Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Raven's Week: Tuesday.

It is Ravens Week. Get geeked.

In case you need any motivation (which you shouldn't) check these out:













Monday, November 29, 2010

Win Is A Win. Steelers 19, Buffalo 16 (OT)



Oh man, great find/grab by Cotter from One for the Other Thumb. This YouTube could be the entire game recap. No lie.

It isn’t always easy, but who said it was going to be easy? These are all NFL teams people and if you aren’t happy with a win then go root for the Bengals. They lose plenty of games where you can bitch and complain about.

I could go on, but Cotter put together a money paragraph in his post game:

If football games always went perfectly, what would be the point of watching? Life isn't perfect, so why should a football game or season be? Let's not forget, it's hard to win eight games in today's NFL (in the AFC, at least), period (just ask the Buffalo Bills). The Steelers have already done that, and they still have five games left. Every throw isn't going to connect. Every run isn't going to break for 45 yards. And sometimes injuries, penalties and dropped passes happen. But like I said last week, it's the ability to play through those things and overcome them that separates the winners from the losers.


Preach it brother. Good football teams win games like this and bad/mediocre football teams don’t win games like this (for example the 2009 Steelers).

Whatever. I am stoked. It’s a win.



Lets get into the bulk of the recap:

Jump it.

Penguins Game Day 26 - @ New York Rangers

New York Rangers


7:00 p.m., Madison Square Garden, New York, NY


The Guins are coming off arguable their best performance of the season after they beat down the Calgary Flames 4-1 at the Mellon Arena on Saturday afternoon. I was able to attend the game and if that is the way they are going to play then I truely believe that they should give me season tickets and bring me to every game. Just sayin.

Aaron Asham will be out of the lineup tonight for the Penguins with an illness as will Rangers star Marian Gaborik be missing the game due to always being injured.

I mean honest to God is there a person more injury/illness ridden person than Gaborik? He plays like six games a year.


MAF is back in net after taking a blow against the Flames. He should be hungry and ready to continue his hot play. To put his play in persepctive this is what MAF did during the month of November:


Remember when people wanted him traded? I guess he is just lucky right?

Weird that in five of the seven games the Penguins didn't bring home two points home with MAF in net they have lost 3-2.


The Penguins lost their only other game against the Rangers this year, 3-2 at the CONSOL Energy Center.




The Penguins Probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Max Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Tyler Kennedy
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Eric Godard

Defense
Brook Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury
 
 
The Stats:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Steelers Game Day 11 - @ Buffalo Bills

Well after a blowout win over the Raiders it looks like Steelers Nation can breathe a little easier knowing that a five game losing streak wasn't guarenteed. I mean I could have told people that but where would we be without panic and wide spread ludacris statements.

Huge game before we play the Ravens next week for the upper hand on the division. Don't look past the Bills team though.

Lets get at this.

Pittsburgh 35, Oakland 3
Passing: Roethlisberger: 18/29, 275 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 23 car, 59 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 3 rec, 116 yards, 1 TD


Buffalo 49, Cincinatti 31
Passing: Fitzpatrick: 21/34, 316 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Jackson: 21 car, 116 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Johnson: 8 rec, 137 yards, 3 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 325.3 yards/game (22nd)
Buffalo: 317.4 yards/game (24th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 207.3 yards/game (21st)
Buffalo: 203.7 yards/game (23rd)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 118.0 yards/game (11th)
Buffalo: 113.7 yards/game (14th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 23.5 points/game (t13th)
Buffalo: 21.3 points/game (21st)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 302.1 yards/game (4th)
Buffalo: 372.4 yards/game (25th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 63.0 yards/game (1st)
Buffalo: 163.5 yards/game (32nd)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 239.1 yards/game (22nd)
Buffalo: 208.9 yards/game (9th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 16.5 points/game (3rd)
Buffalo: 27.6 points/game (29th)

I mean when you sit down to think about it, what is there really to say about the Bills? There is no way this is a rivalry game. They Steelers are having a good year, the Bills are having a bad year. The Bill have players most who are casual followers have never heard of, the Steelers have big time players. I mean it has been pretty much been fun doing the past few previews because as a Steelers fan how can you really make fun of the Bills? I mean for real?

Whatev. Jump it.

Penguins Game Day 25- vs. Calgary Flames

Another huge game from the Flower yesterday and Bing continued his point streak.

The Penguins get to see another team it typically only sees one time a year. Should be a fun time to see Kipper and Iggy play, but who cares.

Beej is going to be in net today, from all accounts, after having the flu bug the last couple of times so it will be interesting to see how he performers. Looking for big things.

I will be in attendence today so please pardon the shoddy pregame. If you don't like it, too bad. First game at the CONSOL so I am pretty excited.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Penguins Game Day 24 - vs. Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators

1:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins stayed strong on Wednesday night with arguable MAF's best performance of the season in a 1-0 win when Marc made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season.

Saying the Penguins have been hot as of late would be the understatement of the century. They are currently on a four game winning streak and have captured 13 of a possible 14 points in the last seven games. Before the streak the Penguins were a pedestrian 7-8-1 and now they are right in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division.

Bing extended his scoring streak to 10 games and has scored 21 points (9+12) during that stretch. Pretty good, right?


