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Morning Java: Call me … seriously

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature you. I’m serious. That’s how I’d like to get this show started every week, by taking your calls.

To date, that’s been hit and miss. Some weeks, there are a ton. Others, none. I have a feeling some are worried they’ll stay on hold forever or never get on the show. I will get you on. Just call. Any topic at all.

Call me at 412-320-7925.

Also, feel free to email sportstalk@tribweb.com if you can’t call. But I’d really rather hear from you.

To listen, just click on the link above. If you’re mobile, try the TribLIVE Radio app.

>> Sidney Crosby has a flair for the dramatic in Vancouver, huh? Tying goal in final minute, then shootout goal. Josh Yohe was there, and he’ll be joining us on the show today, as well.

Chris Kunitz joins Crosby on Team Canada, by Yohe.

James Neal takes snub in stride, by Yohe.

Canada’s hits and misses, by columnist Joe Starkey.

Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta make Team Finland, by Yohe.

Here’s our full Penguins coverage.

Here’s Canucks news from the Vancouver Sun.

Here are official game highlights from NHL.com.

>> Wandy Rodriguez sounds encouraged, according to our Rob Biertempfel, the only Pittsburgh reporter in Bradenton covering the Pirates’ minicamp.

Here’s some of what Wandy had to say …

Also, here’s a bonus talk with Jameson Taillon

>> Is Josh Newkirk Pitt’s next hot shot? Kevin Gorman reports.

>> Penn State’s coaching search progresses, per the AD. Chris Adamski reports.

>> Hope to hear from you on the show.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

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

305 Comments

  1. Pens win a tight game.

    No thanks to Mr Jinxacevic and his During-Game-Time morning thread.

    Somebody needs to teach him the rules about, you know, jinxing.

  2. Good win, which almost looked like a bad loss after leading 2-0 and getting a stinker of game from Crosby.

    Congrats to Dan Bylsma for team’s all-time win record, amazing for a guy who opts to have Adams and Engelland on his 4th line.

    Some other thoughts

    - Orpik and Despres don’t pair well because they both need to play left defense. If you want to criticize Despres, that’s fine but be aware, Orpik and many others struggle playing the other side.

    - Martin needs to get back quick so Orpik’s security blanket returns. Quite concerned with Orpik’s play since returning from the concussion. I would advise the team to sit him for the next game.

    - Fleury gave up 4 goals but he was outstanding.

    - Interesting to see if NHL does anything (they won’t)… on Sestito hit on Letang’s head as result of a charging penalty.

    • Good Points overall.

      I’ll need to see more of 47 on right D to assess how well he can play there -we know 44 can’t. Also, 44 hasn’t really been the best defender even prior to the concussion. Over the last 2-3 years his positional play once trapped in the zone has been suspect and the gap is not always where you’d like it to see.

      As for playing 5 and 27 on the fourth line, what players take their place? Seems like HCDB always gets the back-handed complements instead of recognizing that his lineups just might be winning all of these games for a reason. And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Steve Ott – Jordan Stall – David Clarkson fourth line but realistically we are dealing with a pool of players that includes 12, 38, and some very green AHL prospects given our injury position.

  3. I can’t remember the last shot that MAF let in during a shoot out.

    Sid had a really hard time getting going in this game, but he had a lot left in the tank for the last two minutes of the game. He has been lights out in shoot outs.

    Shero was sitting above with a suit I didn’t recognize; Vancouver GM? Don’t know how close Martin is, but something needs to be done soon with surplus D. Dan doesn’t seem to hold Despres in any great regard. I expect him to be moved, and with his wing span I expect him to turn into a “top-two” defenseman with some other team.

    Sochi break should help Tanger get healthy for the stretch.

    Stuart

  4. “Call Me” (and not “Maybe”)
    Here’s the real thing, by the Queen of Soul.

  5. James Neal is a little thuggish/goonish/stupid for international hockey. First game, the opposition falls down and their head is at Neal’s knee level. Does he:
    A) turn away
    B) turn in

    While I would say he would follow option A, I cannot say he wouldn’t do option B. That possibility is the reason he won’t be back in the USSR…..

  6. The salary for Wandy R. this year is $13 million. ALL of it …coming out of the Nuttings’ wallet.

    I’m setting the OVER/UNDER on the number of starts he makes for the team in 2014 @ 13.

    …and I’m taking the UNDER.

    Hope I’m wrong…… :-(

  7. Today the Baseball Hall of Fame announces it’s vote. Who do you think deserves to be inducted?

  8. JAL’s Crying in the Rain Morning Links

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz0Sscke9z4

    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 MLB Important Dates

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

    4 Pirates Prospects Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2014

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    First Pitch: Notes From Day Two of Mini-Camp

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/first-pitch-notes-from-day-two-of-mini-camp.html

    Tyler Glasnow Saw a Change in 2013

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/tyler-glasnow-saw-a-change-in-2013.html

    Pirates Getting National TV Time in 2014

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01/pirates-getting-national-tv-time-in-2014.html

    6 MLB Draft Insider

    Top 14 in ’14: Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://mlbdraftinsider.com/2014/01/top-14-in-14-pittsburgh-pirates/

    7 Bucs Dugout

    Links: Jerry Sands, Adrian Beltre, Joel Hanrahan

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2014/1/7/5284834/links-jerry-sands-adrian-beltre-joel-hanrahan

    8 Pirates Site

    Four home game times adjusted for national telecasts

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/pit/pirates-have-four-home-game-times-adjusted-for-national-telecasts?ymd=20140107&content_id=66369612&vkey=news_pit

    9 Rant Sports

    Projecting The Starting Rotation For 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.rantsports.com/mlb/2014/01/08/projecting-the-starting-rotation-for-2014-pittsburgh-pirates/

    10 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez Throwing Again

    http://cityofchampionssports.com/2014/01/07/pittsburgh-pirates-wandy-rodriguez-throwing/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Around%20the%20Network

