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Sunday column: Oshie 2014

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

SOCHI, Russia — Доброе утро, Lunatiks …

>> The Sunday column is about T.J. Oshie, who lived out the real American dream.

The Sunday news piece for our main cover looks at the Russians finally letting their hair down a bit. These Games and their surroundings are getting fun.

The daily Sochi Hockey Notebook looks at Evgeni Malkin’s silence on and off the ice, plus much more.

Here are all eight videos for Channel 11 News so far, including the latest one on the variety of food available here …

I’m also doing weekday reports for TribLIVE Radio, and the Friday podcast was culled from a phone interview with Ken Laird. Used Apple’s FaceTime, and it worked just fine.

Here’s the Trib’s Olympics page.

Here’s the official Sochi 2014 page. This has all the schedules and results.

Here’s the official U.S. Olympic team page.

Here’s the official NHL Olympics page.

And here’s NBC’s Olympics page with all the highlights.

>> Oh, and if you missed it yesterday, the Wall Street Journal covered my continuing futility at trying to access the ‘hidden Starbucks’ NBC keeps to itself  here.

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.


  1. USA 2 – Slovenia 0 with 9 minutes to play

    Kessel with both goals.

  2. Eric:

    what do you make of Bylsma’s coaching so far? has he been doing different things in Sochi that he doesn’t normally do here? Or is he doing exactly what he does in Pittsburgh?

    I know it has only been 2+ games so far, just curious to hear your take.

    • The system is pretty simple, which is what countries should be doing when the national team doesn’t have time to play with each other and develop the chemistry needed to play a complex system.

      He made a great decision yesterday to ride Oshie in the shootout.

      Did some line matching too with Backes against Malkin.

      • So there is hope for him when the NHL resumes play?
        He may actually match lines?
        That’s encouraging. Thanks for your take……… I haven’t seen much of the hockey, and completely missed yesterday’s game.

        Guess we have to put away the “Fire Bylsma” stuff for awhile, huh? ;)

        • The ‘Fire Bylsma’ campaign won’t be affected by these games and will have everything to do with the Penguins making it to the Cup finals. There’s no chance Bylsma starts to match lines in his return to the NHL.

          • That’s what I was afraid of, but didn’t want to say.

            Thanks, Eric.
            Always good to hear your take on him and the Pens.

            • And this format masks DBs flaws. Plus he cant install his system, so they’re playing much simpler puck-support hockey. Also there are no true 4th line grinders for him to play favorites with and give 30 mins TOI lol! Everybody is good. And there’s Lavs running the PP.

              And yes, he will never match lines upon his return.

              Which, if I’m Geno or Sid, kind of p-session me off.

  3. It’s not over for Bode Miller yet, especially since he won a bronze in the men’s Super-G in alpine skiing yesterday and won his sixth Olympic medal, a record, and became the oldest US athlete to finish thus at 36, and he didn’t quit.

  4. Great to have 2-0 lead for USA but Slovenia didn’t just give up and I think Byslma has some coaching to do in order to get more intensity and back to the simple play.

  5. Terrible penalty called by ref, Backes was tripped down.

  6. Always like to see the wider ice surface in the Olympics.
    Shame that will never happen in the NHL. Too many “premium” seats would have to go.

    Everyone have a wonderful day of Olympics.
    And a wonderful day in general.

    • Yes but NHL doesn’t need to wipe out seats to increase goal scoring…

      1. If you increase the height and width of the net by the size of a puck, you will get some more scoring.

      2. Demand the rules be enforced. If that means one team gets 7-10 power plays in one game, then so be it. Don’t take so many penalties and adjust your game or get rid of players that can’t adjust to the rules.

      Remember when the NHL came back, they had video showing any hooking from behind when the skater was behind the net and coming out, they were going to call penalties. It is rarely called now.

    • If you enlarge the ice surface, you get MORE premium seats, not less.

      Think about it. If, say, rows 1-10 are your top priced seats and the first two rows have to go to increase the size of the ice surface, you just make the next two rows premium priced seats, maintaining the row 1-10 standard. The two rows you add have more seats than the two rows you eliminated had. Do that for every price section, all the way back. You’re eliminating the cheapest seats when you increase the ice surface, not the expensive ones. You’re also decreasing capacity, thereby increasing demand, enabling you to raise all ticket prices if you choose. (Admittedly not much of a factor for teams like the Pens, who sell out all of the time.) You could make more money on the sale of less seats if you do it right.

      • Sisyphus,

        There would be more to it than just removing 2 rows. Remember that seating is tiered, not flat. So you would also need to either raise the level of the floor, lower the level of the seating, raise the height of the short glass, or add netting all the way around. Otherwise you would have people sitting much higher against the short glass who are right up against the ice. That in itself would be more dangerous for the fans if left as is, or else a potentially very expensive modification to the infrastructure of all these arenas.


