Thursday, May 15, 2014

Penguins Analysis: Management's most pressing move to make for the 2014-15 season

Here is what no one is talking about in the aftermath of the Penguins elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs:

Teams not in final four (numbers reflect their final place in regular season standings):

1) Boston
2) Tampa Bay

1) Pens
3) Philadelphia

1) Anaheim (if they lose to LA)
2) San Jose

1) Colorado
2) St. Louis

The Rangers will be the highest remaining seed if LA wins.

And remember, Washington (Great 8), Carolina (Staal bothers), Vancouver (Sedin twins) didn’t even make the playoffs

I'm not saying Dan Bylsma shouldn’t be fired; I think it’s time for a fresh voice in the locker room, just as the team needed a new voice from Michel Therrien in 2009. (Ray Shero should NOT be fired.)

But, honestly, the Penguins’ biggest problem is unrealistic expectations by a portion of the fan base and local media that every year demands/expects the Penguins to make the Stanley Cup finals (and win). I want the Penguins to hoist the Cup, too, but I would never boo them off the ice after a hard fought 2-1 loss in Game 7 of the SECOND round .

Management needs to change their marketing strategy, more than they need to change the coach or GM. The message of Penguins hockey should be about the joy of competing and excelling, not on winning the Cup or else… Otherwise, the franchise is setting itself up for failure in a league where no team has won back-to-back Cups in the salary-cap era.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Open Letter to Pens Fans and Rebuttal to Dejan Kovacevic's 05/12 column

(My first entry in more than a year, spurred by the hometown negativity surrounding the Pens.) 

Since the start of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, entirely too many Penguins’ fans and local media folks have lost perspective on what an incredible achievement it is to win the Stanley Cup, especially in a salary-cap era.

If there was no salary cap, Pens in all likelihood wouldn't have lost, among others: Gonchar, Kennedy, Malone, Scuderi (in his prime), Talbot... (and most likely Jokinen and Niskanen after this season)  

Moreover, look at the Cup winners since the salary-cap era began:
2006: Carolina (2014: missed playoffs)
2007: Anaheim (2014: Rd II: 2-2 vs LA)
2008: Detroit (2014: Rd 1 elimination from playoffs)
2009: Pens (2014: Rd II: 3-3 vs NYR)
2010: Chi (2014: Rd II: 3-2 vs Minn)
2011: Bos (2014: Rd II: 3-2 vs Montreal)
2012: LA (2014: Rd II:  2-2 vs Anaheim)  
2013: Chi (2014: Rd II: 3-2 vs Minn)

Taking all of that into account, including the 2014 playoffs results to date, only Chicago has had more success than the Pens in the salary-cap era; and remember 87 & 71 missed the 2011 playoffs entirely; 87 had just returned for the 2012 playoffs and admitted he wasn't in top shape; and 87 played with a broken jaw in the 2013 playoffs.

I’m not making excuses, just pointing out reality. The negative Pens fans and media need to get over these feelings of championship entitlement. (Remember, too, in the pre-salary-cap era Le Magnifique only won 2 Cups; Bobby Orr, who won eight consecutive Norris Trophies, also only won 2 Cups; and Gretzky "The Great One" won 0 Cups after he was traded at age 27 from the Oilers, which was packed with Hall of Famers).

For this past regular season, look at Washington, with the Great 8 & Backstrom; or Carolina, with the Staal brothers; or Vancouver, with the Sedin twins… there are no guarantees of even making the playoffs.

Unlike the many folks bellowing for major roster changes with the Pens should they lose on Tuesday, there is no reason to blow up this team. I'll take my chances with a nucleus of 87, 71, 58, and 29. Every! Single! Season!

Yes, it's true the Pens haven't played well in Games 5 & 6 against the Rangers, especially at the start. But keep in mind, too, the Rangers aren't a Mystery Alaska beer league team. They just beat the Flyers in the previous series and have a world class goalie. Critics seem blinded by the fact that there are two teams playing in every game, and were it not for Lundqvist in this series, the Pens might already be moving on. (How many breakaways and pointblank shots has he stopped in the past two games alone?!)

I do think the Pens will win Game 7, and here’s why: The Tribune Review’s JoshYohe tweeted the following after Game 6: “When I left the Penguins locker room, two people remained: 87 & 66.”

It was reminiscent of Game 4 against Columbus in Round I, when 66 paid 29 a visit in the locker room afterwards. Fleury, who gave up two fluky goals to lose Game 4, was unbeatable the next two games. Has there ever been a better team owner in all of sports?!

So, I’m optimistic about Tuesday's Game 7; but I must acknowledge that one lucky bounce (i.e., the hockey gods) can determine who wins, too. It will be dramatic, either way, which is why we’re fans in the first place.

Win or lose, I'm proud to be a Pens' fan. Keep the faith Pens' Nation!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

87's Newest Equipment

He'll be back for the playoffs looking better than ever
with his titanium jaw and new pearly whites!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How well is 87 playing?

“It’s the highest level I’ve ever seen him.” 
--Brooks Orpik
 (on today's Dejan Kovacevic radio show)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

#71 Update II

Geno skated again today in Pittsburgh
—DP, Root Sports

That must mean yesterday's skate didn't bring back any symptoms. Good sign!

This video of today's skate is an even better sign!