The Penguins defeated the Senators in the only other meeting so far this season with Ottawa 5-2 on October 18, 5-2



The Penguins probable lines:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Max Talbot
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Alex Goligoski - Derek Engelland
Zbynek Michalek- Brooks Orpik

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


The Stats:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Penguins Game Day 23 - @ Buffalo Sabres


Buffalo Sabres

7:00 p.m., HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY

After a pretty solid contest against the Panthers the Penguins make a short trip to Buffalo before returning home for a few contests.

Brent Johnson in net to give MAF a start. Probably won't hear a peep from people about it but if the goaltending situation was flipped the other way there would be hell to pay. Seems as if we are only able to talk about MAF when he plays bad, but it get very silent when he is playing well.

MAF is going to make another start in net. He is 4-0-1 in his last five and has been real good.
Bing is the man.

Vanek is real good.

Jason Pominville is going to make a huge play tonight. He always seems to play well against the Penguins. He is one of those guys.




The Penguins probable lines:

Forward
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Eric Godard - Craig Adams - Arron Asham Mike Comrie

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltending
Brent Johnson
Marc-Andre Fleury

The Sabres probables:

Forwards
Tyler Ennis - Derek Roy - Tomas Vanek
Nathan Gerbe - Jochen Hecht - Jason Pominville
Colin Stuart - Paul Gaustad - Mike Grier
Cody McCormick - Luke Adam - Patrick Kaleta
Defense
Andrej Sekera - Tyler Myers
Jordan Leopold - Steve Montador
Craig Rivet - Shaone Morrisonn

Goaltender
Patrick Lalime
Jhonas Enroth (Who?!?!?!)

The Stats:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Steeler Post Game Odds and Ends

Today I finally got to watch the full Steelers/Raiders game as I am finally back in the Burgh and able to process the game a little bit better. As you read in preliminary recap you know that I am happy because any time the Steelers win it is a great game, no matter what.

The first thing, first and foremost, is that Ben Roethlisberger is a top five, possible top three, quarterback in the NFL. Since he has been back he has shown some rust and has thrown a few picks, but Ben is back. 12 TD and only four interceptions and his is just on his A game. I know it was a lot of "stats padding" in the game against New England, but he was the only one that was actually giving the team any chance of winning. He has gotten better every week and he pisses teams off so bad that they actually try to bitch slap him. Good try Dick Seymour, you joke.

What I might have liked most about Ben's performance was that he used his legs a little bit more than  he typically done. He almost out ran the entire Raiders team and he even took a ball for pay dirt in the first half. Ben has gotten into more of a "keep the play alive" role rather than picking up the easy first down most of the time. You have to take the good with the bad on this, but Ben has really gotten away from tucking the ball and running over the past few years. Really nice to see him picking up first downs and not forcing the ball into some bad situations.

I know I talk about this every single week, but it is worth mentioning. Ike Taylor needs to be priority number two behind LaMarr Woodley. Ike picked another pass and took it for six if not for a questionable bad horrid horrendous roughing the passer call on James Harrison that brought it back the pick six. Ike was also flagged for a PI call that was equally as bad right at the end of the first half. Ike just doesn't benefit from playing soft coverage and giving up no big plays. If you watched the game you know that Ike wasn't playing 15 yards off all day. He was in press coverage, he was off, he was making plays. He has been shut down all season and has made a ton of plays, like forcing a fumble right after the bogus PI call. That is what big players do. He knows that he can't control the how the refs call the game but he can just move to the next play and make a difference. Ike is a shut down corner and needs to be resigned. No questions asked.

I think the most underrated spot of the Steelers game yesterday was the special teams. I am not just talking about Daniel Sepulveda's strong day punting the football or the fact that the return team didn't give up an inch to the Raiders or the fact that new place kicker Shaun Suisham, who wore #6 for the first time since Bubby Brister, kicked a perfect 5/5 in extra points. It was all good on special teams, which was a far cry from what it was about last year. A season ago the special teams cost the Steelers games. This  year it is winning them. DS punted the ball seven times for a 45 yard average and and put four of those punts inside the 20 yard line. When the Steelers have struggled offensively (not that they did against the Raiders) Sepulveda has done just as much as the defense has to keep them in the game and against Oakland he made sure that they didn't have a chance in hell of moving the football. Pinning them inside the 20 so many times, with a shoddy offense,a blood thirsty defense, and the Raiders had no chance. People don't notice that shit, but that is what wins games. The coverage was the same way. Mr. Suisham wasn't getting the ball to the end zone but the coverage was making plays all day. The third part of the team really stepped up, like it has all year.

James Farrior was on meth on Sunday. Last year I was starting to think that his time might have been up, but he was been great this year. If he wasn't on a team with LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison AND Lawrence Timmons he would be getting more pub, but the truth of the matter is that the Pittsburgh Steelers are toast of the town in the NFL. Farior led the team with eight tackles, a sack, two tackle for loss and another sack that got called back on a borderline penalty. Not a bad day for someone who lost a step a year ago.

The defense as a whole was just a freak on Sunday. James Harrison had two sacks, a forced fumble and a pick and was just all over the place. If the NFL wants to slap penalties and make an example of the Steelers then it is going to be a long rest of the season for offenses. The Steelers defense was pissed on Sunday and it showed and it was really great to see. By the way did Darren McFadden even play on Sunday? I know he was atop the league in rushing yards per game but he must have been hurt, right?

