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Monday Wakeup Call: Dumb, dumber and … winners?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Morning, Lunatics …

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>> The Monday column uses the word ‘stupid’ an awful lot, so it shouldn’t surprise that the topic is the Penguins’ decision-making process in Game 3.

Hardly anyone on the roster played a smart game, actually, but it can be stated with conviction that one who did was, of course, Ivy League scholar Craig Adams

That said, they did win. So there’s that.

>> If missed last night’s The Final Word on WPXI-TV, you not only missed the insights of our Josh Yohe and WPXI’s Bill Phillips, but also whatever was left of the guy who nearly hurled on the one-hour Long Island cab ride right before that.

Here’s video of our second full episode, split into four tidy segments.

>> The Pirates had a tough weekend against the Nats, but they aren’t the first and won’t be the last to say that. Mike Rizzo has done an exceptional job not only of building that franchise but also of augmenting and instilling needed energy. One of the more widely respected GMs in the game.

>> A thorough grading of the Steelers’ draft by our Alan Robinson.

>> Interesting move over the weekend for Pitt basketball in bringing back Barry Rohrssen, as our beat man Kevin Gorman explains.

>> The Riverhounds have yet to win a single match out of their first seven, included weekend ties out in Phoenix and Los Angeles, and that’s a far cry from the goals the team’s front office had set going into this inaugural season at Highmark Stadium. But a rather jarring 11 of their next 12 matches are at home, so maybe a comfort level will lead to additional confidence.

>> Congratulates to all who finished the Pittsburgh Marathon, especially those described in our coverage this morning by Karen Price.

>> I’ll visit with TribLIVE Radio this morning at 11:30. Ken Laird and Guy Junker host.

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 more, including 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 top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.

423 Comments

  1. Dejan’s column gives me the opportunity to ask something I’ve been wondering for a long time. Dejan wrote, “Kunitz…carried up the left wing in the neutral zone and…tried a 70-foot lateral pass.”

    I’ve often wondered if cross-ice passes (in your own end or in the neutral zone) are frowned upon in hockey.

    The reason I ask is two-fold. (1) Every kid is taught (in basketball) at the junior high level — never to make a cross court pass in the back court. So I was wondering if this translated to hockey; and (2) very frequently, those passes just look so risky.

    But….they seem to be so commonplace in NHL hockey that I thought maybe they were considered acceptable — although even then, I couldn’t guess why.

    DK: Better be sure. That’s all. Especially with a late lead.

  2. I see a lot of Dumb and Dumber quotations coming down the pike. I’ll get the ball rolling:
    “No Way! That’s Great — WE’VE LANDED ON THE MOON!”

    • Hey Ghostie, loved the underwear comment on the Buccos thread yesterday ;)

      • Hey Jandy,

        loved the “Hipposter” name on the blogs yesterday. ;)

        • Didn’t Brandie make that up? I loved it…that’s why I called you that :)

          • Yes Brandie made it up.
            She also thinks I am wrestler!!! Ha!

            Well, off to shower for my adventures.

            Always have to read DK’s stuff in the morning………… great stuff as always.

            If you see Brandie on here, tell her to “Seize the Day!!”

    • Just when I think you couldn’t possibly get any dumber, you go and do something like this……

      AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!

    • Dan Bylsma: I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.

      Tony Granato: I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver’s full of sh*t, man.

    • Isles head coach Jack Capuano on the state of the Nassau Coliseum:

      “That’s It! I’ve had it with this dump! We’ve got no food! We’ve got no jobs!…

      OUR PETS’ HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!”

  3. Hi All.

    Had a great weekend in PGH at my cousin’s wedding at the Priory. Cool place for sure. Friday’s game was a letdown, but didn’t dampen the weekend entirely…

    Was in the car on the ride back and listened to the Islanders crew on SiriusXM. Not sure why I didn’t switch over to Lange & the ‘ol 29er…different perspective for sure.

    Anyway, the column hit the nail on the head. Listening to the game, I just couldn’t believe the 2-0 lead the Islanders built and the Pens came back and got 4 and the lost yet another 2 goal lead. A coworker of mine who is a fellow Pens fan said the worst lead for this team to have is 2 goal lead and I believe it. Don’t know why, but they completely fall apart. They were very lucky that Sid drew the Penalty in OT and Kunitz ended it…

    In a way, this sorta reminds me of the time before Thieren was fired. Meaning, all the “guys in the room” were saying the right thing about how they needed to play, what they needed to do, but they were not doing it. What was being said didn’t translate onto the ice…sorta appears to be a similar situation here in my mind.

    Now, I am not sure why this team has great regular season success and completely falls of the rails during the playoffs, but this is certainly a disturbing trend. Maybe they need a “playoff” coach. Let Bylsma handle the regular season and bring in the playoff coach for the Cup run. Don’t know, but it’s really frustrating to see them potentially flush away yet another chance…

    Enough rambling…time for bed.

    Take care all and I’ll be sure to check in tomorrow.

    Randy in RVA.

    Let’s go PENS!

  4. Hey Dejan, thanks! Finally some reporting close to reality!

    I’m in Southeast Asia and listened to the entire game on Pens Radio till 2.30 a.m. Almost went nuts!

    Mike and the Ol’ 29er were calling the Pens’ bad decision-making with the puck the whole game. Every time one of them was saying “Oh, watch out” or “Why did he do that?” or “He shouldn’t be doing this,” the Islanders ended up with a high-quality scoring chance.

    Even without their input, just following the gameplay anyone could detect the Pens were not even close to their game plan and walking the talk. They’ve let off after last year’s Philly series and game 2 against the Isles.

    How surprised I was to read none of that in various game recaps around the NHL community. Just praise for the PP. No mention of how lucky the Pens were to walk away with a W and how much more deserving the Islanders were of it.

    I totally agree that it is time for Bylsma to take action:
    The Pens have to get on track and fast, because even if they make it like this past the opening round, the next opponent independently of who that might be, will not be as forgiving as the Islanders for sure. So better do something radical now and make sure the whole team knows the coach means business, hopefully publicly backed up by the management.

    With a 2-1 series lead you can bench a few guys in Game 4, stating an example.

    Maybe you lose that other road game, but you go tied back into your own building, with a real hockey team, not with a bunch of brainless zombies and you close the series out at home, carrying some real momentum into the next round.

    Last year in the Philly series, I would have preferred to see the WBS Pens lose, while giving their best and putting up a real fight, instead of seeing the A-team mess it up the way they did.

    Cheers, Dejan, and keep up the good work!

    DK: Thank you on all counts, especially for the entry.

  5. You’re being generous to Niskanen in today’s column by stating he was parallel to Eaton for the Isles’ third goal before Eaton pinched up. Niskanen was trailing the play all the way from behind Isles’, then took a few lazy strides to between the circles before slowing to a crawl, then did not skate hard back as he saw the Isles gain possession. Lack of skating.

    It almost seemed as if Eaton knew that Niskanen was so far trailing Okposo that his only play was to try to wrest the puck from Nielsen before he could pass. I don’t think that Eaton — far from a speedster — was going to catch Okposo even if he didn’t pinch. That said, agree it was not smart positioning all around, beginning with Niskanen’s ill-advised decision deep and then failure to hustle back into the play.

    The Pens are doing so much chasing on Isles’ cycle that those anointed as “puck movers” (incl. Niskanen) may feel compelled to try to give the Isles a taste of their own medicine. One problem, however, is that, with the exception of our PP and Crosby being the man-child he is on the puck, others cannot control it in our offensive zone for more than a few seconds before a turnover going the other way.

  6. Hey DK and lunatics…long time lurker, first time posting.

    Could not agree more with the column. With the amount of talent and leadership on this team it would be such a shame to see it all go to waste because of mindless play. No disrespect to the Islanders, they are good young team playing their hearts out right now, but they are still nowhere near being on the Penguins level. It’s frustrating watching this team try (and fail) to constantly make these fancy tic-tac-toe type of plays, when Nabokov has looked so shaky this entire series. When guys like Murray and Cooke are getting shots past him because he is so far off his net, guys with actual scoring touch should be shooting more instead of looking for the extra pass.

    This series seems eerily similar to the Philly series last year, with the only difference being the Islanders aren’t getting under the Penguins skin the way Philly was able to do. It seems when the Pens are matched up against a team that plays an up and down style of hockey, the Pens feel the need to break from their system and try to play the same way, forcing them out of position and causing them to make bad decisions. Which makes me think the Pens would be better off playing a team with a more a defense-first system, such as the Rangers.

    Also, I can’t believe they only gave a two game suspension to Abdelkader. I thought the Gryba hit was perfectly legal and the Abdelkader hit was exactly what they are trying to rid from the game. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that they both got the same punishment with how the NHL has handled things like this in the past, but….wow. Although I’m not much of a fan of NBC’s broadcast team, I think Jeremy Roenick hit the nail on the head when he said that Gryba was not punished for the hit, but more for what happened to Lars Eller because of the hit.

    • Welcome to the Lunatic Asylum, Zulu. If you post your hometown, Bizrow will add you to the Lunatics’ list :)

    • I called a slap on the wrist for Abdekader. Its just amazing how the NHL hands out discipline. It has gotten better, but come on…………..

      • Shamahan stinks!

        • Cripes 2 games. Even without history I thought it should have been a lot more. Was there some mitigating detail Shanny managed to find? I thought the guy left his feet, targetted the head of a vulnerable player. Was hoping for double figure games.

    • It was his first suspension. There is no pattern with him. A 2 game suspension for a player that has never shown a history of being a dirty player in 6 years is a pretty stern message, especially in the playoffs.

  7. I need to say that the risk of doing something dumb increases when you are constantly under pressure, and the Islanders should get most the credit that our expert roster has come to look like a collection of morons. .

    One way you can get into trouble like we are is if your opponent knows what you are going to do before you do it, whereas you yourself appear to have no answers to what they are doing…. despite it being repetitively thrown at you on a shift by shift basis.

    Gene Collier had a fantastically interesting (vomit inducing if you are me) quote from Jack Capuano;

    “I’m sure that coaching staff, and it’s a good coaching staff, is going to make certain adjustments, but when you watch them play over the years, you know they have a system, too,” Capuano said. “They want to chip pucks and get in on the forecheck. I’m sure they change every now and then, but they believe in that system and they’ve been very successful with it.”

    When interviewed during the first by Brian Engblom, he also said – paraphrasing – that irrespective of the score he was very happy with how they were playing, and while they would probably have to tinker when Bylsma made adjustments, at that moment he felt they could roll four lines and not think too much about matchups.

    You can virtually feel his incredulity that we haven’t done anything to counter how they are systematically taking Bylsma’s preferred outlets and forecheck away. Because he clearly knows Bylsma’s preferences, and the Isles are playing to take those away. They are doing a fantastic job in that regard.

    Those adjustments Capuano expected never came, and we are now looking at 7 periods in a row where we have been flat out abused 5 on 5. Thank heavens for Nabokov being even less spectacular than Fleury, and our PP being mostly money so far.

