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Sunday column: Furious, frustrated … and just fine

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

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The Sunday column finds the sunny side of Game 1 … without even really looking hard.

A look at the rest of our coverage this morning …

>> The top guns didn’t keep their cool, by Rob Rossi

>> The Matt Cooke hit examined by everyone, and by Josh Yohe

>> Tuukka Rask skates away unblemished, by Jerry DiPaola

>> Matt Bartkowski’s big … um, scratch, by Kevin Gorman

>> Complete playoff photo gallery, by our Chaz Palla and Chris Horner

>> More on the Bruins from our news partners at the Boston Herald

>> Finally, here’s this morning’s front page …

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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

Comments

  1. dwf says:

    DK,

    Come on man! Nice try attempting to spin that game into a game the Bruins were “lucky” to salvage. Outside of the first period, the Pens were once again undisciplined and playing their favorite brand of pond hockey! This is what I believe you referred to as “a burning fire?” The Bruins on the other hand got back to what got them this far and the results spoke for themselves. Call it what you want, the final score still read BRUINS 3 Penguins 0.

    While you go on to proclaim the Pens will win in 6, it looks to me, from the game I saw, the Pens will be lucky if they can make it through 4? And sorry, hitting posts, missing the net, blah, blah, blah, still doesn’t change the fact that the Pens were shutout in a playoff game for the first time in 3 years. Sorry, but I am not buying your “aw shucks, we’ll get ‘em next time” essay.

    DK: You are one seriously angry individual. What are your birthdays like?

  2. Sean says:

    Switch Iginla and Kunitz.

    1. With Bergeron on Sid, Dupuis and Kunitz, two impact guys, suffer.

    2. With Bergeron on Sid, he has less time. Having Iginla’s one-timers requires less time.

    3. Malkin is flying, having Kunitz in front of Rask gives him space and a screen. Put those rebounds in the net.

    4. Kunitz Malkin Neal chemistry from last season. Speaks for itself.

    Why doesn’t Bylsma make sure Sid isn’t out against Bergeron? Does he ignore that facet of coaching? Or was Bergeron not out there against Sid as much as it seems?

  3. Jason81 says:

    I felt this game was quite similar to Game 3 of the Ottawa series because Tuukka Rask stole the game for his team although he did it in the first 40 minutes, while Craig Anderson needed two OT’s to do it.

    The Pens had several glorious chances plus clanked two off the post in the first two periods. It could have very well been 3-1 or 4-1 Penguins after 2 had those chances been buried. Once the B’s got the 2nd goal and Pens started pressing even more, it was almost inevitable that if they didn’t answer right away the Bruins would get that 3rd goal and clamp down on defense, which they did.

    I’m not heading for any bridges after the first game of a series, even if it was a home loss. There was too much good to be taken away to think that the Penguins are going OUT in 4 or 5 like the comment above.

    DK: I remarked, too, during the game about that same thing in Ottawa. Similar.

  4. Steve says:

    Yes, the refs were maddening in their inconsistencies with boarding penalties, but potentially more costly to the Penguins in this game was the no-call on Brad Marchand for interference when Patrice Bergeron had a short-handed breakaway in the middle of the second period. I’m not sure why more people aren’t talking about it. It was still a 1-0 game at that point, and had the call been made, the Penguins would have had a two-man advantage for 50 seconds. It was such an obvious penalty that when Marchand picked off Kris Letang at the blue line (10 feet from the ref, with said ref staring right at the collision), Marchand threw his arms in the air in the “I didn’t do anything wrong” motion. If the Penguins get a two-man advantage and tie the score, or even go ahead, it’s likely a much different game and outcome.

  5. Jäger fan says:

    Lighten up Francis . . . And you forgot to include “fire Bylsma”!

  6. Eric Bowser says:

    During the Islanders series, Penguins had a bad series back-checking. Far too often in that series, players were caught watching the puck and not paying attention to the whole sheet of ice.

    Last year, Flyers exposed the Penguins with this by pushing a forward wide and would get numerous goals setting off the entry into the zone and Pens were over-aggressive.

