Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers / "Saw" Movie Trailer (2011)

good watch

Big win at Heinz Field today

I don't put anywhere near the effort and emphasis on the Steelers as I do the Penguins for many reasons. I just like the game of hockey better, and I like the players much better.  That said, I kind of grew up on the game of football, so I cannot skip the chance to  post something after a big win like the one at Heinz Field today.  I have said to anybody who has brought up the subject of the Steelers starting about two weeks ago, talk to me after the Cincinnati game. The three weeks of football starting today, I felt would clearly tell us yinzers what kind of team the Steelers really were.  I was struggling with what I thought about the Black and Gold.  I mean, I always root for the Steelers, but I was just not sure if they were a very good football team that was starting to find it's identity, or a team that had beaten some relatively soft competition, that was about to find out that it was a slightly above average team in a tough division and conference with a few too many teams just a little better.  I have not changed my opinion, that to be the real deal, the Steelers had to go 2-1 in this stretch at least to be considered a real contender, and I still think that is the case.  But, this was a VERY good start.  In all actuality, in my head, this was the game I thought that they would lose, and frankly the one that they could most afford to lose given the fact that they have two divisional foes in the next two games, one of whom has already beaten us, and soundly.   As I digest this game, and look at the dominance in time of possession (2 to 1), the overall yardage of the offense, and the way the Steelers got after Brady and company, I am not sure that this game is not even bigger than I had thought.  The Patriots had been 6-1 the last 7 times they had faced the Steelers with Brady at quarterback, and had pretty much owned us.  Not today, in fact the Patriots only mustered 17 points, 7 of those after starting at the Steelers 8 yard line.  The Patriots in fact, could only muster 213 yards in total offense today.  This is a big monkey off the backs of the Steelers, and has to be a confidence builder and motivational game for the future.  The Steelers played with swagger today, and it was fun to watch.  IF, they can pull off the win next week against Baltimore, they will be looking pretty good as far as the AFC playoff picture.   Winning the next two games would send the message to the rest of the AFC that the Steelers are the team to beat.  The Steelers recieving corps is off the charts, and I like the set up better with Brown, Sanders and Wallace taking the reps.  Speed kills.....and that is some real speed on the field for your black and gold!  The game plan was flawless as evidenced by the yardage, and dominance in time of possession.  It is tough to criticize ANYTHING when you handle a quality opponent like New England, but I have to point out two issues that concerned me a bit.   The Patriots were still in a position to win this game with about a minute left because the Steelers offense had to settle for field goals a little too often today.  One more touchdown, and this game is over early.  Second, Suisham just may cost the Steelers a big game.  Yes, he connected on 3 field goals today, but he again missed a 44 yard field goal that would have put the Patriots away.  He does that with some regularity, and I hope that it does not happen some time to cost the Steelers seeding or a playoff game.  Finally, let's hope that we get healthy, especially LaMarr Woodley, in time for the big game against the Baltimorons next week.  Go Steelers!!

Fight in subway after Flyers 8-9 loss

Not sure that this truly has much to do with the Flyers game as noted on TPB, but it is a humorous get. You have to watch until the end to fully appreciate this.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Penguins lose 4-3 to Toronto

The Penguins faced a very talented Toronto team tonight, losing 4-3 in a back and forth game.  Toronto opened the scoring, taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, as the Penguins gave up their first 5 on 4 goal of the season.  The Penguins tied the game when Matt Cooke hammered home a shot on a second opportunity off a tremendous effort by Asham who retrieved his own rebound in the corner and fed Cooke who was parked right in front of the net.  Asham and Lovejoy got the assist on Cooke's goal, his fourth of the season.   Toronto took the lead on a power play after a very cheap hooking call on Malkin, their second goal with a 5 on 4 advantage, both coming with Geno in the sin bin.  Not to worry, the Penguins answered shortly thereafter with a power play goal of their own from Chris Kunitz, also right parked right in front of the net.  The goal by Kunitz, his fourth, and assisted by Malkin and Letang tied the game at 2-2.  Kunitz finished the game with a goal, 5 shots, and 4 hits, and he had the screen that allowed for Malkin's power play goal late in the period.  Another solid game from the hedgehog!  Letang picked up his 10th point of the season on Kunitz's goal.  Toronto again took the lead 3-2.  Then, on a 5 on 3 power play, Malkin took a feed from Letang and Neal, and fired a rocket past Gustaffson to tie the game again for Pittsburgh.  It was Malkin's second goal of the year, and second point of the game, while Letang and Neal's assist left them tied for the team scoring lead with 11 points.  Again, Toronto answered the bell, getting the game winner from Phil Kessel within minutes of the Malkin goal to take the lead, which they would hold this time to win the game.  The goal gave Kessel the lead over Neal in the goal scoring race.  The Penguins did not play a bad game tonight.  They played a very good Toronto team, and answered the bell for the most part, despite being very shorthanded again.  I was extremely impressed again tonight with Kunitz and Neal, both of whom were in front of the net, throwing checks, and Neal's back check to break up a 2 on 1 in the second period was an example of the work ethic he brings to the table.  Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey, two of the most productive call ups from last season remain invisible.  Jeffrey may still be working his way back from his knee injury, but Letestu has been bad since 3/4 of the way through last season.  With Eric Tangradi scoring at a point per game pace in WBS, I wonder if it could make sense to give the Big Dog a look again.  This next week will give the Penguins their first break in the schedule to really practice, and hopefully, get some bodies back in the lineup.  We will not  see Michalek or Kennedy, but it would be GREAT to see Staal and Crosby both in the lineup again by the time the Penguins play the Sharks Thursday night.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bylsma: "Let's Grind These Bitches Down"

