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Morning Java: Of great players, great games

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

BOSTON — Morning, Lunatics …

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>> The Thursday column off Game 3 is about greatness. And whether or not the Penguins’ two great players truly match up to that definition, as compared to those who have performed at their peak in the toughest times.

I’m guessing not everyone will like this, but this is quite the pivoting point for the franchise.

There’s going to be plenty enough angst over all this in days to come, and I get that. It’s an extraordinary collection of talent up front, and it’s an extraordinary disappointment that they’ve managed a ridiculous two goals in the equivalent of 3 2/3 games.

But I’d still advise, if you can muster it, saving a small slice of your emotion today for appreciating what we saw last night and into 12:13 a.m. today: That was a beautiful hockey game, front to finish. Fantastic stuff.

Speaking personally, one of the most passionate competitions I’ve ever covered.

Our full Penguins coverage for the day …

>> Backs against the wall, by beat man Rob Rossi

>> The 0-for-a-dozen power play, by Josh Yohe

>> The lineup did, indeed, change, by Yohe

>> Craig Adams hates the visor rule, by Yohe

>> Complete playoff photo gallery, by our Chaz Palla

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

>> If that’s not enough, the weekly chat, today at noon, will happen right here on the blog.

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>> Another pitcher goes down with an elbow injury, and another loss in Atlanta. Not a particularly pleasant visit for the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel reports.

>> Ben Roethlisberger has minor knee surgery, Alan Robinson reports, but the prognosis is that it shouldn’t cost him a day of activity in Latrobe.

Teams sometimes just say stuff like this, but I watched Ben participate in drill after drill just a couple days ago on the South Side, right to the end, and I have a hard time imagining something serious developed in the handful of hours after that.

>> Hope to have you on board for the chat!

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. Ghost says:

    Cheer up my passionate Pens fans. I know things are looking pretty dreary right now. But it could be worse. How, pray tell, you ask? Well, you could click on this link:

    http://tinyurl.com/5ux9chr

  2. Brandie says:

    Dear Ghost,

    Thank you for providing much needed perspective in a nice, neat little cup of suck. Just proves we can’t all be winners all of the time. If the Pens finish the epic flame out or if they rise like the phoenix from the ashes and play consistent, respectable hockey, so be it. In either scenario’ some housecleaning needs to be done.

  3. Ghost says:

    “A nice, neat little cup of suck.” :)

  4. Deb says:

    Sorry DK, one of your worst columns. It wasn’t skill that won this game, it was luck. Which player/team got the best bounce. Following the logic of your approach, Max Talbot (game 7 goal scorer for Pens) should have been given his own statue. DAH!

    Skill created the umpteen scoring chances that COULD have ended the game. Luck of a good bounce and Malkin’s expected, you can put money on it, sloppy defense did the rest. NOT GREATNESS!!! (eye roll)

    Pens resolve and determination resulted in faceoff wins.

    There were times Malkin skated around looking pretty with his stick handling, trying to do it all himself, and not working the system, but he was AGAIN a defensive disaster. Malkin’s line was on ice for BOTH Bruins goals.

    Malkin has a lot of shots on goal, but a low shot scoring percentage. His shoulder? I think not. A quick look at his stats show he has a trend at low shot percentage scoring in the playoffs. Just doesn’t like to pass? Who knows.

  5. theplanisworking says:

    Yes, the Pens gave good effort last night, and should have won the game………… but, where was this effort in the first 2 games? If this effort had been there since the beginning of the series, we probably wouldnt be down 0-3.

    Your column today is an eye-opener……………… one that raises an ugly topic that really isnt raised much, but is spot on. We have 2 players that are amongst the highest-paid in the league, are amongst the most talented in the league, but dont rise to the occassion. Winners of the “beautiful hockey” award, winners of the “regular season” award, but falling short in the playoffs.

    This offseason is going to be crucial. It will reveal if the Pens want to finish the job of building a Cup contender, or are merely happy with sellouts, and coming close to the prize. Mr. Shero is going to be a very busy man this offseason………………. if he isnt, then they are sending a powerful message that the “status quo” is acceptable.

    I personally would start with a new coach. While I hear constantly that its the players on the ice, and the coaches dont go 0-for-12 on the PP, its the coaches charged with implementing a winning game plan, and it is the coaches that have to make the adjustments when things dont do right. Dan Bylsma fails in both scenarios. Sure, he racks up the regular-season wins, but in the playoffs, when no bottom-feeders are left to play (Florida, anyone?), he seems lost. Disco is a great guy, and a player friendly coach, but is that really working?

    I would hire Lindy Ruff. He always got good results with average talent. Give him great talent, and see what he can do. He would install a more defensive oriented system, and he was always known as a players coach, also, but showed needed disicipline when appropriate. By sticking with Bylsma, again it would show that status quo is acceptable.

    I foresee anywhere between 7 and 10 players being gone next year. Shero must decide who he watns to keep, i.e Malkin vs. Kunitz vs. Letang, etc. Once he decides who to keep, he must reshape the roster to fit the playoff mold necessary to win. You dont win championships anymore by playing “pretty” hockey, by playing shootout hockey………………. you win by playing tough, gritty hockey, supplemented by your superstars taking over. You dont win by having your superstars knocked easily off their game, by being immature, by being selfish. Food for thought.

    I am hoping for a miracle the rest of this series………………. but as DK stated, the big guns HAVE to step up. If they dont, then blow up this poster, and try something different…………………. the results the past 4 years speak for themselves, and they arent too good.

    Good luck Mr. Shero. You are definitely going to need it!!

  6. theplanisworking says:

    Well, some of you will definitely blow up this poster, ;) ……….. but
    that should have read “blow up this roster”.

    although, maybe we need to blow up this poster also…………….. :)

  7. Ed says:

    I remember that Conference final from ’96 against Florida where Mario and Jagr were held to one goal between the both of them over seven games. But two goals, from everyone on this team, in three games so far? From a team that was pumping them in at levels not seen since the Oilers dynasty, during the first two rounds? Fifty-some shots last night and only one goal? I mean, the Bruins have some good D but this is ridiculous!

    If just one of those shots off the pipes clanks in, if just someone would have been there to put home one of those juicy rebounds Rask was giving up all night long, it’s a different conversation today.

    Fact is, the Pens put themselves in a position they never should have been in. Oh yeah, you can bet changes are coming. A new coach and several outgoing players. Crosby has nothing to worry about though. He’s Mario’s buddy. Malkin would be the one to go if it comes down to that.

  8. JoeyBats says:

    Hoka Hey everyone,

    Brutal sports morning.
    I’m sure the blog will be full of NHL talk……to switch topical gears:
    .
    The baseball draft is happenning this evening…..just to take your minds off of the mind numbing series and loss last night (…if that’s possible ) :

    http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/4144587-74/pirates-draft-college#axzz2VF3tzTPq

    I’m hoping with picks # 9 and # 14 this evening that the Buccos select some combination of the following players for the future:

    Trey Ball …LHP … High School
    Reese McGuire …C …High School
    Colin Moran ….3B ….College
    JP Crawford ….SS…..High School
    .
    .
    OK…I tried….. :-(

  9. Papa Croz says:

    Wow, what an epic game. Give Boston’s goalie
    credit, it’s deserved. A 6 or 7 game series was
    expected regardless. We knew it wasn’t going
    to be easy.

  10. tdb1977 says:

    That would be a lot of hippo guts flying around this place. And it would stink for months. I vote to keep the hippo together istead!

  11. tdb1977 says:

    I’ll take McGuire and Crawford please. We need a SS really badly. And a decent C will come in handy to have as well. Once we get out of the first round, then let’s draft a pitcher. But right now, I see those two spots as needing to be addressed.

  12. tdb1977 says:

    And, what time is the draft tonight? Anyone know? I know its on MLB Network. I’ve got the night to do nothing – and there is no Bucs game on tonight to watch. Would be interested to see who the Pirates take tonight.

  13. theplanisworking says:

    7pm on MLB Network.

    I am interested to see where Appel goes.

  14. Danch70 says:

    3 things:

    1. DK, it takes guts to call out Crosby, but he has earned that this series. Smothering playoff hockey seems to throw him off. His assets – speed, strength, in tight puck control – should translate but somehow don’t. Looks like he gets frustrated.

    2. Pens haven’t gotten one fortunate deflection all series. Rask has been amazing. But few spectacular saves. Few rebounds. Bounces haven’t gone their way. Give Boston credit, they’ve been outstanding, but a little bounce here or there and this is a different series.

    3. Four wins in a row against the same opponent – unlikely – but doable. They have tremendous talent and can absolutely win four games in a row.

    Bonus: Paul Martin for president and Tomas Vokoun for Vp. Martin looks like a man playing with boys, at times, while letang has looked like a petulant child. So, why is Martin not on the 1st pp unit?

  15. Jandy says:

    I second that motion!

  16. theplanisworking says:

    Morning, Jandy.
    Hope you are feeling well after that sleep-depriving game last night. :)

    Glad I caught you.
    I am off to shower, and have a busy morning.

    Please protect me from being blown up for my post. ;)

    See you, and the rest of the loonies later.

  17. Jandy says:

    If Martin is allowed to go or even if there is talk of him being traded this off-season, someone needs their head examined.

  18. Jandy says:

    I’m dead on my butt, Hipposter.
    Don’t worry, there will be no blowing up of Hippos on this blog :)

  19. theplanisworking says:

    Thank you for the vote of support!!! ;)

  20. theplanisworking says:

    Thank you.

    With Mother Teresa on my side, I cant lose !!!! ;)

    Take care, my friend, and drink lots o’ coffee.

  21. JAL says:

    JAL’s Back in the Saddle Again Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSqcxFGFVas

    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

    First Pitch: Would the Pirates Be Taking a Risk With Reese McGuire?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/first-pitch-would-the-pirates-be-taking-a-risk-with-reese-mcguire.html

    All of Your Super Two/Arbitration Clock Questions Answered

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/all-of-your-super-twoarbitration-clock-questions-answered.html

    After One-Hitter, Where Will The Pirates Get Offense?

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/after-one-hitter-where-will-the-pirates-get-offense.html

    Prospect Watch: Cole Picks a Good Time to Step Up; Pimentel Bounces Back

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/06/prospect-watch-cole-picks-a-good-time-to-step-up-pimentel-bounces-back.html

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Pirates lose Wandy Rodriguez, are nearly no-hit by Julio Teheran in 5-0 loss

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/6/5/4399648/pirates-lose-wandy-rodriguez-are-nearly-no-hit-by-julio-teheran-in-5

    How risky is drafting a high school catcher?

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2013/6/5/4398752/how-risky-is-drafting-a-high-school-catcher

    7 WHYGAVS

    Game 60: Braves 5 Pirates 0

    http://www.whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/june-2013/game-60-braves-5-pirates-0.html

    8 The Green Weenie

    Short & Sweet – Bucs Swept Without A Sweat 5-0

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2013/06/short-sweet-bucs-swept-without-sweat-5-0.html

    9 Rumbunter

    Pittsburgh Pirates Need Pitching Help: The Gerrit Cole Speculation Begins

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/06/05/pittsburgh-pirates-need-pitching-help-the-gerrit-cole-speculation-begins/

    Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez Among Names That MLB Is Planning To Suspend

    http://rumbunter.com/2013/06/05/ryan-braun-and-alex-rodriguez-among-names-that-mlb-is-planning-to-suspend/

    10 Raise the Jolly Roger

    Braves 5 Pirates 0

    http://raisethejollyroger.com/2013/06/braves-5-pirates-0/

  22. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 USA Today

    Draft details: What you need to know

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2013/06/05/mlb-baseball-draft-glance/2393745/

    12 Rant Sports

    Mark Melancon Turning Career Around With the Pirates

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2013/06/05/mark-melancon-turning-career-around-with-pittsburgh-pirates/

    13 Chicago Sun Times

    Cubs’ No. 2 pick may be most important in more than decade

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/20564305-419/cubs-no-2-pick-may-be-most-important-in-more-than-decade.html

    14 Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Teheran flirts with no-hit bid in win over Pirates

    http://www.ajc.com/news/sports/baseball/teheran-flirts-with-no-hit-bid-in-win-over-pirates/nYC4Z/

    15 ABC News

    Questions, Answers About MLB Drug Investigation

    http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/questions-answers-mlb-drug-investigation-19335537#.UbBo1j68BRU

    16 CBS Sports

    Mark Appel’s stock is high (he could go No. 1) so his gamble paid big

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/22357112/appel-stock-is-very-high-he-could-go-no-1-so-his-gamble-paid-big

    17 Sweetspot

    Sox, M’s remind us why we love baseball

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/36757/sox-ms-remind-us-why-we-love-baseball

    18 PBC Site

    Bucs flummoxed by Teheran in finale vs. Braves

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2013_06_05_pitmlb_atlmlb_1&mode=recap_away&c_id=pit

    Notebook: Pirates look to diversify Draft targets beyond arms

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130603&content_id=49259776&vkey=news_pit&c_id=pit

    SPORTS WEBSITES

    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Draft Coverage What to Watch For

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20803

    20 Fangraphs

    Anthony Rendon and the Future of Second Base

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/anthony-rendon-and-the-future-of-second-base/

  23. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Pittsburgh police identify sought third suspect in Steelers Mike Adams stabbing

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/6/5/4400300/pittsburgh-police-identify-sought-third-suspect-in-steelers-mike

    Steelers Landry Jones remains last on depth chart following Roethlisberger surgery

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2013/6/5/4400108/steelers-landry-jones-remains-last-on-depth-chart-following

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Former Steelers DE Aaron Smith To Serve As Scouting Intern During Training Camp

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2013/06/steelers-aaron-smith-scouting-intern-training-camp/

    Soccer(football) Will T

    23 Daily Telegraph

    Pele on hand to usher in new era as New York Cosmos sign shirt sponsorship with Emirates Airlines.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10099979/Pele-on-hand-to-usher-in-new-era-as-New-York-Cosmos-sign-shirt-sponsorship-with-Emirates-Airlines.html

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 5th May, 2013

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-5th-june-2013

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Game 3 Recap: Pens drop heartbreaker in Boston

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2013/6/6/4401240/game-3-recap-pens-drop-heartbreaker-in-boston

    26 Boston Globe

    Bruins take Game 3, take firm grip on series

    http://www.boston.com/sports/hockey/bruins/extras/bruins_blog/2013/06/bruins_take_gam.html

    27 Boston Herrald

    Bruins push Penguins to the edge

    http://bostonherald.com/sports/bruins_nhl/boston_bruins/2013/06/bruins_push_penguins_to_the_edge

  24. JAL says:

    Back in the Saddle Again Gene Autry 1939 Gene made so much money in movies and music he bought the San Diego Padres

  25. DJ says:

    Bruins played a sound game and Rask was especially terrific but it’s really a stretch to laud Jagr’s hooking (not called) as the start of a great play by him — hardly.