The officiating was terrible. No question about it. The roughing the passer call on James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and the PI call on Ike Taylor were the highlights but it was much more than that. I never, ever, blame the refs during games because that just isn't right. Their jobs are hard and people make mistakes but this was beyond that. James Harrison was called for putting all his body weight on the quarter back as he let go of the ball. If he doesn't let go of the ball is that a penalty? LaMarr Woodley didn't wrap up Jason Campbell, didn't drive him to the ground, hell he didn't even hit the ground. He was running to Campbell, he let go of the ball and Woodley threw up his hands as he was slowing down and bumped into him. Listen, if the NFL wants to make a statement then just come out and say you can't touch offensive players. This is a joke and it really is embarrassing. The more embarrassing thing is that James Harrison gets fined $75,000 for a repeat offender on a play that happened in between the whistle while someone that is a repeat offender in fights on the field punches a player AFTER the whistle only gets fined $25,000. Does that make sense? What a joke.

Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown made big plays and both are some of the youngest kids on the team. When we lost Santonio Holmes most of us knew that he wasn't going to be able to be replaced but the three of those youngsters are doing a pretty good job of trying to do it. Mike Wallace caught his eighth touchdown pass of the season and his seventh of 20 yards or more. This guy is just on another level with his speed. Unreal. Antonio Brown caught a big pass and Emmanuel Sanders made a touchdown catch from Ben. The Steelers get bashed a little bit for their mid to late round pick production but how can you argue with this? You can't.

Another underrated aspect of the game was how well Rashard Mendenhall played. He only picked up 50 some odd yards on the ground but his play early in the first half really set the tone for the game. There was little to nothing going on with most plays and he waited and waited and got five yards when he could have lost one. Sure he didn't get 100 yards but he opened up the play action and gave the running game some respect early in the game. It went a long way.

How the Steelers offensive line didn't give up a sack on Sunday is just beyond me. Not that I am complaining but with the injury situation it is getting somewhat comical. I mean Pouncey is going out of the game at points leaving only one real starting lineman in the game at times. Trai Essex and Jon Scott are not NFL linemen. You know it is getting bad when people are actually worrying about Jon Scott getting hurt. It has been that bad. They have to somehow stay healthy for another week. No idea.

Well on to Buffalo. Lets do this.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Penguins Game Day 22 - vs. Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers


7:30 p.m., BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, FL

The Penguins are back on the road in Florida.

I am currently in transit to Pittsburgh so you get the bare bones.

MAF-city in goal tonight because Beej is sick. I guess.

Bing is real good at hockey. Real good.

$10 there is a flag thrown against the Steelers tonight.


The Penguins probable line up:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Maxime Talbot - Evgeni Malkin
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


The Panthers probables:

Forwards
Cory Stillman - Stephen Weiss - Michael Frolik
David Booth - Mike Santorelli - Michal Repik
Christopher Higgins - Marty Reasoner - Radek Dvorak
Darcy Hordichuk - Shawn Matthias - Bill Thomas
Defense
Bryan McCabe - Dmitry Kulikov
Bryan Allen - Dennis Wideman
Jason Garrison - Mike Weaver

Goaltender
Tomas Vokoun


The Stats:





General Thoughts: Steelers 35, Raiders 3

This must be started by saying that the Steelers came in and did what they were supposed to do, beat the Oakland Raiders. There seems to be a big sediment in Pittsburgh that the Steelers needed to win this game convincingly because of what happened to them at Heinz Field last week to the hands of the New England Patriots. They did that, and more.

I was actually at a work function that took place all day Sunday so I was not able to watch the game. I was able to follow it, but only thought twitter and the ESPN app on my blackberry, so needless to say I can't really comment on much. I did see the brief highlights that ESPN put up on the game so I have little context on the grand scheme of the game. This will serve as probably the shortest recap of the season. If you don't like it, too bad.

The Steelers actually tailed in the game and came out of the blocks really slow. The Raiders capitalized and took a 3-0 lead. The Steelers then made it a point to let the Raiders gain as little yardage possible, and it worked. The defense clamped down and chased starter Jason Campbell and James Harrison proves why he is a big deal in the NFL.

I was really happy to see the offense click. 21 second quarter points. The best part of that? The defense didn't give an inch and gave the offense a chance to add on points and blow this average Raiders team out,  something the Steelers typically don't do.

From looking at the stats and following the game Ben Roethilisberger was just on acid. 18/29, 279 yards, 3 touchdowns and no picks. He also rushed for a career high 55 yards and a touchdown. That is what big time players do. He also took a shot in the face from Richard Seymour. After throwing a touchdown pass to Manny Sanders he was celebrating and Mr. Seymour didn't like it and cold cocked Ben in the face. You know what Richard, instead of getting pissed at Ben why don't you get pissed at your secondary that was taken to the wood shed all day, or here is a thought, make a play. Joke.

Mikey Wallace and Manny Sanders made a contribution and each chipped in a TD catch. Manny dressed and saw some significant time out of the wide receiver position and made the most of it. Dude is fast. You know who else is fast? Mike Wallce. Holy. Shit. I watched the highlights and they showed Wallace running through the "secondary" and he is just at another level. Jesus.

The Raiders had 182 yards of total offense. They turned the ball over three times including two picks. They were sacked six times. Domination.