    We cannot outlet the puck without seeing the intended receiver under immediate pressure, causing us to hardly ever get the puck deep WHILE maintaining speed through the neutral zone; which causes our forecheck to be neutered.
    At the same time, there’s too big a gap between our D and forwards when the Isles are turning the play because our forwards are caught in that no-mans land between aggressive forecheck and and a neitral zone trap, and with consistently shady support from the forwards, our D has to respect the Isles speed causing them not stand up on the blueline, which leads the Isles to enter our zone with ease and speed and go to work on their forecheck/put shots towards the cage. I could try and come up with solutions, but this post will be long enough already, and I am not an NHL coach. As a somewhat rabid fan of the Pens since ’88, I do believe I can identify problems and detect patterns though.

    Players need to be better? Check. Players need to be smarter? Check.
    But first of all the coach needs to identify that he is getting slaughtered (again), series score be damned, and make some adjustments to put his players in a better shape to execute those fundamentals that are lacking.
    Not doing anything to change our breakout – the root of our malaise – is akin to Bylsma watching the Flyers PP toy with us last spring without making any adjustments to what was obviously killing us. It is the height of both arrogance and stupidity to stick with one system of his design when it clearly isn’t working.
    And yes – he might be preaching such adjustments and be might be spot on about every scheme he tries to instill to get us away from this pattern of abuse, but it is hard to believe when the abuse we are taking in this respect is on auto-repeat. Moreover, as you say DK, if he is saying the right things and no one is listening, the problem is about as grave as if he is just not seeing it.

    We’re 2-1 up. We should be 2-1 down. We should be able to play much better, so there’s that. But as much as this should be a positive angle, unless we adjust to how they’re murdering us, the reason for winning this series would be that we have luck on our side and have a mega-star studded PP more so than being a better team. And looking at the respective rosters, that is just completely unacceptable.

    • REALLY SUPERIOR POST.

      Lunatics, please read above!

      Well said Glen.

      • Sarah, between your posts from last night and Glen’s this morning, it sheds light on a lot of things, for sure. Kudos to both of you.

    • The system has more than one option. Like all hockey “systems” (which being highly over used by the way) there is more than one option to any player on any given “play”. All systems start from the defensive zone, and theres is no different. The Pens DMen have more than one option when exiting their own zone. But they keep making the wrong option. They keep trying the stretch pass, hence the “dumb” part. But they don’t HAVE to do that. They do have the option to take the ice in front of them if they want to.

      Mostly everyone also needs to remember this isn’t football. “System” is a general philosophy more than anything. CREATIVITY still matters just as much. Personally I think the Pens are leaning to much on their System rather than trusting their talent. They didn’t suddenly develop Steve Blass syndrome and forget how to play. So basically:

      1) The system is fine, they are just doing it wrong.
      2) Even if the system inexplicably stopped working, they have the skill and experience to figure out without a coach drawing it up on a white board for them.

      • Totally agree. I’m quite certain Bylsma is trying to get his players to play smarter – they just aren’t listening. The problems we’re seeing right now aren’t the result of the coach failing to make adjustments. They’re the result of poor decison-making by veteran players who should know better.

    • big +

  8. 2 wins down…..14 to go!
    .
    LET’S GO PENS !!
    .

  9. I’d just like to see them take Game 4 on long Island. That’ll give them a chance to close it out at home and give them a buffer so they could drop one without having to go to a game 7. This Islanders team isn’t going to quit that’s for sure.

  10. Excellent column DK – maybe stupidity is the answer to the question of why a win feels like a loss.

    Couple of questions about how to solve this though.

    “People will point to Bylsma, and that’s fair. A coach’s message doesn’t matter if it isn’t heard. If Bylsma and staff need to bench players — even stars — to buttress their point, so be it. This team knows how it plays best. Anyone who doesn’t want to participate doesn’t have to.”

    1. Have they just tuned Bylsma and staff out – if so – big trouble. What do ya do – fire Bylsma now????

    2, Bench players, even stars ? Well, Geno should be on top of that list but I don’t think there is a coach in the league now or ever that has the stones to bench a “star” in the middle of the playoffs.

    “This team knows how it plays best”

    They do indeed know, now the need to do it,

    They played two terrible games like this right after the win streak and then woke up and played well for 7 or 8 so I am hoping this “stupidity” is temporary. Not in a panic mode yet, I will give them another game. But if it turns out like the last two I will be lowering the lifeboats!

    In spite of it all…..GO PENS!!

    • “Bench players, even stars ? Well, Geno should be on top of that list but I don’t think there is a coach in the league now or ever that has the stones to bench a “star” in the middle of the playoffs. ”
      I think Brucie Boudreaux has the stones to do it. Bylsma needs to grow a set.

      • Sorry Jandy, I don’t believe that even Barbeque Bruce ever benched a “star”, the great 8 comes to mind. I sorta do recall some kerfuffle couple years back, but I think he just cut his ice time, The fact checkers will correct me if I am wrong.

        I agree w/ya, sorta, perhaps it should happen, might even do some good, then again might cause a riot!! :)

        • Puckers my friend, at least Brucie had the cajones to do that much. It needed done then. And it needs done now with this team. :) :) :)

        • BBQ Bruce left Ovi off the ice in the waning moments of a losing hockey game. When he pulled the goalie in favor of an extra attacker Ovi wasnt one of the 6 men on the ice. I believe there is a time and place to send a message. That wasnt it. There is no team in the history of hockey so deep that it has had players better than Ovechkin. They probably would have lost anyways,,,still…

          BBQ Bruce was also fired about a month later. So…you know…

          • Barbecue Bruce was then hired by the Ducks and he has them in the playoffs :)

            I stand by my opinion. If the player deserves to be benched, do it.

            :) :) :)

  11. Read Dejan’s column last night. Hmmmm bench star players who don’t play the way they’re asked to….I pointed that out weeks ago…was told that just doesn’t happen. IT SHOULD.

    It would be more of an embarrassment to the star player benched for a game, than it would hurt the team. This team played well without stars, because they tighten things up. I say do it. It would probably help a lot.

    That said, this team didn’t deserve to win yesterday. We can only hope they wake up before it’s too late. Mario? Are you there?

    • Mario is in (say it with me) The Best Shape Of His Career

      • He won’t play, Drew, that’s fantasy land lol. Just wish he’d discreetly let everyone know…this team isn’t doing what it should, playing the way they should…and it’s unacceptable.

  12. JAL’s Ringo Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xqgicy4MQU

    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/

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates Stats

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsjN0zO-DxI0dHVOMzdPYm9wUEJtdVJ0WWUzVWhFc2c#gid=0

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Bucs Blow Early Opportunity, Fall to Nats 6-2

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/bucs-blow-early-opportunity-fall-to-nats-6-2.html

    First Pitch: There’s No Reason to Keep Andrew Lambo in Altoona

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/first-pitch-theres-no-reason-to-keep-andrew-lambo-in-altoona.html

    Prospect Watch: Polanco, Bell, and Lambo Homer; Liriano Makes Last Rehab Start

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/05/prospect-watch-polanco-bell-and-lambo-homer-liriano-makes-last-rehab-start.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Nationals defeat Pirates, 6-2

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/5/5/4303126/nationals-defeat-pirates-6-2

    7 WHYGAVS

    The day after a frustrating loss

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2013/the-day-after-a-frustrating-loss.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Buc History 5/5

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/05/buc-history-55.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Starling Marte Is Making You Look Foolish

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/05/pittsburgh-pirates-starling-marte-is-making-you-look-foolish/

    Can Jordy Mercer Take Over at Short?

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/05/05/can-jordy-mercer-take-over-at-short/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Nationals 6 Pirates2

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/05/nationals-6-pirates-2/

    • Ringo Lorne Green 1964 Better known as Ben Cartwright on Bonanza Green scored his only hit song with this western story. It reached number 1 in November of 1964

  13. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Washington Times

    Tyler Moore, Danny Espinosa hit home runs to help Nationals overcome Bryce Harper’s ejection

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/5/moore-espinosa-hit-home-runs-help-nationals-overco/

    12 Rant Sports

    Clint Hurdle Mismanages Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen Again

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/05/05/clint-hurdle-mismanages-pittsburgh-pirates-bullpen-again/

    13Washington Post

    Nationals 6, Pirates 2: After Bryce Harper is ejected, Gio Gonzalez settles in to pick up win

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/nationals-roll-past-pirates-after-bryce-harper-is-ejected/2013/05/05/22d4012a-b5c1-11e2-b94c-b684dda07add_story.html

    14Go Erie

    Pirates baseball: Love it and hate it

    http://www.goerie.com/article/20130506/OPINION07/305069969/Pirates-baseball%3A-Love-it-and-hate-it

    15 Bleacher Report

    Bryce Harper Ejected After Arguing Called Strike 3 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1629758-bryce-harper-ejected-after-arguing-called-strike-3-vs-pittsburgh-pirates

    16 CBS Sports

    Moore, Espinosa homer as Nats beat Bucs; Harper ejected

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/gametracker/recap/MLB_20130505_WAS@PIT/moore-espinosa-homer-as-nats-beat-bucs-harper-ejected

    17 Sweetspot

    Thoughts: Crisis time for Dodgers

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/35532/thoughts-crisis-time-for-dodgers

    18 PBC Site

    Pirates miss chances, drop rubber game to Nats

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_05_05_wasmlb_pitmlb_1&mode=recap_home&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Tightness not serious, Morton set to play catch

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130505&content_id=46674078&notebook_id=46674080&vkey=notebook_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    The Week In Quotes

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20441

    20 Fangraphs

    Who’s The No. 1 Prospect?: May Edition

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/whos-the-no-1-prospect-may-edition/

  14. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers quietly addressed special teams concerns with 2013 NFL Draft

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/5/4302610/steelers-quietly-addressed-special-teams-concerns-with-2013-nfl-draft

    Steelers Jarvis Jones holds no grudge against NFL teams which passed on him

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/5/5/4302720/steelers-jarvis-jones-holds-no-grudge-against-nfl-teams-which-passed

    22 Steelers Depot

    - 3rd Round Pick – WR Markus Wheaton – Breakdown & Grade

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/05/steelers-2013-draft-3rd-round-pick-wr-markus-wheaton-breakdown-grade/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale enforces top-four hopes but manager Andre Villas-Boas remains on the defensive

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/tottenham-hotspur/10039150/Tottenham-Hotspurs-Gareth-Bale-enforces-top-four-hopes-but-manager-Andre-Villas-Boas-remains-on-the-defensive.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 2nd May, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-2nd-may-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Better to be Lucky. Penguins Escape with 5-4 OT win

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/5/5/4303776/better-to-be-lucky-penguins-escape-with-5-4-ot-win

  15. Simon Despres. Ugh. I think he’s slipped comfortably behind Robert Bortuzzo on the depth chart for the foreseeable future. But then again, has Matt Niskanen been any better ?

    • Niskie has been much better. Remember, he’s not a top four pairing except for occasionally. That fight he got into in the second game seems to have him paranoid. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s what I’m seeing.
      A lot of us were calling for Engo to be benched for Depres. Hmmm..didn’t seem to be any better, and I’m surprised. I’d give him another game tho, just to see if he does any better.

    • Despres looked rusty but he hasn’t played much since trade deadline so is that really on him? Partly yes but he’ll be fine once he shakes the rust.

