Benz: Playing Pissed Off and Desperate saw an Inspired Penguin team in Monday’s 5-2 win


PLAYING DESPERATE AND PISSED OFF WAS A GOOD COMBO FOR PENGUINS MONDAY NIGHT Maybe the Penguins should play pissed off more often. Because make no mistake, that’s what they did during a 5-2 win at Consol Energy Center Monday night. They played pissed. And it worked. Asked directly if the team “played pissed off”, recent Penguin addition Trevor Daley responded: “I think we needed to. I think a little bit of desperate was needed.” Call it desperation. Call it urgency. Call it pride. However you want to label it, the Penguins have played without it for the better part of 33 games so far this season. Normally it takes Flyer orange & black to elicit that kind of emotional response from the Penguins. But due to an NHL scheduling quirk, Pittsburgh hasn’t even seen its cross state rivals so far this year. So the nearby Blue Jackets will have toRead More »

Benz: What We Learned From Mike Sullivan’s Coaching Debut


ON MIKE SULLIVAN’S DEBUT BEHIND THE BENCH Beau Bennett is hurt again. But that’s probably not a fair assessment as to whether or not anything will change with Mike Sullivan as the new coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Only a yet to be discovered alignment of the planets will likely change that fate. As far as matters that can be controlled by the human beings running the team, Monday night’s box score also suggests that the Mike Johnston-to-Mike Sullivan swap won’t yield much of a difference. Another loss (4-1 to Washington) in which Pittsburgh struggled offensively. Another empty effort on the power play. Another night where the Pens gave the puck away more often than they took it away. But a deeper look at the numbers infers some good may come from the coaching change. The Penguins did generate 45 shots on goal. They uncorked 34 more that were eitherRead More »



SO YOU ARE TRYING TO TELL ME THAT…. …Elias Diaz &/or Charlie Morton are too big of a return for Neal Huntington to stomach in a potential trade involving Mitch Moreland?!: If that’s what Neal Huntington is telling Texas, then maybe he isn’t the general manager we think he is. Moreland is only expected to make about $5 million in arbitration this year. And he hit 23 homers while driving in 85 runs last season. Plus he bats left handed and only made four errors this season at first base in 2015. If the rumors are true that Texas wants either Charlie Morton or Elias Diaz (or even both) in exchange…that shouldn’t be too big of an ask for Huntington. If Huntington does balk at that request, it’s a classic case of over valuing a prospect at the potential expense of acquiring a major league ready player. Diaz is theRead More »

On Brandon Boykin and the Tomlin County Jail


WILL BOYKIN BE RELEASED FROM THE TOMLIN COUNTY JAIL? It’s tough to draw a comparison as a way to describe Brandon Boykin’s brief stay in Pittsburgh. Has there ever been a talent acquisition by one of the three major pro sports teams in town that has been as odd as this one has been? Especially from how fan and media perception has gone surrounding it? I’m struggling to think of another player who has been actively sought and acquired by the Pirates, Penguins or Steelers and done so little yet become so popular so quickly with the fan base. A guy that was cast away from Philadelphia for a 5th round conditional draft pick has been anticipated as a potential contributor by many following the Steelers as if he was a first round quarterback getting seasoning on the bench for a year behind an aging veteran. It’s the ultimate “grassRead More »



A lot of crap has gone down in the sports world of late, especially locally, that makes absolutely no sense. So help me out on a few of these items. —– SO YOU ARE TRYING TO TELL ME THAT…. …at 11:00am Tuesday Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have a concussion. But by 12:05 pm he did?: Everyone in Pittsburgh had a good laugh at this one. Ben Roethlisberger removed himself from the Seahawks game in the fourth quarter Sunday after taking a nasty blow to the head. At his Tuesday press conference, Mike Tomlin announced that Roethlisberger was diagnosed with a concussion and that he remained in the NFL concussion treatment protocol which he originally entered Sunday. Yet just an hour earlier (on his own radio show) Roethlisberger insisted he wasn’t concussed and that he had suffered a “traumatic ocular migraine.” Now I’m no @ProFootballDoc. I can’t diagnose other people’s injuries onRead More »

