Bowser says:

    It was Capuano that exposed the Penguins last season with that approach, also was the guy who shutdown the boards on the Pens breakouts to create turnovers and counter-attack.

    Amazing that Bylsma gets a free ride in this town with all that talent on the roster.

  58. Eric Bowser says:

    I haven’t seen much to think the Penguins are capable of reeling off 3-4 games in a row.

  59. Eric Bowser says:

    ….sadly, he should.

  60. sjb says:

    I’ll bet money the isles score on this PP before the Pens do. Good job getting the team ready again Bylsma. Keep up the good work. At this rate, they’ll be looking at the start of golf season long before the playoffs seedings are set. Heartless, limp-wristed, uninspired, slacker hockey is what we have here and it gets worse every season. Good thing they have what some would argue the two best players in the NHL on the team or it could be much, much worse.

  61. fi says:

    Someone please explain what Dan Byslma hockey is? I think it is total disorganization. Nobody knows who is playing with whom (so much for all you media people analyzing what the line combinations will be). It only lasts for two minutes in the game. And Malkin’s mistakes far outweigh his points scored. We have too many guys who won’t shot the puck, and try to make pretty plays. Only Crosby can make the highlight reel plays! Down by three goals in the second period and nobody drops the gloves. Lack of heart in black and gold.

  62. poz says:

    I watch most games. But I don’t recall them regressing this fast in a season. Remember, we were told these problems from last year were fixed. Shockingly they look worse. I dearly hope we don’t hear from the team that “there is a lot of hockey left” and “it’s early.” That would reflect denial of major proportions.

  63. Eric Bowser says:

    I don’t see it.

    I’m watching 2-3 games per night and teams are getting to their systems, they look fast, they look aggressive.

    A team with this kind of talent shouldn’t be struggling. It is up to the coach to get them prepared to play at the drop of the puck and far too often last year, that didn’t happen and here we are again, happening this season.

  64. poz says:

    Well, at least try to play a solid period, though it might not be a valid assessment. The Isles might be ready to fall asleep.

  65. Eric Bowser says:

    Letang is horrible right now… get him off the PP

  66. bpn8pitt says:

    Really? You know McCutchen’s gonna go O-For in April, man. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes he eats you.

    Take it easy, guys. There is a lot of hockey left.

  67. Eric Bowser says:

    ….and sometimes you need a break.

    This isn’t a question about the physical skills,right now, it is all mental for Letang and others.

  68. poz says:

    Well I certainly hope the Pens don’t take your analogy about bears and that there is a “lot of hockey” left. That’s a weak excuse that won’t fix the serious problems facing this team.

  69. poz says:

    I’m signing off to go puke before bed. I hope you are feeling better. Talk next time. Take care.

  70. bpn8pitt says:

    In a normal year, they get what 9 preseason games? About two weeks of training camp before that?

    I think you are being totally unfair to this unique situation. And if you look at the standings, they arent the only good hockey team treading water right now…C’mon Eric, how many people wrote off Burnett when he got shelled by St Louis early in the year?

  71. sjb says:

    This is becoming more and more what this team is about and this isn’t just a bad night, or the effects of the lockout shortened season, this is what this team has been devolving to every since the cup and ever since Bylsma and Shero have placed all importance on offense over anything resembling a tight checking, defensive minded, responsible system. Not only have they forgotten how to play a balanced game, they’ve gotten rid of a lot of the players needed to do that even if they wanted to. Even if Bylsma was canned now, it would take at least a couple of years to get the system back and players needed in place to actually make a run at the cup again. Image how pathetic if would look if this core of players who many at one time coined as a possible dynasty, never saw another cup final appearance, let alone another cup win. Right now, they can’t even get past the first round, if they even make it that far again this season. Right now the Isles look closer to the Pens team that won the cup than the Pens do.

  72. Jordan White says:

    Been wondering the same thing myself, but not sure if I can/want to believe it. Hopefully that statement ends up being wrong in about 3 weeks.

  73. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Rough night in the mecca.

  74. Eric Bowser says:

    If you want to use Burnett to compare a single player, go ahead but hockey is a team game and right now, the whole team is off. This has nothing to do with the lack of preseason because everyone is in the same boat.

  75. sjb says:

    Last year and the year before that was a normal season and I saw this coming then too. The results speak for themselves. This isn’t a “knee-jerk” reaction, this is paying attention to what this team once was and what it is now. This team, with what it’s doing and who it’s trying to be, wouldn’t have made it past Ottawa in 07-08 or made it out of the first round in 08-09 either, let alone gotten to the finals.

    But that’s ok, I’m sure at some point they’ll reel off a few wins against some highly regarded opponents and all will be forgotten, just like last season and the season before…until they get to the playoffs that is and it will be a repeat of the past three…rinse, repeat.

  76. bpn8pitt says:

    sjb, if they play like this in late Feb early March, I’ll concede I was wrong. But there is too much young talent on this team and too much hockey left to jump to conclusions…Its fair to say the PP needs addressed…Sorry Im usually the pessimistic Pirate fan, it felt weird being the optimist. If I ticked somebody off, Eric, Poz, I apologize.

  77. Eric Bowser says:

    17 turnovers
    PP did nothing again
    PK standing around again
    bad goal by Fleury
    breakout easily defended by Isles

  78. sjb says:

    I don’t “want” to believe it either but being pragmatic and realistic makes me. Three weeks does not a season make. I can tell you this though; in 3 months, unless they magically fix things with either a new coach or a dramatic player infusion, this team will be facing another disappointing playoff it.

  79. sjb says:

    Well, like I was saying, regardless of how they play in a month or two, (just like last season when they found themselves looking at the conference title) they simply don’t play a style of hockey anymore that translates to a competent playoff contender. Teams can shut them down easily and do to them what you saw tonight, what the Isles did to them last season in the regular season and what the Flyers did to them in the playoffs. Sorry but IMO, this Pens team is a paper tiger.

  80. fi says:

    Bylsma has proven time and time again, that he is a terrible in game coach. He can’t make adjustments during the game to counter the other teams’ game plan.

  81. fi says:

    Hit the nail on the head Eric. They have some serious issues and it is not with the talent they have, but the direction they are being coached.

  82. sjb says:

    Stacked on D as far as offensive-minded defensemen go maybe. No true blue-liners that I know of and even if they did have them, they wouldn’t know how to to use them… doesn’t fit Bylsma’s system…whatever that even is anymore. They could have Scott Stevens and Nicklas Lidstrom in their prime and still look awful defensively.

  83. Christopher Walton says:

    The most disgusting display of apathy I have seen by a Pens team since the early 80’s. There is no excuse. This team plays with no cohesion, they hit no one, and appear to simply not care. This season is too short to wait around and talk about all of the talent to “getting to their game”.

  84. Tim says:

    Agree with you on putting Kunitz back with Malkin/Neal. That concretizes one line. Next, work on Sid’s line. Nothing against Sid, he’s the man, but right now, the team needs a sure thing and the Kunitz/Malkin/Neal line is a sure thing. (or was). But I do feel like they have too many Paul Coffey’s on the team and not enough Ulf Samuelson’s.

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