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Morning Java: The Sochi Flu

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column is about James Neal. It’s based on an interview we did in Winnipeg late last week, one I’m fairly sure offers the most forthcoming answers he’s offered on all the recent damage done to his reputation.

Call it coincidence or what have you, but Neal and I have had one of these every time the Penguins are in Manitoba. Those guys can be pretty superstitious, so maybe that’s it.

The Penguins beat the Avs without Sidney Crosby and a bunch of other key players clearly being rested, but with Jussi Jokinen finishing a devastating shootout move. Beat man Rob Rossi reports from Denver.

But never mind that. What really mattered was that Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma clearly stepped up preparation for the games that really matter. Unless, of course, you buy that it was all a coincidence that Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Olli Maatta and Brooks Orpik — all of whom were Olympians — were scratched with what the team acknowledged were minor injuries. And this the night after Jussi Jokinen, another Olympian, was scratched in Minnesota.

Call it the Sochi Flu.

I’m not saying the Penguins are lying. There’s no need to lie. Every player at this time of season is playing through some sort of injury. They can be completely truthful in saying upper body or lower body and leaving it at that.

But I am saying that this is not only glaringly obvious but also very much worth applauding. I wrote in the March 27 column that, given all that’s gone wrong in the playoffs for a while, management should consider resting any and all players. Even Crosby. The benefits infinitely outweigh the drawbacks.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Penguins page and our Chipped Ice blog.

Here’s Avalanche news from the Denver Post.

Here’s Red Wings news from the Detroit Free Press.

Here are official game highlights on NHL.com.

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>> Edinson Volquez renders moot all future spring training fusses, by Travis Sawchik at PNC Park.

He doesn’t, of course. For all we know, Volquez could still wind up one of the National League’s worst starters, as he was last season in San Diego. But I’d say his strong work yesterday — especially in commanding the four-seam, his key to everything — at least diminishes the concept of momentum out of the spring. Or lack thereof.

Jameson Taillon will have Tommy John surgery, by Sawchik.

And that will test the Pirates’ pitching depth, also by Sawchik.

If you missed it, the Sunday column offered an inside look back at how Frank Coonelly fought for his front office in the infamous fall of 2012.

Here’s TribLIVE’s Pirates page and our Bucco Blog.

Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including a column you might enjoy from my friend Bernie Miklasz on the Pirates becoming a worthy rival.

Here’s Cubs news from the Chicago Tribune.

Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.

>> Here’s TribLIVE’s Steelers page and our Steel Mill blog.

>> Our panel on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word addressed all kinds of lively topics, not least of which was the Penguins’ inconsistent play of late.

>> I’ll check in with TribLIVE Radio today at 11:30 a.m.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

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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.

 
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