    All I saw was Engelland hurriedly sending a blind pass back to the blue line under minor pressure from behind by Marchand, followed by a turnover, a hook, a wave of a stick by an out-of-position Engelland, and then Orpik failing to take away inside position on Bergeron to prevent a redirection of Marchand’s shot.

    By this logic, Sid and Geno can achieve “greatness” by circumventing the rules.

    I also thought that Malkin (all game) and Sid (mid-Period 2 on) gave all-out efforts, as well as Martin, Cooke and Vokoun. Sure Sid and Geno did not score, but sometimes others have to step up and finish. How many legitimate scoring chances this series were wasted on the blades of Sid and Geno’s teammates?

    And yes, it’s still unthinkable the Pens would ever part ways with either Sid or Geno, as you state. Letang — I am sorry to say — is a different story. Used to love him but now he has to go for the good of the soon-to-be reconstituted team.

  26. Thundercrack says:

    Bright spot: The Morning Links are back from vacation

    DK: Indeed.

  27. Danch70 says:

    Hopefully, he’s silenced those critics.

  28. Arriba Wilver says:

    1

  29. Arriba Wilver says:

    Woo-Hoo!

  30. Drew71 says:

    I’d like to get some love for NY favorite animals.

    Venomous Snakes.

  31. Drew71 says:

    Especially today

  32. Dom says:

    There were 607 responses to the Pens game thread from yesterday. I wonder what the record is.

  33. Thundercrack says:

    I think it was on one of the Pirate threads last week – when they played the Tigers.

    :-)

  34. radio wave says:

    Plus one

  35. BillyBaduka says:

    It’s a welcome sight to have you back in the saddle with the morning links.

    Thanks, hope you had a nice vacation.

  36. Davedigs says:

    There’s no positives right now if you’re a Pittsburgh fan. Not even to say it was a great game. All-around it’s just a disgrace what’s happened in this series. Flat out disgrace.

  37. BillyBaduka says:

    +27 morning links

  38. Davedigs says:

    Two Game 7 losses at home to Montreal and Tampa Bay. Humiliating exit against the Flyers and now an embarrassing sweep against the Bruins.

    Don’t look for a positive spin. This is Choke City at an epic level. They’ve brought tremendous shame on all of us.

  39. Al says:

    It will be interesting to see if the Bruins let their foot off the gas for game 4. It’s only human nature to do so being up 3-0. I thought they would for game 3 but they didn’t.
    That’s scary.

  40. SJB says:

    Wow. 2 goals in 11 periods of hockey from a team that was putting up over 4 a game going into this series. This sure ain’t like NFL football of the new millennium, or the systemless run and gun of the NHL in the 80′s and early 90′s when guys like Gretzky and Lemieux reigned supreme. In hockey, in this day and age; defense still wins championships…that and smarts. Pens have neither.

    That’s ok though, I’m pretty sure the Pens win game 4. There’s no way they can NOT concede a playoff series on home ice.

    See ya Jarome, see ya Brandon. Sorry the Pens and their smoke and mirrors sales job of “we have so much talent” snookered you into thinking you had a shot here. Maybe you guys can win one somewhere else next season while the Pens go back to creating misplaced hype and hope with their regular season prowess.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot….see ya Bylsma.

  41. Drew71 says:

    “MY”

  42. Jandy says:

    YAY! JAL is back :)

  43. Jandy says:

    I love snakes.

  44. radio wave says:

    Sorry to say it folks, but this is a June swoon. Injuries, poor middle relief, and desperate rotation choices are a bad trend.

  45. Dom says:

    I doubt they’ll fire him but the argument can certainly be made for him to get the boot.

    The Pens have no chance to resigning Iginla. Why would he even want to come back after being misused so badly?

  46. Jandy says:

    +2

  47. SJB says:

    On a more positive Pittsburgh sports topic…I wonder how long before the Pirates can turn what was 13 games over .500 into 1 game under? End of June anyone? Starting pitching seems to be holding up well this time around.

  48. Arriba Wilver says:

    I thought the Pens would win when it got to overtime. No, I was convinced they would win.
    That being said, the difference in this series is not ” luck” or bad bounces as I’ve seen some suggest. They’re getting beat by a “better” team, at this time. Last night was a great game, though, by both teams. (Fleury looks whipped sitting on the bench).

  49. Jandy says:

    Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine today? :)

  50. SJB says:

    Bylsma will be gone unless Shero wants to shoulder all the blame himself and I sure wan’t hoping they’d bring back Iginla either.

  51. Jandy says:

    He will likely looked whipped sitting on someone else’s bench next season

  52. SJB says:

    wasn’t

  53. Dom says:

    I agree. This is the beginning of the third straight collapse.

  54. SJB says:

    Yup. But wait, it gets better. ;)

  55. Danch70 says:

    Looks like Iginla chose the wrong team.

  56. Patrick(ri) says:

    The Angels?

  57. Arriba Wilver says:

    5 games.

    5 . . . Games.

  58. Danch70 says:

    I mentioned luck and I mentioned bad calls by the refs. That being said, they are being beat by a better team. All can be true.

  59. Dom says:

    Late July

  60. Nate83 says:

    I can’t be disappointed in the game last night. Every man on the team showed up and played a great game. I can’t imagine them losing many games playing that hard and that well. I also can’t fault the coaching. I thought the adjustments were appropriate and well executed. I’m not happy they lost but I’m proud of how they played.

  61. Arriba Wilver says:

    I suspect that’s true. What happened? Fatherhood?

  62. SJB says:

    Sorry, the Pens are still the better team, just not playing better hockey. There’s no excuse that works this season, not the goalie, not the refs, not the bounces, not the injuries. Even when the Pens have everything going for them roster-wise and everything else considered, they still don’t know how to put it together long enough and play well enough to go the distance.

  63. Dom says:

    What about five games?

  64. BillyBaduka says:

    It’s got to start with the coach Hipposter. I’ll have more on that later. Too much to type out before work.

    It was a great game though. It was fun to watch unlike the first two. This is what happens when you squander two at home with mental mistakes that shouldn’t consistently happen at this level or this late in a season.

    A few shift benching of Malkin, Letang or any other turnover artist during the regular season could have went a long way to addressing this.

    If they play like they did for the 3rd and overtime, they have the slimmest chance to win this series. Too bad they have reduced their margin of error to zero.

    Feel the worst for Vokoun. I’ll admit, I didn’t think he had a performance like that in him. He was fantastic last night and deserved a win.

  65. Arriba Wilver says:

    That’s why I put “better” in quotes. But “playing better hockey,” from the coaching on down, is a clearer way to express it.

  66. Thundercrack says:

    We’ve played 5 games so far in June. Isn’t a bit early to categorize it as a swoon?

  67. Al says:

    Everything you just said is true Nate but why does it take until game 3 to get your act together and make the necessary adjustments? By that time you’ve already dug yourself a very deep hole. For that I blame inadequate preparation by the coaching staff.

  68. BillyBaduka says:

    I hear you Nate. I’m proud of the way they played last night too.

    If only they could have done that from the start of the series.

  69. Arriba Wilver says:

    Why?

  70. NMR says:

    Thanks for the heads up, Joey!

  71. Jandy says:

    +1

  72. Jandy says:

    lol

  73. Jandy says:

    He hasn’t had it since 2009, AW. I honestly don’t know. He needs someone better than Giles Meloche for one thing. Useless goalie coach.
    If it IS fatherhood, then that also explains what happened to Letang ;)

  74. NMR says:

    Good lord…

  75. Damon says:

    *&%$#! (no, that isn’t Q-bertese)

  76. gregenstein says:

    Mario/Jagr (while in Pittsburgh) – 2 for 4 in conference final appearances.

    Crosby/Malkin – 2 for 3 in conference final appearances.

    I just hope everyone appreciates how truly hard it is to even get to the conference finals. All those great teams Mario captained, and he’s got just 4 trips to Conference Finals. Heck, I think this is Jagr’s first conference final since he was a Penguin in 2001.

    It’s hard. Let’s not tear apart the fabric of a team that everyone knows has a better chance than most to get right back here next year.

  77. Arriba Wilver says:

    Maybe it’s like a golfer getting the “yips” with putting.

  78. NMR says:

    Terrifically written blog intro and column, Dejan. Felt like you captured the emotion within the decision so well.

    DK: Thanks, my friend. Twas quite the day/night/morning.

  79. Jandy says:

    That’s what *I* said!

  80. Damon says:

    The question is why would the Pens want to bring Iginla back? They traded so much away for him to score goals in the playoffs. He’s had one valiant effort in this series, but mostly he’s muffed chances or shot the puck right at Rask. The only big contribution he’s had since we got him was that one-timer on the left point PP. We haven’t seen him there in a long time. He was playing on the 3rd line last night. If they can get him for less than $2 million per season, maybe.

  81. Jandy says:

    Oh Please. Just stop.

  82. Jandy says:

    nahhh…he had a great experience with Pittsburgh…or not…

  83. Jandy says:

    You can’t dominate and score if you’re not put in a position to do so.

  84. Jandy says:

    Who wizzed in YOUR Cheerios this morning?

  85. Jandy says:

    I don’t ‘do” golf ;)

  86. Damon says:

    Good point. The Florida loss was pretty terrible to a terrible team.

    That said, as Dejan has pointed out, Shero needs to sit down this offseason and figure out if it is really that big of a challenge for a playoff opponent to match lines up against Sid and Geno. Boston doesn’t seem to be having a problem at all – and I hate to say it, it is probably because Boston has a good team, not a team with good talent.

  87. Arriba Wilver says:

    Poor middle relief trend? Really?

  88. BillyBaduka says:

    Bingo!

    + many.

  89. JohninOshkosh says:

    It will be interesting to see if the Astros draft Appel and deal with his agent as part of their rebuilding.

  90. Marc Culver says:

    4 times in the history of major North American professional sports a team has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a best of 7 series.

    2 of those times a Boston team was involved and a third instance was the ’75 Isles over the Pens.

    Most recent was the ’10 Fliers coming back to overtake the Bruins.

    Could it happen again???

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/2013/05/03/comeback/N9BLNSD5O8PveR4p1YSWKN/story.html

  91. Arriba Wilver says:

    Link #16 talks about that. I hadn’t realized the slot ## had increased so much this year. The top pick slot is close to $8 mil. And I would think Appel, while his gamble appears like it will pay off even if he signs at slot, will have reduced leverage this year.

  92. Sarah says:

    Look at it this way on Engelland – it was justice, him biting Bylsma in the arse!

  93. Sarah says:

    Oh definitely the yips, made worse by the defensive breakdowns.

    If RS can get somone reasonable, he’s gone, but I doubt he’s sitting on anyone’s bench at this salary. A young developing team with the right kind of defensively responsible system would be great for Fleury, and he undoubtedly needs a fresh start.

    I wish him well!

  94. hockeymonster says:

    Can somebody please tell Malkin that his job is to cover the other center!!! How many dzone coverage lapses is bylsma gonna preside over? Geno chased the puck in the slot instead of staying with krejci on the goal. And in game 2 he left Bergeron to chase the puck in almost an identical scenario which led to jagr abusing PM then making a pass to a wide open Bergeron who malkin left wide open.

    I’ll be back later to vent some more but for now I think its clear that as fans we’re total suckers for thinking that the pens would tighten up on defense just like any team would going into the playoffs in any sport! Let alone after all the defensive mistakes we’ve made the last few playoffs!!!

    I’m sorry but Bylsma needs to go! We don’t need another Therrien necessarily but we definitely need a coaching staff that can recognize remedial mistakes and atleast try to correct them!

  95. Sarah says:

    TO be fair, the current team choked its arse off or they might have made about 5 straight conf finals….

  96. Dom says:

    “Could it happen again???”

    No.

  97. NMR says:

    Somebody always has to be first to say it.

  98. Sarah says:

    It’s not exactly man to man in the d-zone with Bylsma, more of a zone. You don’t have a particular guy, you have an area based on when you get back in to the zone…

    Which can lead to confusion (see Morrow, Brendan for about his first 3 weeks) and gaps and missed coverages.

    I much prefer a more man-on system, but Pens lack speed on D, that could be dangerous also.

  99. Dom says:

    I think Appel will go second or third. #1 will be Jonathan Gray.

  100. Sarah says:

    Agreed, BillyB, I was delighted to be proved wrong that TV had this level of performance and hope like hell he can duplicate it. Bravo to him.

    Pens seem unwilling to get ditry in the crease and make lilfe hard on Rask. Maybe they think it will smudge their makeup, but in Game 4 Rask better be under seige…..

  101. Sarah says:

    I think I posted a day or two ago our only hope was that the Bruins choke.

    That notion remains.

    But yes, extremely unlikely.

  102. Sarah says:

    As for Bylsma, well I make no secret I think he’s completely failed to get the best out of this group in playoffs since 2009, and if that’s not what a coach is for – maximizing the available potential into actual performance – I don’t know what is.

    HOwever I think Mario likes him a lot, and Tuukka Rask may have given Disco Dan just the excuse he needs to cling to his job another year.

    Unfortunately.

  103. NMR says:

    I’d be really surprised if Houston took him, not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because of two people: Scott Boras and Jeff Luhnow.

    I’ll believe Boras will take less than or equal to slot value when I see it and Luhnow seems enamored with his draft strategy last year. Hear him talk about the draft and you’ll get a lot of stuff about having their own value’s on players and picks, not necessarily slot.

  104. hockeymonster says:

    He has not! I could elaborate but I wont since our problem is rooted with coaching! He was solid last night but so was most of the team. But going forward anyone who thinks we can afford to pay him 5M for 2 more years with the cap going down and the team needing retooled is kidding themselves.

  105. NMR says:

    Cubs will have him pitching games in Wrigley next June.

    Astros are still selling off anyone for a bucket of balls.

  106. hockeymonster says:

    We definitely had the beat the refs and the bruins last night. How bout that call on Murray??? Unreal! Then Neal gets hooked cutting into the slot on a prime chance and no call even though he couldn’t get off the shot??? Then geno makes a good play on Jagr only to have the refs ignore an obvious hook. Home ice advantage was on display for sure.

  107. Steve says:

    Maybe, just maybe, they’re not as talented as some people claim them to be?

  108. Bizrow says:

    If you are saying the Astros will pick someone that they can sign underslot and then use the savings to over pay other round picks, I think you are right on spot as to what they will do

  109. CWalton_67 says:

    What we have learned, and should have known all along, is that a team of great players is no team at all, merely a collection of talented individuals with no understanding of the concept of a achieving a common goal.

    If anything is to be salvaged from this era of Pens hockey, Shero must reshape this team with players of lesser talent and stronger character.

    Out the door this summer: Letang, a player of flashy talent and zero depth of character. Fleury, for the first team to offer a bag of practice pucks, and Malkin, who is a favorite of mine, but he can bring the kind of players/picks needed to remold this team into one defined by its character rather than its propensity to choke, yes choke, at the first sign of adversity.