  16. Jandy – playing with your idea. Can you bench somebody for a few shifts, or does that play havoc by having multiple sets of shifts in one game?

    What I’m thinking and asking:

    1. Start with normal shifts. You just won. Don’t send sign of panic.
    2. Spend next day reinforcing ‘don’t be stupid’
    3. First sign of being stupid during game 4, make a shift change, whether for the rest of the game or a few shifts, depending on who it is. You handle, for instance, Malkin differently than just about anyone else. And you should.

    Only talking about stupid, not physically beaten. The latter happens. The former shouldn’t.

    Does that happen, or is it just fan talk?

    • Drew dahling, benching needs to happen for this team to wake up. I know a lot of people think this is DB, but I think it’s the players. So, yeah, how do you handle it?
      I don’t know the answer to that. But as much as I love Geno, I’m sick and tired of his shenanigans and him being handled with kidd gloves. Time to grow up. He’s making the money, now earn it….the right way.
      This team has responded well when it’s star players were not available to play. I say bench him an entire game. Let Bennett play more time. Put Jeffrey in there. (Please just leave TK home).
      Your item #1. It’s not panic, it’s telling someone they’re not doing their job.
      #2 I do believe BD and company are telling them not to do dumb things. The dumb Genovers just keep coming. And he’s not the only one. What applies for one, applies for all. Reinforce it good. Let them ride the pine.
      #3 If BD doesn’t have the cajones to bench these guys for an entire game, then go that route. Just do something to get thru to them, that the stunts they are pulling are NOT acceptable.

      Also, I agree on the stupid, not the physical. That does and will happen.

      Benching happens rarely, and it’s usually for a shift or three. But these guys have been reverting to bad habits for far too long. Time for drastic measures.

      I’m mean tho, since I’m old. So what do I know?

    • Only problem I see with benching Geno or anyone else is the kind of backlash Mike Tomlin got for benching RBs when they fumbled. It might make players even more tight, and it could backlash and upset the locker room. I know something needs to be done to get it through their heads – I agree with Dejan’s article about playing stupid – but I’m not sure benching is the answer. In game one everyone was praising Geno because he was dumping the puck in and playing it safe, so it is up to Bylsma to drill it into their heads trying to make a spectacular goal only works say 1 out of 6 times, and the other 5 times gives the other team a quick transition. Letang had a horrible game too coughing up the puck – can’t bench him. It’s time for Bylsma to start ripping into players DURING the game. I think they may have gotten goal-happy from game one, now Dan needs to right the ship….maybe show them all a tape of game one. Re-focus.

      • i guess Geno’s two points again is a failing grade.

        • Geno was impressive on those two assists, but the turnovers are lethal against a team who transitions with speed as well as the Isles do. He can still be dominant and playoff-safe at the same time, and I’m sure he will. As another side note – Bodreau benched Ovechkin because he was pouting and was lacking of effort/quitting on the team. Geno is playing hard, was the MVP last year…..you can’t bench him.

        • Don’t get me wrong. Geno does a lot of good stuff, too. But when you do the same boneheaded pass back to the opposition over and over again, it’s time to take drastic measures. Letang is also guilty of boneheaded stuff as well. had benching taken place during the regular season, I’m sure it would be less of a problem by now….but hey, it’s easy to play armchair coach, right?
          I make fun of myself all the time for doing that…

  17. So….the official calls a borderline “holding” penalty….. in overtime???…..in a playoff game??? Sorry, but that just doesn’t happen and it shouldn’t happen. You let the boys play on.
    I’d rather lose at full strength in overtime than feel guilty about winning with help from the officials.
    Sorry but I just had to say how I feel.

    • I get your point, Al, but how many “fabricated” calls were made against us…especially against Cookie. Sorry, I don’t feel bad about a “borderline” call. The Isles were allowed to get away with murder yesterday. You want to put that on someone, put that on the refs and on the Garage League.

      • I also get your point Jandy but whatever takes place in regulation is one thing; overtime is a different ballgame. Both teams start with a clean slate and my point was that borderline stuff like holding and interference has no place in overtime unless someone gets slammed to the ice Hulk Hogan style or is so blatant that it has to be called. The officials know what’s at stake here so they should be very careful about blowing the whistle…..and most of the time they are.

    • There was nothing “borderline” about that. He grabbed him with two hands and pulled him over backwards. They could have given him a 15 yard personal foul for a horse-collar tackle.

      You think that in a tie OT game the defense should be allowed to grab a guy and tackle him when he has been beat and his man has a clear path to the net? You allow that kind of “defense” and they would STILL be playing the game right now.

    • I agree to a point, but in that situation, Sid had created a very real scoring opportunity, so it just had to be called. If that play happens in the neutral zone or along the boards just inside the blue line, the NHL being the NHL…it probably doesn’t get called.

      • Totally agree. Crosby was on his way to the net with a scoring opportunity. That has to be called. JR and Milbury’s conniptions notwithstanding.

      • I saw the descriptions on here first about the play, which were basically criticizing JR and Milbury. When I saw the replay, it certainly wasn’t obvious that Sid was pulled down (maybe slowed), but it did look like he sat down kind of voluntarily as opposed to succumbing to something that was done. Maybe it should have been called anyway, but it wasn’t cut and dried.

        • Just saw the replay DK posted on the side here on Twitter. Let me take back what I said. Seeing the compete sequence it is pretty obvious.

        • If you imgine skating its very easy to pull someone down from behind on skates. Your balance is completely different than on ground. For a man their center of balance is usually somewhere right above their belly button. On skates that is slomehwere around your belt buckle. Its why the best hockey players have huge thighs and giant butts.

          Basically. its very easy to pull someone down from behind on skates.Jandi could pull down mario like that.

          BUT…the most important thing to remeber is that him falling over doesnt matter. Strait had two hands on him from behind. If he goes down its holding. If he stays up its interference. Its a blatant penalty either way. You CANNOT put two hands on a guy from behind. Its a penalty in any situation, in any league. Its defense 101.

          • “Basically. its very easy to pull someone down from behind on skates.Jandi could pull down mario like that. ”
            But, I’d much RATHER pull down Letang like that ;)

  18. Pens are sharp alright. To quote the great Leghorn: “They’re about a sharp as a bowling ball.”

    I’ve got three dogs; Two labs and a boxer, all about or over 100 lbs. (yep, he’s a big boxer), so you can imagine poop scooping the back yard after a few days unattended to makes for a lot of smelly crap, but not nearly as much as I’ve seen the Pens dump all over the ice in the past couple games. It’s so bad I’m surprised the ice crew doesn’t have to scoop up after them before running the Zamboni between periods.

    I think a lot of players could be benched, or have shifts cut short, but when you are not coaching anymore, but baby-sitting and coddling an All-Star team, you don’t want a bench full of Prima donna players crying on national TV.

    So, who here thinks this series going 7 games is crazy talk now? Obviously no sweep talk anymore and I guess it’s easy to stick to your guns and say it will still only take 5 or 6 games, but is that really what you think, or just more hopeful “Go Guins!” cheerleading talk? I better look for that paper that everyone seems to refer to that says the Pens should blow the Isles out of the pond.

    Oh, and for those who think Orpik being out is a big reason the defense is struggling, just remember: He was there for all the recent playoff losses. In fact, I’ll say the only reason they are up 2-1 now, is because Orpik hasn’t been given a chance to deflect the puck into his own net yet or do his best at screening the goalie.

    Just like last season, Let’s all get back to blaming Fleury for the 78 shots on goal and the many more that either missed or were blocked. I bet if they put Vokoun in those numbers would drop. ;) Fleury hasn’t been great but he’s not the real reason this team is struggling. And it’s not just the Isles – as proven year after year now – any team with heart gives the Pens trouble and in the playoffs, that just about every team.

    Excuse me for being cynical, but I don’t think teams that make habits of blowing two goal leads and one’s that don’t learn from their previous years of mistakes have much of shelf life in the playoffs. I see the same team as last season, just with new numbers and faces. Bylsma just fails to get through to them.

    • Really? Bylsma fails to get through to them?

      These guys are doing EXACTLY what Bylsma coaches them to do.

      The frustration stems from the fact that the system isn’t working. The Islanders coaches (much like the Flyers coaches last year) are aware of the Penguins’ tendencies and have adjusted their team play accordingly to take advantage.

      That’s why you hear so much about how the Penguins have to change what they’re doing.

      • Dave, I used to think they are doing what BD said, but anymore, especially after the first game, I think they are doing exactly what they want to do.

      • When they are playing the way the “system” is supposed to be played, it works very well. The problem is they are going back to freelancing on a lot of plays, playing less as a team and more as individuals, and are not keeping it simple (per their system). I fail to see that how for most of the season, they could buckle down on any team, most much better than the Isles and hold them to few scoring chances and little time in the Pens end, but come playoffs, any team can all of a sudden decide to dismantle all that has worked for the Pens up until them. These are all the same teams (especially the Isles) who by now, after years of seeing it done must know what it takes to beat the Pens, even in a regular season matchup, but only find out how to do it in the playoffs? Sorry, my BS meter just went into the red zone.

        And I’m not talking about last season either, Then, they were always a sheep in wolf’s clothing, as their D never was any good. This season they’ve proved they could play responsible defense but decided to put it on the shelve in favor of a “we’re better than you and can outscore you” attitude and for most part, are failing to put in the effort, or buckle down for a full period, let alone a full 60 minutes.

        Hear? You mean heard. The Pens DID change what they WERE doing and that’s why you had one of the best teams in hockey this season. The problem is they AREN’T doing it anymore.

        • System system system….

          Hockey isn’t football. There aren’t set “plays”. At least not ones that involve more than a few movements off of a face-off or during a special team scenario.

          Yes they have a few breakout “plays”. But just like football each “play” has several options. Right now the Pens are doing the equivalent of force feeding the ball to Burress even though hes double covered. You can’t blame the system when it isn’t being run properly.

          But mostly everyone also needs to remember this isn’t football. “System” is a general philosophy more than anything. CREATIVITY still matters just as much. Personally I think the Pens are leaning to much on their “System” rather than trusting their talent. They didn’t suddenly develop Steve Blass syndrome and forget how to play. So basically:

          1) The system is fine, they are just doing it wrong.
          2) Even if the system inexplicably stopped working, they have the skill and experience to figure out without a coach drawing it up on a white board for them.

  19. As for the less-than-wise activities in yesterday’s game, as highlighted by DK today:

    Two of the three Ivy Leaguers on the team were on DK’s “at least they kept it together” list: Craig Adams (Harvard) and Doug Murray (Cornell). What the hell, Tanner Glass (Dartmouth)?

    God bless Pierre McGuire for helping me remember where players went to school. Apparently these things are important to Pierre, thus their importance to me. By the by, that is a complete and total lie :)

  20. I agree with Sarah on the breakouts.

    I thought at times they were more patient with the breakout in game 2, particularly second half of 1st period and most of 2nd.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence the Pens went 4-0 in goals during that stretch.

    Can’t say I saw the patience in the 3rd with the Isles pressuring and dictating tempo. Under pressure from Isles the Pens revert to what they know best and NYI tie it up.