    11 KDKA

    Pirates SS Jordy Mercer Says 2013 Pirates Only Scratched The Surface

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/01/07/pirates-ss-jordy-mercer-says-2013-pirates-only-scratched-the-surface/

  9. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    12 Pirates 101

    Is Kendrys Morales or Andrew Lambo the Better Option at First for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

    http://www.sportsmedia101.com/pittsburghpirates/2014/01/07/is-kendrys-morales-or-andrew-lambo-the-better-option-at-first-for-the-pittsburgh-pirates/

    13 Sporting News

    National League Central is Cold as Ice, both in weather and in song

    http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2014-01-07/national-league-west-preview-2014-cardinals-pirates-reds-cubs

    14 Boston Globe

    MLB notes: Writer defends leaving Maddux off ballot

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/01/08/greg-maddux-won-unanimous-baseball-hall-famer/3myJC0uYkIByiO5vhODzBN/story.html

    15 USA Today

    Ten biggest high risk, high reward players for 2014

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/fantasy/baseball/2014/01/07/kffl-high-risk-high-reward-for-2014/4356263/

    16 Beaver County Times

    Perrotto: Going against most of the voters, Bonds is on this ballot

    http://www.timesonline.com/columnists/sports/john_perrotto/perrotto-going-against-most-of-the-voters-bonds-is-on/article_5d93614e-7b89-5da6-b70a-7efc61a035f9.html

    17 St. Louis post Dispatch

    Bernie Bytes: The cloud over Cooperstown

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-bytes-the-cloud-over-cooperstown/article_786901a4-5923-53ec-a4f9-89ba189f58ef.html

    18 Baseball Prospectus

    Seven Pioneers Worthy of Hall of Fame Induction

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=22523

    19 Fangraphs

    The Problem With Stephen Drew’s Market

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-problem-with-stephen-drews-market/

    20 Hardball Times

    Making the best of the worst

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/making-the-best-of-the-worst/

  10. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Steelers transactions: Well-traveled Miguel Maysonet and Devin Smith among four more futures signees

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2014/1/7/5285568/steelers-transactions-futures-contracts-2014

    2014 NFL Draft Prospects: Darqueze Dennard, a good but not great cornerback

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/steelers-nfl-draft-prospects-scouting-video-2014/2014/1/7/5275726/2014-nfl-draft-prospects-darqueze-dennard-scouting-report-film-video

    22 Steelers Gab

    Can The Steelers Afford To Bring Back Both Clark And Polamalu?

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2014/01/07/can-the-steelers-afford-to-bring-back-both-clark-and-polamalu/

    Soccer(football)

    23 Bloomberg Stats Insight

    Manchester United – Where has it all gone wrong this season?

    http://www.bsports.com/statsinsights/football/manchester-united-gone-wrong-this-season?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Bloomberg%20Sports%20&utm_content=

    24 World Soccer

    Portugal legend Eusebio remembered

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/columnists/eusebio

    PENGUIN BLOGS and NHL Links

    25 Pensburgh

    Pittsburgh Penguins trade targets – rental forwards

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2014/1/7/5283632/pittsburgh-penguins-trade-targets-matt-moulson-rumors

  11. Coach Dan Bylsma is the winningest Pens coach in team history so noone will want him fired now. And the Pens won another wild shootout over Vancouver last night and so, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about them now. And, hopefully, Letang’s infection will heal up soon and Sidney and Kunitz will give a good accounting of themselves on Canada’s Olympic Team next month and Geno on Russia’s team as well.

  12. I watch the first half of the Pens game last night, they are up 2-0.
    I go to bed.
    I wake up this morning, find out they went down 4-2, then Crosby ties it, then wins it in a shootout.

    All I can say is ………. whahappened?

    And I know Eric B. will disagree with this………. but anytime a player ties, then wins a game, that isn’t exactly a “stinker” of a game from any player. Sure, we get disappointed that Crosby doesn’t put on the blue tights, and red cape every game……… but he did get injured again last night (foot)…… I am just glad they pulled out another W.

    Congrats to Disco Duck on the franchise wins mark last night/this morning. This may be his best regular-season coaching job to date.

    (Won’t mean a hill of coffee beans if the Pens have another early exit in the playoffs).

    • What is the word on that foot anyway?

    • I had much the same reaction as you did, Plan. Sid did come through to even it and win it, but why did he have to?

      The stats say it was Malkin’s line that had the best game; Geno was a plus three and his mates a plus two.

    • I did the same thing – fell asleep after 2-0, woke up at 3:30 and checked my phone to see they won 5-4 in a shootout. Then I came in to work and checked the highlights real quick to see they were down 4-2 with 1:11 left when Letang scored, then Sid scored about 15 seconds later. I don’t think I would have been able to sleep all night if I stayed up to watch all of that…. Here are all the highlights if anyone is interested – just click on the Play triangle under the Pit 5, Van 4 (SO) tab.:

      http://penguins.nhl.com/

  13. This from Sam Kasan on the Pens’ site after the game:
    PENS SCARE
    Captain Sidney Crosby was in some pain when a shot from Evgeni Malkin went off his lower body. He didn’t leave the ice immediately, but sported a grimace on his face. Crosby then took a 15-second shift before heading to the bench. Fortunately, it wasn’t an injury.

    “It was just a stinger,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming until it hit me. It’s fine.”

  14. Just listened to Tim Kurkjian whine about MLB HOF voting. I like Kurkjian. A lot. But his “I vote for 10 players every year” reasoning is just ridiculous.

    Mike Mussina a HOF’er??? Are you kidding? I don’t care about guys who accumulate numbers.

    Craig Biggio a HOF’er…??? Comparing his numbers to Stan Musial’s just because you can and then you try to convince everyone by throwing Biggio’s name in the mix with an All-Time Great in Musial? Getouttahere…

    So many more… but Kurkjian and the writers who vote on the HOF need restructured. Some even need their head examined.