    I’ve always been a fan of Dan Bylsma, a man of grace and class, but believe he must go as well. Give Tony Granato a shot, or find someone who will demand accountability from the players until they do it amongst themselves.

    Extremely disappointing that this hasn’t worked out, but now the most important thing is for Shero to make the hard calls and change direction.

  110. Bizrow says:

    The Pens arent’t dead yet although the fat lady is gargling.

    Definite long shot, but there is still a pulse.

    Sometimes, every once in a while things can turn in an instant.

    Just sayin

    But yeah, highly unlikely

  111. SeanAY says:

    Moran would be sweet…but I don’t think he’s falling to #9. In fact, I think Keith Law has him going Numero Uno.

    I would have been excited for McGuire, but then I read an article that said high school catchers tend to flame out at the position, or at least not stay there very long, because it’s so hard to project their bodies there.

    Right now, Law has the Pirates taking McGuire and Hunter Renfroe …OF….College.

  112. Scott says:

    To me, your second point is the key reason the Pens are losing this series. They had 54 shots last night. How many came on rebounds? On deflections? Through screens? Virtually none. It’s almost like the Pens’ high level of talent handicaps them in the playoffs because they forget how to make the extra effort to make life hard on the goaltender, since they hardly ever have to do those things in the regular season.

    I don’t know how you solve this problem. Trade away talent for grit? (no) Hire John Torterella? (yikes) The only thing I know is that I trust Ray Shero to analyze what happened and put us in the best position next year despite the salary cap limitations.

  113. hockeymonster says:

    I’m sorry but if you’re playing center you don’t leave the opposing center under any circumstances!!! Geno and Crosby are both guilty of chasing the puck and not staying with the other center…look at the replays!

    Taking a zone when your backchecking into the dzone is one thing but on face offs and during cycles you cant chase the puck! You must stay with your guy…especially when your playing center!

  114. Sarah says:

    Well….they’re plenty impressive when they Get to Their Game!

    Trouble is, that kind of hockey rarely wins this time of year…..

  115. Reading says:

    Sometimes the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

  116. Rob says:

    It should never have a taken this team 2 disastrous embarrassing games (well definitely game 2) to show-up and play like an actual TEAM! Rask may not be this good, but hey he’s making the initial stop (all you can ask of your NHL goalie) and the Boston D is eliminating the juicy rebounds, and or anyone attempting to be in position to bury a rebound.
    This is the playoffs and you never know when a goal tender is going to get hot. Hot goal tender and well coached defensive schemes and play is a winning playoff formula.

    That said the power play becomes your chance to score goals. This is playoff hockey 101. It is also a mind set. You play 5 on 5 close to the vest, doing everything to minimize the opposing teams offensive opportunities. The Pens finally looked like someone actually reminded them of this mind set, and they finally looked like they all decided play with that mind set last night. Why did it take until game 3?

    The power play, our strength/or should be, looked pathetic. Of course the power play to be executed properly has to be disciplined. So here we have a collection of super talented offensive players looking like they have been told, ok guys go out and make some creative plays out there, you know just go out there an pass it around until someone feels like taking a shot. Maybe I’m not giving the Bruins enough credit for their ability to cover shooting lanes, anticipate shots, and willingness to sacrifice their body to block shots, but it sure didn’t look like we had any real purpose to passing the puck around the perimeter. We score one PP goal last night and we’re talking about a 2 games to one series. Why not try a big body in front of Rask, say Douglas Murray or Morrow? Why not have Iginla out there and set him for his really only strength the one timer? Why not split up Crosby and Malkin, even once in a while to create a different look and have two “elite” players on two potentially potent PP units?

    If they continue to play this Team game they have a chance going forward. Even if they had played this style and still found themselves down 3-0 in the series, they would have the confidence in knowing a bounce here or there could have, and probably would have changed the outcome of either games 1 or 2. They would also have put less pressure on the “Super Stars” to take over the game, and do it all on there own. The mind set and strategy of playoff hockey 101 takes the “I have to show the world how good I am mentality” out of the those players mind set, in fact it tells them in no uncertain words, 5 on 5 our only purpose is minimize the opposing teams offensive opportunities, wait for our chances on the PP or go ahead and seize the opportunity when and only when you see a clear break-down.

    Again, if the Pens play like they did last night, they give themselves a chance. It would be nice to see a better plan, better use of the talent, and maybe some “designed” creativity on the PP. With all the weapons they could utilize on the PP you would think the smarter people than me on the coaching staff, could come up with something better than what we have seen so far in this series.

    That’s my 2 cents, so we can talk about the off season all we want when ever it starts. I just wish we hadn’t wasted 2 games before we started playing playoff hockey!

    LETS GO PENS!

  117. Kevin says:

    excuse me, bottom feeders.. *takes offense* pretty sure we beat the same Boston 3 times out of 3 times during the regular season.

  118. Danch70 says:

    It was a great game to watch and it feels so much better losing this game than game 2. Or any game in the Islander series. Lots of respect for all the guys on both teams.

    It seems like every series they have to be convinced that pond hockey won’t win playoff hockey. Looks like they learned too late this time.

  119. CWalton_67 says:

    Agreed.

  120. Arriba Wilver says:

    Check out Link #5. Sounds like the high school catcher angst may be a little overdone.

  121. CWalton_67 says:

    +100

  122. Damon says:

    Letang zero depth of character?
    Fleury for a bag of pucks?
    Granato for coach?

    C’mon…

  123. Kevin says:

    I disagree with almost everything you say. But especially the “knocked off our game” part. First of all, you need to start a series with your game in order to be knocked off it. And second of all, with the exception of gm2, we played well. Well enough to win. Created loads of scoring chances. The failing to finish those chances is mind-boggling.

  124. 21sthebest says:

    Biz, how do you know that my mother-in-law gargles?

  125. Arriba Wilver says:

    If they were going to choke, I would think they would have done it last night. And I don’t think Yagr has “choke” in him in the post season. Dying alive? Maybe. But not choke. Seemed like he was on the ice the whole time. :-)

  126. CWalton_67 says:

    Letang is the perfect player for the Washington Capitals.

    PRACTICE pucks for MAF, unless Shero can find a way to get Joe Niewendiuk to somehow give up someone for him…

    Agree that Granato is unlikely simply because he is part of the current regime, and if you make a move of this magnitude, everyone probably goes.

  127. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  128. Danch70 says:

    The one good thing I hear about him is that he still has his players’ attention. That, I will say, is a tremendous accomplishment given the egos and the disappointments.

    But, yes, his run and gun system just doesn’t work during the playoffs. When everyone is leaning toward the offensive zone, as opposed to the defensive zone, you will get beaten by lesser teams over a 7 game series.

    Everyone has to buy in and commit to sacrifice and defense. That is what wins. Look at the ’92 Chicago series. Mario was killing penalties and playing tremendous defense. Bowman said he was the best defensive player on the team that series. Can’t say the same about these superstars now.

    After four straight disappointing showings against strong defensive teams, that’s on the coach.

  129. Luiz Mello says:

    “They’ve brought tremendous shame on all of us.”

    Yes! Exile them from the City! Burn their houses! Proscribe their kin! Erase their names from memory! =)

    Seriously, now. Great effort by the Penguins last night. If they hadn’t embarrassed *themselves* like that in game 2, this would most likely be a series at this point.

  130. Rob says:

    Couple of last cherries on top, playoff hockey 101 also says plain and simply: Keep it simple stupid. DO NOT allow your ego to get the best of you! Talk all you want, but DO NOT PHYSICALLY RETALIATE! You Retaliate and your on the bench and in the press box, period! This is discipline and when your sitting on the bench watching the PP in action, is your reward for whatever slash, face wash, skate that tripped you illegally and wasn’t seen, that you just absorbed for the TEAM!

    LETS GO PENS (2)!

  131. JohninOshkosh says:

    What did the advanced hockey metrics predict about the Penguins ?

  132. Luiz Mello says:

    And even without being in the best position to contribute, Iginla was still producing quite well in these playoffs (12 points in 11 games).

    He’s not doing anything against the Bruins. Then again, who is?

  133. NMR says:

    Bingo.

  134. Dom says:

    I know that Appel will go 3rd at the latest in the draft tonight and I know we can only draft him if he signs a waiver but how funny would it be if he falls to us and we nab him again? If that would happen, I’d be laughing so hard I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep tonight.

  135. Luiz Mello says:

    Me too Sarah. MAF is one of my favorite Pens, and I’m saddened to see his time as a Penguin *potentially* end like this (even if I’ve been fully supporting the team’s decision to stick with Vokoun).

  136. pattonbb says:

    Absolutely. You didn’t see how terrible Bryan Morris was yesterday?

  137. NMR says:

    But it rhymes, so it must be true

  138. Milo Hamilton says:

    Dejan,

    Outstanding column. What a disappointment this particular group has become.

  139. pattonbb says:

    something about success not being sustainable.

  140. gregenstein says:

    I’ll say they choked last year. Too many injuries the year before to the point where I felt the Lightning were the better team heading into the series (Tyler Kennedy was our best weapon…TYLER KENNEDY).

    Not sure the Canadiens series was a choke job. The Pens outplayed them much of that series, but it just seemed like every freaking time they turned the puck over, Cammerelli was going the other way scoring. Halak was peppered in that series and “stood on his head.”

  141. A1C says:

    Really you are nuts dave to compare this series to those of the past three years. Ya there are similarities but at the same time this isn’t anthing like thos series.

    Seriously after going to back to back Cup Finals you really expected a third in a row, we all want to win but over the course of those three years (’08, ’09, ’10) they played more hockey than anyone else in the league. We all want to win but when was the last time in a sport with actual legitimate parity did a team make it to three consecutive championship games?

    Lets talk about the Tampa Bay series that Fluery (who is in everyone’s doghouse right now), Staal, and TK pretty much willed to a 7 games series against Lecavier, St. Louis, and Stamkos. Pittsburgh minus Sid and Geno were vastly out gunned offensively and yet they managed to lose a game 7 to the team that was a win away from defeating the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the Eastern Conference Finals that year if I do recall correctly.

    The Philly series…ok i’ll give you that one. Completely embarassing from offense to defense to goaltending, to just the way they played the game. After that series was the first time ever i was embarrassed by my team and i am a fan of the Pirates who have two decades of losing under their belt.

    This series against Boston is a completely different animal than those. This isnt the young Islanders or the Sens who really struggled more than i think anyone thought they would, this is a team two years removed from winning the cup. a team with most of that same team still in town. this is a team that we beat three times in the regular season in extremely low scoring tight games. The players arent mailing in this one. Ya from the third period of game one all the way through game two was bad but last night they played good just ran into a goalie who is extremely hot which can go a very long way in the playoffs (see J. Quick, L.A. Kings 2012). we are all upset and ya sweeps are embarassing but there is no shame in the effort from last night.

  142. SeanAY says:

    Hm. Fair enough. Good points raised.

  143. NMR says:

    To my eye, McGuire looks more athletic than Neil Walker at draft time. If he hits, they’ll find a position for him.

  144. Arriba Wilver says:

    Well, yeah, he’s a bum for not giving up any runs after being called into the first inning and going three more scoreless innings. But Zagurski is on an award trend. He didn’t give up any runs in his one inning. :-)

  145. SeanAY says:

    Agree with both sentiments. Excellent column, in that it really makes us fans look at the team in a critical light. The diehards already do that, but the column really forces the more casual fans to examine and reconsider what they’re seeing on the ice. That’s what a good opinion piece does.

  146. Arriba Wilver says:

    “Upward,” not “award.” But who knows with this definition of “trend.”

  147. Dom says:

    Indeed it was an excellent piece of writing.

    We have so many great offensive players on this team and not one of them stepped up to finish the Bruins off.

  148. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  149. Naje says:

    Spurs in six…

  150. SeanAY says:

    It doesn’t help to go #ALLIN when you don’t put those players in a position to succeed.

  151. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  152. Kevin says:

    Let downs happen. The penguins have yet to score the first goal this series. Boston has been way better when they get to play with a lead – confident and patient. I think we get just one to go our way early in the first period next game, we might see a different Boston team and a different Pittsburgh team.

    As always, its one game at a time. I didn’t think Boston could beat us 3 times in a row. And we hadn’t lost 3 straight all year until last night. We win one game, take it back to Pittsburgh and see what happens.

  153. Arriba Wilver says:

    Spurs? What about the Belmont Stakes?

  154. Naje says:

    Keep your eyes on Golden Soul, AW… just make sure you have him in your exotics (exactas, trifectas, superfectas). Had him in the Derby and the place/show $$$ were quite rewarding.

    My trifecta box: Orb, Revolutionary Golden Soul and one other…(not sure who it will be yet).

  155. Milo Hamilton says:

    I had done so well (rolls eyes) in the previous 2 races I was considering sitting this one out.

  156. Dom says:

    I’ll also go with the Spurs. Not because I necessarily think they’re going to win but because I have no idea who their opponents are.

  157. BillyBaduka says:

    The Penguins

  158. Jim S. says:

    I’m not a fan of Appel or Bor-Ass. I think the kids that find their way to him get what they deserve in the end. They have made a pact with a guy that does not have their overall interests in mind. He might make them a few dollars more up front, but he also sets them up as a problem down the road in the minds of a lot of MLB teams.

    All I will say is it is telling that Appel is from Houston, and the Astros don’t seem to be biting. If he falls very far again, this could get real ugly. He might be on an Independent team league this year.

  159. Iceman says:

    They had a couple nice rebound shots that Raask made incredible saves on. Morrow and Cooke were crashing the net all game and getting into the dirty areas, but the defense of the Bruins was spot on.

  160. Jandy says:

    loL!

  161. Jim S. says:

    Tough game for the Pen last night. I thought they took it to Boston most of the night. The awful first goal set a bad tone for the majority of the game. That was sheer laziness on the part of our defense. But, the 2nd and 3rd periods belonged mostly to the Pens. Rask was very good, but he has been incredibly lucky in 2 of these games. 4 or 5 posts clanked by the Pens in Game 1, and 6 more by my count last night. I don’t care what anyone says, those are shots that beat the goalie and they even out over time. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily even out over a best of 7 series. I know the Pens needed to find a way to overcome them last night, but that is easier said than done. When you miss by an inch or two over and over, that can decide a game or even a series. No excuses, though. They still need to find a way to get the puck in the back of the net. And, as many have rightly pointed out, if you take long shots at an NHL goalie that gets a clean look and doesn’t need to worry about rebounds, you won’t be scoring very often. No margin for error now. Nothing short of perfection needed from the Pens over the next 4 games. When you give 2 games away, you really put yourself in a tough spot in all the other games.

  162. Jandy says:

    well said

  163. Jandy says:

    and is the trend sustainable?????