I am not really going to comment on the penalties yet, because I haven't had a chance to look at the game. I am going to try and catch a replay tonight and hopefully have a more in depth follow up post on the game.

Overall this was a win the Steelers had to have. Off a tough loss they said enough was enough and it was game over from there. Huge game against the Bills next week that could set up an epic showdown with the Ravens for division supremacy.

Get your minds right.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Steelers Game Day 10 - vs. Oakland Raiders

Nothing worse than a terrible loss. Luckily the Steelers are right back at it this week against the upstart Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have a 5-4 record and are coming off a bye week. That means they have two weeks to gear up for a beat up Steelers unit that need this game just as bad as the Raiders.

If you are the Steelers you have to get a win this week against the Raiders and next week against the Bills to set up a AFC North battle with the Ravens to see who will take sole hold of first place in the division. Furthermore the Steelers need to start winning a few AFC games for that tiebreaker.

Word is that the Steelers should have LT, Kemo and Troy ready for the game and that Keisel is questionable going into the game. I would like to see the Steelers starting to get healthier but the fact of the matter is that two starting offensive lineman are already out for the year so you can't really get much help there.

Jeff Reed is gone which is kind of a big deal pending how you look at it.

Whatev. Let's get after it.

New England 39, Pittsburgh 26
Passing: Roethlisberger: 30/49, 387 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 11 car, 50 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 8 rec, 136 yards, 2 TD


Oakland 23, Kansas City 20 (OT)
Passing: Campbell: 19/33, 229 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Woodhead: 17 car, 89 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Hernandez: 6 rec, 148 yards, 0 TD


Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 313.6 yards/game (24th)
Oakland: 361.0 yards/game (12th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 200.4 yards/game (22nd)
Oakland: 198.8 yards/game (25th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 113.1 yards/game (16th)
Oakland: 162.2 yards/game (2nd)

Points
Pittsburgh: 22.2 points/game (16th)
Oakland: 26.1 points/game (7th)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 315.4 yards/game (9th)
Oakland: 309.6 yards/game (6th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 63.2 yards/game (1st)
Oakland: 124.8 yards/game (24th)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 252.2 yards/game (26th)
Oakland: 184.8 yards/game (2nd)

Points
Pittsburgh: 18.0 points/game (5th)
Oakland: 20.9 points/game (12th)

The Raiders seeem to be getting better huh?

Lets get into the bulk of the preview.

Jump it.

Penguins Game Day 21 - vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins look to keep the ball rolling against Carolina when the Hurricanes come into the CONSOL for the first time this season.

The first time these teams met this season was October 30 when the Pengiuns and Brent Johnson blanked the Hurricanes 3-0:



The Hurricanes have been pretty much a win ever other game mode for a 9-9-0 record. For real. They have had a couple two game win streaks but they have lost the next two right after that. Who does that?

Word is Eric Staal has a brother.

Joe Corvo. What a joke.

Pen's PK is on acid. Carolina went 0-for-7 on their PP the last time these teams met.

The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Maxime Talbot - Craig Adams

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland
Zbynek Michalek - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury


The Hurricanes probables:

Forward
Sergei Samsonov - Eric Staal - Chad LaRose
Jeff Skinner - Tuomo Ruutu - Erik Cole
Jussi Jokinen - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Jiri Tlusty - Jon Matsumoto - Patrick O'Sullivan

Defense
Tim Gleason - Joe Corvo
Joni Pitkanen - Ian White
Andrew McBain - Jay Harrison

Goaltender
Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard
Justin Peters

Damn. I love using this:






The Stats:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Penguins Game Day 20 - vs Vancouver Canucks

 Vancouver Canucks

7:00 p.m., Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins are gearing up for their annual game with the Canucks tonight at the Consol. This is something that I like from the NHL is that the Penguins get to play each team at least one time. If you don't have Game Center or Center Ice then you are not going to see a lot of the Canucks, or most of the Western Conferece, so it is nice when your team can play them and you can see players like Luongo and the Sedin twins.

The Penguins are coming off a real tough game from Monday when they fell to the Rangers 3-2 in overtime. I don't know about most of yinz but I was pretty happy with the point. Hendrik Lundqviust stood on his head for almost an entire game but the Penguins were able to fight back for two goals in about 30 seconds and althought they gave up a shorty to send the game to overtime. A week or two ago the Penguins roll over and get shut out. Now we are starting to see the fight.

MAF is getting his fourth straight start and is a far cry from hearing all the "bench him" and "trade him" talk he was getting. A very nice stretch of three games that he has put together.

Not too shaby. I'll take it. What these stats don't show you is him making huge saves early in the game when the Penguins are down to really keep them in it.

This isn't the playoffs so Vancouver is going to be a tough play. Luongo is a really nice regular season goaltender and should be a good test for the Penguins lineup who is starting to get that secondary scoring. The Sedin twins are some of the best and we will be meeting up with Dan Hamhuis. Whatev.

