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Saturday column: All over again

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Saturday column from Game 1 of the Rangers series focuses on

Here’s what Lee Stempniak told me about that period:

The game story, by Rob Rossi.

The overtime goal, by Chris Adamski.

The Rangers’ reaction, by Jason Mackey.

News and notes, by Josh Yohe.

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

Here’s Rangers news from the New York Daily News.

Here’s the Game 1 OT goal by Derick Brassard from the NHL’s YouTube channel:

And just for fun, here’s Evgeni Malkin mic’d up for his assist on James Neal’s goal:

Blogginess from the scene: Playoff lineup changes are born from lousy efforts like this, and I’ll be surprised if Brian Gibbons isn’t playing in Game 2. The guy who should sit for him is Craig Adams, but that’ll never happen. So the guess here is Beau Bennett. … This kind of goes to what’s in the column, but the Rangers outhit the Penguins, 26-23. The tired Rangers. … Brandon Sutter has been the team’s best playoff performer. In this game, he logged 16:04 of ice, seventh-most among the forwards. … In watching Rangers-Flyers from afar, no one impressed me on New York’s roster up front more than Benoit Pouliot. Terrific skater for such a lanky kid. … I asked Pouliot after this if the Penguins came at the Rangers as hard as the Flyers did. His answer was diplomatic: ‘They’re different kinds of teams.’ Well done, young man. … The Penguins committed 11 giveaways to the Rangers’ four. … Not sure what was wrong with the usually reliable Matt Niskanen/Olli Maatta pairing, but they were at least partly responsible for New York’s first two goals. … Two more offensive-zone penalties, these for Jussi Jokinen and Bennett. … These OTs have just become a disaster for the Penguins. That’s five losses in a row on home ice, including all three since moving to Consol. You can feel it in the building, too. About a minute before this one ended, I tweeted, ‘We’ve now officially reached the everyone’s-waiting-for-the-next-bad-thing moment in here. All tension.’ Not for long.

>> Thank you, as always, for reading.

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. Brian says:

    Unfortunately, Rob Scuderi has not been the same since his early-season injury. He’s very slow to the puck and it looks more and more like his teammates have to make up for him on the ice. How Simon Despres is not playing is mystifying.

    Overall, the question lies in why is Coach Dan afraid to play younger players generally? The only exception I can think of is Olli Maatta. However, Jayson Megna has played well but get little or no opportunity while Craig Adams does. Despres has played better than Scuderi. The Pens looked much better when their younger defensemen were playing. It’s just intriguing and may very well cost him his job.

  2. Mike Vee says:

    Let’s hope so, Brian.

  3. mike says:

    1. Dejan, your column is pure gold. I swear, Vladimir Putin might have a better grasp of reality than the entire Penguins organization.

    2. Sad to think that Bennett may be benched if Gibbons returns when the place he belongs is on Malkin and Neal’s LW. If it’s not too much trouble, perhaps someone might ask why Malkin only gets to play center if it’s between Jokinen and Neal. Is he so unworthy of an extra shift with Bennett or Stempniak or Vitale?

    3. The saddest part in all of this is that the Rangers actually do match up poorly against the Pens. This game was there for the taking. This series still is there for the taking. But it will require, among the most important things, much better bench management from a coaching staff which in that regard never fails to fail … it’s the easiest thing to do.

    4. If the old saying is fool me once, shame on you, and fool me twice, shame on me, then what about the hundredth or so time we’ve been fooled?

  4. mike says:

    Not just there. Why not one single Bennett shift with Malkin and Neal, and I’m not just talking about in the playoffs? Why Adams or death? I swear, it’s like Bylsma would rather lose with Adams than win without him.

    That said, it won’t cost Bylsma his job. This organization isn’t about winning Cups and doing right by Sid and Geno to make it happen. Now, we hear about entertainment and garbage like that. So sad. And such a waste of what Shero and then Bylsma were given.

  5. Mike Vee says:

    I don’t even know why I’m upset. I’ve said for months here and on Twitter this team will not win with Dan Bylma as coach. This rested team should not lose every key stat to a tired New York team. It’s ridiculous and an embarrassment.

    Here’s my 2 cents …

    How is it that Olli Maatta has not been taught to protect the inside and step up on these guys instead of trying to do a Nicklas Lidstrom impression? My count is now five goals this year getting beat severely on the same play to the inside. Maatta is a big kid and has to hit somebody, anybody! Defensive coach failure.

    Craig Adams is slow, can’t clear the puck and has limited offensive skill and should have been replaced. He’s a liability.

    Rob Scuderi, I’m not even going to get into that one. That’s 5 mil a year for three more years. He’s playing because Ray Shero will look like an idiot if he’s scratched.

    Where was the forecheck? This team can’t win without keeping pressure on the opponent. They are unbeatable when they forecheck.