    But I think there was a dynamic we haven’t see in this series yet that impacted poor third. Trying to sit on lead. I think they were too passive to start the 3rd, they got no shots on that power play.

    Aside from breakout strategy, this teams biggest problem IMO is trying tp put teams away too early. They are always looking to score that next goal to put the game out of reach and/or break other team’s spirit.

    Teams don’t give up often in playoffs.

    Can’t win a game in the first without another solid 40 minutes.

    Can’t win a series in game 1.

    Last year they tried to get the fourth goal on way to route. Flyers come back and win game and Pens never recover.

    I have no doubt the Pens want to win the cup. From their play, I start to question that they realize that it takes 60 minutes of consistent effort for 12-21 games just to get to the finals.

    Despite consistent evidence to the contrary, I think they can get it together, win this series and see where it goes.

    LET’S GO PENS!!!!

    • During their 15 game win streak they made a noticeable (to me) commitment to CARRYING THE PUCK out of the defensive zone. With the exception of Letang (obviously) to many dMen seem loathe to carry the puck themselves. Always looking for a long stretch pass.

      If the opposing team is standing on the lines waiting/against the walls waiting for breakout passes the easiest way to get them to stop is to skate past them. If they are giving you time and space, YOU TAKE IT.

      Instead they seem willing to try making a stretch pass to a player that is almost immediately covered, if not have the pass picked off. The Islanders are just standing in the nuetral zone waiting for the outlet passes. But the key word in that sentence is STANDING.

  21. NYI’s pose a difficult match-up. They are a very fast team and right now they are using their speed to dictate the game. Most teams that are outmanned play the pack it in and hope for a break style bu not this one. They go, go, go. I like it.

    Bylsma really needs to end the double shifting of 71 and 87. They both get enough ice time without throwing 15/87/19 out or 15/27/71. Really not much to be gained there. Take a lesson from Capuano and just roll four lines.

    • I agree on the double shifting.

      They need to build chemistry on lines. Shuffling (which was constant in 3rd of game 2) doesn’t promote line chemistry.

  22. We all need to make sure we are not guilty of blaming the Pens for losing rather than the Islanders for winning.

    Yes, the Pens are a much more talented team. But not that much.

    Personally I am surprised and impressed with the Islanders resolve. They have shown a lot of heart and tenacity. They haven’t wilted like a lot of young teams in the playoffs for the first time would.

    The Penguins are being FORCED into making bad plays. Not always. They have made some dumb mistakes. But a lot of them coming from the Islanders forcing the play before the Pens want to. Its one thing to say you know what the Pens are going to do. Its another to actually go out and do it and skate and compete with the best team in the Eastern Conference.

    I’m not letting the Penguins off the hook, but trying to give the Isles more credit than I fell many of you are giving them. There are 2 teams out there.

    • The Islanders certainly have a very good team, as I said before this series started. Underestimating them has caused us grief. Now it’s time to get down to serious HARD work and UNSELFISH play if we want to move to the next round.

      Next season this Islanders team will be even better.

      • +1

        Wow am I late for work.

        Gotta quit reading and go.

      • I don’t know much about strategy in hockey, but it seems to me, and I know this is simplistic but I am simplistic, that the Pens should go back to whatever they did in that Game 1 “Domination” as the headline put it, and lean on that.

        Like I said, I don’t know enough about hockey to even comment, but from the outside looking in that seems to be something to consider.

        Or was that game an aberration?

        • Spunky, you’re onto it, man! The Pens need to go back to responsible defensive hockey…like they played in that 15 game winning streak, and to an extent, in Game One of this series.

        • The Islanders had first game jitters for sure. Its their first playoff game in years and were understandably caught up in the moment. Pens jumped on em. Having their most experienced player (nabokov) play his worst game all year didn’t help.

          I wouldn’t call it an aberration. The Pens can do that. But it certainly isn’t the norm. I kind of expected every game of this series to be what game 3 was. Lots of back and forth. Lots of ups and downs. The Isles play a very high risk/big reward style of play.

        • In Game 1 the NYI were deer staring in the headlights.
          Then they woke up.

          • I agree. The islanders took a big step up to play at the penguins level as demonstrated in game 1. The penguins took a step back and still haven’t looked the same. The islanders were dominating last night. In my mind, the penguins just got lucky and stole this game from the islanders thanks to 3 stupid islander penalties.

        • Good answers from all above. Thanks.

    • Good point Patrick.

      Jandy, DK and others have been saying this is tough matchup for Pens and they’re right.

      I think us fans are guilty of expecting this to be an easy series. It’s not.

      Pens are fortunate to be up 2-1. That’s a cause to be relieved.

      We all agree they need to step up their play. They can still do it beginning game 3. Have they shown they will, no. Can they? I think so.

      LET’S GO PENS!!!

  23. Ok, question: If you are going to bench someone who had played stupid, who is it?

    I see a few people calling for a Geno benching. I don’t think he has been that bad. Bad, yes, but he has also done tremendous amount of good on the forecheck and setting up goals. Not to mention his ability to go end to end. Puck possession has been such a rare commodity for these Pens, I don’t bench the only Penguin who is possessing the puck.

    I would love to bench Letang. He was horrible. Every time he tried to pass the puck from his own zone it was intercepted or deflected. He is doing everything that is wrong. He keeps looking for the home run pass, pinching in at inopportune times, every clearing attempt is a pass right to their point man, thinking offense the whole time and trating defense like a contagious disease. Letang has been god awful. He is enough of a “star” to make a point to the rest of the team, too. The problem is who do you replace him with. Do you dare put in two of the Engelland, Bortuzzo, Despres trio? Do you roll with Martin/Niskanen/Crankshaft/Eaton? I think Letang is the best option for a benching, but his backups might be worse. I would applaud the benching, though.

  24. “… the risk of doing something dumb increases when you are constantly under pressure, and the Islanders should get most the credit that our expert roster has come to look like a collection of morons. .”

    Spot on, Glen. Players in any sport start to look stupid when you take their time away. That’s what is happening right now. The whole team didn’t suddenly get dumb.

    And as Patruck says above, lets give the NYI and their coach credit for …um, what’s the word I”m looking for,….?
    Oh yes – ADJUSTING.

    But seriously, required reading today is Glen’s post above, 4:05 AM.

    • Thanks for the heads-up. Just read it.

      One common thread between your post last night an Glen’s…the gap between the D’s and F’s.

      Q: Is it reasonable to suggest that the existing system can work if the gap is reduced, but otherwise maintain the integrity of the system? Or does that defeat the whole point of the system?

      Follow-up Q #1:
      - is the long-pass, fast-break system better suited to the regular season than to the rugged D played during playoffs? Sort of why fast break BB is harder to win with in the NBA playoffs?

      Follow-up Q #2:
      - are the Isles providing an Anti-Pens tutorial that better, deeper teams can follow in the second or third round? Is the biggest risk of this first round series “exposure” rather than losing?

      • I agree about the gap between D’s and F’s. You can’t be spread out all over the ice and expect to contain another team especially a fast team who will skate through you given the opportunity. You’re either good defensively because you have your D up supporting the forwards (don’t have to be pinching necessarily), or you have your forwards back supporting your D. Plus, when the D get’s the puck, they have to close the gap to get the puck to their forwards or make a long, risky breakout pass through center ice, all through a pack (because that’s how you’re supposed to play…as a pack) of Isles crowding center ice..

        When I see the Pens dump the puck and only two forwards chasing while one is up high and the D are standing (notice I said standing, not skating) in the neutral zone, nothing good will normally happen from that. Likewise; the Pens forwards can’t get caught behind the Isles D on rushes.

        Notice the Isles will have everyone in around the zone and the puck no matter what end of the ice they are on and the Pens seem to always have at least two players cheating the other way either offensively of defensively. That’s bad puck support, bad team play.

      • Hey Drew – great questions.
        Only MHO opinion as a goalie but:
        The system when working well does need and exploit large gaps. Reducing them dramatically does kinda take away the point of what it’s designed to do. HOWEVER, you can still hit stretch passes even with a C in the D zone. I guess what I am saying is, not necessarily,

        FQ1: IMO – YES. EVERYTHING tightens down in the playoffs and D becomes way more paramount. Teams that are even a little lax on D pay for it in playoffs. Those nasty opportunities you give up in regular season, where you leave a gap and someone has an open shot or a rebound…in regular season, not so bad….MAF will pull a rabbit out his azz most of the time anyway and bail you out. In Playoffs, guys will skate through brick walls to get that open shot or that rebound or that loose puck. Through brick walls, gladly. It’s just completely different. The Pens, when playing slack in their end like now, routinely give up 8-10 of the type of opportunities that can NEVER happen in Playoffs or you’ll get slaughtered. So my long winded response was – our system works way better in regular season than playoffs. As I think we’ve all seen now for 4 years. You don’t win Cups playing the way they are right now.

        FQ2: Absolutely, and no doubt they studied Philly game films to help them. That’s why this whole thing is so distressing to me. Philly provided a blueprint. And we’re still doing the same stuff we did vs them. So the blueprint is an ideal starting point for NYI. And Capuano’s incredulity that no adjustments have been made is well founded. He’s got the plan. And it’s working.

        Should we win this series or not, it doesn’t matter.

        Everybody knows how to play us now.

        • Hey Sarah.

          Question.

          1) What worked so well when Byslma took over in ’09 and the Cup run then? We they riding on the D first mentally of Thieren?

          2) Why can’t they get back to doing what they did then?

          3) It seems that we are having more of the same year after year – maybe my suggestion of a “playoff” coach, although made in jest wasn’t such a bad one since it works great during the regular season.

          Randy in RVA.

          • Hey Vette -
            Well….now we’re in dangerous terrirory of “How much was the 09 Cup really Therrian’s?” :-D Again only MHO but:

            1) They definitely were ENORMOUSLY responsible and aware defensively. But they were playing scared a lot too under MT;s very strict system, afraid to take chances. Afraid to mess up their D role. Afraid to chase the puck in case they left their man open. Stifled, basically. (And BTW I loathe MT)

            Then DB came along, and said “Hey go North, boys!” and his system allowed for example the closest F to the puck to chase it, with others covering defensively if needed.

            This was IMO, akin to letting a batch of starving greyhounds loose to chase a 3 legged rabbit!!

            It was almost a Perfect Storm of a well trained defensively responsible group, suddenly allowed to play freer, and the demographics (young, eager, Crosby-led) supported it well. They still had great D-awareness, but they loved the new system and the rest is history.

            2) Because for 4 years they have not been coached in the strict D-responsibility that MT instilled. Perfect Storms don’t happen often, sadly. By Fall of 2009 they were already becoming more lax in the D end IMO. In fact they had an awful start in 09-10 didn’t they?….

            3) Yes we are. Again, this is dangerous territory, but I think in various ways DB has been outcoached in every playoffs. I really thought he should have been on a short leash since last Spring.

            I could go on about that and No I don’t buy the Halak got Hot theory. And I don’t buy the We were missing Sid n Geno vs TB, and of course I think the debacle last year v PHL speaks for itself and clarified the Blueprint to beat us.