Love Coach Disco

Penguins beat Isles 3-2 in shootout

The Penguins ran their season record to 8-2-2, beating New York 3-2 in a shootout for their fifth straight win.  The injury riddled Penguins have managed to get points in 10 of their 12 games this season.  Tonight's game marked the first regular season game since April 3rd, 2010 that the Penguins came from behind in the third period after trailing by two or more goals.  The Pens looked like they had taken the lead on a power play goal by Jordan Staal in the first period, but the goal was waved off due to incidental contact between Matt Cooke and Evgeni Nabokov.  As it turned out the Islanders took a 1-0 lead into the third period, then Matt Martin scored a dirty goal in front of the net to put the Islanders up 2-0.  Then the comeback began.  Chris Kunitz got his third goal of the season from Pascal Dupuis and Kris Letang, to get the Pens to within one goal at 2-1.  Then, on a power play, James Neal nailed his 9th goal of the season on a snap shot, assisted by Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin.  The goal tied the game 2-2, put Neal in a tie again with Phil Kessel atop the league in goal scoring, and gave Chris Kunitz his second point of the night.  What a beautiful Malkin to Kunitz to Neal tic tac toe play!   Neither team could score the rest of the way, or in overtime and the game went to a shootout.  Nabokov was replaced by Rick the Prick DiPietro due to a lower body injury.  The only person to score in the shootout was Evgeni Malkin, on a beautiful play in tight.  Fleury was perfect in the shootout, running his season record to 7-2-0, and his career shootout record to 29-15.  Fleury has now stopped 21 of his last 22 shots in the shootout, including 14 in a row.  Fleury leads the league in wins with 7.  Some other notes include the fact that the Penguins are 8-0 this year when they score 3 or more goals, the penalty kill is now 36 of 37 for the year, including 35 of 35 in 5 on 4 situations.  We all know what a season James Neal is having, with 9 goals and an assist.  Right behind him though, is Jordan Staal with 6  goals and 3 assists, and Super Duper with 3 goals and 6 assists, both with 9 points.  I thought it was significant how the Penguins quickly answered the Isles once they went up by two goals, breaking a rather dubious streak for such an accomplished team.  Marc Andre Fleury stood TALL in the third to keep it tied as well.  Next up, Toronto on the road Saturday.   Go Pens!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Steve Mazefsky Feature

Sorry to keep adding this, but apparently i have a couple of friends who could not find it.....Tom, Bill, here you are......don't laugh.

Geno chillin

 a little photoshopping on the Ovagkin part of this pic could be fun....he does kind of look like a pet monkey

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pens defeat Isles 3-0

The Penguins went up to Long Island to play Wang's Wangs and came home with a very workmanlike 3-0 victory.  It was the 20th career shutout for the red hot Fleury who sports a 6-2-1 record, 1.87 GAA, and a very healthy .937 save percentage.  It was also a milestone for Dan Bylsma who coached his 200th game in the NHL tonight.  As you know, Disco made his debut in February of 2009 against this very Islanders team, losing in a 3-2 shootout.  It sure has been a fun ride under Disco Dan.  What can you say about tonight's game?  Well, first off, it was the return of Evgeni Malkin, who did not register a point, but looked sharp in all three zones, creating chances for teammates, and turnovers for the Islanders on a regular basis.  That kind of extra offense was fun to watch.  Also, today marked the first game of many withouth Zybnek Michalek, and Matt Niskanen stepped up nicely to fill in for Michalek, blocking several shots, and contributing mightily to the Penguins shutout.  What can you say about Pascal Dupuis, who had another breakway goal and an assist tonight, giving him 8 points for the season in 11 games.  As I have noted on many occasions, dollar for dollar Super Duper is one of the best values in the league.  Richard Park also looked great again, adding a goal to put the Penguins up 2-0.  What about Paul Martin?  He has not been at his best thus far this season, but he sure was tonight, showcasing his strong defensive positioning, anticipation, and passing ability.  Finally, Jordan Staal closed out the scoring with an empty net goal, his sixth of the year, and tying him for the team lead in scoring at 9 points with James Neal, who was held off the scorecard tonight.  Like Malkin, do not take Neal's absence from the scoresheet as an indication of his game tonight. He played a very solid game, with several quality chances tonight.  He should be scary if Malkin can stay healthy long enough for he, Neal and Sullivan to get some chemistry again.  The game tonight did not take on a physical tone, but don't bet on that for Thursday night at CEC.  I expect the Islanders to come with a little more nasty after getting shut out tonight, and the Penguins will be ready to answer.  I like getting the two points from an Atlantic division foe better, as the Penguins are now 7-2-2 on the year.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Free Candy

Some interesting stats at the 10 game mark

So you don't think special teams matter?  The Penguins are 6-2-2 despite missing megastars, and key contributors on both offense and defense.  How?  Special Teams?  Well, to the surprise of nobody, the Penguins PK is the best in the NHL killing 32 of 33 penalties for a 97% kill rate.  In addition to that, the achilles heel of the Penguins, the Power Play is actually 8th in the NHL right now.  Yes, ten games in, and the Penguins have a top 10 power play unit, despite the absence of Crosby and Malkin.  Further, the Penguins are 29th in the league in terms of Goals Against at even strength.  Even with that statistic, the Penguins are 8th in the league in overall Goals Against, due to the penalty kill.  So a top 8 power play, and the top penalty kill unit have the Penguins flying despite the fact that they are near the bottom of the league in terms of goals against even strength.  Hats off to the special teams, and the goal tenders this season.  Guys like Neal, Letang, Park, Adams, Dupuis, Staal, Sullivan, Niskanen, and Kunitz stepping up in the absence of leaders like Orpik, Crosby, Malkin, and Kennedy.  They will have to continue this as we have just learned of the absence of Zybnek Michalek for a month due to a broken finger sustained in the NJ game.  In the words of the young man seen above, Let's fucking do this!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

When you trash Staal, think of these two huge goals in the 2009 SCF

Why the Staal hate in the Burgh?