    In game one, Penguins caught themselves doing it again as this first picture below illustrates Orpik, Martin and Crosby looking at Ference skating the puck into the center of the zone while Iginla is skating/gliding up right and Neal is far behind the play.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/–4GVSFv37KE/UasvJU4RBAI/AAAAAAAAAZY/5LVf29yb60I/s1600/bruins1pic1.jpg

    Notice the red arrow is pointing to Krejci, while the white arrows are showing Martin and Crosby watching Ference.

    The next frame shows Ference has passed the puck over to Horton, he’s taking the center drive and Horton is position high in the circle with Orpik, Martin and Crosby watching the puck and Krejci left to his own free will.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-L-eReaD30Xc/Uasv7cF_XtI/AAAAAAAAAZk/fQ5p3QJL4ZU/s320/bruins1pic2.jpg

    Orpik and Crosby both slide over to cover Horton, Iginla in no position to defense Krejci, Martin is about to go down on the ice with Ference behind him, and Neal gliding into zone standing up.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5xy9XR6ZtZY/UaswJtSZOVI/AAAAAAAAAZw/ALffPmRZLr4/s1600/bruins1pic3.jpg

  7. dwf says:

    DK,

    Why is it that when people disagree with anything you write, you almost immediately try to spin it back on the reader? Aside from you, I think you would be hard pressed to find a Pens fan who was happy about that game last night.

    You always state that you would like the readers’ input…I guess you should put a disclaimer next to that…only positive comments that agree with your articles are welcomed!

    Oh yeah, I have very nice birthday’s! Thank you for asking! See DK, I am not that angry after all :)

  8. Rob says:

    I know one thing for sure, no way the Pens are held scoreless in this series. Stranger things have happened, and if that fluke persists then well..whatever. Once the drought ends, and it will, I don’t see the flood gates opening, but the dynamic of the game certainly does.

    One other thing I noticed was a number of either missed or flubbed shots from close in. I didn’t record the game, so I can’t give a count, but I noticed at least 2 or 3 instances where the puck came off the stick weakly, or was simply missed. These “phantom” shots are even murkier than the unofficial shots that strike big ben, but are usually buried by the likes of Kunitz (I saw at least one from him) or at least create a prime rebound opportunity.

    “Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, not sure who said that or if those are the exact words, but the Pens are far from dead! If you going to lose a playoff game better the 1st game than the 7th, or your last one. I was worried against the Islanders, those guys are far better than they where given credit for as a #8 seed, but the Pen’s can out skate and out chance the Bruin’s. It’s just a matter of time before we get the first one, and i don’t think we will have long to wait. Based on the quotes from Rask I don’t think he thinks so either :-)

    One last thing, on the Cooke ejection and major penalty. A major requires a mandatory review by league? Will they make the findings public, and will they publicly exonerate Cook? If my recollection serves me all we will get is a possible no suspension issued. In this case I think we and Cooke deserves to be exonerated by the league, and if not publicly the Referee who made that judgment needs to be reprimanded and like the NFL pulled from officiating playoff games.

  9. twentytwo22 says:

    I don’t know what Kris Letang was thinking or doing on Boston’s second goal. He looked like John Candy in The Great Outdoors trying to get the bat that flew into the cabin. I didn’t laugh last night.

    If Hurdle doesn’t mind Alvarez-Snider hitting back to back then he should move it up a notch and bat Alvarez 5th behind Jones. Martin brings OBP and some SLG to the bottom of the order. He is not a run producer. Martin is OPS’g .533 in the 5th spot. Alvarez is a run producer. His career OPS 5th is .803. Otherwise, go back to Snider 2nd, Walker 5th, Alvarez 6th.

  10. BillyBaduka says:

    Byslma has never matched lines in a traditional sense. When asked about matching lines yesterday, he said considering faceoff matchups plays into the line decision as much as anything. Judging by the Bruins advantage in FO, can’t say that strategy worked last night.

    With one more at home maybe he will try to get Sid away from Bergeron, but I’m not holding my breath. This is one of those areas Dan where seems stubborn.

