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Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Morning Java: All they do is win, win, win

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

HARRISBURG – Morning, Lunatics …

>> There will be no chat this week because of the travel home from New York. Apologies for that. Tried to make it work. Just not practical.

I will, however, check in with TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m.

After the Trib’s excellent Christmas bash tonight at the North Shore offices, I’ll pack up again tomorrow for the flight to Green Bay. And I’d be holding back if I didn’t admit to you right here that I’m looking forward to seeing Lambeau for the first time like … well, a kid on Christmas morning. Never been, always wanted to.

Oh, and I did I mention it’s supposed to be crazy cold?

Anyway, the combined fall of the Steelers and Packers is columnist Joe Starkey’s topic for the day.

Anyone seen Markus WheatonAlan Robinson puts out the APB.

Ramon Foster is Mr. Reliable, by Ralph Paulk.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including the Wisconsin snow forecast.

Here’s Packers news from the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Here are official game highlights from

>> The Penguins take the NHL lead in Ws by burying the Wild for a sixth consecutive victory. Josh Yohe reports from Consol.

Old friend Matt Cooke talks NHL violence, by Chris Adamski.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Wild news from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

Here are official game highlights from

And in the spirit of all these young defensemen shining of late, here’s a bonus find for the morning: Jim Kubus, the Trib’s deputy managing editor for design, passed along this remarkable image of Ulf Samuelsson holding up a 9-month-old Philip Samuelsson during the 1992 Stanley Cup parade at Three Rivers.


>> Pitt football misses out on another elite local talent, this from my alma mater, Jerry DiPaola reports. You have to wonder at which point this becomes a trend.

>> After the Green Bay game, I’ll be taking Christmas week off. There will, however, be a Monday edition of Morning Java.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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


  1. Wild Bill says:

    Wow. Recorded the Pens while working, then got home late and almost erased it without watching. Boy, am I happy I did watch it. How does this team keep rolling like this??

    Very happy for Maata, and I hope he finds that girl with the sign that said all she wanted for Christmas was him!

  2. Wild Bill says:

    Left out his second t – my bad.

  3. Ghost says:

    The Packers aren’t the stacked, elite team they were the last time we faced them. But they haven’t fallen as far as we have. Rodgers is on the mend. If they make the playoffs and he’s running their offense, they can go deep. Only Seattle has separated themselves from the rest of the NFC pack.


    21stheBest: I saw your quibble with what exactly it was NH said about lefty relief “specialists.” I guess I had purged the the “specialists” red herring part of the quote from my memory, just as it deserved to be, both then and now. Because the context was that the Pirates had just traded away John Grabow, their 8th inning set-up guy, and Tom Gorzelanny, who had become a long-relief guy. The “specialist” part of Huntington’s quip was not a fair description of the players involved and just a diversionary tactic, as the question he was answering was about the fact that the Pirates now had NO LEFTIES IN THE BULLPEN AT ALL (unless you count Donnie Veal, whom they wasted a roster spot on all year). Additionally, at the time Grabow was MORE effective against righties than he was against lefties.

  4. radio wave says:

    How did Florida become the hottest team in the NHL?

  5. Drew71 says:

    “After the Green Bay game, I’ll be taking Christmas week off.”

    You mean they won’t let you come home first?

    Now you can say you spent a week in Green Bay one night.

  6. Drew71 says:

    83 F.

    But that might not be what you meant.

  7. 21sthebest says:

    It wasn’t a quibble Ghost. And my take is completely different from yours.

  8. Drew71 says:

    At the end of the forgettable and forgotten play Left Handed Liberty about the nobles and clergy coercing King John to sign the Magna Carta, King John collapses and dies in the shallow surf.

    A nobleman looks at the dead king and with disdain pronounces the final line of the play…

    “Unclench his cold, left hand.”

    There. It WAS a baseball quote after all.

    Just proving I can go all remote on you guys about left handers, too.

  9. Drew71 says:

    Aw. C’mon. Spend the entire day fighting over semantics.

    It’s what we dooooo.

  10. Drew71 says:

    Because adult like maturity just ruined my other post.

  11. Drew71 says:

    I’m lucky i even know how to spell “maturity”

  12. kr70 says:

    Nice to know that somebody is freezing their buns off, Merry Christmas

  13. JAL says:

    JAL’s Walk Out to Winter Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 MLB Important Dates

    BLOGS and such

    4—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: The 2014 Prospect Guide is Now Available

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Chris Stewart on umpires, shifts, and being traded to the Pirates

    6 Rumbunter

    The Perfect Christmas Gift for That Hard to Please Clint Barmes Fan

    7 Rant Sports

    Will Pittsburgh Pirates Begin The 2014 Season With Andrew Lambo As Their First Baseman?

    8 Green Weenie

    12/19: Tommy O’Brien, Flop of the Year, Amos Otis, Jon Lieber…

    9 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates praised for 2013 draft class, plus Three Rivers, One Show podcast

    10 Beach Lifestyle

    BeachLifestyle Radio Show-Al Oliver

  14. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Fox Sports

    Reports: Japanese team won’t allow MLB clubs to bid for righty Tanaka

    12 Yahoo Sports

    Starlin Castro has $3.6 million seized in legal battle with Dominican baseball academy–mlb.html

    13 Deadline

    Thomas Tull Tapped For Baseball Hall Of Fame Board

    14 SB Nation

    The Best of Baseball 2013: A year-end list, part one–mariano-rivera-tim-lincecum-alex-rios

    15 Baseball nation

    The rise of pitching helmets

    Pitcher helmets look silly? We’ll get over it.