The Penguins probable starting lines:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Maxime Talbot - Craig Adams

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland
Zbynek Michalek - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury
 
 
The probables for Vancouver
 
Forward
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Mason Raymond - Ryan Kesler - Mikael Samuelsson
Raffi Torres - Manny Malhotra - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Mario Bliznak - Rick Rypen

Defense
Kevin Bieksa - Alexander Edler
Andrew Alberts - Christian Ehrhoff
Dan Hamhuis - Aaron Rome

Goaltender
Roberto Luongo


The Stats:

Monday, November 15, 2010

That Could've Went Better. Patriots 39, Steelers 26

If one game meant the entire season and you picked this game to evaluate the Steelers season then I guess you can say the Steelers are on the clock. If you are logical like you should be you might realize that this was a game where it just wasn’t meant to be against a team that typically owns the Steelers. Owning the Steelers was kind of putting it mildly.
The Steelers came out and just didn’t get it done. Half of the team is hurt, 60% of the offensive line is pretty much glorified practice squad players and Ben was seeing heat all night. Make no mistake about it though, the Steelers have no excuses. They had no business winning the football game. It happens.

Tom Brady obviously thought this was the AFC Championship game as he screamed like a little girl on the sidelines. What a joke. All we hear about now is how much of a great leader Tom is because he screamed. Sounds like some Pirates fans logic about the manager. Tom Brady is a great leader, but not because of that last night.



Lets get to the recap.

Jump it.

Penguins Game Day 19 - vs. New York Rangers

 New York Rangers

7:00 p.m., Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins return back to the Consol after a quick trip down to Atlanta. The good news. The Penguins are riding a two game winning streak and they are winning with their top guns. Geno has been playing great hockey lately and Marc Andre Fleury has picked up back to back wins after struggling for a good portion of the season.

Some bad news for tonight though, turns out that TK will be a scratch due to an illness. Tough break because TK gives the Guins some good minutes and is really a spark plug. I mean sure he might miss the net (badly) here and there (or more) and sometimes even make sure the goaltender isn't a cardboard cut out by shooting it right into the chest. Whatever.

MAF'er is getting the start in net tonight. I was waiting for the chance for Marc to get a string of games where he could start to get into some kind of groove. Although it took some pretty good games for him to keep getting the starts, I like where this is going. The home crowd actually picked him up the last time with a chant before the game and he responeded.

A few former Penguins make their return to Pittsburgh. Eric Christensen and Ruslan Fedotenko return to the Burgh. If you remember Christensen was traded away for Hossa and most people acted like the best player in the NHL was gone. Having him as your first line center kinda says something about your team. Honestly.

Marc Staal is pretty good. I think he actually has a brother or two. Not really sure.

Sean Avery is a bitch.



Penguins probable lineups:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Maxime Talbot
Mike Comrie/Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard

Defense
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury

The Rangers probable lineup:

Forwards
Alex Frolov - Erik Christensen - Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky - Artem Anisimov - Ryan Callahan
Ruslan Fedotenko - Brian Boyle - Brandon Prust
Sean Avery - Derek Stepan - Derek Boogaard

Defense
Marc Staal - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Steve Eminger
Matt Gilroy - Mike Sauer

Goaltender
Henrik Lundqvist

The Stats:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Steelers Game Day 9 - vs. New England Patriots

Another big game this week as the tough road stretch is finally over and the toughest stretch of the season is finally going to end when the Patriots come to Heinz Field on Sunday night. This is the Steelers third straight prime time game. Nothing like spreading out the prime time games huh NFL.

I hate the Patriots more than the next guy. Actually I really don't think there is anyone that lives in or around Pittsburgh that likes the Patriots. If they do they don't like being happy.

Whatev. Lets get into it.

Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 21
Passing: Roethlisberger: 17/21, 163 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 22 car, 99 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 5 rec, 110 yards, 1 TD


Cleveland 34, New England 14
Passing: Brady: 19/36, 224 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Woodhead: 9 car, 54 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Hernandez: 5 rec, 48 yards, 2 TD



Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 299.6 yards/game (28th)
New England: 324.4 yards/game (20th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 181.9 yards/game (27th)
New England: 217.3 yards/game (t17th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 117.8 yards/game (12th)
New England: 107.1 yards/game (15th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 21.8 points/game (16th)
New England: 27.4 points/game (2nd)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 298.3 yards/game (4th)
New England: 386.5 yards/game (29th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 58.3 yards/game (1st)
New England: 117.6 yards/game (21st)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 240.0 yards/game (24th)
New England: 268.9 yards/game (29th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 15.4 points/game (1st)
New England: 23.5 points/game (t23rd)

Jump it.

Penguins Game Day 18 - @ Atlanta Thrashers

 Atlanta Thrashers

7:00 p.m., Philips Arena, Atlanta GA

The Penguins are back in action after a huge win last night over the Tampa Bay Lighting. As has been the trend this season the Pens are back in action, this time on the road.

Should be interesting to see what Disco does with the goaltending situation. MAF had a big game last night and Disco has usually been going with the hot hand of late and I wouldn't be one bit surprised to see MAF back out there tonight. Hopefully he has a solid game and starts to get out of this mini funk that he is in.

Dupers looked like Super Man last night. He has been the best winger on this team, bar none. I was a pretty big fan of his when he came here but I think now he is starting to finally find his nitch and playing very nicely. Although he doesn't have the top line talent I think he has the hard work to make it fit on the top line, and anywhere else he may play.

Mud preview. Had to hurry it.

That's what she said.