The past year or two I have found myself very surprised to see the level of disappointment and sarcasm levelled at Jordan Staal on the various websites such as TIOPS about Jordan Staal.  Some very intelligent and committed Penguins fans have expressed a feeling that the Penguins should trade Staal, and that he is not worth the 4M cap hit to the Penguins franchise.  The main logic espoused most of the time is that he was the 2nd overall pick in the 2006 draft, and the Penguins could have drafted Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, or Nicklas Backstrom, all of whom are more offensively productive than Staal.  What about the 21 teams who passed on Claude Giroux, taken 22nd by the Flyers if you are going to use that argument.  He may be the best of the bunch before all is said and done, and 21 others were taken before him.  Anyway, back to the argument Yinzer land is using.  Toews is a great player, Stanley Cup Champion, and captain.  No argument in my mind that he is a better overall player, BUT, he would not fit on the TEAM over the long run due to cap issues, and role issues.   Shero and company have done a good job of building a championship caliber team, and a big shutdown center with offensive upside, and a threat on the penalty kill is exactly the right fit to complement the two headed monster in place in Pittsburgh.  Backstrom, though he puts up big numbers during the regular season disappears in the post season, and is softer than a baby's ass.  Kessel is offensively gifted, but pays no attention to the defensive zone, and has a reputation as somewhat of a issue in the attitude department.  I don't think Kessel fits the overall model of what Shero and Bylsma think of as "Pittsburgh Penguins."  It is not like Staal is chopped liver either.  Let's consider some of the positives that 11 has brought to the dance, other than the fact that the Penguins have been to two finals, won a Cup, and probably would have made a very deep run last year as well, had they not lost more production to injury than some teams have in total on their team.  More specifically, let's look at some of Staal's accomplishments since he hit the NHL, and yes, he did so at the ripe OLD age of 18.  First, let's take a look back at his final season in juniors, where he scored 28 goals, and 68  points in 68 games for a point per game average during the season, before adding 16 more points on the way to leading the Peterborough Petes to an OHL Championship.  Those numbers are not the numbers of a player without offensive skills.  The Penguins then take Staal with the 2nd pick overall in the 2006 draft, and he makes the team out of camp to everyone's surprise.  All he did that year was score 29 goals, and 42 points to end the season as a Calder Trophy Finalist for NHL Rookie of the Year.  The award was ultimately won by teammate Evgeni Malkin, with Staal finishing 3rd behind Malkin and Peter Stastny.  Some other accomplishments for the year included becoming the youngest player to score two goals in a game since 1943, the youngest player to score on a penalty shot, the most short handed goals by a rookie (7), and the youngest player ever to record a hat trick!  The following year, Staal's production fell to 12 goals, and 28 points in the regular season.  He was however a factor in the post season run to the Finals by adding 6 goals, and an assist.  In the 2008-09 season, Staal contributed 22 goals and 49 points, and added 4 more goals and 9 points in the run to the Cup.  Those playoff numbers are not huge numbers, but added to Staal's penalty killing and defensive prowess, it was a nice dose of secondary scoring.  The goals Staal scored in that run were big goals.  Staal's game tying short handed goal in Game 4 of the SCF could not have been bigger!  The Wings had just taken the lead, and looked like they were ready to put the Penguins away like they had the year before.  The Penguins took a penalty, and you could feel Detroit taking control of the game, and thus the series.  Then Staal brought the house down with a dynamic short handed goal to tie the game, and take back the momentum, and the rest was history.  He added a goal in the crucial Game 6 victory to help force the dramtic game 7, and ultimately the Penguins went on to win their 3rd Cup. The following season, Staal added 21 goals and 49 points again, during the regular season, but the Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in round two of the playoffs.  A series in which Staal had a tendon in his foot severed by the skate of PK Scissorskates, then after it was surgically repaired, he missed a total of three games before returning to action.  Is that not the embodiment of toughness this town tends to love?   After a series of surgeries, Staal missed the first half of last year, before posting 11 goals, and 30 points in 42 games, a 60 point, 22 goal pace over a full season.  In addition, he took his usual role on the penalty kill, a unit which finished first in the NHL last year.  After ten games this year, Staal is tied for second in scoring on the Penguins behind the red hot James Neal with 8 points, including 5 goals.  Again, the Penguins penalty kill is number one in the NHL, allowing one power play goal in 10 games going 32 for 33 in that span.  Staal is second amongst forwards in PK time, at nearly 3 minutes per game.  He also has contributed a short handed goal, another category the Penguins currently lead the league in, with 2 SHG.   At the tender age of 23, this 6 foot 4 inch 220 pound center has already played in 379 regular season NHL games recording 100 goals and 206 points, while developing into one of the premier defensive players in the league as noted by his nomination as a SELKE TROPHY FINALIST for his play in the 2010 season. He has played in 67 playoff games, been to two finals, won the Stanley Cup, and played a vital role defensively in both runs, while adding some big goals in the 2009 Finals.  Though some question his toughness, he has had an incredible iron man streak in a very physical league,  playing a total of 358 STRAIGHT games, during which  played through a broken nose, severe lacerations, and other assorted hockey bruises and cuts. Then he has his tendon severed in the 2010 playoffs, has it surgically repaired and winds up missing a total of three games with a TENDON in his foot SEVERED!  Does it get tougher than that?  To me, this kid embodies what it means to be a Pittsburgh Penguin.  The Jordan Staal we have seen this season is showing signs of becoming the dominating force in ALL three zones that many hoped he would.  The Staal who played the last two games especially is a strong 2nd line center on most teams in the NHL. To underscore Staal's versatility consider that he has a power play goal, a short handed goal and three short handed points, while tied for second in overall scoring on the Penguins on top of his role as the shutdown center.  If that kind of offensive play continues, and the two headed monster ever gets healthy, you will see how  the match up issues down the middle created by the emergence of Staal will make the Penguins a favorite to recapture Lord Stanley's holy grail.  There will not be a single team in the NHL who could match up down the middle with that trio should Staal emerge as a consistent offensive threat in addition to being a shutdown center.  So Rob Rossi may be the President of the Staalpologist group, but I will gladly claim the title of Vice President.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pens beat Devils 4-1