    16 Belleville News Democrat

    Speed is in again for Major League Baseball

    17 St Louis Post Dispatch

    Goold: Have the Cardinals found true glove?

    18 Daytona Beach News Journal

    Commentary: Happy 125th to baseball great Fred Merkle!


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Managing Expectations

    20 Fangraphs

    Casey McGehee and Others Who Have Returned From Japan

  15. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers roster: Changes are coming, there is no doubt

    5 Burning Questions Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers

    22 Steelers Gab

    Jarvis Jones Or Le’Veon Bell – Which Player Is Steelers Rookie of The Year?


    23 LA Times

    U.S. finishes year 14th in world soccer rankings,0,2168580.story#axzz2nyOK6XoQ

    24 World Soccer Daily

    Andre Villas-Boas carries the can for the mistakes of others


    25 Pensburgh

    5 reasons the Penguins are winning throughout the injuries

    Song: Walk Out to Winter Aztec Camera

  16. Jandy says:

    Drew is on a roll already I see :)

  17. Jandy says:

    Dejan, might I say, you definitely deserve a week off (if not more). Enjoy your family, enjoy the holidays.
    Merry Christmas.
    Oh, and thanks for everything you do here for us Loonies.

  18. Drew71 says:

    Not a roll.

    I think I’m more of an English Muffin.

    Wait. I might come to regret that metaphor.

  19. Drew71 says:

    Yep. Only 65 this morning.

  20. Jandy says:

    no doubt you will lol

  21. Brandie says:

    Thank you for all you did for me last night. Really appreciate it! Means a lot!

  22. Jandy says:

    Sistah, you’re so welcome….you’re in my heart…good luck with the job switch…hope ALL works out well for you HUGZ!

  23. Karen22 says:


  24. Thundercrack says:

    ‘There will be no chat this week because of the travel home from New York. Apologies for that. Tried to make it work. Just not practical.’

    You know what makes it work. An airplane.

    Safe travels.


    DK: You’re right. But I drove the whole family up this week. Brother lives there, and he took them all over the city while I worked.

  25. Brandie says:

    I was set up to fail. How can one person do the job of three people? I felt used, demeaned, and humiliated!

  26. Brandie says:

    Merry Christmas Rarin’ Karen!

  27. It was business as usual last night as the Pens scored a qoal first off and there were two fights and they won at home 5-2. What more could a hockey fan ask for?

  28. pens67 says:

    what’s even more amazing than the photo of Ulf and Phillip is the fact that 40,000 fans where at that Cup celebration…..just 300,000 or so less than after the ’09 win…….by the way Phillip will be catching hell from his team mates for that hat! Good Stuff.

  29. AL says:

    I’m sure the effort and maturity put forth by the WBS players hasn’t gone un-noticed by other teams around the NHL who might be targeting John Hynes for a head coaching job. Sure would hate to lose him.
    Ulfie’s picture with Philip……PRICELESS!

  30. Jandy says:

    Well, now is your chance to take an opportunity by the horns and run with it :)
    Put the other losers in your rear-view mirror!

  31. Jandy says:

    Some on the Penguin’s game thread were upset by the two fights in the first period, which I missed. But from what I understand, Ballard was hitting low, which could cause injuries. Maybe someone should have hit him low, instead? Loser.

  32. Drew71 says:

    Barry Melrose coaching again.

    That’s what EYE’m asking for, James.

    For the pure entertainment value.

  33. Karen22 says:

    And to you, Ms. Brandie!

  34. Arriba Wilver says:

    DK driving back from New York

    with friends.

  35. Jandy says:


  36. Jandy says:

    Thanks, AW. That just made my morning lol

  37. Too much cheese steak in the Philly stop.

  38. DJ says:

    Baby Pens are the shot in the arm that our team needed. Tremendous energy, growing confidence, steadily improving play.

    On defense, making the simple, tape-to-tape passes out of the zone. On offense, d-men putting shots on net. Hope Letang is taking note.

  39. Brandie says:

    I just wanted to share this with you all…

    After getting fired from my job yesterday, I came home to find a package in the mail. It was from my husband’s cousin. She lives in a supportive living facility due to developmental issues. Inside the package was a Barbie Doll ornament! It touched my heart so much….I felt like all the kids I tried to help over the years were speaking to me through her, telling me it would be okay!

    Take nothing for granted ever.

    Merry Christmas,

  40. Jandy says:

    You just made my heart melt, Brandecita. What a lovely thing to give you, and perfect timing, too :)

  41. Jandy says:

    Did you say you get your start date for your new job sometime today???

  42. Brandie says:

    That is the plan. I am glad to share that story with you all. Glad you got a lift!

  43. Iceman says:

    So the Pens just keep winning. I really like the simple play they are using with the young guys in the lineup. I hope Letang is taking notes.