The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Arron Asham
Chris Conner - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Mike Rupp - Maxime Talbot - Craig Adams
Defense
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Deryk Engelland

Goaltending
Marc Andre Fleury/Brent Johnson

The Thrashers probables

Forward
Ben Eager - Nik Antropov - Fredrik Modin
Andrew Ladd - Rich Peverley - Niclas Bergfors
Evander Kane - Bryan Little - Anthony Stewart
Eric Boulton - Alexander Burmistrov - Chris Thorburn

Defense
Dustin Byfuglien - Tobias Enstrom
Johnny Oduya - Zach Bogosian
Ron Hainsey - Brent Sopel

Goaltending
Ondrej Pavelec


The Stats:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Penguins Game Day 17 - vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

7:00 p.m., Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

It is just one of those weeks.

It is just one of those string of games.

It is just one of those months.

It is just one of those season so far. Yea, I got it now. One of those seasons so far.

Things can't go much worse for the Penguins than things already have. That was brough to rock bottom against the Boston Bruins. If that wasn't rock bottom of this season so far then I don't want to see what is. You should have to think, going into a third period with a 4-2 lead "Well we are up 4-2 so we need to get four more in case we give up a five spot." Jesus what a massacre. I thought the Saw movies were done after this one that came out on Halloween this year. They really rushed the next one.

It is only November, not February so this thing could obviously go much, much worse than it is right now, but there is a ton of time left in the season. Good thing the NHL takes half the league.

I don't typically make brash prediction (ha) but I have a big feeling that the Penguins are going to step up and get it done tonight. MAF'er is going to be huge tonight and get a fire lit and come through. I am feeling something low scoring but I think the Penguins can itch out a 3-1 win and start to get everyone off the bridge a smuge.

Last match up: Lightning 5, Penguins 3



The Penguins probable lineups:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Mike Comrie - Arron Asham
Mike Rupp - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Maxime Talbot - Craig Adams - Eric Godard/Chris Conner


Defense
Zbynek Michalek - Paul Martin
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Alex Goligoski - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury

Stats:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Veterans


This is something that really doesn't get talked about enough and although most of us do believe this and feel it we don't express it nearly enough. Today is Veteran's Day and a day to honor those who have served in our military and those who defend our country.

It shouldn't take a "holiday" for us to say thank you to these people. They put their lives on the line for weeks and years to protect this country. They put their personal lives on hold for long periods of time to go into sticky situations and protect this country, the best country in the world.

A lot of us here in the states do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to the wars and what we do with our military personal, but one thing that we should all agree on is that these people are risking their lives for us. They are risking our lives so that we can feel safe and so we can try and live with the freedoms we were born with.

Everyone has a friend, a brother, a sister, a family member that has served and you know how tough it is wondering and worrying about them. This is their day.

I can't even put into words how thankful I am for everyone that defends this country. I really can't.

On this blog I am mostly cracking jokes and making fun of teams and talk about our Pittsburgh sports teams, but this is much bigger. This is a post about a bigger sports team. The players on this team are the real hero's. They actually put their lives on the line for the team. That team is the United States of America.

Thank you veterans and troops. We love you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Penguins Game Day 16 - vs. Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

7:00 p.m., Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins return back home to the Consol for their first home game since October 29th when they fell to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins are going to face a tough team at home against the Boston Bruins. They are already 7-3-1 overall and a very impressive 5-1-0 on the road this season.

Tim Thomas has been the toast of the proverbial town so far this season. Thomas has an impressive 1.04 GAA and has earned every single win the Bruins have. Unreal. I can't wait until we see him fall flat on his face come January. It will be funny.

Chris Conner got called up from WBS. Not really sure why but word has been that a lot of Penguins players have had some illnesses so some are saying this is kind of an emergency call up in case they need a body. Conner is pretty solid and should help out if he is needed.

Lets see what the Penguins are made of.

The Penguins probable line up:

Forward
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Arron Asham
Mike Rupp - Mark Letestu - Tyler Kennedy
Maxime Talbot - Craig Adams - Eric Godard
Chris Conner

Defense
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Alex Goligoski - Zbynek Michalek
Brooks Orpik - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Brent Johnson


The Bruins probable line up

Forwards
Milan Lucic - Patrice Bergeron - Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi - Blake Wheeler - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Tyler Seguin - Michael Ryder
Brad Marchand - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Defense
Zdeno Chara - Andrew Ference
Matt Hunwick - Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart - Adam McQuaid

Goaltender
Tim Thomas


Stats:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Taming The Kitty, Steelers Win. Steelers 27, Bengals 21

The Steelers picked up a huge win on the road in Cincinnati and used a strong second half and timely defense to move to 6-2 and set up a great match up for next week. It was early and often for hte special teams and the defense was able to make enough plays. It wasn't pretty in the second half but what does Mike Tomlin always say? Style points don't matter in the NFL. Truth

Lets get to the post game.

The Steelers got the game started right. It was almost as if someone took the Miami Dolphins game and just flipped it the other way around. Well that and the Steelers have a competent offense to play with.


The Steelers get the ball, defer. Jeff Reed got off a so-so kick and then special teams ace Emmanuel Sanders made it happen. Nothing like the Bengals bungling it up. The Steelers take over in great field position. The Steelers made a few plays and found themselves in a third and three. Beautiful play call where they fake the reverse to Ranle El and then threw a pass to a wide open Rashard Mendenhall for the first down. A few plays later Mendenhall found pay dirt.