  15. Congrats to Coach Disco!!!

    Wasn’t Flower’s, orpik, or despres’ best game but they got it done against a good team on the road. Glad i stayed awake. Gibby continues to display much improved skating and acceleration allowing him to use his hands n vision. Now if he can get a lil stronger on the puck and boards we’d really have something with him.

    Engo looking like a presence at forward. Wouldn’t be in a huge hurry to go into corner with him for a puck if i were playing d. And Tanger continued his improved play as well. Other than a poor pinch on 1st shift…again…he played excellent game with good timing on when to jump into play. Lack made some good saves on him before he cashed in on 3rd goal. He also made good play to keep puck alive before sid tied it. We don’t comeback without tanger…just sayin…

    Hansen and Richardson from Vancouver have been on my trade wish list this season and after last night that hasn’t changed.

    • Loving Engo on the wing :)

      I only watched the first, then went to sleep. 4 am comes early.

      • You missed despres and orpik look a little off but they were playing against good players all night and despres doesn’t look bad on his off side. Flower wasn’t his sharpest either but he’s human. He was good at the end.

    • I’m still mystified why they dont simply keep Engo at F and let the younger guys play D. I know Disco has his crush on Engo, but he CAN play him legitimately and still let Borts/Depres get some time.

  16. The way Orpik is playing you wonder what kind of thoughts are going around USA Hockey. I also don’t see anyway way that Martin play in Sochi especially if he hasn’t been back in game actio before the games.

  17. If Jay Gruden’s name was Jay Smith I doubt he could even sniff 1 interview for a head coaching position. Great job developing Andy Dalton, by the way.

  18. If you missed that hockey game you missed a great finish, which is why I always record it. Kind of alarmed at MAF allowing that soft, 4th goal. Seems to becoming a habit late in the game. On a brighter note, scoring two goals in the last 75 seconds with the goalie pulled is an amazing feat. Too many times the pulled goalie leads to an ENG.
    * time to trade Tanger or Olie for Evander Kane?
    I’d like to see Kane on the Crosby line. With Dupi being out and getting older replacing him with a 23 year old hot shot makes sense. With the influx of up and coming D men we have, neither would be missed. It’s hard to say which one to let go.
    * Orpik hasn’t been the same since being mugged by the thug.

    • Would NEVER trade Maatta.

      NEVER wanted them to keep Tanger but I guess that’s a done deal, at the expense of actual wingers for Crosby and Malkin…..but been down that road before.

      • No one should be untouchable with the possible exception of 87. Bad way to run a business.

        • You’re right Milo. I”d put Mattaa wayyyyyy down the list however. Below Orpik, Nisky, Letang.
          And many others.

          Bottom line IMO is our youngsters are playign better D than our vets. Even the WBS youngsters like Samuelsson.

          So I’m not convinced we should use the youngsters as trade bait, I’d rather see what we can get for the vets before we go there.

          We could have an incredibly young, deep, capable, physical defensive core.

          If only Disco would actually, you know, let them play.

          • Nisky has been playing some serious hockey this year. I think he’s come in to his own and I would trade others before him. You’re right about Orpik but I think his trade value has dropped due to age. I’m digging these younger D men we have and think several will be excellent players for the Pens. Maybe Letang is the best choice of trading for a Kane type due to his large salary and inconsistent play. If he would play every game like last nights he wouldn’t even be in my discussion. Maybe Beau can solve our problem when he returns in Feb. and we won’t need to trade anyone? If only he wasn’t so injury prone.

            • YEah agree….earlier this year I Was ready to dump Nisky, now I’d hold him.
              He’s only really poor IMO when he’s paired with Engo, and I don’t put that on him.

              On the other hand….if he sat in favor of Mattaa/Borts/Depres, I wouldn’t complain.

          • It would be a bad move to trade Maatta – even if someone was willing to overpay/overtrade for him, what we’d get back would still have to fit under the cap. Maatta has so much upside he would be the last Dman I’d trade.
            Side note: I’ve actually been a little disappointed with Scuderi since he came back from injury, but maybe he needs another week or so to get back into sync.

            • Yes I add Scuds to the list of contracts/extensions that I disagree w RS….puts Scud at what 38? Then there’s Dupuis….and Adams.
              All paid lots of money potentially far beyond their effectiveness.

              And of course, Letang was the gold mine of return, that we opted to use 7+ mil of the cap going forward.

              Again (broken record) at the expense of getting real elite Ws for the top 2 lines.

            • Maatta looked more confident last night. Being named to an Olympic team would do that, I guess :)

            • Give Scuds a few more games, he should be fine.

              • Hope so Jandy! I’d want to keep him if possible.

                Thing is, as UFAs, the return on Nisky and Orpik will never be higher.

                So we will see what RS does. If he continues in the pattern of extending favored aging vets, well….I think that does not bode well.

              • I also like Niskie. I hope he is retained for a decent time frame/salary.
                Brooksie, I’m ambivalent about. I realize his game has changed to compensate for his age/body wear and tear. But I can’t see kicking him to the curb either. This is the guy that has been with this team thru some pretty lean years. I do still have some loyalty towards Brooksie for that. it’s a tough call, glad I don’t have to make it.

              • I dont get the fretting over brooks and piece! They and PM give us 3 dmen over 30 but its not like we have 3 lumbering hall gills back there. Oh and btw they have 3 cups between them. Am i missing something here? They play against the best players in the world and are consistently plus players. Players on other teams are on scholarship too so letting the perfect be the enemy of the very very good is ludicrous IMO. Piece and brooks are going nowhere.

              • I don’t really have any big qualms with Brooksie, but I can see that he has slowed down considerably. But he seems to get the job done somehow or another. Really don’t want a long-term contract his next time around, though.

      • Agreed on that, Sarah. He’s worth a lot, and I think we could do without his lack of discipline.

        • Yeah….I dunno w Tanger….is it discipline? Does he really juts brain-cramp?