    I’m afraid Matt Niskanen is playing himself out of Pittsburgh. If he maintains play the way he has in the beginning of the season, there is no way the Pens can afford to keep him here. He has played smart, smooth, and quick and unlike some other defensemen we watch, he finds a way to get the puck on net. Good for him. Seems like a nice guy.

    If Maatta isn’t considered for Calder at the end of the year, this league is broken. His play is unbelievable. Even when he makes mistakes, which he has, he doesn’t get frazzled or beat himself up, he just plays harder to get back into the play and make up for his mistakes, not unlike a certain 87 who is on the ice with him. Kid has natural talent oozing out of him.

    Speaking of 87, dat pass last night. Wow!

  44. Wild Bill says:

    From what you’ve shared, Brandie, I would put it this way – you’re the lucky one, you get to leave.

    Chapters ended mean that new ones can now be written. Stay strong.

  45. Jandy says:

    hey Ice, I follow your thinking on Niskie playing his way outta the ‘Burgh. But…what if…
    We keep Niskie and that makes Letang expendable? Not that I want that to happen, but, it’s a different perspective. Nice problem to have.

  46. Karen22 says:

    Very sweet! So sorry about the Scroogy job issue! Geeez! NO doubt you’ll land on your feet, though…you’re and ANIMAL! ;)

  47. hockeymonster says:

    Brandi make hockeymonster cry :)

  48. Wild Bill says:

    Really was fun, wasn’t it, Ice? The Pens scored in about every way possible – jam it in, shot from the point, tip in a centering pass, score on a penalty shot. Didn’t see this one coming; I thought the guys would be tired. Silly me.

  49. Wild Bill says:

    Can’t believe I just read that!

  50. Jandy says:

    Here’s a tissue ;)

  51. hockeymonster says:

    Jandstar, it wont be letang thats expendable if it comes to that…

  52. Jandy says:

    I thought for sure their collective butts would be draggin’.
    A pleasant surprise for sure :)

  53. hockeymonster says:

    MN gave us a gift when they forechecked super hard right off the bat. We caught them with their forwards being too aggressive by moving the puck quick up the boards and with short passes at full speed right to the net. New puck support system is leaving teams at a loss as to what to do and how to defend. If they back off into the neutral zone we now bring our forwards back to support dmen up ice with speed and close support. If they’re too aggressive like MN was early last night we catch them with quick puck movement and short passes up ice right to their front door.

    Anyone else starting to miss the disco stretch? :)

  54. Pucknutz says:

    I thought the same – a pleasant surprise for sure !
    Got another game tomorrow – 1 day to rest those young legs.

  55. Brandie says:

    Thanks Wild Man!

  56. Brandie says:

    Don’t sweat it. I have shed enough tears over what I may have done differently and the degradation and possible relationships that have been adversely impacted by staying in a bad career choice by someone of !my educational background for years. One door opens after another closes.

  57. Jandy says:

    Pfffftt!! :P

    But you’re prolly right….either way, it’s not a given that Niskie will go…who knows what Shero will pull off???

  58. Brandie says:

    Thanks Karen! Hugs to you.

  59. Jandy says:

    I’m proud of you, Sistah!

  60. hockeymonster says:

    Nice to see FF back in action…

  61. hockeymonster says:

    Exactly! Was just about to say that if its not meant to be its not meant to be…staying positive pays off!

  62. Jandy says:

    Tell me about it! lol
    Those guys are super busy, but still…

  63. Iceman says:

    I’m with you thinking they would be tired. Niskanen and Maatta both played a ridiculous amount of min in NY the night before and still both looked like they weren’t tired at all last night. This team sure is fun to watch.

  64. Iceman says:

    The new breakouts have been great to watch. Using a variety of breakouts has proven to give opponents fits. Not only has Martin had an incredible impact on the defensive play of this team, but Disco Dan seemed to do some soul searching and video watching this offseason. I hope it all can continue.

  65. Iceman says:

    If someone in the NHL picks up Hynes, it would be a huge loss to this organization. His knowledge of the Pens systems and ability to put them in place in WBS has to be key to the successes of these young guys coming up. Would sure hate to lose that.

  66. Jim S. says:

    Congrats for landing back on your feet, Brandie! Good luck with the new gig!

  67. Lad 9 says:

    BRANDIEEEEEE! Hey girl, I couldn’t hop on the thread last night so I just went back an read it. I have a different take on what happened to you based on this quote “I just got fired from the job I hated”. Wow, what a blessing. That is a true Merry Christmas for you. Your stress levels will be down and you will be happier. And your luck y new employer will be getting a jewel!

    Life is good Brandiceta. You are more than a blog hall of famer, you are a life hall of famer. Even a dumb azz like me can see that in your posts. Feliz Navidad (of as my youngest used to see, Feliz Nighty-Night), my dear muppet friend.

  68. Lad 9 says:

    “or as my youngest used to say” Jandy disease

  69. Jim S. says:

    I get hammered when I mention that, Jandy. I am not saying it out of disrespect for Tanger. In fact, it is just the opposite. If you have a lot of value, but maybe you play at a position of excess strength for your team, sometimes a trade works for all.

