By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media
Morning, Lunatics …
>> The Monday column from Game 2 of the Rangers series focuses on … ugh, it’s just impossible to focus on a subject no one can pinpoint. But yeah, this is about Sidney Crosby. In a good way.
Here’s some of what Jussi Jokinen told me afterward when I asked how he suddenly found his shooting touch when it mattered after a rather rough night in that regard:
The game story looks ahead to tonight’s Game 3, as well, by beat man Rob Rossi.
Kris Letang’s big night, by Chris Adamski.
The Rangers remain powerless, by Jason Mackey.
News and notes, by Adamski and Mackey.
Here’s Rangers news from the New York Daily News.
Here’s the Jokinen goal, with Jussi mic’d up, from the NHL’s YouTube channel:
Blogginess from the scene: I don’t cover the Rangers, so I don’t write for a New York audience, so I don’t watch the games the same way their reporters do. That’s natural. I’m paying far more attention to the Pittsburgh side, good or bad. That said, that’s one tired team over there. All those 50/50 puck battles I described their defensemen as winning in Game 1, those went to Pittsburgh. Snap. Just like that. Give the Penguins credit, but acknowledge the broader scene. … Marc-Andre Fleury told me his best save was the early one on Rick Nash, third shot of the game, pad save, point blank. Can’t argue that, but he had a few good ones. … Didn’t like Dan Bylsma scratching Tanner Glass. Still don’t. Not because Brian Gibbons was inserted. Thought that should have happened for Game 1. But rather, because Craig Adams is the obvious better choice to sit. Whatever. It worked, and the coach deserves the credit. … Paul Martin’s brilliance and Kris Letang’s rushes weren’t coincidental. Martin allows that to happen. … Sorry, but Matt Niskanen should never sit when the first-team power play is on the ice. … In particular, the Rangers’ shutdown pair of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh looked fantastically spent. And they’ve got to log the big minutes again tonight. What choice does Alain Vigneault have? … Quote of the night came from Vigneault when asked about his team being tired: ‘Did my goaltender look tired?’ Touche, as they say in Vigneault’s home province. Henrik Lundqvist stood tall. … Beau Bennett needs to be stronger on the stick. Still carries the puck like it’s CCHA hockey at times. … Brandon Sutter cleaned up on 9 of 13 draws, Marcel Goc 7 of 9. Both figures are superb. … Really good crowd. I get tired of hearing about empty seats in the lower bowl. If you come to the games, you’d know there’s a ton of standing room in the concourse with direct visibility. People eat and drink up there while still watching. … Those referees were brutal, both Eric Furlatt and Wes McCauley. And yes, both ways, as always is the case with bad officiating. They had no concept of how to identify embellishment by either team.
>> The Pirates lost out on a sweep of the Blue Jays. Rob Biertempfel reports from PNC Park on Edinson Volquez’s first rough start.
You know, there’s perception, and there’s reality: The Pirates’ much-maligned offense has a .314 on-base percentage that’s seventh of the National League’s 15 teams. Just a hair above average. And they rank 10th with 118 runs, the only number that actually counts.
What’s the problem again?
Oh, yeah. Starting pitching. Only the miserable Diamondbacks have been worse.
Say what you will about the Pirates not bringing back A.J. Burnett, who now has a 2.06 ERA in seven starts for Philadelphia despite pitching through hernia pain. But the fact is, the one starter Neal Huntington added in the offseason – Volquez – was the Pirates’ very best before Sunday’s hiccup against Toronto. Volquez is 28, a decade younger than Burnett
But hey, don’t let me stop the narratives.
Here’s Blue Jays news from the Toronto Star.
Here’s Giants news from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here are official game highlights on MLB.com.
If you’ve missed any of these, by the way, I’ll be collecting them all for a special Wednesday blog entry.
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert will meet with the media today to reveal absolutely nothing about how the Steelers will approach the NFL draft later this week, but hey, that shouldn’t stop us from speculating, right?
Here’s a fun name to toss out there: Eric Ebron.
Take a look for yourself:
No, he’s not the wide receiver or corner most – myself included – are expected, but never underestimate the Steelers’ passion for the tight end position. Nor how much they undoubtedly love the 6-foot-4, 250-pound, hyper-athletic, sure-handed junior out of North Carolina. Ebron’s a beast and would be a sensational bookend for Heath Miller now and, at just 21, an heir apparent down the road.
And remember, Ebron lit up Pitt at Heinz Field last November, right under the Steelers’ noses, for three catches and 73 yards.
>> If you missed WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word late last night, the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers all took turns as topics for our panel.
>> Thank you, as always, for reading.