          Sometimes I see for ex) Neal (being Lazy as Geno nick-named him) just bolting for the far blue-line the moment Tanger gets the puck, hoping for that 90-foot pass!

          Is that on Tanger? Neal? Disco and the system?

          Dunno. But whatever, I think Letang can be just breath-taking with his skill…sometimes.

          But games are often won/lost with the routine. The routine smart/safe plays, the hard work, the physical play, the simple battles for the puck.

          • Exactly. I think sometimes when there is too much high end talent on the ice, it can become showtime. To me, showtime equals losses once you are mid-way in the playoffs. Letang is a special talent, and I’d like to see them explore what they could get for him in terms of help for Sid. But, it won’t happen.

            • Last several games for tanger have me very encouraged. I say keep watching cuz he now has it figured out.

              • After that initial pinch in the first, according to reports I’ve read, he was very good. He did score a goal late with Sid to help tie it up. Gotta give him credit :)

              • I like your Penguins’ opinions, Monster. So, I’ll go with that.

              • Thanks Jim

                Hope you’re staying warm at my old stompin grounds :)

              • It is actually warming up today, Monster. It’s about 12-15 right now. Feels like 40, though. Funny how that works.

            • Jim – you are totally right on the Show-Time.

              I can tell you, even in my crappy beer leagues – we LIKE playing the “show-off” teams. The ones with skill but no teamwork, no support for the ringers. The ones with youngsters who have their Dads and GFs sit in the stands and hoot and holler, and try to win the game by themselves. We know who we have to focus on , and we do.

              And me and my team-work Grey-Beards shut them down, cos we know they’ll just be INdividuals and never pass the puck.

              My job is never easier than when playing these “stars”. Doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally light me up LOL! But it’s simple to play against.

              My fave is after we win, when I walk off the ice and go to the Ladies’ dressing room as their Dads/GFs come out of the stands and realize I’m a Chica! And they exclaim “the goalie was a girl!!!!”

              Those “stars” ain’t gettin any action from their GFs that night LOL!!!

              Seriously. I may joke about it – but these kinds of teams exist everywhere, at every level, even in my POS beer-leagues. They exist everywhere.

              If you have a good “team”, they are simple to beat.

    • Anyone who would trade Maatta should be shot at sundown.

      The kid had “it”.

      Don’t want kane for anything…too much trouble.

  19. Just heard someone say that today would be Elvis Presley’s 79th birthday. No, no it wouldn’t. No chance Elvis ever could have lived to 79.

    Thank you. Thank you very much.

  20. Just watched last night’s highlights on the Pens app. Flower is absolute MONEY in shoot outs.

    Best game I’ve seen Letang play in a long time. When he’s like last night, he looks like a guy we have to keep.

  21. Someone complied an all-Canada snub team…..pretty darn good team!

    Team Canada snub team

    Forwards

    Claude Giroux, Philadelphia

    Joe Thornton, San Jose

    Martin St-Louis, Tampa Bay

    Eric Staal, Carolina

    Logan Couture, San Jose

    James Neal, Pittsburgh

    Milan Lucic, Boston

    Taylor Hall, Edmonton

    Tyler Seguin, Dallas

    Jordan Eberle, Edmonton

    Mike Richards, Los Angeles

    Jeff Skinner, Carolina

    Defense

    Brent Seabrook, Chicago

    Dan Boyle, San Jose

    Kris Letang, Pittsburgh

    Mark Giordano, Calgary

    Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim

    Marc Staal, N.Y. Rangers

    Goalies

    Corey Crawford, Chicago

    Jonathan Bernier, Toronto

  22. I think we need a dedicated thread for Canada’s Olympic hockey team.

  23. About the Pens…

    This team still seems like a broken record to me. Every year they win with a bunch of guys on the DL and everyone says just wait until they are all healthy, they will be unstoppable. Then they all get healthy and the hockey version of the fun and gun kicks into high gear, defense falls apart(I’m looking at you Kris “Giveaway” LeTang) and the team kees winning…6-5, 4-3, 7-6…andthen April starts, along with the play offs and next thing you know the Pens are playing golf.

    I’ve said it before, but I think it is possible for a team to have TOO MANY stars. It leads to having too few workmen like players. Not enough Scary Gary Roberts or too few mark Recchi’s or too few Billy Guerrin’s. These guys were stars in their own rights but had way different games than Crosby, Neal, Malkin. Maybe a btter exaple is too few Ryan Malones. Heck sometimes I think even the most gritty player I had seen the Penguins acquire in a long time…Kunitz, seems to fall victim to the up and down lack of puck position, what is a defense again nonsense.

    Don’t get em wrong, i am grateful to have these types of problems and I love watching that band of hockey. unfortunately it doesn’t tend to bring home many championships.

    • ….to continue the broken record, the pattern I see also includes defensively strong teams taking advantage of the looser rules on obstruction and focusing on our stars, ie Malkin Crosby, who lack the support on W.
      (NJ was triple-teaming Sid the other night when his RW was ….Vitale/Adams)

      Stars cannot get it done alone at the playoff level. Get frustrated. Coach makes minimal adjustments, such as line-matching to keep Sid away from Chara or whoever is the top D pair. Stars get more frustrated. Extra pressure causes mentally frail players (Letang) to implode….

      And it plays right into Claude Julien’s hands….Penguins reduced to too many frustrated individual efforts vs a strong defensive team.

      That is EXACTLY where you want to have a team like PGH. It has happened fairly regularly the past few springs.

      • I’m seeing a different style last 6-7 weeks. IMO playoffs will be a different set of events than previous playoffs. I still think we need to solidify bottom 6 with a vet or 2 and look at options for sid. Dont think we can go on cup run with sill, gibbons, pyatt and the one and only adams all playing in our top 12.

        • Hmm. Interesting. WHat do you see/why do you think playoffs will be so different than past seasons?

          I guess my fear is it will be exactly the same as prior few years!

          Talk me down Monster!

          • Jaques Martin is my difference maker come playoff time.