  70. Brandie says:


  71. Nate83 says:

    I’m not against that idea at all Jandy. This team is more about the unsung guys like Niskanen, Dupuis, Sutter and a few others that just continue to contribute and play good all around hockey. As awesome as Letang can be some of the times he often has lapses in judgment and hurts this team. I don’t think that will change and I think it hurts a lot more in the playoffs then it does in the regular season because of the style of play.

    The return for him would be fantastic. I’m not saying just do it at any cost but if the return is right and it can free up cap space going forward why not look into it.

  72. Brandie says:

    Thanks Jimster!

  73. hockeymonster says:

    Yup. Hopefully Dumoulin is getting the same feedback that despres and bortuzzo have received about keeping it simple and not looking to cheat up ice to join the rush. He’s been caught in no mans land a few times last few games. Not saying he’s been bad but his positioning could be better and he needs to focus on keeping his feet moving too.

    Before i viewed Samuelsson as trade bait from the young batch but he’s starting to grow on me with decent IQ and positioning. And he has a very sneaky cross check that must be annoying to play against. He still holds onto the puck too long at times and needs to make quicker decisions but he’s playing his off side with despres. Which says something about what they think of samuelsson. He’d be better suited to play the left side and would probably make fewer mistakes but for them to give him that responsibility over despres says that they believe in his IQ, hands and skill level. Normally you’d want a skilled player to play their off side so not putting despres there says that they believe in 55.

  74. Jim S. says:

    So, it’s Wednesday night in NY. Very late. The Pens have just earned a hard fought shoot-out victory vs. the home team, which had rallied for 2 late goals to send it to OT. They collect themselves, get dragged to the airport and fly home. I’m thinking their heads hit the pillow at 2 or 3 a.m. in Pittsburgh – maybe later. It was their 3rd game in 5 days. Who could blame them for laying an egg in the 4th game in 6 days, vs a team that has been sitting and resting in Pittsburgh for a day? These stretches are a grind for any team.

    Not this team. Not these young legs. Not on Sid’s watch. Not on Kuni’s watch, or anyone else’s. They just went out and played with as much energy as they probably have all season. It was just stunning to watch. What a work ethic. What a team effort.

    The pass by Sid … Gotta be in his top 5 all-time.

    This team moves the puck so quickly – out of its own end, from side-to-side on power plays, etc. I guess we’ll find out later whether this is the high mark for the season, or just the start of a dominating run through the rest of the season. Whatever the case, this is great stuff.

  75. hockeymonster says:

    I’m sure reading the blog hasn’t hurt disco’s evolution ;)

  76. Jandy says:

    Jim & Nate, agreed. It’s ironic that I brought it up tho, as he is my favorite player other than Dupuis on this team now. Everyone knows I think he’s eye candy as well. The twist Hockey Monster put on it, suggesting that Paul Martin would be the trade piece is just another dig at me that he is good at doing. But it’s all in fun so it’s all good :)
    It pained me to admit it, but hey, it’s possible it would be better to keep Niskie and use Tanger to get some quality forward which we desperately need.
    In Shero We Trust

  77. Wild Bill says:

    Bad Day on the Blue Jackets team bus. They choked away a 3 – 0 third period lead and lost to the Flyers last night. Mr. Umberger is having a less than good start to his Christmas season.

  78. hockeymonster says:

    And we started the season still using the disco stretch so not sure if he came around in the off season. As i recall the turning point was the Caps game last month when we won 4-0 and dominated possession with ridiculous metrics catching the caps at a total loss that we weren’t disco stretching.

  79. Jandy says:

    you have it bad ;)

    How the heck are ya Laddie??? :) Missed you!

  80. hockeymonster says:

    Hey i didn’t even mention PM today :)

  81. Jandy says:

    I’m sure others had a hand in that change ;)

  82. Wild Bill says:

    Perish the thought of peaking too early, Jim. It was really good stuff.

  83. Jandy says:

    Loved it…woke hubby up more than once with my WOOPS! LOL

  84. Jandy says:

    You were thinking way too loudly, Monster Mash :P

  85. hockeymonster says:

    I’m not over thinking it…just think we should sit back and enjoy the circus….

  86. Jim S. says:

    Was the caption of that Freeze Frame Flashback really Son of Sam? I get the play on words, but I can’t believe it originally ran with that caption.

    Great picture of Ulfie and Phillip, though.

  87. hockeymonster says:

    You’re just way too dialed into the MM frequency….

  88. Joni says:

    Perhaps Niskie’s new partner is the reason why his game has ratcheted up his level of play? No disrespect to any of Niskanen’s past d partners – I am thinking of Engallend here. Might this phenomenon be somewhat similar to how James Neal’s play skyrocketed after playing with Geno?
    I am in no way comparing Geno with Maatta. Even I know that there is a world of difference :)

  89. Joey Bats says:

    So PITT football has a tremendous NEED …SPEED & SIZE for the defensive backfield for 2014.

    The WPIAL just so happens to have 2 of the finest seniors in the state graduating in that area.