  7. Let’s go Bylsma… get these boys back on track.

    I’m watching a Pens game at the moment….

  8. Read the WSJ article about Starbucks at the Olympics. Good stuff (I am a fellow Starbucks addict )

    1. NBC had 2500 people over there
    2. The Starbucks they set up over there doesn’t serve regular black coffee?

    3. DK said having a SB cup is a status symbol. His humor didn’t come through to the WSJ

    4. DK’s wife is monitoring his credit card activity. :-)

  9. And now, it’s 4-0 over Slovenia as Team USA has just scored back to back goals in the second quarter!

  10. This russian coach has no feel for his team or personnel.

    • I don’t know how much is the coach and how much is the players but something is off with the Russians.

      They looked like this in Vancouver too. Too much individual play, not enough team support.

  11. Oh look…a line change by the ruskies. Too bad its not the right one…

  12. All the rusky wingers playing their off wings just about…relying on one timers all day long when the other team knows what you’re trying to do is as stubborn as anything we’ve seen from a coach.

  13. The US just scored another goal! It’s 5-0 now!

  14. I know the job I want…. Penguins Head European Scout, currently held by Patrik Allvin.

  15. Did Datsyuk bow out a knee in the RUS game? That could be huge….

  16. Looks like dats back? but RUS is sucking….

  17. Scoreless at EOR for RUS…..

  18. Silly decision by the Russian coach to keep Geno off the top PP and then not use him more than once in the shootout. Also not surprised Geno is disappointed by his decreased opportunities, but not saying so publicly.

    I don’t think Russia’s coach is giving Geno his due. Some people see Geno’s playfulness — his “little kid” zeal for the game — and mistake that for a lack of intensity or focus. They would prefer a stoic Ovechkin or Kovalchuk as more in the traditional Russian mold. I would argue that they have relegated their best all-around player to second fiddle status.

  19. Unfotunately, Slovenia scored one with 17.6 seconds left, though it was too little, too late. And now, it’ll be two days before there are any more games, and then, the US will get an automatic bye against an as yet undetermined opponent. And now, it’s Slovakia vs. Russia, no score in overtime.

  20. Shoot out coming up! Switch to USA network Peeps…

  21. Russia just won the shootout 1-0. And now, the second place Russians will have to play in an elimination game on Tuesday and hope to win so they can reach Wednesday’s quarter finals, which Team USA has already reached since they won 5-1 today.

  22. Catching up on usa game now and this other goalie slovenia has isnt horrible either.

  23. What a weekend for Upper Midwest hockey.

    1. TJ Oshie (Warroad, MN). Hero of shootout with Russians.
    2. Phil Kessel (Madison, WI). Natural hat trick today. Four goals in tournament.
    3. David Backes (Spring Lake Park, MN). Goal today.
    4. Ryan McDonagh (St. Paul, MN; University of Wisconsin). Goal today.

    Plover, Wisconsin’s Joe Pavelski teamed on same line as Madison, Wisconsin’s Kessel.

    Zach Parise, TJ Oshie and David Backed form an all Minnesota line..

  24. Seeing a trend already from Canadian media about Crosby and Kunitz.

    The only thing Ontario and Western Canadians like more than winning a gold medal is ripping on Canadians from Quebec & Nova Scotia.

  25. When RUS flamed out in Vancouver…were the lines the same? Geno with Ovie, Semin…?

  26. Rooting for Finland

    I can’t wait to see Olli Maatta and Sami Salo against Sidney Crosby.

  27. Meanwhile, down here in Daytona Beach, FL, Denny Hamlin started off race weeks yesterday by winning the crash ridden (as usual) NASCAR’s Sprint Unlimited at the Speedway.

  28. A bit of traffic for Rask already …..

  29. I think Weber slap shot hit Bergeron and he went back to bench hurt, not good for Canadians.

  30. Did Nash touch that?

  31. Stick above cross-bar, there’s no way this can count.

  32. Ha! Rick Nash with a strange looking goal by knocking puck off top of net. Goal called off as high sticking.

  33. Didn’t think nash should be on the roster but since he is wouldn’t he be the prototypical winger for sid?

  34. Doesn’t the stick need to be totally above the cross bar, meaning the top of the cross bar?

    If so, the Olympic “ring” in which the puck sat on top of the net was below the cross bar, so even if his stick hit it — which did not seem definitive on the reply — his blade would still seem to be below the top of the cross bar when it touched the puck.


  35. hahahahaha, Selanne yelling at Crosby to stop diving.

    Truth. That was a dive by Sid to embellish the interference by Immonen.