    Sidney Crosby … my opinion is that he is a combination of hurt (possibly head) and severely lacking in the confident instinct he normally has. I think Bylsma mistake No. 1 was not having a tougher lineup for Game 1 vs. the Blue Jackets. We all knew they would be bringing the heat and they brought it hard. Had there been an extra three minutes in Game 6, they would have forced a Game 7. Game 1 brought Brandon Dubinsky shadowing 87 which saw punches, pokes and let’s not forget the after-whistle slew foot. Sid fell on his back, and that’s enough to jar the head. Maybe he’s battling through another “head issue.” After the first shift of that garbage, had Deryk Engelland been in there and went after Dubinsky, the thuggery would have been cut off. Tanner Glass could have taken care of the problem, as well, but Engelland should have been on wing. Bylsma and Shero have turned this group into a bunch of non-hitting pansies who DO NOT defend each other. I mean, do they realize no Sid and Geno means no Cup.

    I’m just glad there’s no game tomorrow so I can enjoy one weekend day without chomping on Rolaids.

  6. chethejet1 says:

    Tickets for a second round game were available for less than a regular season game. Not good Mario. I sense Dejan while rather late to the party now gets it. This franchise is eroding in talent and hunger. Team is stale as is the coaching staff and GM. Just can’t make any emotional investment in a team that is soft, going through the motions and a coach who is in his own world. When did the Disney on ice show up in Penguin uniforms? They should beat the Rags but they won’t performing like Kevin Bacon in Animal House….All is well, All is well.

  7. Poz says:

    I replayed the winning goal about five times. It was a simple play. But this team has a knack for turning the simple into a disaster.

    Four Pens skating around down low like they hadn’t a clue, their first time ever on the ice, while two Rangers are wide open in front of Fleury.

    I will scream if I hear “world class talent” one more time in reference to the Pens. This so-called talent is continually outworked. And I won’t read the comments from the players. I’ve heard it all too often before.

    “Get to our game” my behind. Pens did, last night. It was on the ice for all to see.

  8. Meron says:

    These are all Very Good Points. The Struggle is Tough to take!

  9. The Pens lost in overtime last night. Smh, since the offense was pretty sluggish. Meanwhile, the Pirates rallied in the 9th to beat the Blue Jays, although they usually did well enough against them in spring exhibition while they usually did poorly in exhibition vs. the Orioles, so that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Well, at least they won one, for once.

  10. Ed C says:

    Anyone watching with even the slightest hockey sense would recognize the blatant insufficiencies of that group. Why coach/management choose to deny as much is beyond understanding. Engelland and Depres obviously should be on the ice. Remarkable.

  11. DJ says:

    Winning goal was result of Scuds failing to recognize he had no easy outlet and then making a poor (soon-to-be-fatal) decision. Borts vacates front of net to help. Centering pass and it’s game time.

    Same thing on Rangers’ earlier goal. Olli concerned with forechecker bearing down on him, tries to side-saddle clearing attempt rather than taking the hit and making the play, puck stripped, Nisky leaves front of net, centering pass and it’s back of net.

    Don’t understand why our D-men skating to areas of low scoring chance opportunity (back of net) and vacating the prime areas (front of net).

  12. DJ says:

    As much as not pounding the Rangers it looked like we went out of our way to try to avoid checks rather than taking them to make the proper play — Olli’s early blunder being the prime example.

    If Pens are not tougher tomorrow the series will be over.

  13. Karen22 says:

    For Crosby to suggest he played well proves there’s something definitely wrong with him – perhaps latent post-concussion syndrome? His head cannot concoct that statement after last night’s “performance!”

    I remain stunned by this team’s continued arrogance and denial of reality – from the top down. And I no longer want to hear about all of its elite talent. PROVE IT!! For 60 (SIXTY!!) minutes of EVERY game! This is the PLAYOFFS, dammit!!

  14. Brandie says:

    Tell ‘em Temptress!

  15. DJ says:

    Trying to remember the last key faceoff that Sid has won and still cannot recall.

    He was absolutely awful last night.

  16. Brandie says:

    Is he trying to get the coaching Corp shaken up?

  17. DJ says:

    Scuds’ quote seemed like a little pat on his own back for how he played last night except for OT.

    Less than a complete game not good enough.

  18. DJ says:

    Don’t think so, Brands.

    Not in Sid’s DNA and Dan doing a good job of that on his own.

  19. Brandie says:

    What I do not understand is why try to deviate from what works? This is hockey. If the Pens are going to be in the 1-3-1, finish the checks!!!!! Cause disruption of the opponent’s offense by getting back on D. Too many players out of position means too many squandered opportunities.

  20. Brandie says:

    Dreaded upper body injury (head case), or what Sid haters would call a lower body injury (lack of cojones) ?

  21. Sam says:

    did Sid say he played well?

  22. theplanisworking says:


  23. DJ says:

    Would welcome a Gibby for Adams swap.

    Unlike other players, Gibby’s not afraid to hit or take one.

  24. bradthedad says:

    Risking being called a shill for the house, the Pens were the better team for periods 2 and 3. And if you care to look at the play by play summary in the 1st, it’s largely an even period. Most of ‘the best’ scoring opportunities belonged to Pens and Fleury gave up a long range bad goal. The 3 minutes of the overtime period, however is a different story.

  25. DJ says:

    . . . even at 5’7″ tops.

  26. Naje says:

    Seems like the tails are wagging the dog with the Pens…and that the dog has no clue how to take hold of the tails and whip them around to do the right things, play the right way.