    …and THUD. :-(

    PC and MAtt House whiff on 2 guys that live a “cab ride” from the stadium where the home team plays. I know you can’t bat 100% on all your needs….but if you are going to turn a program around…after 2-3 years on the recruiting trail…you have to do a better job than this….especially in an area where Pitt is so lacking. == > “WE HAVE TO RUN FASTER !”

    DK: Well, they DID get that lineman from Mt. Lebanon.

  90. theplanisworking says:

    Another “where did this come from” win last night.
    We knew Maatta could be good, but this?
    The Baby Pens will be scary good when the youngsters go back down…..that would mean both the big club, and little club will be in the hunt for championships.

    When the Pens get healthy, there might be some interesting decisions made.
    Maatta? Penalty shot? Really? :)

  91. Jim S. says:

    Does he fall asleep during the games every night, Jandy? Pirates, Penguins – doesn’t seem to matter.


  93. theplanisworking says:

    I really dont understand the need to “tank” in the NBA at all.

    Yesterday, the 76ers, already one of the worst teams in the league, were thisclose to trading one of their only good players, Spencer Hawes, and a 1st round draft pick, to Houston for Omir Asik. The same Omir Asik that is hurt, and is out indefinitely. The same Omir Asik that had one career year last year, and has stunk the other years.

    2 years ago, the Sixers traded all-star Andre Iguodola for Andrew Bynum, who didnt play one minute for them due to injuries. Now they almost traded for another injured player.

    I just dont get it.

  94. Jandy says:

    Loved the HUGE smile on Maatta’s face when Rierden was congratulating him on the bench :)

  95. Jim S. says:

    Great stuff on Twitter last night from Pens faithful after his goal. Nisk-Cannon.

  96. theplanisworking says:

    Oh the smile that makes him look 12 years old? ;)

  97. theplanisworking says:

    Oh the smile that makes him look 12 years old? ;)

  98. Jandy says:

    Jim, lately, yes. he’s a floor covering installer subcontractor and it’s been totally insane trying to get as much flooring installed before the holidays as possible. he’s really tuckered out…we’re both taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s to recharge our batteries :)

  99. Jandy says:

    He!! yeah…every single moment of it :)

  100. hockeymonster says:

    You think? Maybe they should send whoever that is some eggnog ;)

  101. Jandy says:

    yeah, that one! :D

  102. Jandy says:

    Could be “instant chemistry” who knows? :)

  103. Jandy says:

    spiked eggnog!

  104. Jandy says:

    Now you’re full of yourself :P

  105. Jim S. says:

    It is sort of like a disease slowly spreading through all of the Philly professional teams right now, plan. Acute cluelessness. At present, the Eagles are the only one not afflicted. And, even they gave up almost 50 points in Minnesota last week.

  106. Jandy says:

    haha yeah Phillip will get a ton of heckling

  107. Jim S. says:

    1st penalty shot for a d-man in the NHL since, I think, 1999. First one for a Penguins d-man since their inaugural season about 45 years ago.

  108. theplanisworking says:

    Jim, I just dont understand the need to deliberately tank.
    The Sixers were in an alternate universe, and started the season 5-3 i think. Reality has come fast, as they are 2-16 since. That is more their level.

    They are going to be one of the worst teams in the league regardless.
    Acute cluelessness is correct.

  109. theplanisworking says:

    Just think if a Pittsburgh sports team (doesnt matter which one), would have this type of bobblehead for a player…………..

  110. Jim S. says:

    Some guys just seem to find themselves at the center of big moments. Ollie Maatta, he of the extra letters in his last name, might just be one of those guys.

    I really thought the Pens were finally running out of steam a bit early in the 3rd period. The North Stars had just cut the once 4-0 cushion to 4-2, and the Pens committed 2 penalties in the space of 13 seconds. Uh oh! We know what usually happens to a supposed tired NHL team vs. a fresh one in that situation. The supposed tired team has no business killing both penalties. Sometimes, they get scored on twice there and the lead is gone. Watching at home, you are trying to make deals with fate. “We’ll be ok if we get out of this with a 4-3 lead.”

    That was high drama. The perimeter set up around Zoltan Zatkoff for that 2-man advantage was great. The spacing was terrific. Granted, that was not the Blackhawks trying to score there. But, the penalty kill was impressive nonetheless.

    It wasn’t enough for this team to just kill both penalties over nearly 2 full minutes. They decided to increase their lead, and rip the hearts out of the Wild right then and there. As Ollie hopped out of the box and took that pass, did anyone really think he was not going to find a way to put a dagger in Minnesota right there?

  111. I heard Philip in an interview say he had been playing the right side all season at Wilkes-Barre and that he was most comfortable on that side———although he would play wherever they asked him.

  112. Joni says:

    I agree with Maatta’s looking 12 when he smiles. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t smile too much during games.
    No worries there, I am smiling enough for the both of us!

  113. So . . . . you two and Dejan will be taking time off at the same time.

    In the same place?

  114. theplanisworking says:


  115. Jandy says:


    Stay tuned for the next episode of….

  116. Friends, family, and co-workers wanted me to go to college locally. I went 500 miles away.

    One of best decisions I made in my life.

    When I came back home I had learned to “live.”

    Losing a local recruit may not be because Pitt can’t recruit.