            I also think, in lots of ways RS’s brilliant personell moves recently were a repudiation of Bylsma. Ray basically put back exactly the kinds of players DD thought were not necessary, and either let go or did not replace (Grizzled Vet/lockerrom leader (ROberts/Guerin = Iggy/Morrow), ROle Players (Talbot/Fedetenko = JJ) Net Clearing Heavy D (Gill/Scuderi = Murray). And No I don’t buy the We couldn’;t keep Gill/Scuderi cos of the Cap thing. Gill went to MTL for 2 yrs/4 mil. We could have squeezed that under the Cap I bet, had we really wanted to, but RS had DD in charge then, and spent 15mil on the M&M Boys. 3 years later I think RS is saying “Your roster didn’t work, Dan”

            This is RS’s roster now. I think that in itself was a message DD was on thin ice.

            • Sarah, I gotta say, I totally enjoy your posts…good job!

              • MAking me blush again LOL!!

                Really I’m sure there’s loads of differing opinions on HCDB, and DK for example thinks he’s safe and sound. I can’t agree.

                I think DD’s pretty much has his butt handed to him every playoffs since 09, and I think RS realized that DD’s idea of the type of players necessary was off target, and is trying hard to recreate the feel of the 09 squad roster-wise.

                Unfortunately, RS is not also coaching the team.

            • Thanks a bunch for taking the time and I really agree much with what you said…just wanted to get another opinion and that Cup run from ’09 now seems really, really long ago, doesn’t it?

              Didn’t buy the Halak deal either. Was a bit on board with the Tampa series (They did go to the conference finals so it wasn’t just us) and really thought last year was a mess, especially since NJ dealt with the Flyers pretty handily.

              Thanks again.

              Take care,
              Randy

            • Bingo! I think you summed this up very well!

    • I think adjusting needs defined.

      I hate cross-sport references..but…

      Like in football each team prefers a certain general style. Passing, running. short passing, lots of motion, ect ect….the other team obviously knows this. Everyone knows it. Its not a matter of adjusting to it, but actually stopping their prefferred “plays”. Making the QB check it down to a secondary reciever so to speak. Or stacking the box against the run.

      Hockey is kinda-sorta the same, but only so far that the Isles are taking away their first option. Which is easier said than done. Everyone knows Brady wants to throw short passes to his TE’s…nobody can stop him. So give credit to the Isles for doing what not many other teams couldn’t do. Not because they didn’t know what the Pens want to do (everyone knows the Pens breakout plays) but because they actually shut them down.

      But again, this isn’t football. If the D-men needs to get the puck out his own zone, there are lots of ways to do it. Creativity, skill and experience must trump system. Every time, all the time. System can never become more important than those.

  25. Knowing the other team’s tendencies increases the odds of reacting correctly to developing play. It may not develop as expected every time, but sooner or later you will likely be right if you react according to the tendencies, and that is what spells trouble for the Pens.

    Here’s an example of one thing that irks me when I see it.

    When you make a long, 70 foot lateral pass, only two things can happen.

    1. You are successful, but you are no closer to the other team’s goal.
    2. The other team intercepts it and is off to the races in the other direction.

    There is no third result. The only other possibility is that one of your own players intercepts it and moves forward toward the opposing goalie, which never, ever happens.

    I’m not talking about two defensemen setting up in their own zone. I’m talking about neutral zone or just inside the offensive blue line.

    But if the other team knows this is a tendency of your players to attempt that pass, the odds increase that something bad will happen.

    • My point is that the Pens’ coaches need to be better at determining exactly how the Islanders are reacting and have a solution for it. The coaching needs to be a step ahead rather than a step behind as it is.

    • To be fair, if you’re successful, and the opponents have overloaded your side, then your guy will be in open ice, which is good.

      However, you’re correct that the NYI are on to these tendencies, AND they’re fast enough to make 2) above much more likely.

  26. APB out for Brandie….call Mother Theresa if you’ve seen Brandie…

  27. Had to rely on benadryl to survive the wonderful pollen season here yesterday; hence the reason I only saw part of the game. But here’s what I’ve noticed so far this series…

    1. Paul Martin is back to being Paul Martin. The D collectively need to get their shitake mushrooms together. The only one imo that’s been steadily solid is Murray. When’s Orpik back?

    2. Benching Tyler Kennedy isn’t really sending a message. It’s called 2nd grade logic.

    3. I thought DK just wrote a column about how the infallible Dan Bylsma shouldn’t be under any scrutiny whatsoever… (ok I’m paraphrasing and adding some over-dramatic nonsense, but still)

    Disco’s team came out with their expected thunder and, shockingly and completely unprecedentedly, the other team adjusted their play and, for the most part, have been taking it to us since 9 minutes into the first period of game 2. Shitake like that never happened 3 times before. In the playoffs. Against Montreal. And TB. And Philthy.

    Not saying we’re going to lose the series. Saying it’s more than possible if Pens don’t get their act together.

    DK: Not what I wrote. Take another look.

  28. All this gnashing of teeth about coaching & systems would be like Tiger Woods shooting an 80 and everyone blaming Sean Foley.

    • ++++++111111111111111111111

      *Gold trumpets Sounding….skies open up as light spills forth

    • Tiger hasn’t been the same since he fired Fluff. :-D

    • Golf. blech!

    • Islanders coach Capuano has as much as admitted that his team is adjusting to what he has observed over the past few years as to the Penguins system. And it’s working.

      The Pens don’t need a drastic shift in the system. Just some minor tweaks. Like how they dump the puck into the offensive zone. Wouldn’t hurt to dump it cross-corner or even just lob a few dumps high into the air and let the puck bounce wildly to allow the forwards more time to battle for the puck before the Islanders corral it. Mix it up a little and create a little chaos behind the net.

    • Last year, I was onto the system bandwagon. I hated when the Pens players and coach always talked about “getting to their game” as if there was only one way to play.

      This year I’m off the system talk. During the regular season and in game 1 they played a sound system. They didn’t play stupid. They didn’t make too many lateral passes. They dumped the puck and forechecked. The system may or may not be fine, but it isn’t the system causing them to make dumb plays. DK keeps saying that the coaches are harping about making smart, safe plays – and he is closer to the locker room talk than I am.

      For some reason these players decide that pond hockey is what wins playoff games when every shred of evidence (including their own experience) suggests otherwise. I was hoping that Morrow and Iginla can bring their wisdom and experience to the fore in this area. They still might, but last game they looked like they’ve drank the kool aid, too.

    • Agreed.

      Besides, we all know playoffs = blame the goalie. I would say it’s only a burgh thing but I live outside of Philly and know it a perennial disease here too.

      Good thing they got rid of that Bobrovsky fella. Awful goalie.

  29. The playoffs are no time for locker room hijinks, so they better discipline the jokester who put cement in Brendan Morrow’s skates the past few games.

  30. For once, I almost totally agree with everything that DK wrote in his piece about the Pens lack of playing intelligent hockey. Bottom line the Pens stole that game yesterday and SHOULD BE feeling bad about leading this series.

    Some things that are even more clear after yesterday’s game:

    1. This Pens team, despite how many good players it has, is once again being outplayed, out coached, and out ‘gutted’ by a team that is supposedly not even in the same league as these Pens. And that IMO is a huge part of the problem. The Penguin players are actually starting to believe that! Thinking like that will get them to the golf course and vacations faster than blowing a 2 or 3 goal lead!

    2. With the exception of Letang, and maybe Eaton and Murray, this defense is once again being exposed. I honestly think that Martin is physically incapable or unwilling to play a physical game! I would bet that when it is time for him to go to bed, he is afraid “to hit the sack”! This defense is giving up a ton of shots and quality chances. And MAF is NOT good enough to bail them out with quality saves.

    3. Coaching is once again non existent. Tired of posting about how bad it is. Nuff said.

    When the pens end up playing the other teams game, and that is exactly what is happening again this year they look awful and lose! The pens have a lot of issues going on right now, with the lack of coaching, players listening to the coach, players doing what they want, etc, etc.

    It is mind boggling that RS can dissect the team, determine what it needs, go out and get the pieces for next to nothing and yet, he overlooked IMO the biggest need, A COACH! So, maybe The Great Ray Shero isn’t that smart after all? Or, maybe he is just in denial?

  31. And another thing…for all the Craig Effin Adams haters….he was one of the few responsible players on the ice on Sunday.
    Not sure where that came from…carry on!

    • I know. Apparently anyone who doesn’t play like Crosby and Malkin just sucks.

      “Why don’t you just do what Sid and Geno do?” SMH

    • Probably the same people who after last season wanted Dupuis traded. Obviously that huge $1.2 million could be better spend on someone else.

      • Duper is one of my favs….I honestly didn’t catch him in a bad spot yesterday, but he fanned on a shot that he shouldn’t have. Grrr!

    • True that. On the rare times I muttered “nice play” it was often something 27 did.

    • +1000

      Aside from Sid, Adams best on ice for Pens yesterday.

      Watch him around and during second PK in first. Whole game but he settled things down there and gave Pens a chance.

  32. Stupid is as stupid does.

  33. So now, after victory, we collectively have gnashed teeth and rended garments (me included)…

    The Pens are poised to all but end this series if they win, ugly or otherwise, on Tuesday.

    All snideliness aside, which is tough for me. If that occurs, if the Pens win in 5, what does this coaching staff take from the series? THIS staff, not what we may want them to be.

    • I hear ha. The Pens have never blown a 3-1 lead, especially recently. ;)

      • I’m not suggesting it’s overblown. They are a solid PP away from 1-2.

        I am suggesting, however, that they WILL get beyond this series.

        And then asking…setting aside the very unlikely or snide (which was my wedding vow, at which I failed)…what is the coaching staff likely to do, if anything, heading into the next series?

        • The coaching can’t do anything at this point. The players just have to tighten things up and play smart, determined, playoff team hockey.

          I would think a critical text from Mario might help, but that’s about it.

          • No way. Locker room visit at the very least. Get the cajones and just do it.

          • A text? Seriously?

            No, if I’m the coaching staff or Mario, I don’t want him in that locker room. It’ll undermind whatever it is Bylsma is/will try to do.

            They don’t need daddy coming downstairs to hand out the whooping that big brother can do.

            • Ryan, I didn’t think of that aspect of a visit from Mario….but somehow a message needs to get thru to these guys, and it’s painfully obvious, that whatever DB & company are saying, isn’t doing the trick.

              • No doubt a fire needs to be lit…..but I dont think that Mario should be the one that does that, otherwise, he might as well coach the team as well…and go back on the ice……and pay the bills.

      • SNARK ALERT!

  34. A slightly different prespective.

    Not only was the first two goals on Depres, his being rightfully benched by the middle of the first period totally disrupted the D pairings. We won’t see him again, barring injury.
    He is physically not ready. He wilted down the strech against the bigger teams and to be polite, was timid yesterday.

    Engelland actually was playing decently, but was benched for the penalties in game 2.

    The Morrow mind F* caused the 3rd goal, I am betting he rebounds well.

    Letang needs to take a valium.

    Thanks Ray, for Doug Murray…who may be one of the best Pens on the ice so far this
    series.