  36. Selanne accuses Crosby of flopping. Hilarious.

    Crosby looks a bit tired to me.

  37. Wow, Rask. Yuck.

  38. Oh Canada!

    1-0. Great White North

  39. ….and now Rask bails them out on a giveaway straight out of my beer leagues……

  40. Rask is kinda goofy. Odd seeming fellow.

  41. This is a big game for the quarterfinals seedlings.

    Maata takes a high stick by Nash. Off to locker room.

  42. My dislike for Rick Nash just went up another level…. Maatta sticked in face, looked like eye.

  43. Maatta heads off ice to locker room….high stick around his eyes….ugh

  44. Is Ollie playing the PP? First Finland game I’ve watched.

    If so, they missed him on the last one.

  45. This is what worries me about having the NHL players playing these games. Too many chances for injuries. Have been watching how the Russian coach has been mishandling the use of Geno. It may come back to haunt them.

    • At one time, I was all for NHLers in the Olympics but I’ve flipped.

      I’d take more joy watching amateurs competing than paid professionals.

      • That’s what my family and I were discussing last night. Let the amateurs play.

      • Bowz, we finally agree on something. I can’t stand NHL’ers in these games. In fact, I think the quality of the hockey suffers because of it. Throwing all these guys together and having games after a couple of practices means you lose the flow and meshing you get with groups who had more time to work together as a team.

        I know I also spend too much time focusing on how much energy Sid and Geno are expending, how much I don’t want Maata or Martin or Orpik (yes, him too, haters) blocking shots.

        Finally, while I loathe the cheap shots and gratuitous crunching checks of the NHL, some real hitting would add a lot to these games. I’m not saying this is like an all-star game, but these guys are certainly not delivering the usual amount of good, clean, purposeful and effective body checks.

        And one extra note. Here’s to the Good Columnist for mentioning that yesterday’s game was still just a round robin game. It was fun and I enjoyed Oshie’s cool and smile, but still…let’s not go comparing it to Hasek’s save on Lindros and Forsberg’s sick goal in elimination games.


  47. Maatta showing some wear but his puck support and pinch led to the goal sequence.

  48. This isn’t even close to the best team Finland could field.

    Canada struggled somewhat with Norway.

    Guess they have trouble with

  49. Really thought FIN was done w the injuries to Koivu and Filpula…this is amazing.

  50. Just heard that the US won’t meet CAN or RUS until the gold medal game. Interesting.

    • Think the U.S. would play Canada in semi’s now, if it gets to that, and not see Russian until the finals.

      But as per usual…I could be wrong.

  51. 1 Sweden plays winner Slovenia 8 / Austria 9
    2 USA plays winner Czech Republic 7 / Slovakia 10
    3 CAN/FIN winner plays winner of Switzerland 6 / Latvia 11
    4 CAN/FIN losers plays winner of Russia 5 / Norway 12

  52. By my count, refs swallowed whistles for 3 against Canada and 1 against Finland in last 6 minutes.

  53. Was that doughty or ovechkin coming down the wing?

  54. Well CAN defensemen scoring all their goals today.

  55. Hope that was tipped else 2 really lousy goals on Rask.
    So wanted a SO!

  56. By the way, and following up on a conversation from the other day, the Russian female curlers are on right now, and they are indeed attractive.

    • Just got eliminated. I could cry.

      Now my prurient pursuits will have to come via the ice dancers. Saw a string of them today, one just as beautiful as the next.

  57. Canada and Russia hockey not dominant so far. Are the rest of you thinking that the US has a better and better chance to win it all?

    • We’ll I never thought Russia would dominate.
      I guess I think the best chances are US CAN and SWE ….
      But biggest surprise for me is Finland. They are missing their top Four centers! and still right there.
      I thought CAN would handle them easily.

      Canada looks tight to me. US seems the most relaxed.

  58. USA will play Canada in semis if both win quarterfinal games.

  59. Alright, time for some baseball.
    A.J. exonerated the Pirates for not QO-ing him. According to Rob Biertempfel, A.J. said at his presser with the Phillies, “I had said before, I would either (retire) or play for (the Pirates), so why would you (make the offer)? The fact that I didn’t know yet whether I wanted to play or not, I’m sure had a big impact on them.”
    And A.J. also stated that Philadelphia’s proximity to his home and family was what won the day. Cynics, think what you will. I hope A.J. returns to us at the trade deadline. Short of that, I hope he kicks butt this year against everybody except us.

    • What are the odds Burnetts son would be on the same 7th grade rec team as the Philliies asst gms son?

      It is what is. I think the Pirates can be held accountable for not upgrading first, or chasing someone better than Volquez. But AJs situation was too unique. Sounds like he would have retired had draft pick compensation would have been required.

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