    Tired of reading the same excuses from the exceedingly talented few…because they inspire no one. And they all to often render whatever coaching they get null with lazy, undisciplined, don’t-hit-me-I-might-get-hurt style of play.

  27. hockeymonster says:

    Anyone else surprised we didn’t go back to 87/71 in the 3rd? Especially last 10 minutes of 3rd…goc-sutter-BB looked good as a line and definitely showed promise but sutter was solid with neal and jussi too. BB-Goc-stempy were good against columbus as 3rd line. Kinda surprised we didn’t look for that spark when game was 2-2 in 3rd.

  28. Rbilak says:

    My disgust has turned to apathy.

    1. The penalties will never stop.

    2. Scuderi will continue to play no matter what.

    3. They will never compete for more than 40 minutes, let alone 60.

    4. Letang will be praised for his play, yet the highest paid defenseman who is closer to 30 than 20, cannot be trusted on the first team powerplay or powerplay in general. A waste of money.

    5. Craig Adams will continue to play no matter what.

    6. MAF will continue to give up soft goals and excuses will be given.

    7. The powerplay will never get as many quality chances as it gives up

    8. Dan and Ray are delusional about the team. They are not objective about the play of their players. It started with the failure in Boston, manifested to off season and then trade deadline, which has morphed into the playoffs. Dan has been unable to stop trends that every fan can see. Ray has given contracts and made trades that made them easier to play against and reduced every amount of physical play. The contract given to Letang will lead to the loss of Niskenan. The Scuderi contract will also drag them down. Brooks Orpik ver Jack Johnson, no one can defend that one was not “homerism”.

  29. Karen22 says:

    See Sid’s quote in DK’s column…basically, YES!

    And here ya go from Colin Dunlap…SPOT ON!! Get it together, Sid!!

  30. Karen22 says:


    I’m angrier this morning than I was right after that fiasco last night. Especially after reading all of the living in denial quotes in Dejan’s column. What planet is this team living on??

  31. Karen22 says:

    LOL! That about says it, Brandie!

  32. Baywatch says:

    Is it appropriate to talk Pirates here this morning? I gotta voice this … A WIN, MASTER! I feel sorta like the crazed bloodsucker Renfield in “Dracula” where he’s just happy to get a fly!

  33. Andrew says:

    I think this accurate shot attempts were 13-12, 5v5, in the first period. The Rangers’ best chances came with a flurry when they were short handed and up a goal. The unscreened 55 foot wrister from a non-sniper should be saved. DJ breakdown of winning goal is spot on. Yes Bennet played well but he saw a lot of Jon Moore, Kevin Klien and took two penalties.

  34. Naje says:

    Hey Bay… 17 hits… 1 BB (by the pitcher, no less)… 10 LOB… a horrible start from Cole…countless opportunities wasted…

    And a win… finally, a win! Like you, I’ll take it. But this team has some wicked psyche issues sorta like the Pens. Take a young, impulsive, talented player like Marte…watch him flail and fail miserably for a month (probably a week or two too long), and then drop him in the order and watch him produce. Hope he stays down in the 7 spot for a good while. He’s got to get the message loud and clear: be a professional, every at bat.

    Several others could use that message too.

  35. hockeymonster says:

    Need all the speed we can get in this series.

  36. scapper says:

    I’ll be shocked if we don’t learn after the playoffs that Sid is dealing with a lower-body injury. He is NOT the same player, and that type of injury would help explain the pathetic faceoff numbers.

    That being said, Pens will still win this series.

  37. Andrew says:

    I think 87/71 is fine if it is the last change and in the offensive zone, but it makes the match ups a lot easier for New York. 2nd line needs to carry the points production, they have been getting a lot of offensive zone starts and power play mark wouldn’t hurt.

  38. Baywatch says:

    I know I’m a FEELER, Naje. I’m just hoping that somehow, maybe MAGICALLY, that 9th-inning comeback will light a fire under ‘em. The wife and I are flying up for the Cardinals series next weekend and I’d LIKE to see a different ball club!

  39. Karen22 says:

    Marte was in the sixth spot last night. Regardless, keep him down in the order.

  40. Karen22 says:

    If he’s NOT hurt, the Pens are in bigger trouble than we think. And if he is, get him the heck off the ice! He’s NOT helping!!

  41. Couldn’t agree more. Now find someone other than Tabloid to lead off and I’m happy. When Polanco does come, whenever that is, I pray he doesn’t lead off.

    And please don’t put Lunchie in the leadoff spot again in this millennium.

  42. hockeymonster says:

    Some other thoughts rattling around in the dome:

    Seemed like our most effective shifts in the 3rd were when we grinded away down low against their D. I like having our top 6 skate the puck across the line as much as anyone but lets get their D to back off by chipping in behind them and finishing a check or 2. We got several ugly pucks to the net just by getting puck down low and moving our feet and shoving puck towards the net. We looked indecisive skating thru the NZ a couple times and NYR were able to hold the line and get going the other way. Lets get them to respect our rushes a bit more by using our close support breakouts to generate speed in NZ then use that speed to retrieve puck after quality/soft dump in behind their D.

