>> The TribLIVE Radio show today — 2-3 p.m. — will feature you once again. We’ve got all kinds of ground to cover, so I’ll open by taking your calls on any topic. Will the Penguins sweep the Blue Jackets? Or will the series take five games? Still worried about the Pirates at first base? How about the rotation? You name it.
Honestly, I don’t have much to add beyond what the Monday column described: Penguins in five.
Any two teams can be pitted, no matter how lopsided, and someone can concoct reasons why a series should be tight or could even swing an unexpected way. That shouldn’t happen here. It can’t happen here. The Penguins have markedly superior skill on the top two lines, are much better on both special teams, have a more accomplished and mobile defense … they’re even healthier than Columbus, if you can believe that. The variable that still screams out is that of Fleury vs. Sergei Bobrovsky, and goaltending always can be enough of a variable to dwarf all others. But I don’t see it. I really don’t.
I’ll respect Bobrovsky and his 2013 Vezina Trophy enough to presume he’ll steal one game. No more.
Oh, and if it’s a Cup pick you want, it’s Teemu Selanne going out on top.
Our panel on WPXI-TV’s Subway Final Word each picked one possible way the Penguins could lose this series:
And here’s what TribLIVE Radio‘s morning team of Ken Laird and Guy Junker had to say about the playoffs finally being upon us:
>> The weekly chat will move to Tuesdays a week from today, with a new start time of 1 p.m.
There are a bunch of scheduling reasons for this, but the principal reason — as with just about everything I prioritize — is Steelers. The chat will almost immediately follow the Mike Tomlin press conference, providing a forum for football fans to air out right away.
The biggest issue I’ve got with the Penguins’ style — and I’ll get into this more once the playoffs start — is the 1-3-1 formation in the neutral zone. The left defenseman is often left on an island, and that can create for some ugly scenes. We saw a few late in the season, even with a terrific skater like Olli Maatta. It just isn’t easy stopping an NHL forward with a full head of steam one-on-one. Moreover, Maatta specifically is the one left defenseman required to stay back. Anyone who saw his forays into the rush this season will know why that’s hardly ideal.
>> The Monday column celebrates the spirit of, um, cheeriness surrounding the Penguins all winter long by wondering aloud what manner of apocalypse will befall the franchise with a loss to the Blue Jackets.
Here’s my talk after the 82nd game last night with Jussi Jokinen:
A look ahead to the Columbus series, by Jason Mackey.
Blogginess from the scene: Not much to say because it wasn’t much of a game. Or anything else. … Most unfortunate to see Tanner Glass engage the lunatic Chris Neil in a first-period fight, but says a lot about why Glass is so respected by his teammates. … All the necessary disclaimers out of the way, I’m still seeing Beau Bennett force too many obvious passes onto opponents’ blades. … Kris Letang’s endurance is just ridiculous. The guy can skate all day, all night and never look any different. … The Penguins used to give out their team awards on the ice before the final home game. Now, it’s been reduced to some lame video presentation between the second and third periods, when no one is in their seats. … Honestly, not much else to say from here. There’ll be plenty in the days ahead.
>> Where to watch: In addition to the broadcast on WPXI-TV (811 on Comcast), we have WPXI’s live online stream for Pittsburgh’s many out-of-town sports fans, as well as video podcasts available on both outlets’ Web sites.