          • I can offer a few possible reasons… Team defense is much better this year. Fleury might be having his best season. Team will be more focused and determined after last year’s collapse vs Boston. Potentially weaker competition in the playoffs – even with the weird wild card format, it doesn’t look like the Pens would play a really good team until the conference final. Much deeper defense core.

            The no-names on the bottom two lines still worry me, and so does the play of Letang, Orpik and Scuderi. But at least this year the team has 9 very capable NHL defensemen, so there are options if players continue to struggle, unlike last year, when they had to throw Depres in there against the Islanders because there was no one else.

          • Well from start of season they finally decided that minding the neutral zone is good idea. Be it the basic 1-2-2 formation or LW lock the pens have finally decided to face the rush instead of always having the F3 in chase mode along with F1 and F2. In the past im sure you recall dzone coverage being laughable cuz of this. Now we’re much more calculated with amount of forecheck pressure we apply and result is more orderly and structured defense in neutral and dzone.

            Offensively, going back to Capitals game in november we started being less predictable. We use the disco stretch but only as a curveball or when puck becomes hot potato. Mostly now we’re playing to our strengths by using our speed and skill to provide our d with close puck support all over the ice instead of just slinging the puck up the boards hoping for tips and chips to speed. Instead of hope plays we now have opponents on their heals wondering if they should pressure and get burned or back up and get burned.

            Now line matching…lets hope they atleast attempt to keep sid and geno away from chara and his like.

  24. One of the things (in my mind) that makes Crosby great is his ability to get free in front of the net. He is the best player in the world, everybody knows he is on the ice and knows what he can do yet on a regular basis in critical situations he manages to get free in front of the net with the puck on is stick. That to me is amazing and one of the many reasons i enjoy watching him play.

  25. Penn State has an interview set with 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

    The way these things usually work in college is you identify who you want & go get him. Sit down for an interview and then make an offer. I hear it surprised some at PSU when Al Golden went back to Miami & said he was staying. When you don’t give him the job & he has to go back with his tail between his legs, what’s he supposed to say ? Right or wrong this is how it works. I have no idea what Penn State is doing.

    • Milo, where’d you hear this about Roman?

      • Jason LaCanfora.

        • Does anyone know if PSU hired a search firm who specializes in this type of thing.

          As of right now, I don’t have a real problem with how PSU is going about this. I think they know they have to get the right guy…or at least one that they feel has a chance to stick around for a while.

          And my guess is that they are going to catch a lot of heat no matter who they hire or how the search was conducted or how long it lasted.

    • I think the way the search group is operating is designed to insulate them when they make their pick from critics on the Board of Trustees. Some of them will be critical of any choice if Golden AND Munchak had not been carefully considered, and others will be skeptical of candidates with any ties to Joe Pa.

      I doubt they want to pick Golden or Munchak as their prime candidate, but as you are pointing out, they need to get a man and MOVE on him!

    • Wasn’t Roman the other finalist for the job when they gave it to O’Brien?

    • I don’t think Joyner is taking that approach. i think he definitely had a top 3 or in mind but wanted to talk to all of his options. Golden, Franklin, Munchak, Roman, and even LJ. Though the Roman thing seems to be coming out of left field. i read that Penn State was not pleased with scondary conversations with Franklin yesterday. I believe the quote was “Not happy how things went with Franklin yesterday.” Whether that be contract talks that went sour or things they read in the media I don’t know.

      Penn State operated in teh same calculated manor to find O’Brien as well. He came out of nowhere as the dark horse. i think that hire went well despite his jumping ship after 2 years. The program is in better shape now than when he got there.

      I still think Penn State needs to hire a football coach that just coaches football but some think that they need a coach that brings more stability and that can mend fences and reunite the fanbase. I still think if you get to the point where you are winning then the fan base comes back together anyway.

  26. Something was missing last night… no booing when Sid touched the puck, even during the shootout.
    Here’s to Vancouver keeping it classy by remembering the man who scored the golden goal. Good on ya, Canucks!

    • No such problem in Philly or New York or Boston, eh, Joni?

      • I say we bring the Canucks crowd with us whenever we enter a particularly hostile environment.
        Wait, we better not. The Canucks fans rioted a few years back…

        Random thought: Whatever happened to dance-offs settling scores?

  27. Read somewhere this morning about a HoF voter who didn’t name Greg Maddux because he doesn’t vote for anybody from the steroid era. Maddux, in my memory, never threw hard enough for anyone to think he was seriously juicing. Seems silly and petty to me to leave him off an HoF ballot.

  28. The one thing abou PED’s is it is really impossible to know who did or didn’t. They just left it go for too long. Such a big part of PED’s is just about being able to stay on the field.

    My feelings are guys played and if you think they warrant HOF consideration put them in. If not then keep them out, but base it on their on field performance.

  29. Saw a early mock draft that had the Steelers taking Taylor Lewan, left tackle, from Michigan. When Michigan played Penn State, I didn’t think Lewan did all that well.

    If Munchak doesn’t take a head coaching job, the Steelers might do well to look at him as a line coach. Only one of the best 10 or so to ever play, I think,

    • I am not sure I want the Steelers to invest another high pick in the offensive line. They seem to be pretty hit and miss in evaluating those spots. This year the OL finally stabilized when they were playing Beachum, Foster, Wallace, Decastro, and Gilbert. Gilbert was probably the weakest link. I will agree that OT is a mess. You have Gilbert, Adams, Brown (if back), Wimper, and the best of the bunch in G Kelvin Beachum trying to protect the edge. It really is amazing that Ben made it through the year.

      All that said I think either a linebacker (inside), Corner, or a true 2 gap NT are bigger needs.

      • I would like to see a corner, safety or NT in the first round. We need ILB, but I feel you can find a good one a bit later.

        It was downright painful to watch Keenan Lewis play against Philly the other night. Unfortunately, he got the concussion, but did you see when they did the iso reel of him vs. Jackson? He was on that guy like glue all night. He is one of the best pure cover corners in the NFL. We had that guy, and we let him get away because of the disastrous job we did managing our cap the last several years.