Lucky Roethlisberger: Let’s be Thankful for his health


LUCKY ROETHLISBERGER Do you consider yourself a glass half empty, or glass half full kind of person? The ultimate litmus test could be answering this question about Ben Roethlisberger’s injury history: Do you consider him lucky or unlucky? It looks like Ben Roethlisberger is going to be plenty healthy to start Sunday in Seattle. And for some, the reaction is: “Finally! It’s about time. The guy’s missed the better part of five games already because he keeps getting hurt. Big Ben can’t catch a break! Almost every year it seems as if he gets some significant injury he has to overcome.” But that’s thinking for you pessimists out there. True blue optimists like yours truly (*insert eye roll and throat clear here*) think of it completely the other way. I look at how Roethlisberger got hurt and the severity of injuries and I think to myself…This guy has a blackRead More »

Benz: Don’t Trust the Pirates Process


ON THE PIRATES Lately, if I ever I post/say anything remotely critical or concerning about the state of the Pirates moving forward, I’m sure to get Tweets and responses saying: “TRUST THE PROCESS.” I hate that phrase. It sounds brain washy. Almost cultish to me. “Never question anything. Everything will always work out. Even if it doesn’t, we’re in favor of it anyway.” And this may come out sounding bad, but “I DON’T TRUST THE PROCESS.” I don’t “trust a process” that frequently and cavalierly dismisses effective players on a yearly basis from a club that is hard pressed to replace those holes right away during what could be a very limited window of success. And we all remember what happened after that last window closed. It stayed shut for 20 years. I don’t “trust a process” that so frequently relies on the very best case scenario working with almostRead More »

For the Penguins their Signature Loss to New Jersey Impacted this team more than any Signature Win has


For The Penguins Signature Loss Means More Than Signature Win Many Penguin fans were hoping that it could be looked upon as a turning point. Some in the Pittsburgh media labeled it a “signature win.” The players and coaches seemed enthused as well. Last Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins had just secured a 4-3 shootout victory in a game that was…by way of departure this season… both an entertaining and challenging game against the first place Montreal Canadiens in front of a wired Consol Energy Center crowd. Optimists tried to will momentum onto the perpetually feckless Penguins as a result of that game. The inference being that this talent-laden but emotionally flat and inconsistent group would find traction as a result of that conquest. And some warm spring day in 2016, in the midst of a deep playoff run, we’d all point back to the Veterans Day result that was theRead More »



BACKLASH AGAINST MIKE MITCHELL IS WARRANTED AND 100% ACCURATE Over 14 years of covering Pittsburgh sports, I haven’t exactly built a reputation of wilfully pandering to the loud majority-fan opinion. (The Pitt Panther fan response I got to this recent piece on Pat Narduzzi was proof of that. But when it comes to Mike Mitchell I’m going to do so. Steeler fan backlash against the safety is completely warranted and 100% accurate. And the media-shaming of Steeler fans for their reactions to him has been over the top. As we know by now, Mitchell has been having an excellent season following an injury addled bust of a first year in Pittsburgh. But while his play has improved, his self control hasn’t. In 2015 he’s picked up a needless taunting penalty after a third down stop vs the Bengals. He failed to realize a fumble was loose after a big hitRead More »

The Eric Fehr Dynamic as Top-6 Talk Emerges


ON ERIC FEHR & TOP-6 TALK Now that Eric Fehr is healthy and playing with his new Penguin teammates, he is giving the club exactly what it wanted: good two way play with occasional scoring and penalty kill ability in a bottom six forward role. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Penguins this offseason. And now that the doctors have done their best on his elbow, the Pens are benefiting the way they expected. So why do some Penguin fans want to change that already? As a precursor, let me state in advance I realize what I am about to write may be a minority view amongst the Penguin fan base. Being immersed in the sports talk radio world you get exposed to the most microwaved and hyperbolic reactions via tweets, emails, phones, calls etc. So granted, it’s a limited response that I’m going to describe. But I’dRead More »