Round 1 Lookahead: On X-Factor Matt Murray, Penguins ability to counter Flyers Strength’s by 2 & More Buzz

 

Penguins – Flyers to Meet in Round 1 The Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished their primary goal over the final two games of the regular season in claiming home-ice in round 1 with a 5-4 OT win vs the Columbus Blue Jackets and then following up the win vs CBJ with a 4-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in the season finale. Now the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers meet in round 1. As vulnerable as the Penguins have looked defensively and at the goaltender position since Matt Murray returned from a concussion, the Penguins having home-ice in round 1 is a major hurdle the Flyers will have to overcome. Pittsburgh is just the 4th team to win 30 or more home games in consecutive seasons and they’re just a different team on home-ice. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia meet for the first time since the 2012 playoffs, a series that Penguin fans willRead More »

Pirates: Bullpen a problem, newcomers providing immediate impact in hot start

 

Reds 7 – Pirates 4 Eugenio Suarez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, as the Cincinnati Reds dealt the Pittsburgh Pirates their second loss of the season with a 7-4 Reds win on Saturday night. The Pirates are a surprising 6-2 on the season but this was a tough loss to take with the bullpen imploding late. Pittsburgh has arguably one of the top-5 closers in the game but getting the ball to him is going to be a season long problem. The bullpen situation kinds of resembles the lack out outfield depth last season where the Pirates were often rolling out just two legitimate outfielders on a daily basis. PIRATES GETTING IMMEDIATE IMPACT FROM NEWCOMERS Corey Dickerson drove in 2-runs in the Pirates 7-4 loss to the Reds Saturday night and the Pirates are getting an immediate impact from Dickerson and Morgan, which has been aRead More »

Pens – Caps Fallout: Capitals win the momentum swings, clinch Metropolitan Division

 

Capitals 3 – Penguins 1 The Washington Capitals are Metropolitan Division Champions for the third straight season in defeating the Penguins 3-1 on Sunday night at the PPG Paints Arena. As the Capitals are locked into the playing the first wildcard in Round 1, Pittsburgh with two games remaining can mathematically still finish anywhere from 2nd-3rd place in the Metropolitan Division to the top wildcard spot or the second wildcard spot. Off great goaltending from Philipp Grubauer, the Capitals won the momentum swings tonight as they were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and very opportunistic offensively. Tom Wilson scored a beautiful goal off a deflection 23 seconds into the third that iced this one to put the Capitals ahead 3-0. For the Capitals, this was just one of those complete game type performances where they rose to the occasion in a number of areas to come out of Pittsburgh withRead More »

Pirates are off to 3-0 start

 

Pirates take Doubleheader from Tigers G1: Pirates 1 – Tigers 0 W: T.Williams (1-0) L: M. Fulmer (0-1) S: Felipe Rivero (1) PIT Leaders J. Bell | 2-4, 2B G. Polanco | 1-3, 2B, RBI T. Williams | 6 IP – 1 K – 5 BB G2: Pirates 8 – Tigers 6 W: C. Kuhl (1-0) L: B. Farmer (0-1) S: F. Rivero (2) PIT Leaders J. Harrison | 3-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2B D. Freese | 2-4, HR, 2 RBI S. Marte | 1-2, HR, RBI, BB, 2 R E. Diaz | 2-4 The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a 3-0 start to the 2018 season. The 3-0 start might be against a projected bottom-cellar in the AL but this is the exact type of start the Pirates needed in trying to change the narrative where the Pirates got crushed from every angle this winter in acting like anRead More »

A Greater Appreciation of how Making the Playoffs has become automatic during the Sidney Crosby Era

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night, officially clinched a playoff berth for the 12th straight season. The last several years whenever the Penguins clinch a playoff spot, it has rarely been seen as a major celebration during the Sidney Crosby era because it’s just always assumed the Penguins get in and expectations since about year three of the Crosby era has been Stanley Cup or bust. However, in looking at other situations around the league, maybe there should be more appreciation for what the Penguins have done in the Cap era in now going to 12 straight postseasons. Mike Sullivan for one saw clinching a playoff berth last night as special, especially with how this group looked in early January when the Penguins were 20-19-3 at one point. “It’s special because I think it’s hard to make the playoffs in this league,” saidRead More »

Crosby’s Walk-Off & PIT-NJD Key Takaways

 

On MLB Opening Day, Sidney Crosby did it again in delivering a walk-off winner for the Penguins in a 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. Crosby with goals in 5 straight games is now up to 28 goals and 85 points on the season. With 7 goals in March, this is the first month since November Crosby has scored at least 5 goals in a month. As Evgeni Malkin’s game has taken a step back of late, over the last week Crosby has found that special level again where he’s dominating games in all facets. It’s been a weird season for him in putting pucks in the net but he’s in one of those stretches right now where you’re not surprised at the type of goals he’s scoring. PIT – NJD TAKEAWAYS — Patric Hornqvist declared before the game the Penguins would rise to occasionRead More »

Benefit of the Doubt for Defending Champions and Key Defensive Issues

 

How Much Concern should there be with the Penguins? How to evaluate the Penguins this season has often been a tricky spot because of them being the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, they rightfully deserve the benefit of doubt. And that still exists until the postseason begins and we’ll find out whether the Penguins always deserving the benefit of the doubt remains the case or not very soon. Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night was about as bad as it could get from a performance standpoint this season, considering the Red Wings have been a team over the last two weeks that has basically quit on the season. The struggles were in all facets for the Penguins, including offensively where the Penguins only generated 13 shots through the first 45 minutes of play. Offensively it was just one of those nights a team like the PenguinsRead More »

Pitt lures Jeff Capel from Duke to become new Mens’ basketball head coach

 

The University of Pittsburgh will name Duke’s Jeff Capel as their new Mens’ basketball coach at a 12:00 p.m. press conference on Wednesday. Final Take: For a coaching search that even Pitt officials weren’t sure where it was headed, Heather Lyke and her staff did very well in adjusting on the go from Plan-A to Plan-B and such. The primary focus early in the process was seeing if they could lure a high pedigree head coach to Pitt and when that became bright and clear it wasn’t going to happen, the final conclusion of the search shows there wasn’t a panic in making a get anybody hiring like Mark Schmidt would have been. This was about as good as you could do in landing a top level assistant like Capel from a major program in Duke. With Lyke not willing to entertain Sean Miller despite immense pressure from people financiallyRead More »

PIT – NJD Fallout: Mental Lapses surrounding Penguins’ most important defenseman

 

Devils 4 – Penguins 3 (OT) With a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils Friday night, mental lapses continue to be the theme surrounding the Penguins lately as the playoffs are just 18 days away. The Penguins played a great first and third period but a disastrous stretch early in the second period saw the Devils score three times in a 3:39 span to go from trailing 1-0 to leading 3-1 after forty minutes. “We have mental lapses for short periods of time and it’s costing us and you can’t have that this time of year,” head coach Mike Sullivan said afterwards. The concerning part for the coaching staff is that some of these mental lapses are continuing to come from some of their best players defensively. Some wonder if the Penguins can win a Stanley Cup with Chad Ruhwedel or Matt Hunwick as their No. 6 d-man. LastRead More »