    DK had a good call on Pouliot. He’s an affordable UFA after the season as well and have had visions with him on Sutter’s LW next season…but too soon for that. And not sure that goal he scored is on Flower. Maatta gave him the middle and flower had to shuffle over while pouliot wired one high. We need to hold the line much better that that…which leads me to…

    Our F3 backtrack wasn’t as aggressive as it was in games 5 and 6 which prevented our D from stepping up to introduce a physical element in attempt to hold the line(red and blue lines). So not only does NYR use our close support breakout and puck retrieval system but they also had chances to do what we needed to do. Get the puck deep, forecheck and cycle.

    NYR has alot of speed which isn’t surprising. But AV has this squad over achieving in a big way and the confidence is carrying them. Only way to slow down their aggressive speed is to be physical down low and definitely at the lines with our D having good gap and stepping up with strong F3 support.

    And DJ has made good points about dzone coverage, which occasionally does rear its head as an achilles heel for us. No one is scoring from the corner or behind the net, even if a dman gets knocked off the puck. Lets look to clear the front and pick up sticks. Would like to see JM talk to disco about instituting a strict man on man policy in dzone coverage. If we do that don’t think we’ll get caught scrambling and chasing the puck as much. Instead i believe we’ll just play our position which will allow flower to read the play and not get caught scrambling.

    With all that said, bad news is that we had another poor start against a sharp team. Good news is that they needed our 19 year old phenom to receive a baptism by fire to get their only 2 goals. Not to mention some benefit of doubt from zebras when vitale got kneed by carcillo in 1st and BB got clipped by Nash in 3rd. And the phantom off sides when maatta kept the puck in prior to 2nd goal was an abysmal and embarrassing call by the linesman. We had clear possession and momentum only to see it squandered with one whistle.

    As we’ve seen, maatta bouncing back hasn’t been an issue so lets workout the details and kinks and be fully prepared to get game 2. Cuz AV’s squad will be ready too.

  43. hockeymonster says:

    I kinda have a theory regarding sid and think he could use the help creating offense from geno. Or help on draws from Goc.

  44. Patrick(ri) says:

    I remember the old master calling for “two bloops and a blast.” A bloop and two blasts was not conjurable! This was more like last season, with multi – inning agony, fooled by ecstasy.

  45. Patrick(ri) says:

    Should be “followed,” but I kind of like “fooled”.

  46. Brandie says:

    Watched episodes of Pittsburgh Dad on You Tube. His sports shorts on watching our favorites teams are hysterical.

  47. Mike Vee says:

    Nah- Sid doesn’t shy away as a coward. I still say he was hurt on the slew foot. Maybe its his back which would explain no jump in his step, no pin point turning etc. Anyone thats ever hur their back knows how difficult it is to move. And again, if he IS hurt its Bylsma’s fault for not taking care of this on the 1st shift of game 1.

  48. JohninOshkosh says:

    Kentucky Derby picks:

    1. Win: California Chrome
    2. Place: Danza
    3. Show: Wicked Strong

    Cali finishes strong to beat out Danza by 3 lengths on way to eventual Triple Crown. Great horse!

    Tony Danza will be in attendance.

    Mona! Samantha!

  49. You been to the comic book stores yet, John? My boys drove all the way to Lexington (3 hours) as they have 8 or 9 of them there and several friends to make the rounds with. Only 1 close here in Bowling Green (1 hour).

    DK has it as his avi on Twitter.

  50. Stuart says:

    Can someone explain to me why 24/7 and Travis Sawchick BETWEEN THEM can’t manage a daily blog post thread?

    Like Bay mentioned earlier, it seems almost sacrilegious to be posting about the Pirates here when the focus (rightly) has been on the Pens.

    I don’t blame Dejan for this state of affairs. He does have a life and a very nice family after all. And there will be times when the Pirates will be the main focus, so I’m not suggesting “no baseball” on DKs blog, but come on Trib, how about a little pressure on those other two lay-abouts to up their game?

    Just sayin.


  51. JohninOshkosh says:

    Dejan does that every year. Love it. Taking kids in about 45 minutes!

    Duughter is running 2k or 3k or 5k or 10k. Something metric, I forget. :)

  52. Stuart says:

    I think I have an answer to “fix” the Pirates. First and formost, it will be necessary for Jordy Mercer to develop a mysterious lower-body injury that is severe enough to place him on the 15-day DL. Second, as others have suggested, designate Travis Snider for Assignment. Third call up Alen Hanson and Andrew Lambo to replace Mario Jr. and Lunchbox. Here is my new lineup:

    1. Hanson SS, 2.Davis 1st base, 3. Cutch CF, 4. Lambo RF, 5. Marte LF, 6. Pedro 3B, 7. PRNW 2nd base, 8. Tony S. C, 9. Pitcher

    If Hanson performs adequately, and I don’t set the standard very high here, Jordy’s “injury’ can get worse and he can move to the 60-day DL. When Polanco is ready, he can bat second, and Ike clean-up. Lambo remains on the team as power off the bench.


  53. Patrick(ri) says:

    A fellow hopeful skeptic?

  54. Good plan, Stu, but Hanson is firmly entrenched in AA, hitting .247, but coming on at the plate. He is projected as a 2nd baseman in the future.