The Penguins had another strong outing tonight, beating the Devils 4-1 on home ice to run their record to 6-2-2.  First, the bad news.  In a shocking development, another key Penguins player is injured when Zybnek Michalek left the game in third period with an injury to his hand after blocking 6 shots and getting an assist.  If the Penguins luck holds, who knows he may be gone until Christmas.  Let's hope not.  The rest is all good news.  First, Jordan Staal played a monster game scoring two goals, including his 100th career goal, and dominating in all three zones.  Staal now has 5 goals and 8 points in 10 games, maybe quieting some of his critics in the process.  Staal is playing against top lines, and is beginning to consistently assert himself.  Once the two headed monster is healthy, the Penguins will really be dominant down the middle!  James Neal also scored a goal, giving him 8 goals 9 points in 10 games!  Neal made a beautiful play retrieving the puck behind the net, before stepping out from behind the net and powering the puck behind Hedberg.   Perhaps the biggest goal of the night came from Chris Kunitz though.  After the Penguins surrendered a shorthanded goal to Patrick Elias on the first part of a double minor to allow the Devils to tie the game, it appeared as if NJ might be poised to take the lead.  Instead, Kunitz answers quickly to regain the lead on a power play, which went 2 for 6 tonight.  Also, Richard Park collected two assists, giving him 5 points in 8 games, and has done more than an admirable job in a top six forward role.  Finally, Marc Andre Fleury again stood on his head, stopping 23 of 24 shots, and keeping the Penguins out in front despite some quality chances, especially in the second period.  You have to like the way the Penguins generally are responding, and how they have continued to battle despite an almost comical barrage of injury.  Next week, a home and home against the kings of the cesspool, and Atlantic Division rival Islanders should make for an interesting week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pens win 3-1 over Habs

It was for me, indeed, a great day for hockey today.  It started when my friend and assistant at work, Nicole downloaded the Chris Kunitz video to YouTube for me.  It made my afternoon to see it again, and then to be able to add it to my blog.  Nicole, again, many thanks!  It was also great to see Cy Clark or the Malkamania guy at his first Pens game since he learned he was cancer free!  It had to be a most memorable evening for one of the most recognized of Penguins fans.  Cy, I could not be happier for you!!  Next up, I saw a great blogger from the Post Gazette Empty Netters blog, Seth Rohrabaugh, and he got a picture of my sweet game worn, signed Brian Strait jersey from this year's Black and Gold game.  Always great to see Seth, he who told the Fartsmell story that gave me a season of fan fame that was really fun.  Finally, Pens beat writer Rob Rossi whose columns in the Trib I read always, and whose blog, Chipped Ice, I thoroughly enjoy, became a follower on Twitter!  It may have been a sympathy move, or who knows, maybe Rob will become one of maybe 20 regular readers of this simple man's blog.  It could be the beginning of something!  Or it could just be that Rob got bored during a commercial break, who knows.  Anyway, the evening got even better as the Penguins dispatched the Habs, a team, and a set of visiting fans that I am slowly developing a larger dislike for.  The Real Deal tied Phil Kessel again for the league lead in goals, notching his 7th from Sullivan and Park.  I always liked Neal, but after meeting him and his father, I like him even more.  I love seeing him at the top of the league in goal scoring.  Let me back up a minute.....the fact that 44 is back on the ice was also a big factor in a great hockey day for yours truly.....but, I do have one question for my man Free Candy.  How can a man whose booming body checks and 1000 mile stare could make a man piss in his pants, look so much like a guy who likes balls more than pucks in the picture on the Jumbotron?  Sorry man, I love ya, but you have to get that shot retaken brother!  Okay, back to business.  Joe Vitale, who busts his ass up and down the ice deflected a shot from Deryk Engelland past Carey Price to give the Pens a 2-0 lead.  I love to see two lunch pail guys get on the board like that!  Another notch on the Great Day for Hockey belt.  Finally, my man Arron "Beagle Killer" Asham knocked one out of midair to celebrate his 700th game in the NHL!  Ironically, AA started his career in November of 1998 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, against your Pittsburgh Penguins.  The goal was assisted by Engelland and Niskanen, giving my man Engo his second assist of the night.  Finally, as much as I hate the Habs, it was great to see the Penguins acknowledge Hal Gill for his 1,000th career game in the NHL and just as nice to see the crowd acknowledge the same.  The  Penguins #1 ranked penalty kill unit killed off all 4 penalties tonight, going 30 for 31 on the season, and the Penguins looked solid in all three zones until very late in the game.  Finally, Fleury played a great game, and it was a shame to see 29 miss out on getting his 20th career shutout. He robbed several Canadiens of goals tonight!  On a less positive note, the power play was not effective tonight,  but it did not matter. The Penguins improved to 5-2-2, with two complete victories in a row, while playing in their 9th game in 15 days.  Not bad, not bad at all.  Also of note is the fact that the Penguins have now played 40 of their past 44 games missing BOTH Geno and Sid, and they are now 22-13-5 during that span.  How good could this team have been during that span?  Any,  looking forward to Saturday night's tilt against the New Jersey Devils, and seeing former Penguins winger Petr Sykora!