        BTW, the Eagles’ fans booed him when he got helped off the field with the concussion, after being on the turf for a few minutes. That was appauling. Some things just never change, do they? I don’t recall ever seeing something like that before.

  30. Count me as being in the minority here…….. but I think the HOF voting is much ado about nothing. Nobody is going to die based on the selections (or non-selections) today. Our planet is still going to have its problems, and what happens today won’t change anything.

    *Best solution to all the PED talk I heard was to make a separate wing.
    *Nobody was elected last year. Why?
    *Blyleven was voted in the year before, and I don’t think he deserved it.
    *Voters don’t vote a guy in because they don’t vote 1st-year candidates in? That’s there only reasoning?

    The voting process is broken. Some of the people voting shouldn’t.
    Just seems silly to worry over something that is so ridiculous, and the sport seems to have no interest fixing.
    Just my opinion, of course……..

    • Who do you send to the other wing, plan? Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro? Anybody else? Just the hard evidence guys, or anyone that is suspected? Anyone who looked the part? I just don’t think there is any way to resolve it. But, keeping everyone, or most everyone out, seems unfair to me.

      • Griffey Jr.

      • Oh, I don’t send anyone to the other wing, as I don’t care, really.
        That was an idea floated a few years ago by a writer……….

        I guess you could put players in there by years played, or , like you said, the “hard-evidence” guys……. I don’t know.

        I just think for those people who say that PED’s weren’t that big of a deal, or, say there is no correlation to improved performance…………. if that was true, then why did players take them, or why did some players go to great lengths to hide their use, when baseball didn’t have any means of drug testing available.

        Those players must have seen a benefit to taking PED’s, or they wouldn’t have taken them, right?

        • I hear you. I wrestle with this, and I just can’t find a solution. The best I can come up with is that if I had a vote I would vote based on assuming they were not guilty unless it was obvious to me that they were. And, I realize this is not a perfect way to do it. But, I don’t like penalizing the Frank Thomases of the world.

          • +1 Obviously steroids have made this pretty complicated. But I think the current process is fine. There are over 400 voter and each one is free to use their own criteria. A separate wing would be very dangerous, IMO, and make things even more complicated.

        • “… if that was true, then why did players take them…”

          Have you ever seen those ridiculous magnetic bracelets guys wear? Players will do anything for an advantage. Even if it doesn’t actually give them one.

          But I do agree with you, generally speaking. PED’s definitely inhanced performance. But what nobody can say is HOW and/or HOW MUCH they inhanced performance. Seems like that is an awfully pertinent question to answer.

  31. Manzell is going pro, no surprise, some say he already is getting paid

    Bobby Petrino going to Louisville

    • Petrino going BACK to Louisville. Took an interesting round trip – Falcons – Arkansas – fell off the motorcycle – Western Kentucky – back to Louisville.

    • Back to Louisville for Petrino, Biz?

      Well, in that state, it really doesn’t seem to be about anything more than how many games a guy can win these days. And, Petrino has proven he can win – if you don’t mind him dragging his mistress down the highway behind his Harley.

      The hoops coaches currently at Louisville and UK are not exactly clean cut, either.

  32. From Commissioner GODdell today:

    - Expansion of playoffs to seven teams per conference is under serious consideration.

    - He doesn’t seem interested in future cold city Super Bowls.

  33. Without getting into a prolonged discussion of PED guys, I just wanted to comment on Glavine & Maddux. They are two guys never suspected of PED use, to my knowledge.

    They are both 300 game winners, but for me Maddux was the much better pitcher. I think Maddux is a slam dunk, although I don’t get all the uproar of him needing to be voted on every single ballot. Why is that suddenly so important? If it was ok for not everyone to choose every other great player in history, why suddenly the uproar with Maddux on this issue? Seems odd to me.

    That said, I think Maddux was a tremendous pitcher and is very worthy on his first ballot.

    I don’t hold Glavine in quite the same regard. I would say he gets in, but I have no problem with him waiting a year or two. His numbers were not great in every category. 3.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP. Less than 2:1 K:BB ratio. Basically a hit allowed per inning. All good, but not elite. I’m not trying to knock him down, but I just don’t think he is a first ballot guy. Why do I feel like I am the only baseball fan in America who feels that way about Glavine? I just don’t think of him as nearly the best pitcher in baseball for very long of a period. I do realize he won a ton of games, and I give him credit for that. But, he did win at roughly the same % as his team. For me, he was the lefty Don Sutton.

    • Jim,

      see my opinion on the brokenness of the HOF voting above.
      Logic seems to be in short supply there.

      Maybe someday they will overhaul the system and guidelines?

      Bit hypocritical to keep say, Bonds out, while letting Cobb in.
      Isn’t there some “morals”, or character clause in the selection process?

      • Is OJ still in the NFL HOF?

      • Amen, plan.

        I don’t think the uproar over Maddux is that he wasn’t a unanimous selection, it is about the logic (or lack there of) behind him being left off.

        It is easy to sit back and say hey, it is only one ballot. But when you have to say that over and over again year in and year out, is it only really a problem with one ballot?

        • Much agreed.

          I don’t pretend to have any answers, but if it were me, I would somehow revamp either the selection process, or revamp who votes, and for how long.

        • But is it a pervasive problem?

          • Suppose that would be up to interpretation.

            I frankly have next to no interest in the discussion but think it does show how passionate people are about the sport, which is a great thing.

            Rage on.

        • I think at this point the writers figure that if no one else was unanimous, you don’t start with Maddux. So, somebody just decides that they don’t pick any first year nominees and that ensures it will continue.

    • 300 wins is automatic for me. But I place a premium on having a long, healthy career. But I don’t think you’re the only one who feels that way about Glavine, Jim. I’ve hear a number of sports writers with that same opinion.