    Sutter and JJ have largely disappeared the last two games…Sutter especially on faceoffs.

    With all the stupidity, the Pens hitting two posts and the isles getting the vast majority of the puck bounces, off of sticks, walls and crossbars the Pens COULD have won this game big just as easily as some think they should have lost. Sure the isles are creating a lot of their own breaks, but without some of the bounces they are getting they would not be looking as fast.

    The Pens are not playing well, but are still up 2-1. I still think we are okay.

    • I’m actually worried that JJ has a knee injury from Game 1

      • Well, you know the Islanders have gone after two knees already this series. JJ’s in game one and Iginla’s yesterday. If there isn’t an ejection the next time it happens, someone from the Pens will have to stand up for their players.

        • What I want to see is Engelland knock the living sh*t out of Okposo. Not only does it put that punk in his place but they both get 5 minute fighting majors, which would be a win win for the Pens!

          • Okposo isn’t a punk. Not at all. Hes a tough player sticking up for his teammate. He isn’t dirty at all. He has never had a season with more than 50 PIM. Hell Geno had more PIM than him a few times. He is a Ryan Malone type player. I’d love to have him.

            Now Matt Martin….He’s a guy that needs to be set straight. I’m honestly surprised Murray hasn’t asked him to dance.

      • Everyone has a knee injury in May.

      • Oh Lord Sarah, I said the same about JJ…somewhere down in the thread, didn’t see your post until just now…but it’s quite possible.

    • When I cross my eyes and ignore the obvious, everything seems much better too. I just wish the Pens would stop doing it.

      • I’ve played, coached and spectated sports for over 50 years. Seen (actually heard) the Maz homerun and the Immaculate Reception (from 4 rows behind the Raider’s bench) as well as Neil O’Donell’s FUs and ALL the times Pitt snatched defeat from the hands of victory and all types of outcomes in between.

        I prefer to be a “Glass is half full” kind of guy as compared to “half empty”.

        Easier to enjoy life that way.

        But I do agree, the Pens need a collective whack up side the head.

        • Well, I’ve only got about 40 years of sports memories to refer too and nothing predating Super Bowl 9…too young for the Imac Reception ;)

          A whack or two would be nice. I just hope it’s not after the season ends much too early (again) because as I remember for three years now, no one of importance has been.

          I can honestly say that if they go down in this series, there won’t be a player on the team I’ll have a problem with seeing go and that includes Sid. You know what they say; We can lose with you, we can lose without you too and as far as I know, there have been other teams that have won the cup without the greatest player in the world and if he’s our best chance and we still fail to get past a round or two, then something’s inherently F’ed up with this team and no Crosby is going to fix that, especially when he’s seemingly always going to be injured one way or another.

          Before the post skimmers jump on me, I’m not saying get rid of Sid and I know they wouldn’t anyway, I’m just saying.

        • or my size 9 wides up their posteriors ;)

    • “Letang needs to take a valium.”
      LOl that cracked me up!

      As far as Jokinen, I don’t believe he was brought in to score a lot of goals. It was mainly for his FO expertise. That said, he hasn’t been quite as noticeable…I wonder if his knee/leg/foot is bothering him?

    • if you want to be super positive about it, the penguins are a backboard bounce away from being 3-0 in the series. not that the deserve to be anything more than 1-2 for how they’ve played. I still think the penguins are too talented than to let a bad bounce determine a game for them. They fight hard and win game 4 and then its home again to win game 5.

  35. 1. No supplemental discipline for that joke of a game between Montreal and Ottawa last night.

    2. No anything for Milbury and JR calling Crosby a diver.

    This is why Matt Cooke became Matt Cooke (the old Matt Cooke, anyway), and why the NHL is grooming the next (old) Matt Cooke as we speak. Way to go, NHL, you suck again. Go Pens.

    • The Montreal / Ottawa series is awesome entertainment. Right down to Brandon Prust calling Paul MacLean a bug eyed walrus. It’s got everything & it’s great.

      • To Ottawa calling a timeout with 17 seconds left of a 6-1 game presumably to make sure everybody had a ride home.

      • I’ll say that it’s awesome in that it’s not the Pens involved in it, but that’s about it. And if Ottawa and Pittsburgh win their series, Sens/Pens is going to be another Hate Fest.

        Montreal is a joke right now. PK Subban needs to find a mentor or something; like an older vet to sit him down and tell him that he acts like crap.

        Lol at that timeout though…if they would have scored on that PP, Montreal would’ve been flipping over cars

      • That bug-eyed walrus comment will go down in history..I love it!!!!

  36. This all could have been avoided by doing one simple thing – SHOOT THE PUCK! The Pens passed up shooting opportunities in search of the perfect pass and tap in! If they concentrate on shooting the breakaway never happens and we maintain control. As DK said, just stupid, stupid decision making.

    • You should have a hotline to the Pens bench. It’s so simple! Hopefully Fleury and Eaton will start shooting more too. ;)

  37. I’m wearing a black tee with a picture of a smiling pig.

    Over it: “BACON IS MEAT CANDY”

    That’s right. A day off.

    Now off to a liquid lunch.

    Unfortunately youknowwhoo will join me.

    (No. Not Dejan.)

    With this shirt, I’m living proof of When Pigs Fly.

  38. Ok. Pirates lost. Pens shoulda. And we beat topic that to death.

    And no games tonight.

    so NOW what’ll we talk about??

    • Mike Rizzo instilled energy.

    • just so long as it’s not basketball or golf, I’m good.

    • So after all the talk about the Pens kicking the Bucs off of Root last week…

      With the Bucs hosting the Mariners the next 3 games, they’re showing Pirates/Mariners on FS/NW out here; I’ll be able to watch the next 3-game series, along with the rest of the Pens games. Lol there’s a good chance that I might see more games than Pgh residents haha

    • “The Riverhounds have yet to win a single match out of their first seven, included weekend ties out in Phoenix and Los Angeles, and that’s a far cry from the goals the team’s front office had set going into this inaugural season at Highmark Stadium. But a rather jarring 11 of their next 12 matches are at home, so maybe a comfort level will lead to additional confidence.”

  39. Bill Phillips has insights.

    Learn something new everyday.

    DK: I can’t win with you on that sentence, huh? :)

    I even took out ‘personalities’ this week.

  40. DK: Let me ask you guys a question while waiting for the Penguins to practice here:

    What, if any, lineup changes would you make for Game 4?

    Not long term here, necessarily, just talking about one night.

    • Look a couple posts down. I thought I hit reply. Milo’d again.

    • Are they going to stick with Fleury?

      Not that they shouldn’t, just wondering when they may give him a break

      • You can win a cup with Fleury playing well, not sure about Vokoun. Fleury has made a few gaffes, but he’s also made some good saves as well. Best to let him play his way out of his “slump”. In game #1 everyone praised him….

        • Agree. We forget about the rabbits MAF produces when the Pens breakdown. Game 2 could have been about 6-3 NYI after one period.

      • Fleury is the man.

        There is no doubt in my mind he’ll be the starter in game 4.

        Let’s not forget, this is the guy who let up 5 goals in a game during the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship and then up just one in the next two. He is the most resilient goaltender of all time.

    • Bennett has been surprisingly ineffective the past two games, so maybe getting a highly-motivated Kennedy in there wouldn’t be too bad. Not much else you can really tinker with because who else deserves a chance to be in there? Bortuzzo will make just as many mistakes as Despres or Engelland, so take your pick with those three as the 6th D. Maybe Despres gives you a better chance at the break-out rush. Sutter has been disappointing, but no way you take him out. Maybe he plays better in the regular-season system than this run and gun stuff.

    • Bennett out, TK in (GASP)

      Not even kidding. TK might not be able to hit the broad side of a barn sometimes, but he’s at least in the right spot on the ice. He’s got lots of playoff experience, that’s gotta mean something.

      • He’s got some speed too, and is experienced on a checking line – more defensive forward. Remember, DK was asking for one-night changes. Always can put Bennett back in there….

    • For one night I would give little energy TK a shot and Big B on defense.

      • NoooooooOOOooo! (On TK)

        • I understand your doubts about TK. look at it this way, he has been good in the past palyoffs, and he knows the people he plays with. That is the reason for me to go with him for a game and lets see. Unknow to playoffs are Jeffries, Viatale and even my favorite Bennett and anyone we have right now. They way they are playing it can’t be worse.

    • Despres needs to sit.

      More important, put Iginla with Sid,and Kunitz back with Malkin.

      • Agree with the last two of the three. Depres hasn’t been given a decent chance to play. He’s always yanked off the ice before he can get comfortable.

        I can live with taking him out, tho, if only DB would switch Iginla and Kunitz.

        • Agree on Despres, but he can’t be in the lineup if the coaching staff doesn’t trust him. Puts too much pressure on the other d-men.

    • I mentioned earlier … bench Letang. He was atrocious. Every first pass was intercepted or deflected. He did everything that was wrong with the way they played … and he is a big enough star to make other guys on the team pay attention. I love everything about this move except who will replace him … chance that Orpik is ready to come back?

      There is something in the deep part of their collective brain that makes them play stupid when the pressure of the playoffs is on … you need to do something that will cut through whatever that block is … TK for BB ain’t gonna do it.

    • Despres had a bad game. So did Letang and Niskanen. Eaton had a pretty bad showing, too. I think it’s time to instill some confidence in them by making some commitments. None of this “you fumble, you sit” type coaching.

      Kunitz/Sid/Duper
      Iginla/Geno/Bennett
      Morrow/Sutter/Cooke
      Glass/Jokinen/Adams

      • hey, Patrick, your lines and mine match :)

        By the way, just visited your site. You have a writing style unmatched by anyone I have ever read. And that’s a compliment :)

      • Yeah, that 6 minutes of ice time for Despres was a real fair barometer of his game.

        • To be clear: I was NOT in favor of benching Despres. I was in avor of commiting to either despres/Engelland or Bortuzzo. Having them on a short leash makes them afraid to make plays and timid with the puck. Commit to one guy and give him the confidence to go play.

          Personally I think its Despres….but…DB knows them better.

    • The first one is healty scratch Malkin and insert Jeffrey. Just be sure Malkin knows it’s because of his sloppy puck handling and not because of his sore shoulder. He needs to receive a message.
      Second one is healthy scratch Sutter and insert Vitale. Not that Sutter is playing that badly but I haven’t seen any passion in his game lately. Hoping Vitale can pull off another Danny Briere type hit.

      • Wait…did you just recommend sitting the reigning league MVP down in favor of…Dustin Jeffrey? You mean the same Evgeni Malkin that is currently tied for the most points so far in the playoffs? The former Conn Smythe winner for outstanding performance IN THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS?

        FOR DUSTIN JEFFREY?!

        And Sutter for Vitale? In the hopes that he hurts someone?!?! Dude…c’mon. Who thinks of stuff like this?

        • Who said anything about hurting somebody? That was a clean hit last year. We need guys to throw a clean hard check once in a while.

          And Malkin for one game … yes … he’s been too reckless with the puck. Blind and cross ice passes being picked off left and right instead of just dumping or shooting on-net.

          Sorry if you disagree but he’s not playing like IMO like all the superlatives you just mentioned. You said yourself “former winner”.