  117. Jim S. says:

    Plan, growing up, basketball was my favorite sport to play. I absolutely loved playing it and watching the NBA. I still love college hoops. But, try as I might every season, I just can’t stick with the NBA any more. I get excited in the playoffs for a particular series once in awhile. There’s just something about how once a team falls down it is so hard to build it back up again that bothers me. In the 3 other sports, if you go about it in an intelligent way, you can contend again in a few years after you have sunk to the bottom. It is not easy, as the Pirates have proven, but that was their own fault.

    In the NBA, it just seems so hard to build a winner. There are about, what, 5 impact players at most that enter the league each season? They constructed that lottery system for the top picks to keep teams from tanking purposely each season. I would have a hard time if my team were a middle of the pack team. That is death valley. You don’t get a lottery ball, and you have no chance of winning. You can be the smartest GM in the league and have no way to build a championship team w/o that #1 or #2 pick.

    I honestly don’t know what is going on in Philly. I assume they have been pretty inept, but I can see how it is pretty hopeless at times. D Rose is out here again, and no one is sure whether he will ever be the player everyone expected. So, do they tear the team apart? So much depends on 1 or 2 guys on an NBA roster.

  118. Pucknutz says:

    Ya Jim, great sequence there – and they called the “penalty shot”, rare anymore – used to call it all the time.
    Had to be a thrill for the kid to score on that!!!

  119. Jandy says:

    I hope not, I’d drive him insane for sure ;)

  120. Stuart says:

    Hey Brandie, For You:

    Have a good one.


  121. Jandy says:

    that’s just wild.

  122. Jim S. says:

    Good point, Joey. Chryst seems to be doing a good job now of slowly keeping the stud OLine guys at home, with another good get this week. But, he is not keeping enough skill position guys around, and he is not making up for that well enough by getting kids from elsewhere to come to Pitt.

  123. Jim S. says:

    That’s hard work. Enjoy the time off!

  124. Jim S. says:

    Even rarer still for a defenseman, Pucknutz.

  125. Jandy says:

    Indeed! Thanks Jim!

  126. Jandy says:

    Especially with his Mom in the stands, Puckers :)

  127. JohninOshkosh says:

    Well, if ever there was a year to tank, it’s this year. Both Parker and Wiggins are likely to be available.

    Will see your Sixers tomorrow night, Plan, weather permitting. Part of my Bucks 10 game pack. Plenty of good sections available at the Bradley Centre.

  128. Pucknutz says:

    The story gets even better!!!! Missed that –did not know she was there !!!

  129. hockeymonster says:

    Good thing that wasn’t crosby on breakaway…no way he gets that call for PS.

  130. Supposed to be 6 degrees during 2nd half of Pack/Steelers game on Sunday.

    Wear socks!!!

  131. theplanisworking says:

    Can you see a Sid Bobblehead like that?
    Or a Cole bobblehead?

    Very creative stuff………

  132. hockeymonster says:

    Olli Maatta oll the time….

  133. Steelkings says:

    Love the Ice Bowl Video. Interesting to watch old films where you can see the concussions of the old days. Check out 7:57 of the video where the tight ends head bounces off the frozen tundra of Lame-bo field.

    Lame-bo Field? Hallowed Grounds? Please. Memo to Derps: If you live in a city where the climate is -15 in December, Build a stadium with a roof.

  134. theplanisworking says:

    Saw a bit on ESPN last week, with interesting results.

    They went back over the past 6 years, with the top 5 selections from each year. 30 total selections. I think 4 impact players total.
    Thats some low odds. 13% chance tanking benefits you, 87% chance it doesnt.

    Enjoy the game. At least you can stretch out. :)

  135. Joni says:

    His mom was there? FANtastic!

  136. Steelkings says:

    Note to DK** ” crazy cold”

    Its supposed to be 28 degrees at game time with flurries. Suck it up! My god.

  137. hockeymonster says:

    Tigers bullpen too? :)

  138. Best in 6th or 7th inning!

  139. Jim S. says:

    I notice he seems to fumble around occasionally in his own end. Sometimes it leads to bad decisions, sometimes to a frantic clearing attempt that did not need to be. But, he’s young and has only played a few games. I’m sure the speed of the game in the NHL takes an adjustment period. He’s not in Wilkes-Barre any more.

  140. Jim S. says:

    Forwards. Plural.

  141. Jim S. says:

    Thought I’d mention … Gregory Polanco is hitting .333 or thereabouts in the Dominican Winter League. He slugged HR #5 last night.

    Starling just started playing, and has been plunked 2 nights in a row – including on the left hand that forced him to leave last night’s game. I have not sifted through JAL’s notes yet to see if it is serious. That kid has to find a way to avoid getting HBP so much, especially in his hands.

    Ok, I return you back to talk of trading Christopher Letang and other Pens stuff. :-)

  142. philthegroundhog says:

    Will it be cold enough for DK to try to freeze coffee in front of his hotel? :)

  143. Jandy says:

    Fine by me, Jim, I just didn’t want to sound too greedy ;)

  144. Jandy says:


  145. Jandy says:

    He!! yeah!