    Robert Andino is back off the DL and playing in Indy and Blake Davis has played some there, but neither are considered more than bench players, I believe. Also, Michael Martinez is there playing infield, but not considered an option for ML starter. Chase has played a lot in the OF and most consider his glove a liability.

    If we move from Jordy, it’s my opinion it’ll be Barmes with backup by JHay.

  55. You expect them to work 24/7?


  56. Andrew says:

    Count me in, the Pirates are getting back to their 2013 formula for success, stranding runners, if they get some good starting pitching and a lights out bullpen, the wins will follow.

  57. Thundercrack says:

    Those other guys have families and lives too. :-).

    They provide some good info on a daily basis in the regular ‘notebook’ section. I really wonder if there is enough really interesting/pertinent information out there to have a daily blog posting.

  58. NastyNate82 says:

    So who would you bat leadoff then? You’ve listed many who wouldn’t do the trick. Not that I don’t agree with you on Marte (I like his EB power and speed kind of behind the Cutch-Pedro tandem) being lower in the order. Really the only candidate is Walker.

  59. Hanson also has 8 errors. Blake Davis has none in 19 games. Andino doesn’t have any, either, but he’s only played 3 games.

  60. Excellent Q. I thought of Walker, but he’s far from a proto-typical leadoff hitter. It’ll probably be Polanco eventually, as Cutch started out there, too. At least once he hones his base-running skills and faces adversity.

  61. NastyNate82 says:

    As a Ranger fan, Pouliot has been surprisingly solid signing by Sather. For the first twenty games or so, he was atrocious…but then again the entire Rangers team was at the beginning of the year. He obviously found a lot of chemistry with Brassard and the Hobbit, and they work very well together. I think he was always kind of viewed as a career disappointment…drafted 4th overall in the 05 draft (3 spots behind some guy in Pittsburgh) and he’s kind of been a nomad the last couple of years.

  62. Joe says:

    That “long range bad goal” was tipped by the shaft of Niskanen’s stick and took off in a hurry. you can only see the tip in a slow motion replay. Stop finding reasons to blame Fleury, he’s hardly the reason they lost game 1.

  63. Joe says:

    Couldn’t agree more re “scary” Scuderi. He is a liability who has no confidence with the puck. Have you noticed that if he has the puck on his stick in front of Fleury, he just shoots it in the corner and 80% of the time, the opposition takes control of the puck? Simon Depres DESERVES to be in the lineup. He hits more, he CARRIES the puck out of his own zone and his passes are on the tape 90% of the time. The management has some kind of dislike for Depres, because they can’t use his hockey ability as a reason he’s in the AHL. It seems lineup decisions are not based on what’s best for the team, but who the coach and GM like and who they “signed” to big contracts as free agents. I fear we will watch the Penguins struggle and ultimately lose in this round or the next, then listen to the excuses that we “couldn’t get to our game” and next year Rob Scuderi (and others) will be in the starting lineup and Simon Depres will be a top 4 defenceman for some other NHL team. Management Myopia.

  64. scapper says:

    Going to try to get this post in before I get crushed…by the sky, which, from reading these posts, apparently seems to be falling.

    I had so much fun going back and scanning all the blog posts from the CBJ series after the Pens took game 4. Good lord, you’d have thought the Pens had gotten swept. And now we have a game 1 OT loss against a solid third seed and you’d think they got beat 8-1. “Fiasco?” Really. Seemed like a decent game to me. And as for the poster who said his anger turned to apathy, well, uhhhh…if that were truly the case, you wouldn’t have then listed 8-10 things about the game. You’re not apathetic yet, haha.

    They lose game 2 and then I’ll think they’re close to done, but right now, the Pens are down 0-1 against a team they’ve always played well against. They usually play well in the Garden, too. Keep the faith.

  65. Baywatch says:

    This is kinda weird, but you know who I think about as a shortstop who could hit and play – but took an early retirement over anxiety issues was that guy who played for The Padres … what was his name? Oh! Butler’s own Khalil Greene! Dude’s still just 34 and been gone from the game now, what, 5 years!

  66. NastyNate82 says:

    At some point, yeah, I think Polanco would be a very good candidate. And while Walker isn’t a prototypical leadoff hitter, there is the simple fact that the Pirates don’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter right now. And Walker is good enough, I think. Good bat, solid power, takes some walks. You could do far worse.
    One thing I read about Polanco was that he’d been picked off three times already in Indy. That…does seem like an awful lot. Small things like being able to read pitcher’s moves would certainly help him. And I also don’t like the idea of him coming up when they’re playing horribly, as it seems to put added pressure on the kid. And he can’t change everything by himself.

  67. NastyNate82 says:

    I’ve got Candy Boy in the top three. Got one of the best jockeys and he’s a closer. On the other hand, the Derby has so many horses that might not matter. It ends up looking like the horse version of electric football.

  68. Sarah says:

    Curious, Scap:
    did you think the Pens played well?

    Were you concerned that recurring problems seemed to recur after being mostly absent last 2 games v CBJ?

    Did you think the quotes from the players in DKs column expressed appropriate concern or accurate recap of what happened?

    For ex> did you agree w Bylsma that the first period was “50-50″?