          DK asked for line changes for one game and this is what came to mind for me.

      • Do you mean the whole game? Like, don’t even dress just watch from the bench type of benching??

        Malkin is probably the 2nd to last guy on this team I’m benching…….EVER

    • On defense our options are limited until 44 gets back. But with the forwards i’d consider inserting Jeffrey for Glass just to try to get some extra puck possession going in our favor. Jeffrey isn’t physical but was playing well defensively and has some offensive ability and can help tilt the ice with a little extra puck possession. You could mix him in on 3rd line with sutter for faceoffs and if he’s playing well maybe more morrow down to 4th line every now and then.

    • I know I can’t answer this question, so I look forward to reading everybody else’s responses. My first one, would be swap goalies out, but more for rest than anything….but its playoffs, suck it up

  41. With all the negativity after this win (and god knows I was spewing my share the past two games), let’s savor the most beautiful part of yesterday’s game: Sid’s patience on the penalty play and the game-winning pass.

    Patience is what puts a player like Sid in the same club as guys like 99 and 66. He comes down and does that spin and stops…and then just holds the puck. Doesn’t force a pass (hi Geno…hi Tanger). Just waits. THEN makes that all-world deke and drive to the net. Almost every player in the league tries to force a pass right there. Sid will still do that at times, but not on that play.

    Then on the game-winner, he waited juuuuust until the Isle overcommited before feeding Kunitz. Things like that will be as memorable as all the power-skating and sick shooting from 87. He’s such a beautiful hockey player.

  42. Despres has to sit. I guess you go back to Engelland but I wouldn’t be critical if they used Bortuzzo. And they have to get Kennedy in there, probably at the expense of Bennett.

  43. Give Bortuzzo a shot, he can do worse. Give Vokoun the start in goal, didn’t he play more games during the regular season against the Islanders than MAF? Once again, I don’t think he can do any worse and maybe give MAF some time for some much-needed self-reflection. I would also give TK his shot, once again, can do no worse and at best, might do better? But DD has to do something … anything to shake things up!

    • I think you have to stick with MAF. With the Pens’ half-arsed play in the D-zone, Vokoun would be worse. Lots worse. Having said that, if MAF melts down a la PHL, yes, you go to Vokoun. Just not yet.

      Not averse to giving Depres another chance, though he got beat on both the early goals (and I think sat the rest of the night?? That was stupid IMO, if you put him in the lineup, show a little faith. ) …but I doubt that happens, DB obviously has no patience with Depres. I just hate Bortuzzo and Engelland. Depres is the only one with speed/skill needed to help thwart the NYI, but admittedly he hasn’t shown that (in the 3 shifts DB gave him). Of course, when Orpik comes back it could be moot, though I have little confidence in Brooks anymore either. The Pens D is their biggest liability right now, and that includes the Fs also. And the Breakout is designed to expose the D if not executed perfectly.

      It would be nice if Martin hit the reset button and played like he has all year, instead of the 2012 version.

      I’ve seen zilch chemistry with Malkin and Iginla. No ideas there. Bennett and Kunitz on Malkin’s line? Iggy with Dupe and Sid? Dunno. I imagine BB will get the press box though. So hello TK. Yuck.

      I think JJ is playing hurt. I think Sutter and Morrow are playing almost invisible, which actually, barring injury, is a huge disappointment/huge surprise. Morrow was on a mission in Game 1. What happened?….

      • Agreed on MAF, and even on Depres. Give him another chance. The kid did look awful yesterday, but heck, if he isn’t give the ice time (as Engo is) how can he adjust and learn?
        I hope when Brooksie comes back, he’s ready to hit. These games are brutal.

    • I was of the impression that Vokoun should get some PT (as I hadn’t seen Game 3 live) but when I saw the goals, only really the 1st 1 was Fleury at fault, as he should’ve frozen the puck at the side of the goal.

      Cizikas’ was a 1 time rocket with no defense.

      Okposo had a shorthanded breakaway.

      Tavares used Eaton as a screen and rocketed 1 far side.

      Other than 2 softies in Game 2, I’d say that MAF has played pretty well so far this series.

      He’s stopped 96/104 shots (.923 Save %). That’s pretty good.

      • Yep.
        Goals 2 and 3 – those opportunities should never have happened.

        However on goal 4, I think MAF has to find that shot. Yes it was screened….but from 40 feet MAF has to be better there.

        But I agree with you – we knee-jerk on the G too much. Vokoun is here in case MAF completely melts down, which IMO he hasn’t, despite being hung out to dry for about 7 straight periods.

        • I put that more down to John Tavares being really good. It was a sick play by Taveres using Eaton as a screen and then firing past MAF.

          Sometimes you gotta give the other guy credit.

          Not saying that maybe MAF couldn’t have done a little better there, but that Tavares made a really good play and rifled a shot in a perfect spot.

        • Yes, MAF has been fine. The problem is certainly not him. Has he played out of his mind … no. But he’s been fine.

    • What has MAF done to earn a spot on the bench? Hes been absolutely SHELLED the last two games. MAF is hardly the problem, and Vokoun is not the answer.

      Ditto with Bortuzzo and TK. Swapping out your 6th defensemen and 4th right wing means almost nothing. Those two would play a combined 10 minutes, if that. Whoever the 6th defensemen is only a warm body until Orpik comes back anyways. Changing despres for Engelland/Bortuzzo is scapegoating them for the other guys that fill up the other 50 minutes and have collectively played sloppy.

      Niskanen and Eaton weren’t good last game either. Morrow was a non factor. Where the hell has Cooke been? Matt Martin seems to be omnipresent when he is playing….where has Matt Cooke been other than earning “Matt Cooke penalties?”

      They dont need different players. They need the ones they have to play different.

  44. Just saw this from Jayson Stark on twitter:

    http://www.billy-ball.com/2013/05/nine-to-know-a-quick-look-at-the-standings/

    “The Pirates, at 12-6, have the best record in baseball against teams .500 or better.”

    • Sweet….glad to see national writers giving the Pirates some recognition. Question: When Walker comes off the DL this weekend, do you send Mercer down, or do you cut McDonald? Is McDonald really worth being on that bench? Is there someone I am missing that should/could be send down instead of Mercer?

      • Seems fairly clear that Hurdle wants to use one of his 25 roster spots on a defense-minded backup shortstop. Since he doesn’t seem to consider Jordy Mercer an adequate shortstop, period, John McDonald’s spot would appear to be safe.

        The roster spot Mercer could/should slide into is occupied by Brandon Inge and it’s pretty hard to argue with what he’s doing at this moment.

        • I understand all the points made here, but at what point do you drop a .100 hitter for a .250-.280 and absorb the 2 to 3 extra errors made over the rest of the season? Maybe I am over-estimating Mercer, but just thinking….

          • Trust me, I’m with you.

            I do value defense much higher than offense when it comes to shortstops, but we need to keep in mind why Mercer isn’t considered adequate: range. Nobody questions his ability to handle the position, just his ability to get to the outer reaches of the zone.

            There has to be a quantitative way to analyze how many grounders he may miss vs. how many hits he may produce.

            • +1

            • Doesnt some component of WAR measure defensive abilities? I would think that if it is a widely respected as it is the defensive posrtion of WAR would have to account for range. Especially for Outfield positions.

              • Just don’t ask me to explain how.

                All I know is I’ve read about certain players who posted big WAR numbers based on defensive metrics showing exceptional range when in reality their managers aggressively deployed defensive shifts. Computers did not account for that.

          • This September will tell us whether or not Mercer is the starting shortstop next year.

            If Mercer is brought up and given starts like Locke was last year, good chance he’ll head into ST with the first shot.

      • Easy answer is JM being sent back down. To give him his “regular playing time” and can be brought up and down whenever needed.

        • and JM would = Jordy Mercer…just realized that they are both JM’s. Too many of that….

    • Remember the discussion about where the club would be W/L wise after 32 games?

      17-14 ain’t too shabby

      • +1. Some thought 1-32 was more likely. :-)

      • It’s pretty darn sweet!

      • I remember seeing a lot of 14-18, 13-19, 12-20 and the sarcastic 1-31 posts. Everybody talking about the schedule, the bench, the pitching. A lot of people would have to confess this team has exceeded early expectations.

        And to imagine they have done this with Cutch scuffling, Alvarez not hitting stride, Walker on the DL, and a rotation averaging just 5 IP per game.

        This if the rotation starts to give a little more, this team has the makeup to keep things interesting deep into the summer.

      • I’ll admit I am pleasantly surprised. I believe the general consensus was 11-20 or something similar.

        • I was one of the naysayers & I admit I was wrong. But, the starting pitching is weak. And, we have to put up with JMac tomorrow night. I wonder if he’ll get thru 4 innings?

      • Lots of promise and ‘ifs.” I gotta admit, my budding optimism was dashed a bit this weekend. They should have taken 2 of those three games. A good team does.

        • Agreed. Which is why the Nats did.

          The Bucs are improved, but they aren’t close to that level yet.

        • They missed a great opportunity yesterday in the first inning.

          And I hope Clint doesn’t “fall in love” with Inge.

          • Between Saturday and Sunday’s game, they should have had one of them, at least.

            • I don’t for a second think that taking at least one of two from Strasburg and Gio should’ve been a given.

              Those two will put up back-to-back W’s against even the best teams in the league.

              But the Pirates put themselves in a position to win or at least control both games. THAT is what makes taking two L’s disappointing.

              • I agree. In fact, that was exactly what I meant. The way the games played out. I wasn’t referring to looking at things Thursday.

              • Oh yeah, same page. Just adding to your original comment.

            • Agree wholeheartedly with AW & NMR. Hopefully between Liriano, Karstens, Morton & Cole, the middle & back end of the starting rotation will improve.

              Let;s hope the offense has a big night tomorrow / the Bucs will need it with JMac on the hill.

  45. The lines I’d start with:
    Duper, Sid, and Iginla
    Kunitz, Geno, Bennett
    Morrow, Sutter, Cooke
    Glass,Jokinen, Adams

    Letang/Eaton
    Martin/Depres
    Murray/Niskanen

    Fleury in goal/Vokoun backup

    If DB MUST sit Bennett (a mistake in MHO) then play Jeffrey.
    If DB MUST sit Depres, then I don’t care which of Engelland or Bortuzzo play.

  46. -I think its kinda funny how people are bashing the Pens. Yea, shoulda/coulda lost but last I checked, they’re still up 2-1. Yesterday’s game should’ve been the wake up call those guys need.

    -Dont think benchings need to take place or any other type of nonsese, but tighten that crap play up and realize that its a playoff game, not the beginning of the season.They’ll be back, ready to go.

    • The thing that isn’t funny, Ryan, is that it’s like deja vu again. if these guys don’t tighten things up, they will be on the golf course, and the isles will be the one laughing.

      • -Oh no doubt on the deja vu aspect, I feel that as well and I’m sure all fans, maybe even players, fee that coming though.

        If the message isn’t getting across from Bylsma, then that’s a problem too. A coach, manager, whatever, can only say so much. The monkey is on the players backs and they are the ones that must perform to get this thing done.

        -After game 1, I thought NOBODY was slowing this team down.