  164. Bizrow says:

    Giving two games away, that about says it all

  165. Arriba Wilver says:

    No way Appel doesn’t get picked in the top 3. Boras has his faults, obviously, but not having their overall interests in mind? That just goes against the evidence. He doesn’t have the overall interests of the Owners or MLB in mind, but that isn’t his job. Nobody has to make a deal with him, but the vast majority of the time they do.

    And in Link #16 he does say last year had nothing to do with the Pirates, it was the system. He still wants to work with Frank and Neal for the best interests of his clients.

  166. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  167. Jandy says:

    Don’t hold your breath, you’ll turn blue ;)

  168. Dom says:

    Yeah, I don’t know if Boras advised Appel to not sign with us last year but Appel would be a loser in the deal financially regardless of his bonus as it pushed back a year of his arbitration.

  169. Jandy says:

    Don’t bother :)

  170. gregenstein says:

    It’s the hardest trophy in Sports to win.

    Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Only in hockey does a #8 seed have a legitimate chance of winning the Championship…mostly because the level of ability separating #1 and #8 is not huge.

    A hot goalie can steal a series.
    ———————————————————————
    I’ve heard all of these things on this very blog. Yet here we sit, contemplating whether we should try and keep both Crosby and Malkin. Whether that’s even the best course of action for the Penguins.

    I’m sorry, but I’ll take my chances with these guys. Dejan wrote a good article which I thoroughly disagree with. Think about it, and then clearer heads prevail and the bigger picture can be seen. It should be unthinkable for a very good reason, so consider this a dissenting opinion.

    You are fortunate to have a team that has been to 3 conference finals in the past 6 playoffs. A team still young enough to do it for a few more years.

    Don’t be an entitled Pens fan that assumes Conference and Stanley Cup final appearances are a birth right. Don’t ask for a very good team to be torn apart because another very good team beat their pants off twice and won a third hotly contested game. Realize you have a pretty darn good thing going despite some disappointments. Remember Crosby’s first year in the league where, teamed with Mario, the team finished last. Remember the last 3-4 years prior to the big lockout.

    Finally, remember the first line. It’s the hardest trophy in all of sports to win.

  171. Jim S. says:

    On the Bucs, I would say let’s not jump off a bridge just yet. They have done a lot of very good things to build up a nice record. Not a lot has gone right for them over the past week – especially against some of the best teams in the NL – but that happens to every team, every year. Few of us thought they were a team that was going to win 95 games, anyway. They have a few more obstacles to overcome in terms of pitching staff health. Maybe this is just the opportunity for Cole or someone else to step into the void. The offense needs to improve soon to take a little pressure off the pitching. I think it will. We’ll see what they are made of. I’m not always real high on Hurdle’s in-game decisions, but I think he has been doing something right to get through to this team all year from an attitude standpoint. They need a dose of confidence and maybe some perspective from him right now. They’ll be ok. This is just the normal ups and downs of a season (I hope). Every team looks ugly and scuffles at times.

  172. Kevin says:

    The penguins level of play was unsustainable. 4+ goals per game average. When you get 4+ goals per game, you don’t have to play great team defense. You don’t have to fight for every puck.

    Suddenly, the penguins are team that can’t bury pucks. Now, they have to be tough, fighting for every puck, being patient and play good team defense. It’s taken 2 bad games for the penguins to get there… trying to create by freewheeling D deep in the offensive zone. The penguins finally found playoff hockey last night. The Bruins have been there since minute 1 game 1.

  173. Luiz Mello says:

    +1

    The Penguins are not beyond criticism by any means, and some changes need to be done. But you do well to put our disappointments in perspective.

  174. Thundercrack says:

    I know that a few other teams could say this but I think that if the Pirates get their starting pitching solidified and get more consistent hitting they could really make a legitimate run at a wild card spot.

    Part of the reason I say that is from looking ant the competition in the NL

  175. Luiz Mello says:

    +1

  176. 21sthebest says:

    +1

  177. theplanisworking says:

    This brings up a wonderful point.

    If Shero changes personnel, but keeps the coach, what good will it do?

    Keeping Bylsma may be “safe”, but it also means status quo is good enough………… a bad message to send anytime.

  178. Sarah says:

    Penguins have the best players.

    Bruins have the best team.

  179. SeanAY says:

    Devil’s advocate…

    Of the three conference finals you mention, two of them were five and four years ago. Since that time, this team has gotten knocked out in the first round twice and in the second round once. And this year’s team, arguably the most “talented” since the 2009 Cup run, was pushed to the brink by the #8 seed in the East, rolled over a #7 seed, and is now being thoroughly beaten down by the #4 seed.

    In fact, one could argue the win over the Senators is the best playoffs series they’ve played since 2009. Other than that, it’s been pretty rough, even when Crosby and Malkin have been on the ice. Someone raised a good question recently (I think it was on the DK Show)…how long can we say they’re the best players in the world when they are routinely beaten by their counterparts in playoffs series?

    Again, this is just me playing Devil’s Advocate…but it seems like you’re whistling past the graveyard.

  180. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Other than those guys there was no consistency in crashing the net. That part of “our game” has been pathetic for several years now. Especially in the playoffs when it’s needed most.

  181. Luiz Mello says:

    The worst side of that Lighting series is that the Penguins impressively managed to get a 3-1 lead, only to go on and lose 3 in a row, missing a couple of opportunities to close it at home.

    But yeah, the Lightning were the better team, and those Penguins actually deserved credit for almost pulling a mild upset. After that round, the Lightning went on to sweep the Capitals (arguably at their peak years) and lose to the would-be Cup champions in 7.

  182. 21sthebest says:

    “It’s the hardest trophy in Sports to win.”

    Not gonna gonna go there again!

  183. Sherry says:

    Yep.

  184. Sarah says:

    That’s interesting Danch, hmm.

    Well – if he has their attention, are they doing what he asks and it’s not working?

    Or are they doing something else, even while paying attention, they’re basically free-lancing?

    For my money, if they don’t start getting absolutely screening/deflecting/rebounding net-crashingly filthy, they don’t have a chance.

    That has never been their style, and it’s awfully hard to change now.

    Even last night with 50+ shots they didn’t really do it, as DK was saying almost no rebounds or traffic in front of Rask.

    I kind of thought that’s what they got Morrow for….or Iggy, if they refused to put him on Left Point….

  185. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Like. Your comment, not Bowsma’s game.

  186. 21sthebest says:

    Looks like my tourettes kicked in.

  187. Sisyphus says:

    If every Pittsburgh sports franchise loses every game they play for the rest of my life, there’s no shame on me.

    You need to get another pastime.

  188. theplanisworking says:

    It took Hippo-sized cajones to write this column today.
    Some casual fans think the Pens can do no wrong, others just dont see what is really going on.

    In some regards, what has happened against Boston is the second-best thing that could have happened. Of course, the best thing is to win the Cup. But Boston has so thoroughly beaten the Pens, that this is exactly the spark that is needed to address the deficiencies of this team…………… a solid wake-up call, if you will.

    DK, you are truly the best.

  189. Sisyphus says:

    Any poet would tell you the same thing.

  190. Sarah says:

    You;re right on the face offs and during cycles absolutey, hmonster.

    On the rush, it is more of a zone, and I see hesitation/confusion and huge gaps frequently….

  191. theplanisworking says:

    I will go with the Spurs, only because it is so difficult to root for Le Fraud James. ;)

  192. Sherry says:

    Very well put! Agree wholeheartedly.

  193. theplanisworking says:

    JAL………………………..

    Hope you enjoyed your vacation.

    I, along with some others, attempted to do some links, primarily for the Pens, but we were rank amateurs compared to you.

    Welcome back.

    ( Oh, and I didnt violate any copyright laws while you were gone…….. )

  194. Kevin says:

    hippo, if this team is status quo, I will take it EVERY single time. In my entirely non-humble opinion, DB’s systems worked in 2 of the 3 games, the players did not execute. And I don’t think you execute a coach for the failure of his players to execute the puck.

  195. theplanisworking says:

    Yes, we played , and Beat Boston 3 times this year, but we also played Florida, Tampa, etc.

    You dont see the bottom-feeders in the playoffs.

  196. theplanisworking says:

    Well, thanks Sunshine! ;)

  197. Sarah says:

    HOnestly – that season (2nd half) was the most impressed I have been with Bylsma. That spring after losing Sid/Geno they went to a more defensive system, which helped Martin/Mikalek be more effective. Helped MAF too and he was lights out all spring, they were winning every other game 2-1 in a shootout.

    But they went to pond hockey after getting to 3-1 in the playoffs, and then at crunch time in Game 7 tightened up but couldn’t beat a journeyman 40 yr old Dwayne ROloson. MAF played awesome and they went down 1-0.

    I don’t really agree Lightning were better.
    They employed a passive 1-3-1 that Bylsma couldn’t solve.

    For once he had to solve it with real adjustments, not just Sid/Geno talent, and he couldn’t.

    To be fair, TB did go one more round.

    But passive D schemes have foiled this team repeatedly

  198. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    + 1. Literally lol.

  199. Sarah says:

    Oh, and 1 for 35 on the PP v TB.

    Teensy issue.

  200. 21sthebest says:

    Wait, on which one of my posts? Or both?

  201. theplanisworking says:

    Kevin, by stating you are satisfied with status quo, are you saying you are happy with underachieving? With first-round exits? With a failure to adapt to things when “your system” doesnt work??

    The Bylsma issue is a tricky one. Glad i dont have to make a decision. :)

    But it is clear, either he doesnt have the players ear, or they have tuned him out. I think Lindy Ruff would be a better fit for this club, but that is only my opinion.

    Much like Marc-Andre Fleury, I think Dan Bylsma’s time in Pittburgh is done.

  202. theplanisworking says:

    Kevin, by stating you are satisfied with status quo, are you saying you are happy with underachieving? With first-round exits? With a failure to adapt to things when “your system” doesnt work??

    The Bylsma issue is a tricky one. Glad i dont have to make a decision. :)

    But it is clear, either he doesnt have the players ear, or they have tuned him out. I think Lindy Ruff would be a better fit for this club, but that is only my opinion.

    Much like Marc-Andre Fleury, I think Dan Bylsma’s time in Pittburgh is done.

  203. NMR says:

    Who would that competition be?

  204. DJ says:

    Agree this is a huge issue. No Bryan Bickelll on this team who knows his job is always to get to the front of the net — and stay there. We dabble in it, only as the mood suits the players.

  205. Iceman says:

    I will give you that. When Kunitz is playing his best, he does it. I don’t think he’s done it this series though.

  206. MadTurk says:

    Or maybe we get players that willlisten and play they way he is asking at all times.

  207. Arriba Wilver says:

    Huh? Regardless of his bonus? And regardless of how his career progresses? And regardless of whether he gets injured? You really can’t reasonably say he’s going to be a loser regardless of his bonus this year. It’s not that simple, and yet to be determined. This is a risk/reward analysis.

  208. MadTurk says:

    Like very much. Until it is over there is a sliver of hope.

  209. theplanisworking says:

    I did mention earlier that a complete overhaul of the roster is a possibility.

    Something has to give.

    What, well, Mr. Shero will have to figure that out.

  210. Iceman says:

    Last night’s game was some of the best hockey I have watched in a long time. Both teams were playing with skill, grit, and heart. It is the way playoff hockey should be. The outcome sucked, but a great game nonetheless.

    On a side note, Matt Niskanen has been bad and last night was even worse. He just does not look comfortable out there under the pressure of playoff hockey. Also, there is no way he and Letang should be on the ice together. Neither was playing sound in the defensive zone and they both make poor decisions to make offensive plays leaving the defense in a hole. This led to the first goal of the night.

  211. Iceman says:

    I’m going to copy my post from the blog the day after game two.

    “I’m going to throw out some unrealistic optimism here. About a month ago there was a team that started off a playoff series losing the first three games. That team then had a miraculous run that included some stellar goaltending and defensive play and some very timely goal scoring. This team ended up winning the next four games and winning the playoff series.

    The names of the teams involved in this historic playoff series, the Bruins and the Penguins. WBS did what everyone said was impossible. Could the NHL club pull off a similar, crazy feat as their AHL affiliate? I sure hope so!”

    No way to I believe that this is going to happen, but I feel like we need some sunshine on this crappy, rainy day.

  212. Thundercrack says:

    Anyone in the NL East.
    I’m not sure about the teams that won’t win the NL West.
    And I have some doubts about the Reds.

  213. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Hate to sound realistic, but it’s gonna take a HUGE miracle to pull this doozy off. Fire Bylsma. Why?

    1. Malkin on point on PP. Letang on other. How many freakin games does it take to see that doesn’t work? Apparently the answer is a simple “x”. It’s a waste of Malkin’s talent and Martin is infinitely better at manning the point on PP than Letang. Murray is a better option on the point than Letang on PP because he does this crazy thing called shooting from the point. Of course that would require getting to a rebound.

    2. Misskanen played. Again. Has his sickeningly awful play really been than unnoticed by Bowsma and crew? Take him out of last night’s game like I’ve been saying for weeks and final score reads 1-0 Pens.

    3. What coach can be complacent with all the soft floating lateral dump passes that Sid and Geno give away? Must be a Disco thing.

    4. Guys like Adams, Bennet and Morrow have played some of the best hockey on the team recently- offensively and defensively. So obviously you play the turnover machines instead of them as much as possible.

    5. A big lineup change is putting a RW who only knows one position on RW? The fact that that’s even a headline speaks volumes.

    6. Letang has been horrible, yet he plays constantly. So while Peppy Maguire is lauding him for playing 10 bajillion minutes like Chara, maybe we should consider what’s happened during those minutes. (I think TOI for D is about as useful a stat as +- for a PK guy like Adams).

    These aren’t new problems. Most of them can be corrected by common sense and simple adjustments. There are numerous others, but those are the biggest ones from last night. Maybe if “our game” was a little simpler and less about flashypants passes and stretch passes right into an army of defenders, maybe we’d have more real scoring chances.

  214. Jim S. says:

    I think a big key to this season, which will have an effect on future seasons, obviously, is when they give G. Cole his shot. He has really ramped up his performance over the past few games at Indy, and maybe he is sensing an opportunity within the next few weeks. With off days, I think they can get by with 4 starters for a bit, but at some point they probably need him and Morton.

    The only thing that concerns me about Garritt, and I’m sure everyone has this same question, is why he is suddenly not punching guys out. I realize his BA against has been terrific the last few starts, and his control has been good. But, 3 strikeouts in 7 innings for a guy that throws 95+ consistently, reaches high 90′s occasionally, and has a history of a K per inning? Just seems a little odd. But, over a short amount of innings, maybe nothing to it. I always sort of felt like he should strike more guys out consistently to really feel like he is #1 material. Maybe it is just a case of pitch selection, and someone like Martin will have a better idea of what to throw, when. Taillon seems to be ramping up his K/inning this year, as he is now using his entire arsenal. That is a good sign, even though he has work to do yet.