    Not a call for the coaches head, but this looks like something that could be improved. Maybe Sid and Malkin get a little less frustrated, at leat at home, if they can get away from other team’s preferred matchup.

  11. BillyBaduka says:

    Well said.

  12. BillyBaduka says:

    Letang didn’t have much time to react and get in position after Martin lost the puck along the boards.

    He could have played that better yes but it was not easy. Vokoun could have absorbed the rebound better also, not popping it into the air aff his shoulder.

    The first two goals were fluky. The last, Vokoun was hung out to dry by a group of forwards thinking of turning to get momentum for the rush before the Pens had even gained possession of the puck. Two guys in front alone? That should never happen.

  13. I believe the Pens will score in this series. Enough to, most likely win the series.

    I’m wondering if the Pirates will ever score again.

    10 hits and still shut out.

    Talk about clutch and hitting with RISP. Especially after that Detroit series where they hardly scored and their pitching is better than the Reds’.

    Also wondering what metric we can use to correct it.

  14. Eric Bowser says:

    Step 1 would be getting your best player (McCutchen) to start hitting better than .208 with runners in scoring position in 53 at-bats.

  15. BillyBaduka says:

    I agree with your article DK.

    My cousin and I were saying similar things while watching the game. The Pens seemed to have the edge in play for the first 40 minutes. Even one of those shots (or fans on rebounds – good point Rob) goes in and this is a completely different game.

    My concern is with how the second ended. Good to have Malkin and Sid ‘fired up’, bad if they lose their composure. They need to focus that energy on scoring not hitting and fisticuffs. We will see how that plays out.

    I’m no where near ‘the ledge’ despite the shutout.

    LET’S GO PENS!!!!

  16. Rob says:

    Thanks :-), and I forgot to say a very loud, Let’s Go Pens!

  17. Rob says:

    +1, or is that 2 :-)

  18. Drew71 says:

    You know that Happy Place spot where Dejan stands? That’s exactly where I stood after period two.

    If the game had ended after two, 1-0 Bs but Ps winning all aspects of the game but face offs and score, I’d predict Ps in 5 and write this game off to bad luck.

    But then the third period happened.

    It doesn’t erase what happened in the first two, but neither do the first two erase what I saw in the third.

    DK: I can see that. In fairness, the third period allowed Boston to just sit way back, barely even forecheck. As a result, the Penguins had to press and take more risks than usual. Score dictates strategy, etc.

  19. cherokee23 says:

    I don’t know if “happy” is the right word, but I’m not too concerned about the play last night…..now if it happens again, different story. As far as the play of the game goes, I think Bruins have more to worry about going forward than the Pens. Pens need to improve faceoffs and bury some pucks, but the Bruins need to continue to stop Pens from scoring. I think Bruins have the harder task!

  20. Drew71 says:

    Who will score next? Pirates or Pens?

    (Where’s Playoffs when we need him?)

  21. Drew71 says:

    I shoulda added RiverRocks.

  22. Have they scored yet this season?

  23. Drew71 says:

    (Biting tongue. It’s Sunday and he’s a minister.)

  24. Sarah says:

    Agree…my biggest concern was loss of composure.
    If they were sloppy on D the first 2 periods, in the 3rd poor Vokoun was all by himself.
    Letang tried to catch that rebound out of midair and ran over TV?…again, similar to a bad goal in the Ott series.

    As much as we could’ve scored with some luck/bounces (the ice looked awful btw)…so could Boston have had a couple more.
    A 2 on none short handed??

    As I have been saying, if the Pens do not tighten up on D ESP zone covg around their net, they are in trouble.

    I think we saw that last night.

  25. radio wave says:

    On near Tuesday I sent an email to DK which he read on the show I asked him what problems the Bruins posed for the Penguins. I understood DK to respond that crashing the net for rebounds would be the biggest problem. I have the impression that was one of the big issues last night.

  26. Thundercrack says:

    Billy, What are birthdays like for you and your cousin?