VTS 01 1

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Penguins split back to back games on the road

Despite a bullshit schedule, and nearly 30M of firepower on the bench, the Penguins have 10 points after 8 games, which is a 100 point plus pace.  Let's hope the fucking hockey gods stop fondling themselves and allow this team a break for once in the health department.  They probably have lost their defensive call up Brian Strait for a while due to another injury. This put even more pressure on the defensive corps, heaping tons of extra minutes on Lovejoy, Niskanen, Engelland, Martin, and Michalek.   Now for the good stuff.  The Penguins after a boring first period put up 4 goals to beat a solid Minnesota team 4-2 tonight.  Chris Kunitz opened the scoring, assisted by Pascal Dupuis early in the second period.  After that Jordan Staal scored a dirty goal on the POWER PLAY off of a Matt Niskanen rebound giving the Pens a 2-0 lead.  Before you could finish celebrating the PP goal, they also gave up a SHG on the second part of a double minor.  James Neal scored in the third, his sixth of the season, unassisted to tie Kris Letang for the team lead in scoring with 7 points.  Then short handed, Matt Cooke creates a turnover, and hits a flying Pascal Dupuis to set up a breakaway that Duper buried to put the Pens up 4-1.  A minute later the Wild scored to keep it close, but the Pens closed it out to win 4-2.  Brent Johnson, as usual was excellent, stopping 24 of 26 shots.  It was great to see the top wingers on the team score goals tonight, as well as Jordan Staal, and a very underrated Pascal Dupuis.  Nice balance for the boys tonight.  It was also great to see the best back up goaltender in the league in top form, and a gutsy performance by a defensive corps minus its top pairing, and short a man.  Now for an  update relative to the team leaders in scoring.   Currently, Kris Letang shares the team lead  in scoring along with James Neal, both with 7 points in 8 games, with Letang having 1 goal and 6 assists, while The Real Deal has 6 goals and an assist.  Both players are operating at nearly a point per game!    Neal has also been a force on the forecheck, and is doing all of the little things away from the puck well. Jordan Staal, who despite being a Selke finalist, and a 20+ goal scorer never makes the Yinzers happy is next on the team with 6 points, including 3 goals and 3 assists.  Tied with Staal, is Pascal Dupuis with 2 goals and 4 assists, while Matt Cooke rounds out the top 5 on the team with 3 goals and an assist.  Not bad production for this group despite the absence of the two headed monster. The Penguins have dealt with their share of adversity already this season, and despite a few rocky games, they remain solid in terms of point production.  Of note, the penalty kill was huge tonight, now killing 26 of 27 power plays this season.  And the picture above is my love for former bad-ass, current cream puff,  Brendan Shanahan.

Shanny sucks

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pens lose to Buffalo 3-2

The Penguins dropped another home game, this time in regulation, to a very solid Sabres team 3-2 at the CEC last night.  The Penguins record falls to 3-1-2, which is .500 hockey if you look at it purely in terms of wins v losses.  I don't think that is a reason to panic though.  The Penguins have been in a position to win each of the games, they lost despite playing without Crosby and Orpik thus far in any games, and without Geno in half the games.  Add to that their crazy schedule in which they will have played 8 games in 13 nights in 5 cities and 4 time zones by the time they they arrive home for Thurday's tilt against the Habs.  Last night, some things to note for me.  Letang had his worst game of the year, adding little offense, and his turnover led to the 2 on none which resulted in Buffalo's second goal.  I am not worried long term about that either, the kid has been stellar for the most part.  Martin and Michalek still do not look like the 9M per year shut down defensive pairing we anticipated, but I think that they will work their way to that point soon enough, both are too good not to.  Tyler Kennedy needs to remember Disco's talk last year, about getting to the blue paint.  TK is generating shots, but they are all from the outside and right into the goaltender's crest for the most part.  I also think that  TK will get to his game and will wind up with 20 goals this season.  James Neal continues his torrid, league leading goal scoring pace, netting his fifth last night of off Robyn Regehrs stick to get the Pens to within 2-1.  After the Pens fell behind 3-1, Staal scored to make it 3-2, and Paul Martin almost tied it LATE off of a rebound, but Enroth who played a stellar game robbed him.  Listen, bridge jumpers, settle down...yes, the Sabres played the night before, and we had a chance to jump a "tired" team, but the Pens have played a lot of hockey and done a lot of travelling, and are missing what could be 3 of 5 players on an all star team.  Listen, Sullivan has been as advertised, a gritty smart player who will be dangerous on the power play and at even strength.  James Neal has shown himself to be the sniping power forward the Pens thought they got in return for Goligoski.  Once you get either Crosby or Malkin playing regularly, and if you are lucky enough to get both by end of November, this team is loaded.  Orpik's return should not be underestimated, nor should the depth value of Dustin Jeffrey.  100-102 points will put the Pens in the hunt for a top 4 seed in the playoffs.  If you take the 82 games and break them into 10 eight game segments, the Pens need 10 points out of each of those games, and you have two games to spare.  Despite their issues with health and travel, the Pens need to win of the next two against beatable opponents to be right on schedule.  Unless the hockey gods hose us  in the health department, this team will be fine.  Enjoy the ride!