      I don’t feel like there’s an uproar about Maddux having to be on very ballot. But I do think that because there has never been a unanimous selection, people would just like to see something happen that has never happened before.

  34. I think Biggio should be a lock. He was a great, smart ballplayer and the greatest Astro of all time. A Mr. Astro, if you will.

    I don’t discard what a player who put up those numbers meant to a franchise and a city.

    Tons of people nationally did think Maz deserved enshrinement.

    • * did not deserve

      And that thinking was ridiculous.

      • I guess I’m ridiculous!

      • Mr. Ted Williams was the major force against Maz.

        Do you think it was coincidence that the year Ted was sick, and not on the veterans committee, was the year Maz was elected? Maz had many people working to get him elected over the years, but were stonewalled every time.

        Also, the Hall changed its veterans committee selection rules the very next year.

        • Joe L Brown had a lot to do with Maz getting in.

          If Ozzie Smith deserves the HOF, so does Maz

          • I’m not sure Ozzie gets in, at least as quick, if he doesn’t play in the ESPN era.

          • Well said, Biz. And, I think Ozzie belongs in there. He did run better than Maz, of course. But, he had no power whatsoever. But, they are probably the 2 best defenders of all-time at their positions. A lot of people believe they may be the 2 best defenders to ever play at any position.

            Ozzie won a playoff game with a walk-off HR. Maz ended the greatest upset in WS history with the greatest hit in WS history.

            If Phil Freaking “The Money Store” Rizzuto is in there, I don’t want to hear from the NE corridor about Maz not belonging.

            • For anyone, from regular people, to the Veterans committee, who says Maz doesn’t belong due to his offensive numbers……… it isn’t called the Baseball Offensive Hall of Fame.

              Does this mean we have to make a wing for defensive players too? A steriod wing, defensive wing, prehistoric wing, where will it stop?

              Like NMR says, rage on, fellas. :)

              • I presume this is directed towards me. I realize it’s not called the Baseball Offensive Hall of Fame. When considering Maz, I am considering the following:

                “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

        • Maz was Joe Morgan’s 2b idol, and Joe Morgan was in charge of the old timer’s committee. I believe that is how it went.

    • I meant not to get into the HOF debate today. Frankly, I could care less about the HOF and its various gatekeepers. I like local team HOF’s better because those are the teams, players I cared about. Just for kicks I went through the list of baseball HOF’ers recently and there were several names I barely, or outright, did not recognize. Place needs a purging IMO, but it really makes me no never mind in the long run.

    • I think that Biggio a borderline HOFer, and have no problem with his selection, but greatest Astro of all time? He wasn’t even the greatest Astro on his team. I can think of three other Astros who were at least as good, and only Joe Morgan in in the Hall.

  35. Do the remaining Pens still practice as a group during the Olympics? My gut says no, but confirmation is always a plus.

    I say give Letang some opportunities to play a forward during practices while the Olympics are going on and see how it goes. If not now, then during training camp next year (if he is still with the Pens). If Engo can do it, why can’t Letang?

  36. Maddux, Glavine, and thomas Biggio missed by 2 votes

  37. Maddux, Glavine and Frank Thomas

    571 votes

  38. Anyone remember that ball FThomas hit at TRS during home run derby?

  39. The LA Kings 4th round pick in the 1984 NHL draft made the baseball hall of fame today – Tom Glavine. They took Luc Robitaille in the 9th round.

  40. Combine Tom Glavine & Greg Maddux 1st full year in the majors: 13 wins – 31 losses – 5.03 ERA. Axl Rose said it best – all we need is just a little patience.

  41. Don’t know if this was posted, but Sano might need TJ surgery??

  42. Dan Le Batard turned over his Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin who let readers do the voting for his ballot.

    Outrageous.

  43. 35 DAYS UNTIL THE FUTURE HALL OF FAME PIRATE PITCHERS & CATCHERS REPORT TO PIRATE CITY FOR SPRING TRAINING

  44. Having lived in Houston during the Killer B’s era, it is a shame about Biggio today. Maybe next year. Bagwell deserves in, too, but it looks like he won’t make it.

  45. Ok, NHL fans. Here’s a question for you. I don’t follow the Western Conference nearly as well as the Eastern, although living in Chicago I get my share of Blackhawks news. Who are your top 4 Western teams, and where would you slot the Pens and Bruins (presumably the best in the Eastern) among them?

    Personally, St. Louis looks like a really strong team to me. I saw that they won their 6th straight last night, and they outscored their opponents something like 27-10 in those games. That’s a pretty good scoring clip per game for a team that I thought was not very strong offensively until recently.

    • Even though the Blues are playing lights-out right now, they (and Sharks) almost always choke in the playoffs for one reason or another. It seems a lot of the Blues offensive players are over achieving right now, so they may come back to earth some. I’d say the Ducks and Blackhawks are 1a and 1b, Kings #3 and then the Blues and Sharks in a toss up for #4. I’d put the Pens ahead of the Kings but just behind the Ducks and Blackhawks. Bruins behind the Kings.

      • I would agree pretty much with your rankings. I do expect GMRS to add some more size/grit at the deadline…if he is succesfull the Pens could move up to even with your top two.

        • Here’s a thought I just had…..Winnipeg is looking to move Dustin Byfuglien, but maybe the Pens move him back to wing on the 3rd line. Just thinking out loud now because I’m not a huge fan of his, and I don’t know what kind of contract he has.

          I do agree Shero is doing his homework right now, and I trust he will make a move that will help. The Pens have the potential to be a 1c team…

      • As we sit today, I’d go:

        1. Blackhawks
        2. Ducks
        3. Bues
        4. Pens
        5. Kings
        6. Bruins

        • I would rank them such…….

          1) Ducks.
          2) Blackhawks.
          3) Blues.
          4) Broonz.
          5) Pens.
          6) Kings/Sharks pickem.

          Only reason I pick the hated Broonz over the Pens, is the fact that Boston the past few years has gone deeper in the playoffs, and they swept the Pens 8 months ago. Gotta beat the champs to be the champs. Broonz are better built for playoff hockey also.