    :-)

  27. Actually, they scored 3 goals last night. That’s 3 more than the Pirates’ last 2 games and we know about the Pens.

    Guess one shouldn’t mock the winners.

  28. hockeymonster says:

    I’m with DK on the Pens in 6 prediction. But the they do need to do a better job of not allowing so many passing lanes in the middle of the ice which lead to high speed rushes on our defense. Boston was guilty of playing an open style too but Rask was unreal for stretches. I don’t see that holding up. Would be nice to see Bylsma match his lines better. I would put Vitale in for Jokinen to provide speed and grit in wearing down the boston d.

  29. hockeymonster says:

    Eric, those breakdowns and stills are interesting but the goals against are even simpler than that to explain. On the 1st goal my buddy pal PM lost his balance WAAAYYY too easy in front Vokoun then committed to blocking a shot in a very unusual manner and poor location. He should’ve remained on his feet or got up and moved toward Krecji instead of laying there like a mermaid posing for a picture.

    On the 2nd goal Eaton very simply mishandled the puck then turned it over. The rest was the equivalent to sharks smelling blood in the water…..

  30. BillyBaduka says:

    Lol.

    Low key and fun. Don’t care if we have cake as long as there’s beer and good food.

  31. BillyBaduka says:

    Agreed Sarah.

    There is cause for concern but I don’t think its as bad as the 3-0 looks.

    We’ll see how they respond in game 2. If they get some to go in’ that will open Boston up as they have to score.

    They do have to tighten up in own end. They can but will they?

  32. Dom says:

    Mike Adams will be back in time for training camp.

  33. BillyBaduka says:

    Actually, thinking back it may have been Eaton that lost it along the boards.

    Eaton looked a little slow and definitely overpowered against Boston forecheck.

  34. BillyBaduka says:

    What happened to Adams?

  35. BillyBaduka says:

    It was. Bruins are good and that’s how they will score against the Pens. And they will score.

    Pens gotta bury a few to win games and this series.

    I don’t see Rask pitching too many more shutouts.

  36. Drew71 says:

    But I’m a mocker.

    That’s what I do.

  37. Arriba Wilver says:

    For a second there, I thought dwf was a baseball fan. :-)

  38. likeabugonarug says:

    Had forgotten about that call. And it is even more maddening when you consider that Orpik was called for just about the same thing.

    Kevin

  39. BillyBaduka says:

    Just read about the stabbing. Not the type of injury I expected.

    Hope he has a full and speedy recovery.

  40. BillyBaduka says:

    And you do it well with wit and style.

  41. BillyBaduka says:

    +1

  42. BillyBaduka says:

    +1

    Agreed on all points.

  43. BillyBaduka says:

    That non call was complete shi…….

    Both Refs should have seen it.

  44. Drew71 says:

    Evidently I haven’t mocked BillyScottBakula enough.

    I’ll have to rectify that.

  45. likeabugonarug says:

    I was thinking that Malkin knew exactly who he was fighting, and was trying to get Bergeron off the ice as well as dish out some punishment. Unfortunately, Bergeron went down to the ice too soon for it to last long.

    Kevin

  46. Drew71 says:

    Maybe the game was called for lack of run support.

  47. likeabugonarug says:

    PIrates will, since they have a game today and I think they will at least score a couple runs.

    Kevin

  48. Drew71 says:

    Or maybe SOMEbody is on a coffee bender

  49. BillyBaduka says:

    Drew made fun of me, the day is looking up!

  50. Drew71 says:

    Or maybe SOMEbody is busy drafting his next column.

    “Five more reasons a three goal loss is Happy Times and 13 games over .500 is Unsustainable”

    Can’t wait for it

    Happy Times

  51. Drew71 says:

    Or maybe he’s just Freaking Asleep

  52. BillyBaduka says:

    Difference between the Cooke and Marchand boarding calls, Neal didn’t feign injury like McQuaid did.

    Marchand’s hit was far more egregious than Cooke’s. Neal had his back turned entire time. He had no idea Marchand was coming.