I wanted to share a pretty cool experience I had last night as a noted Penguins fanatic. I took some clients from out of town to the Pens game last night, and we opted to go to the Cambria Suites post game for a drink or three to wait out traffic.  We found a great little place in front of the TV with two chairs, a huge ottoman, and a couch for our wives.  Not long after we get seated, I see a friend, so I get up for maybe two  minutes to speak with him, and as I return, I see that a man had taken my seat, next to my friend, my beer, and our wives.  My friend is grinning at me, because he probably figures that the ignorant Steve may question why this gentleman had jumped his chair.  But as I get there, he very graciously offers my seat back, and I think, what the hell, he is a very nice guy, I can sit on the ottoman, and everyone is happy.  We begin to talk hockey, and our new friend very readily joins the fray.  I will not say what he said on these topics because the conversation was private, but we talked about the game in general, the team in general, Jordan Staal, Fleury, Asham knocking out Beagle and the hockey media's retarded fascination with same, the affect of so much travel, and so many games in a condensed time frame, and then how some players become whipping boys for the local fans, despite their contributions.  I expressed my disdain for those who are ripping Staal, and likened it to the Goligoski beatings that occurred here before his trade.  I quoted some points from a Mazmania post comparing Goose to Kaberle in terms of production and cap hit, as well as his stats relative to Letang at the same number of NHL games.  The man then said, "I guess you were against the trade to Dallas then?"  I reply along the lines of no, that despite my thoughts on Goose, the Pens needed a top winger, and moved from a positon of strength to acquire a marquis power forward, a postion of weakness, so that the Pens got more than they gave up in my opinon.   The gentleman then said something like, "What the Penguins got in return for Goligoski, was my son, James."  I am Peter Neal, James' father.  After I picked my jaw up from the floor, we went to talk for about another forty minutes about everything from James' impressions of  Geno, Sidney Crosby, our city, his experiences in Dallas playing with Loui Ericcson and Brad Richards, his experience with Sean Avery, and many other topics including the usual mantra of how well the Penguins organization treats it players.  Mr. Neal also expressed an excitement about the annual Dads trip the Penguins take, something that Dallas does not do.  Peter then noticed my tattoo, and said his son would think that it was cool, and he wished that he had his camera, so he could take a picture for James to see.  Neither of us had one, so he gave me his email address, and I promised to send that photo.  A little bit later, he got a text from his son that he had arrived, and Mr. Neal asked me to come and show James the ink.  I, of course did that, spoke briefly with Jame,s and also Paul Martin.  I did not want to infringe upon their evening together.  We had a couple of pictures taken, and then they, along with James'  mother got a table right in the middle of the place and ate together.  They were such gracious, nice, down to earth people, and we had yet another very postitive encounter with members of the Penguins family.  It is tough to not be a big fan when you meet these people, and they are this gracious and willing to engage with the fans.  In more ways than one the Neal's are the Real Deal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mazmanians at Pens-Craps

Great shots


Pens fall to Caps 3-2 in shootout

What a day for Penguins hockey. First, one of my favorite players Chris Kunitz signs a 2 year extension that will keep him a Penguin through the 2013-14 season. His average salary will be the same as the contract he was under prior to the extension. Great signing if you ask me. Grit, forecheck, character, hitting, and 20 plus goals per year. After hearing that news, it was announced that Sidney

Crosby is now cleared for contact, more than 10 months after his concussion. I cannot wait to see 87 on the ice for the Penguins again. His first home game back will be EPIC! Now for the game. Kind of a bummer. Don't get me wrong, it was a great game to watch, and the Penguins still have 8 of 10 possible points to start the season, BUT they should have won this game. First, give credit where it is due. Tomas Vokoun was the difference in this game. The Penguins threw 41 shots at him, and onlhy two got behind him. Great game for him. The Penguins opened the scoring when the Real Deal James Neal tallied his third of the year, after a pretty play by both Malkin and Sullivan. They just look great together. I really like to watch Sullivan play. Early in the second period Knuble, who has scored in 13 straight games against the Penguins comes out of the corner and beats Johnson to tie the game. Later, in the period the Caps take the lead 2-1 after the Grape Ape deflects a shot from Vespa girl behind Johnson. After watching several flat Penguins power plays, it appeared as if the Penguins were going to lose their first game in regulation until Neal tallied again LATE in period three to tie it. Neal scored off a feed by Malkin and Kunitz, giving Geno his second assist of the night, and Kunitz his 100th point as a Penguin. The game goes into overtime, and a little more than halfway through the period Staal gets called for tripping Ovechkin, and ultimately on their lone power play, the Caps end the game with a goal by Dennis Wideman. All in all, the point is a good pickup, but this game was winnable. The power play looked bad at times, though it did generate the game tying goal. The PK was dormant all night, but failed in its one mission, a 4 on 3 in OT. Staal looked like his hands were made of stone. On the positive, Geno did not like a man with a knee issue, as he was scary good at times with the puck tonight. James Neal was a beast again, and with 4 goals in 5 games, we are seeing what it was that made us all salivate when the deal was done. He is strong, gets to the net, and man does he have a quick and powerful release. I thought Kunitz was a beast all night, as was Sullivan. At any rate, the special teams, and a monster effort by Vokoun were the difference tonight. Take the point and prepare for a tough Buffalo team on Saturday night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Roenick making a fool of himself yet again

Calling Jeremy Roenick a chode would be an insult to TAINT everywhere.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Penguins beat Florida 4-2