    The theme I think you’re not quite getting in the recent posts is the concern is not so much the Result, but HOW the Pens are playing, win or lose.

  69. theplanisworking says:

    + many, Sarah.

    If the Pens lost, and there was good quality play, it would be one thing. But this team is in complete denial, and not the river in Egypt…………..

    ‘I thought I played pretty well’, that period was 50/50, the constant lost defensemen…………… and a coach who seems lost behind the bench.

    Other than that, the play was fairly entertaining.
    Can’t wait for tomorrow.
    Then Monday for more excuses.

  70. JohninOshkosh says:

    It has become anyone’s race with the large fields. A couple of scratches today, I think, but opportunities to get boxed in abound. Race instructions to the jocks will be very important. Of course, that means the jocks need to follow those instructions.

    Of course, all this opens the door a bit to longer shots which, if handicapped correctly, means more cash in the wallet. :)

  71. JohninOshkosh says:

    Guy is talented.

  72. theplanisworking says:

    HEY BAY……..

    UP HERE !!! :)

  73. Sisyphus says:

    I’ve watched Despres play, and, to me, it’s very easy to see why he’s not in there. But Scuderi is getting on my nerves, and I’d sit him when Orpik comes back.

  74. Sarah says:

    Peeps we’re really getting on Sid it seems.
    I’m even reading that he’s lazy or not caring or whatnot…..

    Really guys, this is Sid we’re talking about.
    We’ve seen nothing but an incredible competitive level from him since he got here.

    Which is why I think something serious is going on with him, mental or physical.

    And it isn’t just even this playoffs…..there’s been many times this year when we’ve scratched our heads and said “what’s up w Sid??”

    For the first time I can EVER remember in his career,this season we’ve seen him coast now and then on back-checks.
    It was so unusual that a month or two ago one example was replayed all over the place….I forget the game but…. I mean, he just coasted back, while the bad guys scored. It was actually into Ovechkin territory (I hate saying that!!!)

    Point is, Sid has been Not Sid a fair bit this season….and lately, he’s been Not Sid every game.

    I cannot imagine he just suddenly lost his incredible competitive fire. He didn’t just wake up lazy at the start of the playoffs. Something has to be going on physically or mentally.

    Perhaps something physical was exacerbated by the beating Dubinsky put on him (with ZERO retribution I should add).

    Maybe his concussions have caught up w him? I’d hate to think that….

    But his poor play is across the spectrum…..lousy faceoffs (wrist? We’ve seen them spraying something on his wrist repeatedly ) …..lousy decisions/turnovers…poor vision? post concussion?……NO JUMP….lower body???

    I’ve no idea what it is but something is seriously wrong, and I suspect it has been for awhile.

    Sid isn’t lazy, and he’s a world class competitor.
    For him to look like this is not simply laziness or an I Don’t Care attitude.

    It’s seriously worrying.

    Having said that, I think they need to focus on Geno. He’s the one that can step it up at the moment,not Crosby.
    Start by getting JJ off his wing.

  75. Sisyphus says:

    The three horses that I threw out when they were the consensus celebrity picks, lol

    Seriously though, good luck today.

  76. Sisyphus says:

    Hanson hasn’t even shown that he can hit AA pitching yet. Combined with his suspect defense, I’d rather see Barmes or any of the AAA middle infielders at short. The best case scenario for Hanson is the middle of next year, and that’s optimistic.

  77. Sarah says:

    Yah Plan.
    I just cannot believe anyone thinks Bylsma is in control of this team.
    He can be saying the right things or whatever (I don’t really think so) but the bottom line is the team is simply not responding to him. At all.

    The biggest response we saw recently was the change in lines to put Sid and Geno together (their idea not DBs).

    And of course that went by the wayside last night.

    It’s almost like when something works that is NOT what Bylsma planned, he has to scrap it ASAP.
    At leatst until his job is on the line. Again.

    I’m really done with Bylsma ( can you tell LOL?).

    Whatever happens this playoffs, I hope he’s gone, and Shero too. The biggest thing holding Sid and Geno back, and wasting their prime years, is personnel and coaching schemes. That’s Ray and Dan.

  78. JohninOshkosh says:

    Thanks, King Sisyphus!

    I seriously haven’t seen any picks. I handicap on my own. Love doing it, Sort of a hobby. Then I wager $2! I guess I think like a celebrity! That’s a kinda scary thought.

  79. theplanisworking says:


    I think Sid is hurt, not dogging it.

  80. Sarah says:

    Question is….WHEN did he get hurt? If he was hurt before the playoffs Bylsma should have been sitting him…..a lot. But I only recall one game where Sid was rested.

    No clue what’s goin on….

  81. Sarah says:

    PK Subban just ducked a huge hit by Shawn Thornton. Looked like Thornton blew his knee.

    I am not sympathetic towards Thornton. Not a bit.

    And I am becoming a fan of Subban.

    Bruins fans will find a way to cry victim on this one too I’m sure.

  82. Sarah says:

    ….and it’s 3-1 Habs.

    Did The Habs violate The Code by taking the lead?

    Maybe someone has to fight now.