  215. NMR says:

    I think I know what you’re trying to say, Dom, that staying in college pushed back Appel’s ETA in the big leagues, and thus his arbitration and free agency.

    Thing is, a team could easily push him through the minor league system faster than the Pirates would have starting last year. The Cubs make soooo much sense right now. They are NOT waiting around a “core” to come up together. They’ll put him on the mound as soon as he’s one of the five best pitchers in their organization.

  216. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    “Not gonna gonna go there again!”

  217. Jim S. says:

    That first goal may have been the softest I have seen in a long time. Niskanen looked like he was nailed to that spot in front of the net. I don’t even think that was a shot that he deflected in off his skate.

  218. Bizrow says:

    Has there been any word on Wandy yet?

    I know its early, just wondering if there is any scuttlebutt out there, I guess after the game he flew directly to the Burgh.

  219. Big Red says:

    If the Pens have brought “tremendous shame” on us for losing four playoff series, I’m not sure I want to know what you think of the Bucs.

  220. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    I know what you mean. But I haven’t seen it either from him.

  221. NMR says:

    Gotcha.

    I think the Braves, Cards. and Giants will win their divisions.

    The Reds will win ball games and the Nats are too damn good to be playing this bad.

    Factor in the D’Backs pitching depth and I just don’t see a spot for the Bucs right now. Doesn’t mean they’re a bad team, just no more room at the inn.

  222. DJ says:

    On the performance of our PP, and as it turns out, we had a guy with a broken leg get his stick on the puck twice . . . twice. ‘Nuff said.

  223. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Misskanen has looked like Charlie first walking into the chocolate factory this whole playoffs. Okposo officially finished him.

  224. Drew71 says:

    So. When do they report to Latrobe?

  225. NMR says:

    I hear you on the strikeout numbers, but I always think back to Justin Verlander.

    Dude probably has the best stuff in the game and posted just 6 K/9 in his first full ML season.

    Personally, I think this whole pitch-to-contact, efficiency business is messing with him this year. Guy is thinking too much, period.

  226. DJ says:

    . . . and in this series we haven’t even been dabbling.

  227. Rob says:

    Ya I forgot about that, not to mention Bruins were playing with 10 forwards, and after that 5 D. There system absorbed those game time losses, and we were unable to exploit.

  228. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    “We had the puck on the stick of people in places where we wanted them to be,” coach Dan Bylsma said.

    “Letang, though, doesn’t believe the power play is broken. ‘There is nothing wrong with it,’ he said.”

    This is disturbing.

    If this doesn’t highlight the delusions of grandeur this team has right now, nothing will. Firstly, Disco, your team had one good PP last night. But keep playing “our game”.

    Second, Letang, 0-12 in a 7 game series means there’s something wrong. Raask has looked like a stud because he’s been facing single, clear shots all series. But I guess he’ll be enshrined alongside Halak soon.

  229. MadTurk says:

    That is true my Hippo friend. He will have to.

  230. pattonbb says:

    No matter how you look at it, If Appel gets close to $9m (as rumors have it), Boras will look like a genius.

  231. Bizrow says:

    Well, if that happens, then I do hope the Cubs get him and spend all their monopoly money with him.

    Can he go the route that others have gone? Refuse to sign, play independent league baseball for the rest of the year and then become a free agent?

    I did read, that as he’s a senior, he does not have to sign by the signing deadline, which could mean he could hold a team’s spending moolah hostage after the deadline date, if he wants to do so.

    Dicey pick, unless you already have an agreement with Borearse?

  232. SeanAY says:

    You’re right. They get what they deserve in the end.

    Money. Piles and piles of money.

  233. Bizrow says:

    Nominate for post du jour

    Made me laugh out loud

  234. hockeymonster says:

    Yup been pointing out dzone lapses since that tampa series…that along with bylsma’s stubbornness to play a 2 man forecheck and leave neutral zone open is exactly why I predicted epic failure before philly series. They seemed to learn their lesson halfway thru this season only to relapse in the NYI series. Bylsma and his game were finally humbled into trapping more but obviously dzone coverage was not addressed until last night. They seemed to be more organized(malkins lapse on krejci’s opening goal not withstanding) but when you’re down 0-2 largely due to dzone lapses its pretty clear that bylsma’s simply just not doing a good enough job coaching up his players where necessary!

  235. NMR says:

    Eh.

    I’m not a Boras hater, in fact, I’m rooting for him right now. Couldn’t agree more with his fight against the system

    But in the end, we’re talking about a couple million bucks for a guy who has a good chance of making upwards of $100m over his entire career.

    Boras may “beat” the system, but I still find the risk far exceeds the reward.

  236. NMR says:

    I think you’ve touched on why Appel still has plenty of leverage.

    He can go play Indy ball and re-enter the draft once again next year, if he doesn’t get the money that he wants.

    If that happens, the team drafting him will not only lose his talent but also could ruin the rest of their draft trying to spare money from other picks.

  237. Naje says:

    NMR… he helped write the rules, it’s just that this one rule didn’t go his way. So he’s trying to re-write them in another way.

    MLBPA–where lawyers teach the massively under-educated group they represent how to think, how to cheat, what think, and what to say when they get caught cheating. All for billions of dollars.

  238. hockeymonster says:

    Not to blame Morrow but Kennedy most definitely should’ve been in the game for him like some of us suggested. Bennett went in for jokinen like we wanted and was a noticeable and tangible plus for the team…tk and his speed and tenacity could’ve most definitely been the difference. I guess when your GM trades for 2 captains your hands are somewhat tied but for all we know Bylsma signed off on trading for morrow and was committed to keeping him in no matter what. I really liked Iginla’s effort and fire last night…but clearly he and morrow lost a step and shero and his scouts obviously weren’t concerned. Plenty of blame to go around but considering we where down 0-2 I believe bylsma displayed a poor feel for his team and what was necessary to sustain offensive pressure against a team constructed and coached to take away time and space all over the ice…not just in their zone.

    Not to be critical…. :)

  239. Jandy says:

    ditto lol

  240. Karen22 says:

    Nyuk nyuk nyuk!!

  241. pattonbb says:

    I agree the risks outweighed the rewards, but at the end of the day, Boras is going to get exactly what he wanted all along: #1 money for Appel, and the ability to look future clients in the eye and say, “When I fight the system, I win”.

  242. Milo Hamilton says:

    For the eternal optimists out there, only 3 goaltenders in NHL history have blown 3-0 series leads. Tuukka Rask is one of them.

    If the Bruins go on to win the Stanley Cup, only one of those 3 will have not have gone on to win it after once blowing a 3-0 lead. That would of course be Gary Inness (just our luck).

    Johnny Mowers of Detroit blew the league’s 1st 3-0 lead to Toronto in the 1942 finals. He led the Wings to the Cup the very next season.

  243. Naterosboro says:

    Just some quick thoughts before the chat…

    * Credit to all last night. Both Boston and Pittsburgh. That was a superb game of playoff hockey. Shame it went to the bad guys.

    * 1 thing I hate about playoff hockey is the insistence to “let them play”. Interference is interference is interference. Whether its regular season or playoffs. 1st minute of the game of last in the 4th OT. Penalties are penalties, and when they’re not called, it looks stupid to me, as if the game somehow changes. My sentiments echo to all referees in all sports. Call the game as it should be, no matter the situation.

    * I guess a lot of people have forgot about the 92-93 team (and yes I understand they were coming off back-to-back cup wins, but that was arguably the best hockey team ever assembled…and they didn’t win).

    * I think DK’s column this morning is a bit emotional, and I don’t really agree with it at all. Winning championships isn’t just about assembling great individuals and having them “rise to the occasion”. If that were the case, the #1 seed would win more often.

    * Get rid of Malkin? Letang? The overreaction here is stunning. Anyone want rid of Roethlisberger after last year (and don’t factor personality into that equation)? McCutchen after 2 straight collapses?

    * This is all Toronto’s fault.

    * I think it is time for Bylsma to go. He’s had a good run, but this group needs a new voice in the lockerroom. The word “stale” comes to mind.

    * I said before this series that I didn’t want to see Lundqvist. Well, looks like the Pens saw him anyways, only the guy changed his name to Rask.

    * Tip your cap to Boston. They’ve been on a roll. Let’s just try and make sure this is the last time…

    Try and HAVE A GOOD DAY ALL! ;-)

  244. Milo Hamilton says:

    A federal judge has thrown out Tom Corbett’s suit against the NCAA calling it a “Hail Mary pass”. Still waiting on reaction from Jay Paterno.

  245. Karen22 says:

    Well, thanks for warming things up around here, Iceman!

  246. likeabugonarug says:

    How many guys did Crosby trip last night? I can think of 2 cases that weren’t called. He wiped out 1 guy into the boards by pushing his skate against their skate. It was playoff hockey – the refs pocketed their whistles except when they couldn’t. I’m not saying I like it called that way, it just seems that most refs go back to that during this time of year. Can’t blame this on the refs.

    Kevin

  247. Jim S. says:

    I have not read anything yet, Biz. All I read was that the symptoms appeared to be similar to Jeanmar’s. If that is the case, they speculated it might only be a couple of weeks.

  248. cmat0829 says:

    Jumping off a bridge? I’d say all of the naysayers and fingerwaggers waiting for the Bucs to lose a couple of games can go ahead and jump.. they never belonged on the bridge anyway.

    As to the rest of us, the gaps the Pirates have to address to compete for the playoffs are the same today as they were prior to being swept in Atlanta… they need better offense, reduced Ks, better average with RISPs, consistent lead-off performance (Marte April great, Marte May/June not acceptable)… the only thing that is a new challenge is that IF wandy is to miss a big chunk of the season (and we don’t know anything yet)…THEN they may also need to be in the market for a veteran starting pitcher in addition to some bullpen help.

    Cole is coming, and I think he always was coming, in June after the Super 2 cutoff..which I think is 10 days away. So the rotation, for now, is AJ/Liriano/Locke/Cole and TBD. The TBD spot looks to be manned by Morton first up…with JMac waiting in the wings…. and then either Gomez or Wandy could return from injury. So they have some options that aren’t bad… again, if wandy is down for the year, then you go out and get a veteran starting pitcher who is healthy to step in.

    Now, they are relying on Liriano to continue to pitch well, for Locke to be the ‘real deal’ and for Cole to pitch well in them majors… which are a lot of IFs… but to some extent, that is what playing the season is for… IF the players perform well, then the team does well..if they don’t the team falters….

  249. Jim S. says:

    The post du jour for yesterday had to be whichever one the Pens chose to clank the puck off beside Mr. Rask at any given time! Ugh!

  250. Naterosboro says:

    No, you play your top 2 lines moreso than the Adameses Cookes and Morrows b/c those guys win you games. Grinders do not win games. B/c they don’t score enough.

    You cannot fault Bylsma for playing his best players moreso than his role players, aka 3rd & 4th liners.

    Now, something I have a gripe about is the banishment of Simon Despres, while continuing to play the likes of Niskannen and Engelland.

  251. Sisyphus says:

    I’m guessing that the Paterno family’s suit will meet the same fate. I don’t see where they have standing to file a suit on behalf of the University, which is basically what they are doing, against the University’s wishes.

  252. NMR says:

    That was extremely well said.

  253. Jim S. says:

    The downside of that, NMR, is that he will then have missed this past year + next of development by an MLB organization. No team considers development at Stanford (as excellent as their program may be) nearly the equal of developing a player themselves. So, if Appel opts not to sign again, that sets him back a year. He will be 2 years past the age most stud prospects arrive at an MLB organization. That means he’d probably be 24 when he gets to MLB, if all goes well. I think that hurts his leverage to most clubs. He’d still have takers, but the money would drop. At least, that seems logical to me.

    Having said all of that, I think he’ll sign. If Bor-ass starts playing his self-serving games with this kid’s life for another season, Appel will say enough is enough and either fire him or demand that he sign for the going rate at his slot.

  254. hockeymonster says:

    I hear ya but you kind of proved my point…they let a bunch of stuff go and then call Murray for slashing when all he did was reach out with one hand and tap the guy on his shin pad…that call was embarrassing to the entire sport! But that’s why home ice does hold some importance…not blaming refs just pointing out how pens really came to play but had to overcome refs as much as rask and boston defense.

  255. Jim S. says:

    I should have said “development at Stanford or in the Indy league”, above.

  256. Naterosboro says:

    This isn’t a knock on Appel (Ok it is), but if $8million isn’t the “money that he wants” then I fear all is lost for humanity.

    This is just a signing bonus. If he truly is a tremendous pitcher, he’ll earn gazillions more in long term contracts (have you seen the recent contracts given to Hamels, Verlander, etc.).

    I was saddened when the young man turned down the Pirates $3million+ offer last year.

    If he turns down almost $8million (and that’s assuming he goes #1 or 2), then I’ll be rooting for him to lose every time he goes out.

  257. NMR says:

    Sorry, Jim, I just don’t buy that first sentence at all. For the Pirates? Maybe.

    But Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha are both starting Major League baseball games right now after being drafted as seniors just last year. Neither are or were thought to be as talented and polished as Appel.

    Absolutely no chance he spends two full seasons in the minor leagues outside of injury or a team deliberately delaying his arrival.

  258. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Well in this case the Geno’s and Sid’s didn’t win the game either. I’m saying when you have guys who are creating opportunities you try to get them out there a little more. Especially if your top line isn’t doing squat.

    And in this case, just like Byslma said about the PP, one would have been enough.

  259. Jandy says:

    Sticktaps to naterosboro and Hipposter for making the chat!

    12:28

    Comment From Naterosboro
    Seems as if you’re giving no credit to Boston for their 3-0 lead, as if the Pens are being beaten by a far inferior team. This is the ECF is it not? Don’t you tip your cap sometimes?

    12:29

    Dejan Kovacevic:
    Forty percent of the column! Count the words!

    (Groan.)

    12:32

    Comment From theplanisworking
    Been a pretty bad week for Pittsburgh sports. Give us something positive to look forward to!

    12:35

    Dejan Kovacevic:
    For real?

    OK, I was over at the Steelers’ OTAs this week — day before Ben Roethlisberger had the minor knee surgery — and came away impressed (yet again) with their top draft picks. Obviously, I’m not talking in the football sense all that much. When Mike Tomlin says “football in shorts,” he means it. Not much to see. But in dealing with Le’Veon Bell and, now again for the radio show, Jarvis Jones, these two just exude poise and confidence. That’s especially true of Jones.

    Know what I like about Jones so far?

    The other linebackers, in particular Foote and Woodley, already are making noise about how tough it’s going to be for him to beat out Jason Worilds.

    Sure it is.

  260. JAL,

    Glad you’re back!

    Don’t ever leave again!! (unless you are visiting Morgantown!)