        -Give credit to the Isles as well…..

        • absolutely, give the Isles credit. And I don’t think most of us are bashing the Pens as much as we’re so disappointed in how things are going.

  47. Fleury is the man.

    There is no doubt in my mind he’ll be the starter in game 4.

    Let’s not forget, this is the guy who let up 5 goals in a game during the 2009 Stanley Cup Championship and then up just one in the next two. He is the most resilient goaltender of all time.

  48. It was mentioned over on FaceOffFactor that with the Islanders’ speed, perhaps the Pens should play a bit of a trap game. Slow them down…dictate the game and the speed. What do you all think?

    • i…HATE…the trap

      and i…HATE…the idea of blowing up an entire system and installing a polar opposite method. During the playoffs. When you’re ahead, no matter how much luck is involved in that.

      Smells like panic. I’m married so I know what panic smells like.

      Jandy. You’re nominated to call FOF and tell them. Since I’m a sniveling coward.

      • Boom, agree.

        -Change up your style after you’ve been so successful?
        -Panic-mode
        – Stupidity

        • Successful at what? Getting run around and made to look stupid?

        • Adjusting your forecheck for match up puroposes IS NOT panic or stupidity!!! Sometimes it’s necessary in a 7 games series when the other team is scouting and breaking you down…especially when you have to account for good offensive players on the other side. Adjustments are what gets you to the next round…DB didn’t want to make those adjustments last season..here’s hoping he does some more tinkering this playoff season!

          • Sure, making adjustments makes sense, I’m all on board with that, but changing a whole philosophy? That’s absurd.

            Adjustments=smart

            • No ones changing any philosophies Socrates….take a breathe :)

              Adjusting how or if the F2 forechecks is hardly the equivalent of a philosophy change. They were clogging up the neutral zone just fine the 2nd half of the season while picking their spots to pressure the d in the corners with the F2. You’ll be amazed how much better dman like Eaton and Martin will look when they don’t have to face 3 on 3 rushes all the time…

      • Drew, I never took you for a sniveling coward. A nut, yeah :P

        • Anyway, it’s just something I threw out there for conversation, not an official edict or anything. Actually, all they need to do is play sound, defense-first, responsible hockey. How hard can that be?

          Nevermind…

      • Didn’t Scotty Bowman change to the trap to get by the Caps in 1992 after going down 3-1 in the series?

    • If they lose game 4 in a similar fashion, maybe they need to start thinking that. I hate to sound like a broken record though – Bylsma won’t change is system or approach. Thing is, if the players dump the puck when the zone is clogged, avoid cross-ice passes unless you are SURE they will work and back check, their system should work…like it did when they went on 15 and 7 game winning streaks.

      The funny thing about all this is that we’ve seen them dominate EVERYONE over the last two months. They can do it….guess they need to get that in their heads. Maybe just getting past this first round is a mental barrier they need to get over….

    • My thing is…

      The Isles have played us tough all year (and last year too).

      They’re a good matchup with the Penguins.

      As I said in my thoughts after Game 1, the Isles would make adjustments and play us much tougher the rest of the series.

      This is the playoffs. All the teams left are pretty good. Winning 16 games to get a cup against the likes of these opponents isn’t a cake walk. There’s gonna be L’s along the way.

      Stay with what’s made you successful.

      Just start paying more attention to the “details”.

      Mike Tomlin. Out.

  49. I know Mike Rizzo is often given credit for rebuilding the Nats, I just don’t know why.

    Quick look at the roster shows Espinosa, Desmond, R. Zimmerman, Lombardozi, Moore, Bernadina, J. Zimmerman, and Detwiler all drafted by the previous GM. That’s a pretty darn good head start to “rebuilding”.

    • And let’s not kid ourselves…Strasburg and Harper fell into their laps, perfect timing to have top pick in those drafts.

    • Same thing with Pat Gillick getting credit for the Phillies run in 2008. Ed Wade built that team (I don’t want to praise Ed Wade, b/c overall he’s been a pretty poor GM, but credit where credit is due).

      Gillick just had control when those players came together.

      • Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I’m not sayin’ hes chopped liver.

        I think he stole Denard Span and I loved his trade and extend strategy with Gio. Even have said that this is how the Pirates should be spending significant money, not in free agency.

        But this whole idea of him “rebuilding” the Nats after taking over 3 years after the rebuild already started has always seemed odd to me.

        Alex Anthopolous is another one that gets way, way more credit than he deserves, IMO. What exactly has he accomplished so far?

        • The Canadian or AL version of last season’s Marlins?

          This keeps up, AA should be fired

          • Hard to argue when the major league team has lost more games each season you’ve run it and then your “all-in” trades come up bust.

            Way too early for that, especially since I felt Reyes alone was worth what he sent to Miami. But sooner or late ya gotta put up some W’s.

            • Agree it’s way too early, but if it continues…bye bye.

              I liked the deal for Reyes as well, who knew that he’d get hurt. That’s always a downside to any transaction.

    • I think Rizzo is pretty good at what he does.
      We’ll see how enamored everyone is with him though, if the Nats are chasing the Braves in September.

      • I like Rizzo and think he’s done a good job. But he also works for owners that are very rich and have no problem. (see Jason Werth)

        • Laroche might turn out just as bad. Ok, not really. Werth was an absolutely dreadful signing.

          But Laroche ain’t getting any better at his age, AND you gave up Morse to resign him.

          • If I was a Washington Nat fan, the Werth signing wouldn’t bother me one iota.
            It sent a signal to their fans that management meant business.
            I don’t think Werth has torn up the league, but I also think he hasn’t been absolutely horrible.
            Followers of the Nutting Regime love to cut down these kind of signings for obvious reasons.

            • I kind of agree with that statement, however I think the money could’ve been spread around. From a PR standpoint, you’re right, but from a baseball economics perspective, it was the wrong move.

              Unless of course they have no problem financially with that deal.

            • Even the Nats have a budget.

              If they can’t extend one of their core players or sign an important free agent because they’re paying Jayson Werth $83m AFTER his age 35 season, what fan in their right mind would appluad that??

              Makes absolutely zero sense.

          • I thought the trade of Morse to rely on LaRoche was a dumb one. Morse has a lot of upside and LaRoche is on the decline.

            • Im not a fan of giving guaranteed multi-year contracts to aging veterans after bounce-back years, period.

              Ryan Ludwick, I’m looking at you.

  50. I know its up there on the right hand side, but Dejan just tweeted Neal and Orpik back on the ice, Malkin not dressed but out on the ice fooling around

  51. Just wanted to add that the coaches mention the F3 all the time regarding defensive responsibility but watching the pens fall apart the last few seasons they should be focused on what the F2 is doing just as much!!! I’ve been saying since last season that they give up too many passing lanes behind the forecheckers when the F2 tries to pressure even when the opposing d-man has clear possession of the puck. Teams with good forwards like philly last season and NYI this year are going to find the open seam and get to rush up ice 3 on 3 or 4 on 3 with tons of speed after making one or 2 simple short passes.

    That said…seems like they got better at that this season around the same time they started the 15 game win streak but in the playoffs when speed and contact are more rampant the F2 needs to identify if there’s a point to going in or if he would be better off dropping into more of a 1-2-2 formation and defending the passing lanes up ice.

    Martin had a decent bounce back game after being responsible for the 1st 2 GA in game 2 but he can’t have any relapses. And in regards to chances and shots we’re giving up I think we just need to accept that we’re playing a quality offensive team whose going to get their chances. We just need to focus on defending the net by boxing out getting shoulder to shoulder and lifting sticks!!!

    • Regarding Martin – as soon as Orpik comes back and is re-paired with Martin, you’ll see that D pair dominate again. Here’s hoping that happens tomorrow night…

      • We need to martin to play the way he was playing the last half of the season. Regardless of his partner he was much more willing to mark his guy and lift sticks after the 1st part of season…actually roughly around the time I ripped him to shreds on this blog :)

  52. To those who know hockey better than me… (and there are a LOT of you out there):

    Could benching Malkin for a game or two be an option?

    I ask this because I watch the past two games and see a guy meandering around the ice fairly aimlessly for about 75% of his ice time. Sure he’ll make the nifty back check, lift someone’s stick and steal the puck and lead a few rushes…. but I also see a guy taking shifts off… several of them… having little or no impact on a few shifts in a row.

    He is undoubtedly one of the best players in the world…I’ve just not seen that consistent level of play from him…not even half the time he’s on the ice. But again, I may be way off base here.

    • I’ve been saying he needs benched since the last few weeks of the regular season. But hey, I’m an ol’ lady armchair coach, so what do I know? ;)

    • bylsma was double shifting him… so maybe him drifting around is similar to Mario in conserving energy for a couple big rushes? In my opinion, they need Neal back more than to bench Malkin. Iginla just does not look great playing with Malkin.

  53. The Riverhounds ended their game 0-0. Groat somewhere is smiling.

  54. Me: maybe I’ll sit next to you.

    Her: please don’t.

    Honest conversation my wife and I just held, honestly recorded.

  55. where ARE you?

  56. Long time listener, first time caller. If the Riverhounds are to win a game, will they actually have to score a goal first ? And if so, how many years do you think that will take ? Thanks, I’ll hang up & listen.

  57. Sarah – I just went back and read your responses to some of us, from 9:46 to 12:13.

    Thanks…very, very helpful. Great tutorial.

  58. Incredible scene in Toronto, Ontario.

    9 years 2 days since last playoff game in former Mecca of hockey.

  59. No Pittsburgh Passion thread?

  60. Hey OshKosh. I’ll be watching the game tomorrow night at the OshKosh BW3.

  61. Caps – Rangers tied 1-1 end of first.
    Hate-Hate – Hate the Caps!
    Ok I got that out – I feel much better now.

    Hey, slow sports night – as Drew says, we have beat the hell outa the Pens discussion, no Buccos – Boston -Toronto on – think I will watch Rangers/Caps and see if I can dissect their systems. :)

    I might need Sarah’s help, but I will give it a shot!

    By the way I second Drews 4:10 post. Cheers!

  62. I just scrolled through these comments on my Android. I’m carrying my index finger to Dr. Andrews in a sling. Go Pens!

  63. Well it is slow so…

    Wonder how hard it would be to get the job to be the stooge that stands to the left of Milbury and Roenick (don’t have a clue what his name is) and feeds them the scripted BS so they can say something stupid?

    BTW 2-1 Rags!

  64. Anyone else watching this 30/30 on Marino/Elway draft? I’ll bash ESPN as much as anyone, but this is tremendous work. DK twit

    DK slow night – this is a total jack job- no offence…

    Big time columnist from the Trib (Ya Trib is big time) in around the the Big Apple watchin ESPN ? A guy with a golden press pass ain’t at the garden eyeballin potential Pens opponents ? Ya Marino/ Elway may be a cool story – but it’s hockey playoff season , who cares about FB till Jul/Aug ?
    :)

    DK: Sounds like you don’t know how far Long Island is from Manhattan, my friend.

    • And those poor schlubs who make that commute every day…it must be too much for Pittsburgh Personalities.

  65. Hammer got hammered at Fenway.

  66. Red Wings!!!

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