  83. Zico says:

    When a player routinely puts points on the board as often as Sid does throughout his career, anything less than that becomes unacceptable in a lot of peoples’ eyes. They only see results, not the little things. It is rather unfortunate, but that’s the state of affairs in professional sports these days. The same goes for when McCutchen doesn’t get a timely hit, or Big Ben doesn’t throw a TD. I’m not suggesting this is fair or right, but it is how a lot of people view sports. Fleury could make 4 consecutive saves in a row, defense standing around not clearing the rebounds, and when that 5th shot goes in…it’s Fleury’s fault somehow.

    The way the players are performing is a lot similar to when Therrien lost the team and they went on that losing skid before Bylsma was hired. But that’s just my personal opinion on the matter.

  84. Zico says:

    About the Pirate’s lead-off spot…

    Wasn’t Matt Carpenter batting lead-off last year for St.Louis, or was he two-hole? I can’t remember, but I feel like if he was leading off, Walker could do a lighter version of such a skill-set. Sometimes it’s better to have a lead-off hitter that can work a count, let people behind him see pitches, than to have a super fast guy that can steal bases if he is able to get on base.

  85. Sarah says:

    Zircon your last sentence says it all.
    I think Bylsma has lost the team.
    I actually think he never really got them back after the PHL debacle.

    I can’t think of another GM that would have brought the HC back after that, except RS.

    Or after the Boston debacle last year.

    That is why (in part) IMO RS must go too.

  86. Zico says:

    I agree. I believe in loyalty as an important quality, but sometimes you have to take the rose-colored glasses off and make a hard decision. Shero’s mentor, David Poile, just cut ties with Trotz. Said it was the hardest decision he ever had to make, but knew it was time to move on. If Shero makes any moves this off-season, the first must be on Bylsma.

  87. Sarah says:

    Doubt it will happen.
    They’re married.
    If it happens I think it will come from above and both will go.

    But I dream…….

  88. Gene-Zo says:

    Habs now look like Pens did in that 3rd pd of game 6 vs BJs. 3 straight unanswered goals in 5:32, 4-3 Bos.

  89. Sarah says:

    Well, Bruins just scored 3 in about 4 minutes to go up 4-3, and I think we have a 5 game series now.
    Habs completely collapsed.
    Even the Pens could not have choked like that.

    BOS in 5 and Rollin’.

  90. Stuart says:

    Rev, I don’t think it’s unanimous among scouts that Hanson will have to be a second baseman, I also know his arm is questionable. I just want someone who can lead off, and be a little bit of a table setter. Indy SSs are benchers I agree. I doubt if we will spend the money on Drew or any other vet SS. Mercer is way beyond just being a liability at the plate. Barmes is a backup at best, but he could be a good late-inning replacement.

    About shortstop: “Do something, even if it’s wrong!”


  91. NastyNate82 says:

    And even if they try to follow instructions, the horse may not want to comply!

  92. Stuart says:

    Rev, I don’t think it’s unanimous among scouts that Hanson will have to be a second baseman, I also know his arm is questionable. I just want someone who can lead off, and be a little bit of a table setter. Indy SSs are benchers I agree. I doubt if we will spend the money on Drew or any other vet SS. Mercer is way beyond just being a liability at the plate. Barmes is a backup at best, but he could be a good late-inning replacement.

    About shortstop: “Do something, even if it’s wrong!”


  93. Wild Bill says:

    Not sure if anybody mentioned it yet, but Roidin Braun just went on the DL. Brewers maybe back to the pack a little?

  94. Stuart says:

    Above post should have been WAY above as reply to Lucky, the Kentuckian.


  95. NastyNate82 says:

    The constant saying that Bielsma “has no control of the team” rings pretty hollow to me. Didn’t they just go to the ECF? Didn’t they just respond to what could have been a catastrophic loss in Game 4 against a plucky four seed with two of their best games? I know the general theme here is that if something goes right, the players deserve the credit, and if something goes wrong, blame Bielsma. But come on…given many of the comments here, I kind of wonder if the Pens won a Cup this year would they be A) happy they won or B) unhappy cause Bielsma would be back.
    Look, I’m an outsider…from NY, a Rangers fan, so the angst among Penguins fans is more confusing than anything else. And I think many of the criticisms leveled against Bielsma are valid. But if you’re looking for a team with no holes who is remaining in the Stanley Cup field, keep looking. There isn’t one.

  96. theplanisworking says:

    When you take roids, your body breaks down.

    Just sayin’ ……… and no sympathy for him.

  97. Sarah says:

    Give us some examples of when you think the team has responded positively to Byslma.

  98. I’d love to see Drew, Stuart, but it’ll have to be after the draft if I’m not mistaken. He’d be an upgrade on what we’re getting now.

    I like Jordy and would like to see him succeed, but it can only go so far. 11-18 makes for a nice mountain to climb.

  99. What did he do? Someone swing a bat at him on the dugout steps?

  100. Wild Bill says:

    Strained oblique is what they say.

  101. Nate83 says:

    I guess that is your personal opinions. I feel as if those two do a wonderful job of running that blog. It’s for one team not all sports combined like this one. When they do post something 3 or 4 times a week it is well thought out and thought provoking creating plenty of good intelligent conversation. I guess they could put something up daily that says talk amongst yourself but if you look around the amount of blog entries for the Steelers and Penguins blogs the baseball one actually has more frequent post.