Suck it Cincinnati.

The Bengals get the ball back and actually make some headway. The first four plays were running plays and the Bengals gained 20 yards. Set up a third and one and what do the Bengals do? Throw the football. Incomplete. Terrible play call.

What happens next? The Bengals punt, or they at least tried to. Will Gay came on a stunt and evidently the Bengals think that 1) You don’t have to block people and 2) you can take your good old time punting the ball. Blocked kick. Steelers get it. What a start. First blocked punt in a good while for the Steelers and it turns into three points.



10-0 good guys.

The Steelers get the ball back and shockingly run a WR screen. Hines fumbles, Bengals ball. They move it fairly quickly and Palmer finds T.O. who just makes Will Gay look silly in the slot. Just unfair.

Just as fast as the things went well, they went really, really bad. Pouncey and Kemo get hurt. So the Steelers are down to only five lineman and it hurt.

Carson Palmer and co. get the ball back and do what they do, throw HUGE interceptions. Lawrence Timmons picks this pass off and was it impressive. Not so much impressive because it was a diving interception or anything, but because he was matched up on T.O. 1-on-1 with no safety help. LT undercuts the route and gets the pick. Unreal.

After the pick, Hines, touchdown.



Suck it.

As the half comes to an end Cincinnati has a shot to cut into the lead some more. A 51-yard try by the Bengals goes horribly wide left and the Steelers are set up with about 44 seconds to go and two timeouts. They move the ball downfield a bit and Skippy hits a 53-yard field goal. Money.

The best part about the first half didn’t even really happen on the field. As the Bengals were going into the half the fans let them know how they felt. Booed off the field at home. Awesome.



The Steelers and Bengals traded some drives that resulted in nothing in the second half and it looked as if the Steelers were going to cruise to an easy win. Yea right, easy win. What are those? A scoreless third quarter isn’t good for an offense, but when you are up 20-7 then things aren’t really that bad when you can get 15 minutes away from a win.

The third quarter was a defensive show from the linebackers. Evidently the Bengals didn’t hear about these two guys we call James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Both recorded sacked and weren’t even so much as touched. They wouldn’t have been caught in a game of it tag. Jesus.

The Steelers open up the fourth win a trick. Randle El reverse pass. Mike Wallace ftw.



It wasn’t the greatest pass by El but Wallace went up and brought down the jump ball. It’s called being tough.

This is where it gets interesting. Really interesting. Make you want to throw up on your computer screen interesting.

With about 13 minutes to go Bryant McFadden gets victimized. T.O. catches a 27 yard touchdown pass. For all the grief I gave Carson Palmer that was one hell of a throw. Drops a dime to T.O. in the back corner of the end zone and made it kinda close.

This is when all hell broke loose.

The Steelers get the ball back and move it a little, then something really weird happens. Ben drops back to pass and throw up a duck. He wasn’t hit, he wasn’t really rushed. He had a pretty good look at Heath Miller and the ball just came out of his hand wrong. Basically goes end over end and the Bengal pick it.

When it rains it pours. Palmer goes back to pass and it is incomplete, but then there is a penalty. Casey Hampton gets called for diving at Palmers legs. Problem is that Hampton was pushed into Palmers legs after being held. I forgot that 300+ pound players can stop in the middle of being pushed in the back to stop from hitting a player.

Next play Palmer goes to T.O. down the sidelines and Ike Taylor had perfect coverage on T.O. Mr. Owens then throws a shit fit on the field and the back judge, 30 yards away throws the flag on Taylor. So the official that was three feet away from them didn’t have a good view but a back judge 30 yards away does. I honestly hope nobody ever talks about the Steelers getting calls to win. The Bengals were set up at the one yard line and scored two plays later. The Bengals earned none of those yards on two horse shit penalties. Whatever.

The next Steelers drive was all Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall carried the ball on all seven plays of the drive and gained 43 yards and set the Steelers up for a pretty makeable field goal to put the game away with only four minutes to go. Reed hooks the 46 yarder. Unreal year for Reed.

The Bengals have a chance. Move the ball down the field and with about 40 seconds left the Bengals were on the Pittsburgh 12 yard line with a third and five. Incomplete pass. Fourth and five. Does this remind you of all of that game last year in Cincinnati. The Bengals converted on this kinda play then won the game. James Harrison happened this year. Jordan Shipley went over the middle, caught the ball and was smacked by Ike Taylor and James Harrison. Incomplete. Great feeling.



Thoughts

The Steelers are now 6-0 under Mike Tomlin on Monday Night Football. The Steelers are pretty good at playing football in prime time.
Lawrence Timmons is the most underrated defensive player in the NFL right now. He just does it all. His play covering Terrell Owens 1-on-1 and getting the pick is just downright sickening. What an athlete. Dude needs to go to the Pro Bowl. Any time you can even be considered the best linebacker on a team with LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison then you are doing something right.

No idea what is up with Jeff Reed. Here is someone who goes and makes a huge 53 yarder right before the half and then misses a 46 yarder pretty badly when it could end the game. Before the season he wanted a big time contract and I thought he should get it. I mean can you remember the last reliable kicker we had like Reed? Sure his season has been pretty shitty (as evident by his league worst kicking %) but his body of work gives him more chances for me.