  261. Jim S. says:

    We’ll see if he gets #1 money. I really think he has lost most of his leverage. As I said, he already gave up one year of MLB org. development, and clubs don’t like that a lot. Now, he either takes the money or possibly sits another year. I know he can go the Indy route, as I suggested earlier, but is that really leverage when your biological clock is ticking? Seems to me the team that drafts him has at least as much leverage as Boras and Appel. There is a whole lot of difference between arriving in the MLB as a pitcher at 22/23 vs. 24/25 in terms of future earnings. What if it takes you two yrs from when you get called up to MLB to actually start pitching like a #2 or so? Tick, tick, tick.

    My issue with Boras is that since the money no longer means anything to him (he has gazillions!), I think he often acts more in his long-term interests than that of the player while claiming just the opposite. What if Appel had gotten injured this year, and ruined his chances? Boras would toss him aside and move on. I realize Appel was on board with the decision last year, but agents can put all sorts of thoughts in a kid’s head and lead them to a decision they (the agent) want. It certainly will be interesting to see where he gets picked and what transpires. Teams stayed away from him last year, until the Bucs took a calculated gamble. There have to be teams who want no part of him early on, for the very reason that he and Boras appeared “difficult” at the very least last year.

  262. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    And isn’t that the point of having depth? So more than 6 guys can win a game?

  263. Jim S. says:

    Interesting take, Milo!

  264. Jandy says:

    “* This is all Toronto’s fault”

    WELL SAID!

  265. Jandy says:

    why doesn’t that make me feel better?

  266. Here’s something good about yesterday for Da Plan——

    The Riverhounds did NOT play!!!!

  267. Nate83 says:

    Malkin had 21 shots with 10 being on goal and 2 hitting the post. I’m not sure I would say he wasn’t creating oppurtunities. Crosby played well. I’m pretty sure if you look at minutes played and scoring oppertunities the top two lines provided scoring chances more often without giving up much defensively.

  268. theplanisworking says:

    Ummmmmmmmmmm………… GO PENS??? ;)

  269. Jim S. says:

    I think they need to seriously considering ridding themselves of Bylsma – unless they orchestrate a serious comeback in this series. There is some dynamic with this team that they don’t play sound defensively every night, nor do they attack the goal with a consistent effort every night. I don’t know if it is a system thing, or a coaching style thing, or a complacency brought on by so much talent thing, or what. But, at the very least, they have to look long and hard at why so much talent is under-performing in the playoffs season after season.

  270. theplanisworking says:

    LOL!!!

    I was just poking the bear in the chat.
    Wanted to see if he could give us something positive……. and he chose the Stillerz.

    Was waiting for a RiverMutts update. ;)

  271. 21sthebest says:

    “I think that hurts his leverage to most clubs.”

    He’s going in the top 5, maybe top 3. Whichever team drafts him there is prepared to pay him what he wants.

  272. NMR says:

    “There have to be teams who want no part of him early on, for the very reason that he and Boras appeared “difficult” at the very least last year.”

    It only takes one, Jim.

  273. Let’s wait to give Boras and Appel credit!

    Appel was listed as #1 Prospect on Keith Law’s and Baseball America’s list LAST year, and fell to #8.

    Let’s wait to see where he is actually drafted THIS year before heaping credit on Boras.

  274. Jim S. says:

    I think the reaction will be as expected. They’ll stand in the corner, with their backs to the world, holding their hands over their ears and saying “La la la, I can’t hear you.” Eventually, they will turn around, act as if nothing has happened, rally the usual suspects, and come up with another plan that brings even more harm to their family name and more embarrassment to the 90%+ at PSU who just want to move on.

  275. theplanisworking says:

    Hippos do not like stick, but thanks!

    I think SeanAY got in too? Hard to keep up sometimes. ;)

  276. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Not saying Malkin didn’t create opportunities. More like what Dejan wrote about rising to the occasion. My point is that in the playoffs you need irregulars to come through sometimes. If the regulars are out and not getting it done, doesn’t leave much opportunity for anyone else. Again, not saying 3rds and 4ths should have played more than top 2 lines- time should have been split more evenly.

    I’d have to disagree on Crosby. He had several shifts badly derailed by bad mistakes to the point where they weren’t in B’s zone for more than a few seconds. Part of this reasoning is he’s set a pretty high standard for himself, but he’s been mistake-prone all series and has consistently created defensive problems.

  277. NMR says:

    Thats fair, Groat.

  278. 21sthebest says:

    “As I said, he already gave up one year of MLB org. development, and clubs don’t like that a lot. ”

    He was drafted out of high school. He gave up four years of MLB development.

  279. Jandy says:

    yeah and Im swamped at the office. Gotta close this down for a while so I can concentrate. later my friend.

  280. Jim S. says:

    True. There will most definitely be a market for him, even if he slips NMR. But, if he slips, that market will contain less money – just like last year. He and Boras were able to use the “one more year of college” card last year, but the options are shrinking now. And he’s going to be old for High A.

  281. theplanisworking says:

    Later, Jandy.

  282. Sarah says:

    Well we heard unequivicably prior to the playoffs that Bylsma was SAFE.

    Since then there have been many criticisms:

    Use of Iggy on LW
    Non use of Iggy on PP 1
    D pairings
    Bennett and Depres super-glued to the Press Box bench
    Line switches
    Engelland’s craptastic performance
    Letang;s similar performance, except without the benchings
    PP futility, after switching in the OTT series, having success, then switching back and going O-fer
    Astonishing poor effort in Game 2

    ….but no calls for Bylsma’s ouster.

    Bottom line as I have said before, for WHATEVER reason, the coaching staff has shown itself unable to get the best out of this team when it counts.

    If that is not a coach’s job, what is?

    If it sounds like I have lost patience, it’s cos I have.

  283. Very honest column . . . . . hard to hear . . . . . but TRUTH . . . . . and unless I missed it, not one mention of blaming the Coach!

    It’s the Players!!! It’s always the players, in final analysis!

    .

    _____
    But, just so you know, I’ll be rooting Friday night.
    I’m not giving up!!!

  284. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, but that doesn’t cost them money their first 2 or 3 years of college. Staying a 4th year was a risk, and it MAY have paid off. I’m just saying that if he doesn’t like #3 or #4 money, his options are not so great to get #1 money by going another route. Who knows? Maybe the hometown “Stros are bluffing and will grab him #1. If so, it will have been played perfectly by Boras and Appel. I would never have wanted my son to take that risk, though, and I definitely would not want him to tempt fate a 2nd time this year.

  285. JohninOshkosh says:

    A Franco Harris cardboard cutout had no comment.

  286. Jim S. says:

    Me, too.

  287. Jim S. says:

    Too funny, Oshkosh!

  288. Naterosboro says:

    You’re right, they didn’t. But, I’ll take my chances with them on the ice more so than the Matty Cookes and the Craig Adameseeseses.

    In fact, Adams had 2 good opportunities in OT, and I said to myself “Why do these chances keep falling to Adams?!?!?!”

    No knock on Craig, but he ain’t Wayne Gretsky. I’m just saying that this can’t be 1 of your gripes against Bylsma.

    That’s all.

  289. NMR says:

    He has absolutely no business being in high-A, so I’m not sure why it matters.

  290. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  291. NMR says:

    He’s going to get the most money of any player in draft or he’s not going to sign. Regardless of what spot he’s drafted in.

  292. Sarah says:

    Totally agree.

  293. cosmo says:

    good one

  294. Brad, Indiana PA says:

    Sorry Nate, it is one of my gripes. Balancing the playing time a little more wouldn’t have hurt. It’s just what I saw and thought.

  295. Arriba Wilver says:

    I believe the discussion started with someone trashing Boras, and saying no way Appel wins. Works both ways, my friend.

  296. JohninOshkosh says:

    Serena Williams is mowing down her opponent in the French Open semis like a machine right now. Quite impressive.

  297. Nate83 says:

    Game 2 Crosby was horrible. Last night he did things on 3 or 4 occassions that only one other player on the team could have done. The standard for him is set so high it is almost unfair.

    They actually mentioned during the game last night that the penguins where relying on all 4 lines a lot more in game 3 then most teams in the playoffs do. I have no issue with how the lines where used but that is only my opinion.

  298. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  299. Jim S. says:

    Would you allow your son to take that chance at this point when you know for certain he is definitely going to become a millionaire?

  300. SeanAY says:

    Final Keith Law mock draft has Pirates taking McGuire and Dominic Smith (HS 1B).

    Jim Callis has McGuire and DJ Peterson, with Smith as the backup plan.

  301. Dom says:

    I doubt that the Buccos have the best farm system in the biz but after today we’ll have a solid top ten prospects:
    1. Cole
    2. Taillon
    3. Polanco
    4. Hansen
    5. Heredia
    6. Glasnow
    7. Bell
    8. Kingham
    9. #9 overall selection in today’s draft
    10. #14 overall selection in today’s draft

    I know our system should be better after all the money placed into it but that still is an impressive group of guys.

  302. Rob says:

    Good points, I agree

  303. Nate83 says:

    Is there in worse goal then Jagr to Marchand to Bergeron to end the game? Maybe if one of the first two guys scored the goal but those are the 3 players on their team that I would least like to get the game winning goal agains us.

  304. 21sthebest says:

    I don’t feel like BorAppel feels like they have to be the highest paid nor do they feel like it’s in their best interest to take that chance. I think they’ll get at least slot and that will be good enough.

  305. Dom says:

    In my opinion, it doesn’t matter. I have no grudge against either one of them. I’m much more upset by all the chances we had and did not capitalize on.

  306. Naterosboro says:

    I re-read the column after DKs reply, and I see him giving credit to Jaromir Jagr, but to Boston overall for playing a better series so far?

    Not seeing it.

  307. Naterosboro says:

    I guess we just see the game differently.

    Fair enough.

  308. Rob says:

    I didn’t have a problem with Morrow, his size and willingness to take on anyone, despite his lack of speed i think is needed. Vitale on the other hand could have been substituted for Kennedy. Vitale’s penalty after we had the PP is not the disciplined reaction tolerable in the playoffs. Especially when you have to look at PP opportunities as gold in the playoffs.

  309. Arriba Wilver says:

    Boras ALWAYS creates the impression he won’t sign for less than the moon. (I thinks he was talking a $20 mil bonus for Strasburg). But as DK said last year, they almost always get signed. And I’m saying most times for less than the numbers/propaganda Boras is floating. (Remember Matt Wieters?). The only real wild card, to me, is the new slotting system.

  310. Drew71 says:

    Just add a Sid Bream slide to the play and it’s perfect.

  311. NMR says:

    Absolutely not, Jim. That’s why I disagreed with patton about Boras looking like a genius.

    But ever since Appel went back to school people – far from just you – have been making up reasons that he’ll fail that aren’t necessarily true.

    We’ve heard that this years draft was supposed to be deeper – it isn’t, we’ve heard that he doesn’t have any leverage – he does, we’ve heard that teams worry about college pitchers being overused and would be turned off – they aren’t, and so on.

    We’ll find out this summer what really happens, but I’m done making up scenarios where this WON’T work out for him just because I don’t agree with the decision. I’ve been wrong on every one so far, no sense continuing.

  312. Jason81 says:

    Briere to Giroux to Hartnell?

  313. I’ll be very surprised if Pirates do not take McGuire if he is still on board.

    I think they will take a college player like Peterson or the UNC 3rd baseman with 2nd pick, who might get to Majors more quickly than high schooler McGuire.

    I do NOT see them reaching to take Crawford the high school shortstop with either pick. Of course, they reached to pick Tony Sanchez . . . . that worked so well they committed their largest Free Agent contract ever to a catcher.

    Probably means they will reach and do it!

  314. Danch70 says:

    My sense is that they are doing what he asks. Sometimes not well. Sometimes, they are riskier than it is drawn up on the chalkboard, but essentially they are doing what he asks. The question is can he still have their ear when he starts preaching defense … that would really be a talent.

    Yes, there were a lot of shots last night and a lot of posts, but really few stand out saves. No cross ice passes and no rebounds – Boston is taking them away. I thought Morrow would be better than he has been. Man, is he slow. But he is a mucker and he is generating space and decent scoring chances.

  315. SeanAY says:

    I don’t see Moran falling that far. At least, most experts don’t. It seems his floor is to the Indians.

  316. Astros, Cubs, and Twins all could have drafted Appel last year in draft and chose to pass.

    Marlins won’t take him this year because of $$.

    Rumors have it that Astros have a deal with Moran already at less than slot.

    Let’s see how Boras’ gamble plays out.

  317. Rob says:

    I agree with almost everything you say above Brad except Letang at least up until last night. I thought Letang played well last night. When Letang plays in a more disciplined system and isn’t out there playing two positions (Wing and Defense) he can be a difference maker.

    If one thing isn’t evident from last nights team play is they all need structure, defined roles, or their green light to improvise needs to be reeled in. Think of it like this a talented player with superior skills plugged into a defined structure told to execute a plan. Compared to a player with less skill or average skill told to execute the same plan. I will take the talented player over the average player every time.

    The problem is no one is enforcing the defined structure, or the defined structure is too free wheeling. That should be the difference between the Pens and the Bruins, and we had more of that last night. Unfortunately when you haven’t been in a structured system like that, it takes time gel.

  318. Jim S. says:

    There was a story this week, Dom, that at least one long time scout says we have the best system right now, and by a wide margin. Now, that is just one guy’s opinion. But, I believe the consensus is we would rank at least near the Top 5 in most expert opinions. That is a strong Top 10, and doesn’t even include a guy like Herera who many are saying is about to break out as a strong offensive 2b. We seem to be doing particularly well developing Latin players the last few years. So, cudos to Rene Gayo and staff for that.

  319. hockeymonster says:

    I hear ya…morrow played ok last night but after game 2 I thought he was a candidate to be replaced by TK. Vitale was decent in game 2 but did drop off last night. Even though morrow played hard I still think speed and skill is how you beat a team built like boston. We’re not gonna intimidate them with grit, only with speed and skill…IMO.

  320. Is this the same DK who said that Tuukka Rask was only an average goalie?!?

  321. Danch70 says:

    If they lose four games playing like they did last night – I have no qualms. Boston was excellent. When they play as they did in Game 2 and throughout the Islander series, I have issues. When the same issues repeated year after year – sloppy play, too much pond hockey and not enough sandpaper hockey, frustration when they can’t “get to their game” – it i time to consider a shake up.

  322. Jim S. says:

    Someone went as far as to say the Astros may grab Moran. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Bucs having a shot at him. Would be great, though. I read something different every day about which guys are linked to the Bucs at #9 & #14.