  146. Jandy says:

    Only on Thursdays …

  147. 21sthebest says:

    Why is Starling playing now?????

  148. Jim S. says:

    Thank you, JAL, for Link #10 – an interview on Beachlifestyleradio with Super Scoop! My avatar! My hero as a young Bucs fan, the great Al Oliver. I have only gotten through about 10 minutes of the interview so far, but I think I love Al Oliver more now than I did as a kid – if that is even possible.

    He talked about his arrival with the Bucs in his first spring training at 19, and about meeting The Great One for the first time. He said that was an intimidating experience. He also talks about how his mom had passed away a year or two before that, and then his dad, and suddenly he was faced with trying to succeed as a big league player while also needing to assume responsibility for taking care of his younger brother and sister. That is a lot of responsibility and growing up to do so fast for a 19 year old kid.

    He said that he was able to do it because of the character he inherited from his dad, who had been stricken with an illness and quickly went from being a very healthy and strong man, to a very sickly man, to being gone in a very short space of time. He said his dad never complained, never whined about his illness. His only words to Al were, “Please take care of your younger brother and sister when I’m gone.” Al got the message loud and clear.

    My memories of Al as a player were that he hit line drive after line drive after line drive. .300+ lifetime hitter. But, I always found his treatment by the local media to be a bit unfair. I felt he was always portrayed in a bit of a negative way. It was always written, as I recall, that he felt under-appreciated. Maybe that is the curse of living in the shadow of Roberto and Willie.

    Anyway, Al devotes his time now to helping people live a better quality of life. I love Al Oliver more now than I did even as a kid. Good for you, Al!! Not changing my Avatar any time soon.

  149. Jim S. says:

    I guess because he’s at home and he wants to play. Maybe the Bucs have asked him to work on some things. I believe MLB rules kept him from playing until just recently. He got the ok from the Bucs.

  150. Jim S. says:

    His mom seems fantastic all right.

  151. 21sthebest says:

    I’ve always loved Al too. And I’ll never forget when he spoke at my Little League banquet around 1973. beth Shalom Synagogue. He said he was the best centerfielder in baseball. Later he took questions and a teammate, the commissioner of the league’s son asked him why he was so conceited. It was pretty priceless. But Al was terrific.

  152. Or at funerals

    To church on Sundays optional.

  153. 21sthebest says:

    Well I’d protect him. No game action from the end of the season to spring training.

  154. Polanco .329 after HR #5 in last game (solo shot)

    Lambo played right field again Venezuela (not 1st Base, where he has played only a few times) and went 2/3 to raise his average to .222.

  155. Jim S. says:

    You’re right, 21. They talked alot about him being conceited. After reading about how he chooses to spend his time now, a time when most people would retire and relax, I would say he is anything but conceited. In fact, he seems pretty selfless.

    So, maybe just “confident” would describe him better back then.

  156. 21sthebest says:

    I thought he was awesome. Still have a bunch of his baseball cards.

  157. hockeymonster says:

    HA! :)

  158. JohninOshkosh says:

    Outstanding Morning Java today. Love that photo of Ulf Samuelsson. And just had three co-workers watching the Ice Bowl video.

    A few things I found interesting. The church shown at the :06 mark is St. Willebrord Catholic Church in downtown Green Bay. It is located kitty-corner to another Green Bay architectural landmark, the Brown County Courthouse. Vince Lombardi was a devout Catholic and was a daily Communicant at that church. To this day, the faithful of that Parrish avoid sitting in the part of the pew where Lombardi routinely sat for Mass.

    I also noted the Pabst Brewing Company scoreboard. Pabst was once a proud Wisconsin brewery. It got bought out by Miller and, when retirement benefits were severely cut by the company, a lot of bad blood flowed. It is now based in La La land, I believe.

    I will say this about Lambeau Field. It has changed with the new facade and atrium and, before that, the construction of indoor luxury suites. But when you enter it, you still see the outline of the classic stadium made legendary by NFL Films. You feel the ghosts there and its eternal connection with small town America.

    I’ve been there several times and drive by it a few times a month. When you take the Lombardi exit off Highway 41 and the stadium comes upon you on the right like a massive, silent sentinel, dominating the horizon and looking over the flat Green Bay landscape lacking any buildings of significant height, the first thing that comes to mind is astonishment that a professional franchise in the billion dollar NFL plays in this town. Nothing like it in all of professional sport, I dare say. It is almost impossible not to check cynicism at the stadium gates.

    Weather forecast for Sunday is temps at 24/10 with a 90% chance of snow. The weather folks are covering there backsides, as usual, but snow totals throughout Sunday morning and the game range from 2-10 inches, depending on the push from the Gulf of Mexico. Been to a fair share of games there, but never in snow.

    DK: Yikes. (Heads back to bags to pack even more.)

  159. Thundercrack says:

    What sport was that for that ESPN went back and analyzed the picks?

  160. Jim S. says:

    My son wears #21 in baseball for Roberto. I would have worn #16 for Al. Clemente was a bit before my time. Plus, he was a righty. I was a lefty, like Al.