    McQuaid should have known Cooke was coming. Cooke’s deserved a minor, but Marchand’s was more fitting for a major.

    Pens get a few bounces and or calls and game 2 will look a lot different than game 1.

  53. BillyBaduka says:

    Niskanen gave kudos to Malkin for tipping up so maybe you’re right on knowing who he was fighting.

    I would stil rather see any number of players do that before Malkin. Ok Bergeron’s off the ice but do is Geno for a PP no less.

    I know neither we’re on the ice at the moment but this is where Iginla and Morrow need to step in. Next time they are on ice with who ever it may be.

  54. Drew71 says:

    “Hello Gimbels? Do you ship to Pittsburgh? DOWNTOWN Pittsburgh? You do? Good.

    “I’d like to order an alarm clockacevic”

  55. Drew71 says:

    “Do you have any that work by electroshock?”

  56. BillyBaduka says:

    Yep, if they lose composure this could get ugly.

    But it’s just to early too for me to think the whole series will be this way. Not a large enough sample size as the stats guys say.

    If the Pens pick up from 3rd period, this will likely deteriorate like the Flyers series last year. If they pick up from the start of the game and just keep pressure on Rask an Bruins D, I like their chances even being down a game.

  57. BillyBaduka says:

    “stepping up”

  58. Joni says:

    Good point. As for who loses their composure in a semi-productive fashion (I know that is an oxymoron, but I’ll keep going), I would give the upper hand to Malkin. At least he worked on someone his own size. Although why two players who suffered concussions in the past decided to fight was not too terribly wise. Same with Crosby and Giroux (sp?)last year.

    I don’t know what Sid was thinking when he pulled his neck wayyyy back and decided to say who knows what to a man who could have done him some serious damage. And pushing around Tuuka Rask (one of my favorite hockey names out there now), was less than classy.

    I am a bit surprised that Malkin/Bergeron were “allowed” to fight by their fellow teammates. But then again lots of people were busy.

  59. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m OK with equating them, but Cooke’s being less egregious? The announcers were saying he can’t hit him there even before he hit him. I have seen where the penalties are being affected by the result (injury, acting, etc.), but less egregious? I don’t buy that. Not to my eyes. Same, OK. JMO

  60. Arriba Wilver says:

    On the Malkin /Bergeron fight the officials were on it right away I thought. Others staying out of it was probably smart on both sides.

  61. dwf says:

    Thundercrack,

    LMAO! :) What kind of birthday celebrations do you think DK has?

  62. Jason81 says:

    The were both awful, and both penalties. Who’s was worse doesn’t matter, they both could have caused serious injuries. I will say, however, that I thought the replays did show McQuaid looking right at Cooke before he went to the boards to play the puck. He knew the hit was coming and turned at the last second.

  63. dwf says:

    Drew,

    LOL!!!! Good stuff!

  64. dwf says:

    I’ll bet DK has very festive birthday celebrations! Complete with piñata’s, balloons, and clowns! And a pony, make that a stallion. Nothing is too good for DK!

  65. Arriba Wilver says:

    So, it doesn’t matter, but the one on Neal was “far more egregious?” Just asking.

  66. Jason81 says:

    I’d say they were both equally egregious, stupid, ridiculous…however you want to phrase it. Cooke should know by now he’s never going to get the benefit of the doubt on a hit like that.

    Marchand, well, Boston fans complain about players like Matt Cooke yet I’d say Marchand is pretty much a younger Cooke without the long suspension history.

  67. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  68. theplanisworking says:

    Last night, before the game, I said the following were keys:

    — The Chara matchup, whether he was against Malkins line or Crosbys line
    — Disco Duck’s matching up of the lines
    — Penguins clearing the crease, and
    — Pressuring Rask, especially going side to side.

    Lets look, shall we?

    Chara was put primarily against Malkins line. This is an advantage to Boston. Chara doesnt get hit as much, and that allows him to roam and disrupt plays.

    Disco Duck doesnt match lines. This is crucial, especially at home when you have the last line change. This is a head-scratcher. And he needs to change, soon.