Do not underestimate the value of the points the Penguins collected tonight. Yeah, Florida is not to be confused with an NHL powerhouse by any means, but they are a better team than last year by far. Also, don't forget the Pens were returning from a long western Canada road trip, to play a mediocre Florida team. All the makings of a trap game if you ask me. Well the Penguins avoided the trap, and won the game in a workmanlike fashion. Also, the Penguins again were playing minus their best defensive defensemen and two of the best offensive weapons in the world. By the way, the Penguins are now 20-11-5 over the past two seasons without those two players in the lineup. That is pretty impressive to do minus your two best weapons. Now to tonight's tilt. First, let me get some of the negatives out of the way. The pairing of Paul Martin and Zybnek Michalek, featuring the two highest paid Penguins defensemen is not really delivering to the level necessary to justify their expense. They are a combined -6, and have a total of 1 assist between them. They have caught out of position too often, and Martin has committed some ugly turnovers. I expect this unit to improve, but frankly, they really need to. Second, the power play was blanked tonight, to follow up on a 1 for 8 effort Sunday night. It looked pretty good early tonight, but got uglier as the game wore on. But, there is PLENTY more to look at on the positive side of the ledger. First off, how about the balance of the lineup tonight. It seemed as if every Penguin forward made contributions up and down the ice, and the grinders put 4 behind Theodore, including a short handed goal by Richard Park. The play of the Dupuis, Cooke and Vitale line was lights out, combining for two goals and 5 assists tonight. Vitale looks really good, and frankly much better than Mark Letestu has thus far. Matt Cooke is in a 3 way tie at the top of the league for first place in goal scoring with 3 goals in 4 games! Kris Letang leads the NHL in scoring with 6 points and in assists with 5! Letang is also a +4, and has been a force in all three zones. He also leads the Penguins in blocked shots, shots on goal, and ice time. Chris Kunitz wound up with only one point tonight, but he deserved more. Kunitz created havoc in front of Theodore all night, without reward until his assist on James Neal's goal that put the game away for the Penguins. Speaking of which, it is good to see Neal with 2 goals in 4 games for the Penguins this year. All in all, the theme has been balance thus far this year. I think that the sky is the limit for this team if the Hockey Gods ever let them get reasonably healthy. A big test awaits Thursday evening when the Capitals come to town. Let's go Pens!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pens lose to Edmonton in shootout 2-1

Despite the loss tonight, you can call this roadtrip a success for the Penguins. They took 5 of 6 points despite missing Crosby and Orpik for all of the games, and Malkin as well tonight against Edmonton. Kris Letang scored a power play goal, which gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead that held up for about 55 minutes before Edmonton finally tied it. Kris Letang was a monster tonight, logging nearly 30 minutes of ice time, and netting his fourth point on the trip, making him the team leader. Brent Johnson played a great game as well. Finally, the special teams did their job again, netting another power play goal,(5 in 3 games), and remaining perfect on the PK. For the second night of a back to back on a road trip, missing 3 of your best players, this was not at all a bad game for the Pens. Cannot wait for Tuesday.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Penguins beat Calgary to go to 2-0

The Penguins need to go back to the Cowher era Steelers and borrow the old t-shirt and moniker 60 minute men! Last night was a tale of three periods. In period one, it looked like the Flames might dominate play, beating the Penguins to loose pucks, pressuring in the offensive zone, and keeping the Penguins bottled up. The problem was all they got for that was a 1-0 lead. In the second period, the Penguins put on an awesome display of defense, as well as an overwhelming attack from all 4 lines, scoring 4 goals in about 12 minutes, including 2 more power play markers! They also outshot the Flames 25-9. The beginning of the third looked a lot like the Penguins would close out a pretty workmanlike period and a relatively easy victory. That all changed about midway through the period, with the Flames getting two goals, one of a Fleury miscue behind the net to put the heat on the Pens at 4-3. Jordan Staal closed it out with an empty net goal with 5 seconds left to play to secure the Penguins second road win in a row.

Some post game observations:

It is still early, but you have to be enthused about the Pens' special teams, with the power play going 2 for 2, and the PK again perfect at 3 for 3. Four power play goals in two games would have seemed impossible last season;

Matt Niskanen had another strong outing, and even "gulp" looked a bit like an offensive force, netting a goal and an assist last night;

Joe Vitale has been STRONG thus far, playing a solid grinding game, killing penalties, and creating havoc in front of the net. He was 55% of faceoffs last night;

Letang had a strong game, looking far more consistent in his defensive positioning, and remaining an offensive force. His assist on Malkin's goal has him in a tie with Jordan Staal as the Pens' leading scorer with 3 points;

Malkin is scaring me a bit. First off, let's hope that his "soreness" is not an indication that he will battle knee issues all year. But we also should be a bit concerned with his propensity to lose his cool, and be well, just PLAIN STUPID. His retaliation on Glencross after Stempniak's slashing call last night that wound up in a pseudo fight was a dumb selfish play, as was his dust up earlier with Stempniak. Malkin is showing how easy it is to get under his skin, and at times can be a liability with his temper. And again, at times, he was dominant with the puck. Time to settle down and play smart hockey Geno, we need you at your best;

Fleury again made a pretty horrid play that resulted in a goal that turned this game into a white knuckle ride it did not have to be down the stretch. And again, he made the big saves necessary to win when they needed him to;

Jordan Staal played a very strong game at all ends of the rink, and carried the load down the stretcth;

Hey folks, the Pens are on a western Canada road trip, have beaten an elite team on its opening night, and a very solid Calgary team on its opening night without Crosby or Orpik in the lineup. Not bad. Let's hope Geno is okay physically, and that a little "couch time" with Doctor Bylsma will get his head right too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Penguins beat Canucks in shootout 4-3