  323. Arriba Wilver says:

    Hey, I was trying to cut him a break. I think he actually said they always sign. :-)

  324. Those same experts who said Mark Appel would definitely be selected #1 or #2 last season?

  325. Iceman says:

    +1

  326. Jim S. says:

    I should also add that no other system has 3 elite arms like Cole, Taillon and Glasnow. Of course, they are just prospects and anything can happen. I’m just saying that 3 guys with electric stuff is hard to find. You would think at least one of them will pan out to be a very good MLB pitcher. It would not surprise me at all if Glasnow turned out to be the best of the 3, followed by Taillon. I will qualify that by saying I have never really seen much of any of them. Just a little of Cole and Taillon here and there. Just speculating from what I read and their #’s.

  327. Jim S. says:

    Probably, Groat!

  328. Jim S. says:

    When she is at the top of her game, it almost seems unfair for some of these women to have to face her.

  329. hockeymonster says:

    When I doubt…”Blame Canada” :)

  330. hockeymonster says:

    oops…

    when in doubt…”Blame Canada”

  331. Take a look at that list of 10——how many of them are above High A?
    How many even above Low A?

    Long miles to go. Many hurdles to overcome before they are Major Leaguers.

    Chad Hermansen walked on water in AA. Brad Eldred killed the ball in AA. Zach Duke had an ERA close to 1.00 in AA. These guys on the list aren’t even there yet!!!

  332. Jim S. says:

    Isn’t he rated lower than Cole?

  333. NMR says:

    Different group of players, Groat.

    Appel being the #1 last year was very much overplayed. All those teams had their guys ranked higher than him.

    Not the case this year.

  334. (I am grinning broadly). You’re right! He did!

  335. NMR says:

    Future, yes. But he’s supposedly more polished than Cole was coming out.

    Cole was also a junior.

  336. Rob says:

    Ya, I see your point, in a perfect world speed and skill wins out no question, and Kennedy provided that in the Islander series. Bottom line they played better, and more as a team needs to in the playoffs, but spotting your opponent 2 games before you start playing as a team is tough to overcome. We will see how games 4 goes. One shift, one period, one game at time, anything is possible :-)

  337. Jim S. says:

    I’m missing how he gets #1 money regardless of where he gets picked. If he is far below #1, that can’t happen easily. Teams have slot money and they need to sign more than just Appel. Plus, I have not read anywhere that Appel is a slam dunk future star. What if teams get worried about what he has said and done in the past draft, and he suddenly slips to #6? That team is going to automatically pay the huge difference between #1 and #6 slot, while forgoing someone potentially just as good who won’t screw up their draft $$?

  338. Bizrow says:

    I think that is what Dejan said a scout said on the chat?

    Other than Taillon and Cole, nuttin much in the upper levels of the organization

  339. Bizrow says:

    To me, it doesn’t matter an L is an L, no matter how it gets there

  340. Jim S. says:

    Well put.

  341. Jim S. says:

    He’s young and he’s talented. He can get back on track somewhere else.

  342. Dom says:

    Valid point Groat.

    Again, the system isn’t worth the amount of moo-lah we placed into it but it still is a fairly good system in all.

  343. Jim S. says:

    What I mean is there are teams (White Sox, for one) that have said they won’t choose a Boras client at the top of the draft. Other teams have alluded to that. You don’t think that can possibly impact a player in a negative way? I get that he almost always squeezes out more money than they might get somewhere else in their first contract. It might not play out so well after that. And, maybe some of his kids lose out because they don’t get picked as high.

  344. 2 inches!!!

    2 inches to the right and we are all singing Craig Adams’ praises today and feeling confident now that Pens are only down 2-1, and a 4th liner scored the winning goal in Overtime. The Pens are on a roll now!

    2 inches!!!

  345. Jim S. says:

    Nats could be losing Geo (PEDs). He was on that list, wasn’t he?

  346. NMR says:

    The problem with your hypothetical is that there ISN’T someone just as good to be had at #6. That is what the guys say seperates this year from last. This year there is a very distinct top 3.

    If Houston DOESN’T pick Appel, there’s no way they use their entire slot money to sign the guy they do pick. Chicago, Minnesota, Cleveland, Boston would love to take him and have the money to top an offer around $5m like the ‘stros gave the #1 pick last year.

  347. Jim S. says:

    Didn’t happen last year. He has less leverage (no senior yr at Stanford left) this year, despite what Boras wants us to believe.

  348. Joni says:

    The key word to me is patience.

  349. Ghost says:

    Poring over our prospects in the farm system and the ratings that pundits give them is one of the pleasures / indulgences of being a baseball fan. That said, we’ve heard for years about how our system’s appraisal is on the rise. We argue back and forth over how much credence to give Baseball America. I don’t follow these arguments well enough to be able to form a strong opinion, except for this one: We really don’t know what we have and only when we see a fair number of our “prospects” becoming bona fide MLB’ers (see: Cardinals) can we really put a meaningful ranking on our own system. Don’t get me wrong, though. Until / if we get to that day, having fun looking at the pieces in the farm system and guessing at what will come of them is a god-given fan’s right.

  350. Kevin says:

    I’m wondering if those 2 inches would also result in less crucification of the Bylsma. All we needed was one goal and Bylsma gets credit for righting the ship… instead..

  351. Arriba Wilver says:

    Whenever we talk about Neal’s draft prowess it always comes up how it’s a bit of a crap shoot. And Foo used to show us the numbers, etc. And every year there are multiple examples of even first rounders who flame out. Think Jeff Clement, JVB, Bullington, etc. This is guaranteed money we’re talking about in the draft. That’s a factor, too. An extra million today is a million+ you don’t have to make later.

  352. Kevin says:

    would have been more embarrassing if Rask had scored the gw goal, but I see your point.

  353. Jim S. says:

    Do you think someone signs him, then drops him right into AA? Boras will not even have him sign until the last minute, because, again, it doesn’t matter to Boras what is good for the kid unless what is good for the kid is what is good for Boras. So, there is a good chance he misses the rest of this season. Some teams even prefer that if a kid has pitched a lot in college the same year. So, let’s say he doesn’t get into a MLB org until next season. A very good question is, what level do you think he starts at? & won’t he be old for a top prospect at that level, if it is below AA? I honestly don’t know for sure, and just wonder what others think.

  354. NMR says:

    See, I don’t know what you consider “nuttin much”. Stars? Probably not.

    Major Leaguers? Almost certainly. I don’t think it takes a wild imagination to see Sanchez, Black, McPherson, Irwin, Welker, Pimentel contributing next year in some form or another.

  355. Jim S. says:

    Great points.

  356. Arriba Wilver says:

    That would be easier to swallow if not for game 2 and the 3rd period of game 1. And 2010, 2011 and 2012. And the loading Shero did at the deadline.

  357. I have read the strong rumor (not fact) that Houston has an “under slot” deal worked out with Moran, like last year with Correa. Chicago may take Gray, not Appel. San Diego wants the 3rd baseman/slugger from West Coast. Minnesota traditionally takes position players AND high school players.

    Appel may fall to a slot below Boras’ salary demands. Would Cleveland give up next year’s #1 pick to pay him? Maybe the Red Sox?

    We’ll see tonight at 7:00.

    If my softball game gets rained out, I’ll be watching.
    {I gotta get a life!!!}

  358. Jim S. says:

    But, I thought the logic was he was going to get #1 money regardless of his draft position? This thread has gotten so long that I don’t even remember who said that, & it probably wasn’t you NMR. But, between all of us I think we have covered every possible scenario for Mr. Appel.

  359. NMR says:

    Again, I think you’re overplaying your hand if you think there is a “good” chance of him missing the rest of the season.

    The signing date has been moved up such that guys can get plenty of baseball in. Boras MAY hold out longer, but he also isn’t an idiot. If it pushes back his players ETA to the big leagues, it doesn’t make much sense.

    I think you’ll see a similar trajectory as Gausman and Wacha. A couple starts in A ball to get his feet wet then straight to AA.

  360. SeanAY says:

    Hey, if he falls, I’d snap him up in a heartbeat.

    It just sounds like he won’t. That’s all.

  361. Kevin says:

    Once again, everythings been said.. my few thoughts in their most simplistic form:

    1) First, Bruins in 6.

    After season:
    2) Good bye Fleury or auvour (something french for good bye). Vokoun, starting goalie, with “pick one” AHL goalie promoted to backup.

    3) Bylsma stays. One more FULL season to work a contender and play playoff hockey for the next 82+ ~16 games.

  362. NMR says:

    Amen, Groat!

  363. NMR says:

    I promise you Keith Law, Jim Callis, and John Sickels don’t go back and look at teams major leaguers before ranking their current system.

    Apples and oranges.

  364. Joni says:

    Sid and Geno looked especially tye-tye (tired) at the end of the game, more so than anyone else. HCDB’s system of “Hey Letang, immediately get the puck to Sid or Geno” kinda doesn’t work in double overtime in a best of 7 series when the other team knows exactly what is going to occur.

    I am in no way excusing these folks’ turnovers and other fancy shenanigans that amounted to (bleep) throughout the course of the game/series.

    I wasn’t counting, but were shifts shorter as time progressed during the overtimes? I think it would have been wiser to give some of the 3rd and 4th line players more TOI to give the Bruins a different look and the stars a breather. But that would take some trust on Bylsma’s part, so there we have it.

  365. Jim S. says:

    I know. Nothing is a given with prospects in baseball. But, I think it is obvious their Top 10 list today contains more talent than it did even 2 years ago. And they have other guys clamoring to get on it. If you throw enough talented kids at the wall, more of them will stick than if you throw untalented kids at the wall.

    Just kidding. I’m not really advocating throwing any kids at the wall, of course.

  366. Ghost says:

    I don’t even know who John Sickels is. But a system’s track record of developing good MLB’ers should be a primary metric.

  367. Jim S. says:

    Well said. Some fans like to look at this stuff (I know I do), and some don’t want to even hear about prospects until they are no longer prospects because they are contributing to the big team. I think both are legit opinions.

  368. Joni says:

    I watched “miracle” to cleanse my hockey palate after game 2. It was quite refreshing and gave me hope. In what, I’m not sure…

  369. NMR says:

    What sense does it make to punish player A because player B failed?

  370. Jim S. says:

    I’m no fortune teller, but I thought it was obvious when Bylsma first benched Fleury vs. NYI that there was a very good chance his career in Pittsburgh was over. You don’t bench franchise goalies who you pay $5 million per to very easily. You think long and hard about those decisions, and once you make those decisions, you are essentially saying he is likely done with your organization. That is because how do you start back up next season with Fleury in goal, acting as though all of this didn’t happen?

    When I was saying that, a lot of Penguins fans didn’t want to hear it, and I can understand why. Fans in Pgh have a great deal of affection for MAF. He appears to be a very likeable guy, and he helped bring home a cup and near cup at a very young age. He has earned the loyalty of Pens fans. I just think it is in his best interest as well as that of the team that he move on after this season. He is still young by goalie standards, and he can still have a productive and long career. Confidence is a very odd thing. One day you can have none, and then a few good things happen and it can be restored. If he goes, I wish him luck and good fortune vs. every team in the league except one. I hope he doesn’t end up in the Eastern Conference.

  371. Joni says:

    Too impressive, IMHO. I’m tired of watching her win all the time. Give some of the other players a chance.
    For the record, I think the same of Roger Federer. Now I am backing away before something awful happens to me…

  372. Ghost says:

    Thanks. I fall more into the camp of those who like looking at this stuff. But I do have a hard time getting excited about the supposed state of our system as a whole, without seeing enough end results of the players brought in over the last five years. Hopefully, bright spots like Jeff Locke — acquired as a single-A prospect — are going to start becoming more frequent. But guys like Tony Sanchez or even James Taillon, to be honest, are still unproven entities. I’m holding out until a track record is established.

  373. Joni says:

    How about when Lucic had Matt Cooke in a choke hold while Cooke was on the ground with his face to the boards? That was kinda scary. I was impressed that Cooke didn’t respond in kind after it was broken up.

  374. pattonbb says:

    I love baseball talk. Very nice conversation today. This is why I come to this place.

  375. Ghost says:

    NMR, I’m not punishing anybody. I’m certainly not punishing any of our prospects — I hope they all pan out! I’m not even punishing any of the pundits. I’m simply saying that: A) track records are, indeed, relevant, and B) we don’t know what we have in our Pirates farm system because the current caretakers don’t have a track record. Yet.

  376. pattonbb says:

    I said Appel would get #1 money, Jim. Maybe not literally, but I think he’ll be in the top 2 or 3, regardless to where he gets drafted.

  377. Jim S. says:

    Well said. I’m all for these kids getting what they can, to a point. After that, I think they have to weigh whether it was worth it. And I’m saying that from a business perspective. Both sides need to feel like it was a fair deal. If the team feels like it got raked over the coals, what’s to say the kid doesn’t come in being resented by other players, his minor league instructors, etc? Or, if the kid feels he signed for less than what he was worth, who is to say he doesn’t carry a grudge. Again, I’m all for getting what you deserve. But, there are always consequences on both sides if the deal is lopsided one way or the other.

  378. Joni says:

    The best part of today was my reaction when one of the higher ups expressed delight in the Pens loss/Bruins win. I looked the man right in the eye and said “get away from me” in the chilliest tone that I have ever used. And that’s saying something since I am a teacher!

    In hindsight, I probably should have waited to say something like that until after I signed my contract for next year… I blame it all on the late night and lack of sleep. My mental filter is the first thing to go when I am tired. Good times :)

  379. Arriba Wilver says:

    Silly man. That never stops us. :-)

    BTW–I say that IF Houston does take Appel #1, AND they offer him the slot value ($7.79 mil I think), he signs. Or maybe they have to also agree that they will give $5 to Boras’ favorite charity so he can brag he got over slot. That’s just me, of course.

  380. Jim S. says:

    Why would a team want to push a high ceiling player through the system so fast? That starts the clock early, etc. Teams are less willing to take those chances now than in the past. It still gets done, but not as much as in the past.

  381. Jim S. says:

    I hope you are right.

  382. Jim S. says:

    I think you may be right, NMR. A guy like that needs to cut it loose.

  383. NMR says:

    I gotcha, buddy.

    I posted that before you replied to Jim below. Understand completely now.

  384. Joni says:

    Would you say Serena is the one to beat this year? Hopefully we have an interesting final on Saturday with Serena v. last year’s winner, Maria Sharapova. Although I’m pretty sure that Serena has owned Maria for the entire course of their careers. The only thing I am asking for is to see some good tennis from both players.

    Who will be the men’s champion? I am rooting from Nadal, but he has to get through Djokovic in the semi-finals tomorrow. That should be a scorcher of a match! I am also interested in the second semi-final with Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga verses the 2nd best clay court player, David Ferrer.

    Tomorrow’s agenda = watching hours of tennis and a Pens game. That, my friends, is my definition of a perfect day!

  385. Jim S. says:

    I’m not saying Appel will fail as a player. All I said about that is he is not a slam dunk future star. No one ever said he was another Strasburg – or even on par with Cole, from what I recall last year.