    There are two Penguin beat guys why are they not posting stuff daily? For what it’s worth I think the hockey guys do a great job as well I was just using that to make a point.

  102. BC says:

    I think the “tired” and “travel” argument are not so relevant in today’s NHL with the superior conditioning of the players today along with the applied science when it comes to nutrition and rest.

    I remember the Pens of a couple years actually looked better and had better results on the back end of back-to-back games.

    Something is clearly wrong with Crosby. I have never seen him so sloppy with the puck in his career as I did in the last two Colombus games and the majority of last night’s game.

    They miss Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal terribly this time of year.

    Aside from letting in the occasional softie, the way that Fleury handles the puck completely disrupts the flow of their breakout, leads to dangerous chances for the opponent and can be an absolute team morale killer.

    I find it hard to believe a collection of Disco, Grannato and Jacques Martin are being outcoached and can’t come up with answers.

    I believe that they don’t have the right players for their system, are not putting the right guys on the ice and out there with the right pairings. I don’t think they are a staff that is getting anyone to over achieve and they have elite talent with some nasty habits and poor fundamentals.

    All that said, I think they have the ability to turn it around and compete for the cup. Just not likely.

    Go Pens.

  103. Nate83 says:

    Nobody on the Cards has speed. They are one of the slowest teams in the league. Your overall point has good merit in my opinion. I’m not opposed to trying anything at lead off. A good at-bat decent on base guy is as good as anything. Let Marte stay batting 6th or 7th where he can drive in runs and not feel the need to bat a certain way.

  104. Baywatch says:

    Back atcha, Plan! Schtack!

  105. Andrew says:

    It is the first time Crosby has played more than 50 games in three years, add in the Olympics games, add the fact that that the Sutter’s flaws and injures depleted an already weak Penguins bottom six meaning that the Crosby line was leaned on to be a checking line deployed against the strong competition and taking frequent defensive zone faceoffs.

    Maybe he is just tried.

  106. Sarah says:

    I dunno. He is awful.
    You really think that is just fatigue ?

  107. Sarah says:

    That series is over.

  108. Zico says:

    From swinging a bat on the dugout steps?

  109. theplanisworking says:

    Trying to rech his you-know-where to inject…….. nevermind.

  110. Andrew says:

    I really do not know, it is just a thought, he has had 6 assists. Clearly not up to expected elite level, but Claude Giroux had 7 points and no goals through his first 15 games yet was selected as one of the three most valuable players in the league. Sometimes a stretch of seven or 15 games is not an accurate indicator of a players’ talent.

    Obviously this is occurring at the worst time and is worrisome, but the Penguins are 4-3 over the stretch and the three losses came by the slimmest margin and OT goal. I do not think the Penguins absolutely need an elite level Crosby to win games but it does make it a lot harder.

  111. scapper says:

    Sorry, I don’t live on here, but fair questions.

    1. Played “well”? Not the whole game. But almost good enough to win. Their performance in OT was pretty bad, but overall they played better than the NYR.

    2. Recurring problems? Oh yes, this team has issues for sure. But they just won two games in a row against a desperate, hard-checking, energetic team. They WON both games. Yes, some recurring issues returned, but this team has demonstrated that they can get back to better hockey. No team has ever gone 16-0. Oh, and I don’t think this is a Cup-winning team by any means, but just saying that teams lose games in the playoffs.

    3. I don’t fret the quotes AT ALL. Guys have to say something after every game, especially the stars. Columnists have to write something. Both are done within a very short time frame after an intense playoff game. Means nothing.

    4. Not sure I’d call the first period 50-50, but it wasn’t all Rangers. This is the playoffs. Teams bring it, especially one with the veterans on the Rangers.

    5. As for “how” the Pens are playing, I’ll agree that these have not been your standard issue NHL playoff games, where the team who gets the lead almost always wins (as in, “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….”), but they beat Columbus, a team that was playing hard and desperate hockey, in 6 games. They’re not going to win a Cup, but they won the first round, and after watching game 1 I hold with my pre-series prediction of Pens in 6.

    I don’t let the local columnists influence how I feel about the team or its performance. They have to crank out something under deadline. Fortunately, the Pittsburgh papers have wonderful and exceedingly readable sports columnists who can crank out great stuff under deadline. But it’s just one game. Perhaps the Rangers will steamroll the Pens in this series. But I think the Pens will prevail. They lost 3-2 in OT.

  112. DJ says:

    Good point on F3 being aggressive, HM.

    Noticed the same poor spacing and resulting lack of sustained pressure.

  113. NastyNate82 says:

    Oh I dunno, a week or so against Columbus.

  114. NastyNate82 says:

    How can you say he never got them back after the Philly debacle when they went to the ECF the next year? It’s obvious you don’t like Bielsma, but it’s kind of unfair to just ignore the fact that after a very ugly loss in 2012, they went to the ECF. Yeah, they got beat…but sometimes you just run into a buzzsaw like Boston.

  115. NastyNate82 says:

    Possibly, but the Habs still stole home-ice.

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