Game 5 Fallout: Keeping Maz’s seat warm, Pressure on Murray for Game 6?

 

Game 5 Fallout Let’s hope Maz kept next Wednesday night free. Inviting Bill Mazeroski to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final was a great idea. He’s responsible for the last time a major Pittsburgh professional sports team won a championship in Pittsburgh. Maybe you’ve heard of the home run he hit in 1960. It would have been great to invite him to join the Penguins on the ice while they celebrated winning the Stanley Cup. Lots of people had celebrations planned for Thursday night. There were more people outside watching the big screens than there were in the Consol Energy Center seats. Ask anybody who owns a sports bar and he’ll tell you how much the Penguins playing in the Stanley Cup Final means for business. The Sharks sure know how to be party poopers. And now Maz may be invited to come to Consol Energy Center next weekRead More »

Mike Sullivan is two wins away from doing the greatest coaching job in Penguins’ history

 

How Sullivan stacks up against Badger Bob, Bylsma It ain’t over yet. Let’s get that out of the way at the top. Penguins fans should know better than anyone that being up two games to none in the Stanley Cup Final doesn’t assure anything. The Detroit Red Wings went up two games to none on the Penguins back in 2009 and the Penguins did what nobody thought they could do. They won four of the next five. But if…if, if IF ..the Penguins do what the odds say they should do and win the Stanley Cup, did Mike Sullivan do the greatest coaching job in Penguins’ history? I think so. And that’s not taking anything away from the three previous winners. Bob Johnson’s team in 1990-91 had only been to the playoffs once since Mario Lemieux showed up in 1984 and it was struggling in March when Craig Patrick pulledRead More »

A Stanley Cup Final Berth now brings the Crosby-Malkin era coming to an end talk to a halt

 

How did that happen? Remember way back on Monday when fans and, surprisingly enough, some in the media, had the Eastern Conference over because the Penguins lost Games 4 and 5 and had to go to Tampa Bay facing elimination? Have these people never seen a seven game series before? One columnist wrote that it might be time to forget about the Crosby-Malkin era – that it appeared to be over. I did some research and discovered that, in every series that went seven games, in every sport, after five somebody was up 3 games to 2. And I was shocked to find that, in every series that went seven games it was tied 3-3 after six. If you know your Pittsburgh sports history you know the Pirates fell behind the Orioles two games to none in the 1971 World Series and 3 games to one in the 1979 WorldRead More »

Game 2 showed Sidney Crosby getting the puck with time and space is quite the concept

 

Linemates creating Time & Space for 87 =’s a Crosby OT winner It’s about time that bum Crosby scored a goal. Did you notice something different about his overtime goal to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night? Someone set HIM up for the shot. He had to yell at Bryan Rust when he had a few rare seconds of open ice and an open shot and snapped a ridiculous one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy and the series was tied 1-1. Despite having just proven it to be untrue less than a week before, consensus among the fans and most of the media was, “The Penguins won’t win the series if Crosby and Malkin don’t score.” Crosby didn’t score against the team that won the President’s Trophy and the Penguins won in six games. Since so many people insist on measuring Crosby’s performance only on the number of points or goalsRead More »

Steigerwald: It’s Murray’s Net until the first sign of trouble

 

Sullivan Making the Right Call with Goaltending Situation Murray is the man and it’s a no-brainier. Which goalie to start in Game 6 shouldn’t be in the discussion and it’s not about who’s the best or who deserves it the most. Marc Andre Fleury hasn’t played in a game since March 31st. Maybe you noticed that the playoffs have started since then and the Penguins are 6-2 with Murray in goal. Is Marc Andre Fleury a better goalie than Matt Murray? Yeah. Is Marc Andre Fleury, with a six week layoff, as good as Matt Murray, who’s been playing regularly? Probably not. Everybody knows that the intensity is turned up a notch for the playoffs and it’s not realistic to expect a guy who hasn’t been between the pipes in almost a month and a half to be at anywhere near 100%. Fleury was where he belonged Saturday night inRead More »