    The Pens didnt clear the crease last night. This is how teams like Boston score. Sheesh.

    Finally, Rask can be beat going side to side in the zone. What happened last night, especially on the power play?? They passed the puck around the point, just played footsie, then shot the puck directly into Rask, resulting in easy stops. They need to crash the net more.
    The 2 times they went side-to-side against Rask, the first time, they had a goal go thru the crease, and almost went in………… the second time, they hit a post. With 2 almost goals on the 2 times they went side-to-side, why didnt they do that more???

    Monday is another game.
    They have to NOT let Boston get under their skin.

  69. theplanisworking says:

    They looked at the name on the back of the sweater.
    Simple.

  70. hockeymonster says:

    Forgot to mention that in addition to replacing Jokinen with Vitale I would seriously consider replacing Morrow with Bennett. Really didn’t like how Morrow mishandled the puck several times. Makes me think the games too fast for him right now. Boston’s defense is good enough at blocking shots and deflecting passes without Morrow letting the puck trickle off his stick. I believe Bennett’s poise and touch can be real useful in our bottom 6.

  71. Arriba Wilver says:

    Not the issue being discussed, plan. The severity of the penalty, sure, no doubt? But calling the penalty? More too it than the name on the back.

  72. theplanisworking says:

    Sorry, AW, I was talking about the severity.

    You know Hippos are easily confused…..

  73. Sarah says:

    Still don’t know what you’re seeing w Rasks side to side movement. Any plays in particular? I think he has a very strong push and is on the inner side of his pads in his power slides, flat to the ice. Several times stoning rebounds that way last night. Brilliant lateral play to stop a NYR breakaway in game 5 last series. I think he goes laterally very well actually.

    Unlike Vokoun btw who rarely is in anything approaching a square butterfly stance with pads flat to the ice.
    As we saw in the first goal.

  74. theplanisworking says:

    Yes Sarah……..

    the play at the very end of the first period, when Rask moved hard left, and Malkin passed hard right, Rask was caught sliding (too slow), the puck went thru him, and barely missed going in……. it went just outside the far post.

    Another time, I think it was on one of the PP chances, Crosby passed hard thru the crease, Rask was slow getting over, but we hit the post.

    Not surprised you criticize Vokoun yet again, you have been salty ever since Fleury was benched, and have criticized Vokoun frequently.

    You have also disagreed with almost everything I have said on here, even if I say the sky is blue. I am a little tired of you disagreeing with everything I say………. if you feel the need to do that constantly, please ignore my posts. I like to think I am not stupid when it comes to hockey, and dont like you insinuating that I am. Eric does a good job with his analysis, and I like to feel I do also. He is more in-depth than I am, but that doesnt give you the right to trash everything I say.

    Good day to you.

  75. MadTurk says:

    The loss was not TV’s in any way period!
    The Pens am out all raring to go with the long delay and I think that had something to do wiht it as well. Once they relax and play their game things will be fine.

  76. Sarah says:

    Wow. I hope you’re kidding.

    I don’t even remember responding to any of your evals til perhaps yesterday?

    When I believe I disagreed with your ranking of Vokoun as 2nd in the playoffs behind Jon Quick.

    “Trash everything you say?”
    WTH Hippo?

  77. BillyBaduka says:

    I agree that Cooke should be penalized. I didn’t try to justify Cooke’s hit in any way. I said it deserved a minor.

    One gets 2:00 minutes, the other gets 5:00, therefore the refs determined Cooke’s to be worse (seems egregious really struck a chord).

    Both were penalties. Both are egregious errors in judgement.

    All I was saying is that if either deserved 5 minutes, Marchand’s did. Which you seem to agree with. I guess you’re just upset with my egregious misuse of egregious. Give them both 2:00 or both 5:00. But no way Cooke’s penalty deserved to be more severe than Marchand’s.

    Doesn’t mean I condoned either, which you seem to imply.

  78. BillyBaduka says:

    The severity of the penalty is the only point I made.

    I said Cooke deserved to be penalized.

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