    If he gets picked by the Astros, he will get the most money in the draft. If he slips, he will not. They do not have the leverage they had last year, and Scot Boras can’t magically create it. Dave Littlefield is not a GM any more.

  386. Jim S. says:

    But, you have a life! This is it, is the problem.

  387. Jim S. says:

    I agree, Patton. Friendly disagreements over things that don’t make any difference in any of our lives is why non-baseball fans think we are nuts. There is no chance he ends up a Buc draft pick, but still we hash it out endlessly. I love it.

  388. Ghost says:

    No problemo.
    And here’s hoping the baseball gods are finally smiling on us Pirate fans. For all we know we are on the cusp of a great farm system that is going to churn out one fine player after another. The L.A. Dodgers of my youth used to be that way.

    Gotta run!

  389. NMR says:

    Freindly? Speak for yourself!

    Haha… :)

  390. Jim S. says:

    On the men’s side, you are right. The semi maybe the real final.

  391. Jim S. says:

    That was one Pirates scout who said Hermansen walked on water, Groat. It was ARam that most people who knew what they were watching said would be the real stud from our system at the time. He as hitting .350 at AAA as I recall. But, Hermansen’s plate discipline made Starling Marte look like Joey Votto! Same with Eldred, and he struck out about 40% of the time.

    In the Pirates top 10 now, aside from the 3 power arms already discussed, Polanco is gaining more and more accolades for his potential. He is getting better, striking out less and improving plate discipline as he moves up. That’s a great combo. And Hanson is younger, and his stick and plate discipline is thought to be very advanced. He may not stay at SS, though, if he can’t get the errors under control – which he has the past month. As has been said many, many times, they still have to prove it at the MLB level, but I like what I see in the pipeline for the first time in forever. Quantity and quality, IMO.

  392. Jim S. says:

    The Pirates of my early youth used to be that way, Ghost. 70′s Bucs churned out a ton of studs.

  393. Jim S. says:

    That’s fair.

  394. Brandie says:

    I would like to say…Go Pens! If you go down in flames, at least show some class about yourselves and play high quality hockey. Play hard. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t make, so shoot the puck. It seems a hopeless case. I know plenty about hopeless cases.

    I am and have been a hopeless case for quite sometime…but, today, a ray of sunshine…I will know in a couple of days (perhaps as early as tomorrow) what position I will be starting for Keystone Corrections Services. I interviewed for Case Manager and it looks like I hit a home run. They want me. Details just have to be finalized. Jandy, Hipposter, Drew, Milo, Bizrow…thank you for believing in me.

  395. Brandie says:

    Make should be take.

  396. Jim S. says:

    That was a “it only happens in hockey” moment. It always amazes me when I see these pileups of players, or a clump of them against the boards – away from the eyes of the refs but not the camera. You always see them scraping their gloves across a guys face, butting him with a stick or other scary things. The amazing part, though, is that seldom do their faces end up ripped apart, when it looks like what just happened would cause a lot of damage. I have come to believe hockey players are not only tougher in taking punishment, but their faces are made of some other material than mine.

  397. MadTurk says:

    Don’t want to jinx you but Congrats!!!

  398. Jim S. says:

    Good for you! I like when people get what they are striving for!

  399. Brandie says:

    Thank you. I just want to be better than what I have been.:-)

  400. Brandie says:

    Mad thanks, Mad.

  401. JohninOshkosh says:

    Williams looked phenomenal this morning. Absolutely crushed that poor young woman. Sharapova is playing better as of late, including giving Williams a rough go at it in Miami a few weeks ago.

    But Williams ripped apart Sharapova in the Olympic Gold medal match. And she seems like she is on a mission. Hope it is a good final.

    Won’t see much of the men tomorrow. I guess I’ll be a homer and go with the Frenchie!

    Never underestimate Serbs, though. Right, Dejan? Must be something about the D’s and J’s in the name.

    Nice to have a fellow tennis fan on the blog.

    DK: There’s a lot more to tennis in Serbia than just Djokovic, and there has been for a long time. It’s taken very seriously even by children, who play it in infinitely greater percentages there than here in the U.S. In a way, it’s right up there with soccer and basketball, the latter of which the Serbs traditionally have been among the world’s best.

  402. Arriba Wilver says:

    Interesting. I had heard a heartwarming story about Djokovic on the radio this past week. The gist was that he had been discovered at the age of 6 by a former Serbian tennis player, Jelena Genčić, who took him under her wing since, according to the story, there was no real organized background for tennis players there. The heart string thing was that she had died on June 1 this year and he would probably be trying to win this year for her. They also mentioned that he was likely to have trouble getting beyond Nadal.

  403. Joni says:

    There are many great tennis talents from Serbia. I wish that Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, who are still playing solid tennis, recaptured their dominance on the women’s side. Both of them reached #1 in the world, which is awesome.

    Janko Tipsarovic is also a terrific player who is forced to live in the shadow of Djocovic. I believe it was Viktor Troicki who recently had a magnificent meltdown, complete with dragging a camera man on to the clay court to display just where the ball supposedly landed. I loved it!

    Jim and John, I will talk tennis whenever and wherever you want. I know a heck of a lot more about tennis than I do hockey!

    One of the coolest things that I read recently was that Crosby also plays tennis :)

  404. Lad9 says:

    Awesome Brandie! Have followed your job search from afar and very glad to hear what sounds like great news. I have a very close friend and colleague who is a case manager, and in my job I deal with you guys just about every day, and you are all a special breed. Kick a$$ girl!

  405. Arriba Wilver says:

    In checking, though, Djokovic is the only guy to beat Nadal 3 times on clay. Sounds like a great match.

  406. Joni says:

    You too, AW and DK!

  407. Brandie says:

    Thank you so very much. All this blog love makes a gal feel special!

  408. Arriba Wilver says:

    What time does the game start tonight?

  409. BillyBaduka says:

    If you do want to go there, I’m to tired to argue so you’ll get no rebuttal from me. :)

  410. BillyBaduka says:

    too tired

  411. BillyBaduka says:

    Right there with you Sarah.

  412. BillyBaduka says:

    +1

  413. BillyBaduka says:

    +1

  414. BillyBaduka says:

    +1

  415. BillyBaduka says:

    Congrats Brandie

  416. Bizrow says:

    7 pm, the draft

    AW, read an article on Appel that inferred he wanted to go to a franchise that respected him, or some such stuff

    Just imagine if we had him and SaNO in our system

    Also PTI on ESPN was ripping some columnist for the Trip for questioning Sid

    Gotta go read the paper, hope all is well with you and yours

  417. Arriba Wilver says:

    Thanks, Biz. Everything is good. Same to you and yours.

    I have to laugh at articles or statements by players who talk about wanting to go to teams that “respect” them. 99.9% of the time “respect” is shown by dollars. And Boras is controlling every word that is said to the media.

  418. Brandie says:

    Thank you so very much.

  419. Milo Hamilton says:

    I hope his arm falls off.

  420. Milo Hamilton says:

    You, my dear, are a ray of sunshine.

  421. theplanisworking says:

    WOO – HOO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Great news, Brandie girl!!!

    No, actually, wonderful news!!!

    Continue to knock them dead!!

    Glad you think we made a difference for you, which I say is absolute hooey! You were the reason you made that difference!

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :D

  422. Bizrow says:

    Well I agree with you and Milo

    The article put a positive spin on Appel.

    For the little that’s its worth, I read a post from KLaw, ok, a putz, that said, NH would have handled the negotiations differently

    IMO, and I’m still happy as hades that the PBC is 10 games over right now, the FO’s character, or lack of such, is still a concern, or appears to be.

    Just sayin

    That being said, Appel is a putz, ESPN is spin

    But so is the FO

    Am wishing the PBC well tonight

  423. Brandie says:

    You don’t know what that means to me. Thank you Hippo.

  424. Brandie says:

    Milo, I am so touched you think so.

  425. theplanisworking says:

    Welcome.

    I still think you are overfull of hooey for thinking we made a difference. Now, if you would have brought me to the interview, in a “take your pet to school” type of thing, then you could truly give credit.

    But I am happy for you.

    Make us proud!!

  426. Milo Hamilton says:

    Bud Selig just announced he is suspending this year’s entire draft class 100 games because they probably once knew someone shady.

  427. pattonbb says:

    Scott Boras wins again.

  428. It’s that avi. :D

    Congrats!

  429. pattonbb says:

    Boras clients go #1 and #2.

    He’s having a nice night.

  430. theplanisworking says:

    Well, let the games begin.
    Appel taken #1 overall.

  431. theplanisworking says:

    Guess it shows being an ass pays?

  432. pattonbb says:

    He’s the best in the business.

  433. Arriba Wilver says:

    Don’t tell NMR. :-)

  434. theplanisworking says:

    In 2 catagories !! ;)

    I know he is, but man, he is a hard dude to like.

  435. theplanisworking says:

    +1.

    I am actually watching this draft, well, until the Bucs pick their 2 players.

    Interesting to see what they do.

    Wonder if the Pirates pick any Boras clients?

  436. Arriba Wilver says:

    You don’t have to like him, but you’d hire him if you were in these premium guys’ shoes. I would. ;-)

  437. pattonbb says:

    Harold Reynolds is saying Appel will be in the majors by July. THIS July.

  438. Brandie says:

    All the boys in school gave me animal Muppet valentines. He is my favorite. Thank you.

  439. theplanisworking says:

    Ya, ya, ya……………… ;)

  440. theplanisworking says:

    Speaking of asses………….. ;)

    This July. Wow.

  441. Milo Hamilton says:

    Freddie Patek !!

  442. Brandie says:

    Unfortunately, Board does not get paid to be a nice guy.

  443. Milo Hamilton says:

    Austin Meadows a high school OF from Georgia. Remember failed 1st rounder Austin Manahan ?

  444. theplanisworking says:

    Austin Meadows.

    Did he fall a bit?

    I saw the 4 most mentioned names at the top of this thread.

    Good Pick?

  445. Milo Hamilton says:

    Manahan – 13th overall in 1988. Hey, he got as high as AA.

  446. theplanisworking says:

    Lol. Good point.
    This Hippo thanks you.

  447. Bizrow says:

    Depends on the finances, might be no deal with the PBC

  448. Milo Hamilton says:

    That was an Elmer Gray / Jim Bowden draft. Elmer was shown the door when Syd Thrift was fired after that season.

  449. pattonbb says:

    Everyone I heard had him as a top 10 pick. Most had him going to Toronto at 10.

  450. Arriba Wilver says:

    21—you said Appel would go in the top 5, I said he’d go In the top 3. Fist bump?! ;-)

  451. Milo Hamilton says:

    The same group picked Mark Merchant #2 overall in 1987. Wonder why they stunk in the mid 90′s ?

  452. Brandie says:

    Ahh! The memories!

  453. Brandie says:

    You want someone with teeth to get you the most money for your talent, IMHO.

  454. theplanisworking says:

    Hippos have big teeth! ;)

  455. Thundercrack says:

    On MLB XM they were comparing the Pirates’ pick to Jay Bruce. Not saying he would be as good – just the same type of body type and game.

    They were really scratching their heads at KC’s pick. He wasn’t even projected as a first rounder

  456. Bizrow says:

    PBC pick, push back the future

    Just sayin

  457. Thundercrack says:

    What do you mean by that Biz?

  458. theplanisworking says:

    And now McGuire.

    With the way NH values pitching, I am pleasantly surprised 2 position players were drafted.

    Now we resume your regularly scheduled gnashing of teeth about the Pens. ;)

  459. Another HS kid, a LHB catcher, Reese McGuire is #14.

  460. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  461. Bizrow says:

    + 1

  462. theplanisworking says:

    He isnt from Hershey, Pa. is he??? ;)

  463. Milo Hamilton says:

    Hey, their 2nd baseman of the future !

  464. Thundercrack says:

    Peter Gammons said that Russell Martin will help groom McGuire and help with the transition between the two of them.

    Does Gammons know that Martin only has one more year on his contract with the Pirates?

  465. DJ says:

    I think we see the lines the same way. I would have subbed out Kennedy (or Jussi, if pushed) for Morrow, and that’s considering Morrow had his best game this series in Game 2. Many hits, none leading to turnovers or scoring opportunities, which is the object.

    I also would have had Depres in for Engelland. The entire sequence on the winning goal in OT began with Engelland’s blind back pass to the blue line that was picked off. I thought keeping him in the line-up would come back to bite the team on the rear, and it did . . . horrible.

  466. Milo Hamilton says:

    James McDonald tonight for Indy -

    3.2-IP 4-H 3-R 3-ER 1-BB 2-K
    77 pitches / 45 strikes

  467. 21sthebest says:

    I lost it when he said that.

  468. Ed says:

    That’ll get the job done!

  469. cmat0829 says:

    Gammons is getting too old to be cogent. A HS position player is likely at least 3 years away from the bigs, maybe 4. It is more likely to be a Sanchez to McGuire hand off….and that depends on if McGuire remains a catcher….

  470. cmat0829 says:

    ummmmm, No HR, he won’t be in the majors by THIS July. Boras will want $1 more than the Astros total draft budget.

  471. cmat0829 says:

    I think the Pirates have made a lot of strides in that they now pretty much are drafting players that make sense … the past few years they went for power arms as pitching is so very key…now that they have some pitching depth, they go for high reward/risk high-school position players (like Andrew McCutchen 2005). No clue if these players will pan out or flame out, but I’m very encouraged they didn’t go the “Mike Leake” route with college pitchers, which would be the safe way to go. The guys drafted today won’t “save or make” NH’s job as it will be 3 years or more before we know if they have what it takes.

    Let’s be clear, I’m not saying this is the BMTIB or even if it is ‘good enough’ for Pirates to win with limited resources…but they have definitely moved the Pirates into a zone where they are respectable. Is respectable enough? Nutting is the only judge that mattters on that topic, but respectable is a huge improvement from 2007.

  472. Thundercrack says:

    Maybe he is still trying to figure out how Kris Benson didn’t win a Cy Young

  473. Arriba Wilver says:

    +1

  474. pattonbb says:

    put the fork in him…..

  475. 21sthebest says:

    Maybe Russell Martin for a secret extension and it was announced during the second OT last night.

  476. Ghost says:

    +1
    The FO was lowering the bar for a few seasons (back to back 100-loss seasons), but that is now in the rear-view mirror. There is finally a lot to like about the-team-that-Neal-built. I even like the roll of the dice on high-ceiling high school players with our top two picks, today. “Is respectable enough?” No, but it sure beats all the tough talk about “dynasties” and “championships” from Frank Coonelly, just to see a team on the field that was a joke.

  477. Jim S. says:

    I never heard Sid plays tennis.

  478. Jim S. says:

    Barely seen over the top of the podium.

  479. Jim S. says:

    Gammons does not know much of anything outside of the Red Sox and Yankees.

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