          • The broons are downright NASTY

            • That’s not in dispute.

              But, as much as it pains me to say it, that club is better built for the playoffs then the Pens are………… especially when the refs swallow the whistles. Can’t forget the MAF playoff meltdowns either.

    • I don’t follow the West very much either. But I do know Chicago and the Ducks have been mentioned a lot. LA Kings aren’t slouchers either. I wish I saw them more. I’d say the Pens and Broons should be able to hold their own against these teams.

    • Just my 2 shuttlecocks worth of opinions. Right now…

      1. Blues: I think the Blues are pretty balanced with the traditional NHL formula: Strong top 2 lines, a capable 3rd line that can contribute and a very capable energy line. Couple that with strong goaltending and pretty solid blueliners and that ranks them near the top IMHO. They’re not flashy, but all aspects of their game are strong.

      2. Pens: They’re finding ways to win with contributions from all over the ice. This glut of injuries should be telling Shero and Bylsma a couple somethings; (a) there’s much to be said for energy and effort at this game and that at times it trumps actual talent and (b), if the upper-echelon talent isn’t performing the AHL’ers will so don’t be afraid to manipulate personnel. They’d better get Zatcoff more ice time going into the second half.

      3. Ducks: See the Blues, except for the Ducks’ goaltending (yet, and I say this with the knowledge that the Duck’s system is rich in goaltenders). It’s not on a level with Halak/Elliot. Balanced scoring and the coaching aint so bad either.

      4. Blackhawks: Cannot deny the offense, can deny the defense. Somebody needs to tell them that there is value in NOT always jumping into the offensive play. Goalies are left hanging far too often and the playoffs will expose that flaw.

      5. Bruins: See the Blues. Good balance across all 4 lines contributing just enough to win. They’re a trifle slow in their skating collectively. Blueliners not that mobile but they do clear the puck and bodies excellently. This team is playing like they’re already in playoff mode. Whoever they play in the playoffs may beat them, but they’ll pay for it dearly.

      6. Kings: Could vault to #1 if Quick heats up. Good balance, strong skating, excellent size and a generally nasty set of blueliners. I can see this team making it to the WCFinals easily.

      7. Sharks: Great players for my fantasy team. Tons of offensive punch, and how/where do they keep finding all rockstar these forwards? They live and die by their goaltending moreso than many other teams.

  46. it’s AWESOME to be back home after a month of traveling in the Philippines. Was totally jonesing for some NHL–Boys of Winter action, but I’m too cheap-oh to buy NHL Center Ice, especially when 2/3 of the Phils doesn’t have freakin’ WiFi. Oh well.
    So I caught up on all the hockey action over the past few daze and i just cannot believe how well this team is doing! Who knew that bandaids and crutches could defend and score goals! Gibbons has that unbelievable stop-on-a-dime ability that’s been a blast to watch. I just can’t say enough about these Pens’ performances, so I wont…
    I’ll just kick back with my DVR and enjoy the hell out of them.
    Me Little Wifelette told me during the Canuck(lehead) game last night that she “like totally missed those commercials with Gonchar, Talbot and Malkin hyping A&L Motors.”
    My reply was twofold:
    1. “Me too! Maybe if someone says something about ‘em something can be arranged between teh team and some local bidnesses.” So I’m saying something (assuming anyone reads this here blog). Bring those commercials back! They rocked, so sayeth a pseudo-superstar,… and
    2. “What are you like stuck in a time-warp that’s locked into the ’80′s? Where’s your fingerless glove?”

    Me Little Wifelette’s reply is not suitable for this family blog.

    Glad to be back, y’all. Remember to stock up on some buco oil concentrate to imrpove barin fncushen

    • Was that a vacation, Buggee?

      • Started out that way Jim, but then it became a mission trip. Spent 5 days in Tacloban, on the road, helping folk wherever we could. Devastation is almost surreal. Then the friendly government chased us out of there after confiscating our photography equipment. Nice. Doesn’t look like much aid money is being applied there at all, though the bodies have been cleaned up off the streets. The poverty and disease promises to replace them if help isn’t received soon. Government is allowing minimal Red Cross access. Not much coming from the Catholic Church either.

        Then we went over to Bohoy where we experienced another quake. 4.8 on the scale. Another 5 days there. Then up to Cuayan to help struggling rice farmers harvest their patties. never harvested rice before and it gives me a new appreciation. Also the knowledge that a hgh probability of rice had been lain upon by a yak or a brahma or a carabou.

        Manilla is a zoo. Christian men should stay away from Angeles City. Americans are generally pretty well received there. Just a little info for ya from your ole uncle enzo.

        Etch it!

    • Sounds like your lil wifelette is a smart lady indeed ;)

      Good to see you again, buggeeeeee!!!!!!

  47. Just read a very funny tweet passed on by Lee Foo on Travis’ blog about Glavine getting voted in. Someone said his HOF plaque will be 8″ wider than all the others.

  48. Obviously being faithful to your wife is not a prerequisite to coach athletics at Louisville. Quite an example for the “student athletes”.

  49. Highlights from Art II interview in Trib:

    * Arrow pointing up for Steelers.

    * Will be looking for bargain free agent signings again this off-season. Salary Cap situation is not “dire.”

    * Extension for Ben will not occur this off-season.

    * Tomlin sideline incident is “over” in his mind, although he has already told the Commish he will appeal any attempt to strip a draft pick.

    * Tomlin did a great job in keeping the team together after 0-4 start. Team was playing it’s best football at the end of the season, which is what you want. Should be playing still.

    * No shows late in the season are not a subject of concern. Says same thing happened in late 80′s & 90′s during off years.

    * Agreed with Tomlin decision to go for TD in Green Bay, rather than draining the clock and kicking a TD.

    * Asked about Kevin Colbert’s performance as GM, Rooney said he was pleased with the development of key rookies.

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