Somebody asked me what I thought of the Penguins win last night. To me, the Penguins went out west, played a team that was one game away from winning the Stanley Cup last season on their ice and won. Some parts of it were not pretty, but that is not a bad start to the season at all! For those who don't think Matt Cooke is a big part of the success of this team, look at last night. He had two important goals in the game, one on the power play, and the other short handed. He played a big role on the special teams, hit clean all night and played solid defensive hockey. It was also great to see Neal get on the board. He looked very good in the first period, and though his goal was not a work of art, it went in, and that I hope, will get the kid rolling. You also saw a bit of the best and the worst of some key Penguins players. Kris Letang had 2 assists, made a couple of great breakout passes that led to scoring opportunities, and again showed his value on the shootout, getting one of the two shootout goals. You also at times saw some running around, and getting caught out of position like you did during the last half of the season last year. Some of that could have been due to the fact that he was playing the left side. It could have also been first game excitement, and all in all you got a glimpse of the skill set that I think one day will land 58 a Norris Trophy. Marc Andre Fleury played a nice game, making some key saves, but also showed that propensity to give up momentum turning soft goals. The first goal for Vancouver last night was an even worse lapse in concentration than the one on Luongo that resulted in Neal's goal. And only Fleury's cat like reflexes saved him from quickly giving up another under a minute later! However, when it counted, Fleury stood tall and played very well against a team who knows how to put the puck in the net. In addition, he was strong in the shootout, helping to earn the Penguins the extra point. Finally, I felt the same way about Geno last night. He made some beautiful plays, was strong on the puck, and played with an energy level that was great to watch. He also turned Luongo inside out on the game winning shootout goal, and assisted on another. At times though, he looked like he was making some of the bad decisions like trying to beat 4 defenders he has made too often in the recent past. All in all I liked Geno's effort, and look for him to have a big year. Big Z was a minus three and had one of his worst efforts as a Penguin, but you won't see that too often. Paul Martin led the Pens in ice time with 27:43. It was an entertaining game, with both teams controlling play at different times for extended periods of time, but a road win against an elite team is something you will take anytime. Add to that an effective power play, and there was plenty to like about last night's game. I cannot wait for the puck to drop Saturday night!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Penguins roster set at 23 today

Evgeni Malkin
Jordan Staal
Mark Letestu
Joe Vitale

Left Wingers-
Steve Sullivan
Chris Kunitz
Matt Cooke
Arron Asham

Right Wingers-
James Neal
Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis
Craig Adams

Extra Forwards-
Richard Park who can play center or wing and tough guy Steve MacIntyre were kept on team. Jason Williams was assigned to WBS and has to clear waivers, while Sidney Crosby, Dustin Jeffrey, and Nick Petersen were put on injured reserve. It is important to note that Crosby was NOT put on LONG TERM IR, which would mean he had to miss at least 10 games, fuelling speculation that Crosby may be cleared for contact in the near future, and potentially playing in games by November!


Brooks Orpik-now cleared for contact
Kris Letang
Paul Martin
Zbynek Michalek
Ben Lovejoy
Matt Niskanen
Deryk Engelland

Joe Morrow was sent to juniors, Brian Strait and Alexandre Picard were reassigned to WBS Penguins(Picard has to clear waivers and may not), while Robert Bortuzzo and Boris Valabik were put on injured reserve. With Dustin Jeffrey about a month away from being game ready, and Crosby probably in a similar situation, the forward position could change in the next month, with or without injury. The puck drops to start a three game western Canada road trip on Thursday night!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Steelers shit the bed......again.

Well, the Steelers have now been dominated on the ground by Ray Rice and Arian Foster, in the process making Warren Sapp actually look smart. This defense is SOFF, and my disappointment in my favorite player, LaMarr Woodley is IMMENSE! Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, and James Farrior indeed look old, slow, and ineffective. Rashard Mendenhall hits the line of scrimmage as if he is protecting a dozen eggs in his pocket. But truthfully, what looks like a miserable season is more on the backs of management. They put 100+ million dollars into their franchise quarterback, but did nothing of note to upgrade an inferior offensive line. As a result, this team is going to frustrate you to death this season, unless you like watching your interior linemen on both sides of the ball get embarrassed, your franchise quarterback eat more carpet than Ellen DeGeneres, and your high priced outside linebackers disappear like the invisbile man. The vaunted Steelers defense is getting GASHED on a weekly basis, with Rich and Foster downright OWNING them. Next up is a tough Titans team, and the Steelers don't look like even a mid range contender.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Penguins beat Chicago 4-2

The Penguins ran their preseason record to 5-0 last night with a 4-2 victory over the Blackhawks in Chicago. They will try to finish undefeated in the preseason for only the second time in their history. They went 4-0-1 in 2009, then went on to win the Stanley Cup. Some observations from last nights game:

Brent Johnson had not gotten much work this preseason, so it was great to see him come in and play a very good game between the pipes;

The power play was effective again, going 2 for 3, and is now 7 for 19 or 36.8% for the preseason. Those are huge numbers, and a good sign for a component of the team that has been its weakness over the past couple of seasons;

Steve Sullivan made his presence felt with a power play goal and an assist. I have not been a huge fan of the Sullivan move, primarily due to his oft injured history, but I sure did like what he added to the team last night;

The Mark Letestu who was one of the big stories out of last year's campaign has not been evident this year, and I am not sure of his standing on this team;

After hearing so much about Tangradi being a potential top six forward on this year's team, and how much value the prescence of Park will bring, the unsung forward who continues to stand out to me is Joe Vitale. I cannot see a scenario in which this guy has not earned the 4th line center job on this team;

As far as enforcers go, MacIntyre seems to be an upgrade in terms of his ability to play without being a defensive liability, as well as his ability to protect his teammates;

The game was also a chance for two young defensemen, Joe Morrow and Brian Strait to make a case for sticking with the big club. Morrow for the first time looked his age, and may have hurt his chances to stick this year. He has had four very good outings, and one mediocre outing, so I would like to see what he does in a follow up role tomorrow night against Detroit. Brian Strait did not look strong either, but again, I would like to see the rebound game tomorrow, as Strait had been looking solid

. Either way, the Penguins have 8 NHL ready defensemen, the top four as good as any(Orpik, Letang, Michalek, Martin, Lovejoy, Engellend, Niskanen, Picard), and four young guns on the cusp(Despres, Bortuzzo, Strait, Morrow, plus Boris Valabik, so they are set there, particularly when Orpik is ready to go.

Kris Letang had 2 assists last night, and is looking much like the Tanger who was in the legitimate mix as a Norris candidate for the first 40 games. Malkin scored again, as did Matt Cooke. All in all, another solid workmanlike victory for the Penguins.