  161. Jim S. says:

    I believe I also read last week that Lambo is hitting LHP well, but not RHP right now. That needs to turn around by April, because if he is the lefty half of the 1b platoon he will be getting 70%+ of the ABs – almost exclusively vs. RHP.

  162. Jim S. says:

    NBA, I believe, TC.

  163. theplanisworking says:

    Yes Jim, NBA picks, top 5 the past 6 years.

  164. Jim S. says:

    By all means, if we trade a talent like that … let’s be greedy!

  165. Lad 9 says:

    Have been really busy Jandy. The job now has responsiblities over a lot more places, and the person who would have been my new boss was let go, so I have to do his job too. Miss my blog something terrible, but have been able to do some hit and run lurking. Good to see you are getting some time off, as am I. Thanks for the shout out! :)

  166. Jandy says:

    Well, Lad, if you’re doing 2 jobs, the pay should increase as well! :)

  167. NMR says:

    Has less than 50 PA against either.

    He slashed .280/.346/.589 w/ 25%K / 9%BB against righties last year in Indy, fwiw.

  168. Thundercrack says:

    Interesting. I didn’t realize Tomlin and Colbet were making picks in the NBA.


  169. theplanisworking says:

    Good article on teams joining different conferences in college sports……

  170. theplanisworking says:

    Always loved seeing pictures of old baseball parks hosting football games.

    In 2015, it happens again………………

  171. I’ve also just heard that Brooks Orpik is doing well and may well come back soon.

  172. Jandy says:

    TC ~ ;thwap:

  173. Brooks Orpik also got a texted apology from Sean Thornton, with whom he’d skated during the lockout.

  174. theplanisworking says:

    And Pitt loses another one………

    RB Shai Mckenzie commits to Virginia Tech.

    Coach Chryst, you need to do better, sir.

  175. hockeymonster says:

    Forgot to mention this earlier but really like the symmetry of Maatta taking a good penalty and saving a goal on one end then popping out of the box for a breakaway and PS at the other. So much for feeling shame in the sin bin.

    Also been meaning to give Sutter some big ups for his recent play and production. Was obvious early on that he needed more help on the wall and with possession than Kokasew or d’agastini could offer so nice to see him show the form we expect and come thru in the clutch with geno out and experience being thin.

  176. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen enough but what’s the use ? The same guy that can’t pick a coach would just be choosing the next one. Until Peterson goes this will just go on in perpetuity. Feh.

  177. Jim S. says:

    Agreed. There are some great old shots of Wrigley and Forbes hosting football.

  178. Jim S. says:

    I know. Just pointing out that he had gotten off to a bad start vs RHP in winter leagues. If he can duplicate .280/.346/.589 in Pgh, all will be fine. I like him, but I question whether he can do that right out of the gate in his first real, consistent action in MLB.

  179. theplanisworking says:


  180. Very interesting, John.

  181. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Caught the last period of the Pens game last night. Man those guys are on fire and Maatta is very impressive.

    Was very surprised and impressed with the way they handled the 5-3.

    Always seems like they have to put you in suspense in the last period though, perhaps like basketball, that last few minutes are the most exciting.

    Last day at work today, house getting packed up the day after Christmas. Going to be a busy next couple of weeks. Probably won’t be in here much, unless DK continues to tweet out his link to the blog.

    Happy Holidays everybody…….even you Plan….Ha Ha. (seriously though, no hard feelings)

  182. JohninOshkosh says:

    Save move to you. Are you going to change your blog name ?

  183. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    Yea probably..I’ll keep the “Ryan” in there…..

  184. JohninOshkosh says:

    *safe move

  185. Jandy says:

    Merry Christmas Ryan and safe travels :)

  186. Jim S. says:

    Happy Holidays, Nor Cal! Safe travels!

  187. Nor Cal Stlrfanrc (Ryan) says:

    With my new job I probably won’t be on as much. I won’t be locked down to a desk.

    Which is a good thing. I’m not an office person.

  188. NMR says:

    He’s not gonna come close to that in Pittsburgh.

    Just throwing it out there in case some people wondered if his winter league reverse splits were a thing.

  189. 21sthebest says:

    “With my new job I probably won’t be on as much”

    Why exactly did you accept this job? ;-)

    Best of luck!

  190. 21sthebest says:

    Winter league stats? We talkin’ ’bout winter league stats?

  191. NMR says:

    I would literally rather discuss the Detroit Tigers bullpen. :)

  192. Ghost says:

    In the Kovacevic household, “Christmas Week” is code language for under garments.

  193. I’ve just heard that a recent CBC poll in Canada stated that 98% of the hockey fans were in favor of keeping violence in the game, while an ESPN poll taken in 2011 yielded similar results. Also, it seems as if most hockey players are accepting of or resigned to hockey violence, probably because they’re proud and want to prove how tough they are and can be, and it’s been said that unless the players someday soon get together and decide against the violence, it will remain and nothing will change.

  194. Drew71 says:

    Ditto and ditto

  195. All I hope for is that Pitt can go beyond 6-6 every year and meaningless postseason bowls like the Pizza Bowl this year, and that this particular class of recruits can make that possible.

  196. Well, at least the Pens are operating these days like a well oiled machine and, hopefully, that well oiled machine can win their 10th straight at home tonight.

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