Steigerwald: Teams are more prepared than ever to keep stars like Crosby off the scoresheet

 

Analyzing Penguins – Capitals The Penguins couldn’t have won Game 4. Kris Letang didn’t play and all Sidney Crosby did was get an assist and two shots on goal. I read several previews of the game and just about every one said that Letang is the Penguins most important player and Crosby needed to do what Alexander Ovechkin did in Game 3 and dominate – preferably with a multi-point game. So, how are the Penguins leading in this series three games to one when Crosby only has one point? Have you watched the games? Have you noticed how much Crosby is being harassed both legally and illegally? On the Hockey Night in Canada telecast Wednesday night, Don Cherry showed video of Crosby being hacked and harassed and asked if anybody could imagine it happening to Gretzky. He blamed it on the instigator rule, which he called the worst rule inRead More »

Crosby vs Ovechkin Part II: Can it live up to 2009?

 

Monday Buzz Column It just doesn’t get any better than this. The Penguins vs the Capitals. Crosby vs Ovechkin. Playoffs. Maybe you were rooting for the Flyers because you thought playing them would make it much easier for the Penguins to advance to the Easter Conference Final. I’ve been rooting for a Penguins-Capitals matchup since February and I would have been perfectly okay with seeing them play each other in the first round. I don’t get my name on the Stanley Cup if the Penguins win and I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting a check, so, for me it’s all about the entertainment. What sports fan wouldn’t want to see Sidney Crosby go head to head with Alexander Ovechkin? Do you remember what happened last time? In Game 2 back in 2009? They both had hat tricks and the Penguins lost 4-3. That’s called living up to the hype.Read More »

Steigerwald: Mike Sullivan still has to prove that a superstar returning to a red hot team can’t be a problem.

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN If the Penguins lose Tuesday night in New York, the series is over. They’re done. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth, but you can count on lots and lots of people, including some of your friends in the media, saying that if the Penguins do lose. And just about everybody would have been saying the series was over if the Penguins had won Game 2 and put the Rangers down two games to none. Whoever came up with the idea of a seven game series knew what he was doing. There are just enough games to drive fans of both teams crazy. Remember a couple of years ago when the series with the Rangers was over after the Penguins went up three games to one? It wasn’t over until the Rangers won Game 7 in Pittsburgh. You may remember people saying it was over afterRead More »

Monday Buzz Column: Penguins can win the Stanley Cup by sticking to the script of playing their way

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN The Penguins can win the Stanley Cup. They could also get knocked out in the first round by the New York Rangers because that’s the nature of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they’ve come a long way since last year when nobody gave them a chance to win it and almost nobody gave them a chance to beat the Rangers in the first round. Injuries, especially on defense, gave the Penguins no chance last April and nobody was surprised when they lost in five games. Recent history is irrelevant when it comes to this version of the Penguins. October through December of 2015 is ancient history. The new coach, the addition of Carl Hagelin and Trevor Daley made this a different team. It’s all about playing to win instead of playing not to lose. Hockey analytics can give you a headache, but in the new world ofRead More »

Monday Buzz Column on Gregory Polanco reaching potential/expectations; Pens ready to roll

 

MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN This should be a pretty good week for Gregory Polanco. You would think that knowing you’ll be making at least $35 million over the next five years and maybe as much as $60 million if the Pirates exercise their options would put you in a pretty good mood. According to multiple reports, that’s the deal the Pirates made with Polanco to buy out three years of his free agency. That’s a lot of money, but it looked like a lot of money when the Pirates bought out some of Andrew McCutchen’s free agency a few years ago for $51 million and that turned out to be a steal. It also probably cost McCutchen somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. McCutchen did the right thing and so did Polanco. Neither should ever have to worry about money ever again and both should have great grand kids whoRead More »