Rashard Mendenhall really had a nice game. On that drive in the fourth quarter that eventually led to the Jeff Reed missed field goal it was all Mendy, all the time. He gained 99 yards on 22 carries for a pretty nice 4.5 average. I must have to agree with some other peoples sentiment that I have no idea why Ike Redman and MeMo are on the field on some second and third down plays. Rashard has proved he is a three down back and he is good at it. The drawback of that is you risk him getting hurt. If Mendy gets hurt then this is gonna turn into shit really quick. Redman and MeMo are our other two options. Jesus. Whatever. Mendy needs to be on the field as much as possible. Hands down.

Mike Wallace is really, really fast. He tortured the Cincinnati DB’s all night and it wasn’t even close. With cushion he was getting separation down field. Ben has a big arm and he was even under throwing Wallace, once on what could be a TD pass. Wallace is still learning how to play receiver and when he gets a little more polished on the underneath stuff he is going to be a top flight receiver.

The offensive line is getting beat up. Bad. Pouncey and Kemo went down during the game and Max Starks is probably going to go on IR with a disk issue in his neck. This is not good. Jon Scott looked really bad last night and there just isn’t much left on this roster to sustain such injuries. Luckily Pouncey came back and Kemo may be back next week which is good, but losing Starks is huge. He has been a steady starter and when you think about it anyone out on the wire isn’t going to be to his level. If they were that person would be on a team right now. It will be interesting to see what the Steelers do here, hopefully they can get this done without Max.

Ike Taylor played a pretty great game. James Harrison was there for the final break up pass and will most likely get all the credit but Ike was right there too to get some hands on that ball. He was a pretty big force in the game and he didn’t have too many plays where he was beat. Good game by Ike and overall he has had a great season in my view. I will say it again, resign this man.

On the Cincinnati side I have a few thoughts. I know I give T.O. a lot of shit but dude came to play last night. He is a Hall of Fame WR and last night he showed why. He caught 10 balls for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He is one of the only guys that was actually showing like he knew what he was doing last night. I hate the Bengals but I can appreciate someone that goes balls out and cares. T.O went after it and even thought he talks about me, me, me, he comes to play.

Ochojoko talk about how this was a Super Bowl team before the season and about how he could coexist and keep all the off the field jargon away from his game. He can’t do that. Last night showed what Jokeo was. One catch for 15 yards. The one catch wasn’t the big deal, I mean he never really plays well against the Steelers but the way he acted after some passes did. Carson overthrew him one time and he freaked out on the field at Carson Palmer. It was so bad that Marvin Lewis actually pulled Jokeo off the field and sat him. Just unreal.

The Steelers don’t have much time to think about this as they have the short week to get their shit together and get ready for another huge game. Luckily they are done with this three game road swing and they get to come home to the friendly confines of Pittsburgh, PA to play one of their most hated rivals. Bring it New England.



Here We Go.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Exclusive Bengals Pregame Footage

As you know I can come through here and there and get some EXCLUSIVE stuff. I have something that most people don't get to see, sometimes ever.

I just got a hit from a friend at the game who works for the Steelers and got this footage of the Bengals warming up for the game tonight. Pretty good stuff here.



The Bengals are clearly ready to go. I am more worried now.

Here We Go.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Penguins Game Day 15 - @ Phoenix Coyotes

Phoenix Coyotes

9:00 p.m., Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ

For the record that is an actual picture of the parking lot during a Coyotes game. No lie.

I could talk about a whole bunch of stuff as to what is wrong with the team but I have no idea.

The power play finally cashed in last night. Whatev.

The Coyotes got run out of the building by the Stars last night. The Penguins got beat by the Stars a few nights ago. Dallas probably thinks they are winning the Stanley Cup now. Jokes.

Is this even worth it?

Best part is the late showing will let me get home from my trip in time to watch the game.


The Penguins probables:
Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis

Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Mark Letestu - Maxime Talbot
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Mike Comrie

Defense
Deryk Engelland - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Alex Goligoski - Zbynek Michalek

Goaltender
Brent Johnson (maybe)


The Phoenix probable line up:

Forward
Ray Whitney - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata
Scottie Upshall - Eric Belanger - Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt - Vernon Fiddler - Lee Stempniak
Wojtek Wolski - Lauri Korpikoski - Paul Bissonnette
Defense
Ed Jovanovski - Sami Lepisto
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Adrian Aucoin - David Schlemko

Goaltender
Ilya Bryzgalov

Stats:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Save Empty Netters

#saveemptynetters

Last night while I was laying in bed and trying to fall asleep I was on my phone looking at Twitter. It is something I do every night before I go to bed just to see what is going on because some good conversations happen pretty late at night. You might call me a loser, but it is what it is.

I happen to see that Seth over at Empty Netters is talking about selling t-shirts to keep the blog alive. That perks my nature interest to wonder what the hell is going on. Well I stayed up and found out that Seth was going to have a meeting with the PPG brass and the outlook was not good for Empty Netters.

I know you might know all this, but for that one person who doesn't this might be helpful. I didn't even know what to think.

All day people have been bat shit crazy sticking up for Seth. I would say I am shocked about how much people care for "just a blog" but I would be lying. Seth does more than a blog and Pittsburgh bloggers are more than just chumps who don't care about one another. We respect a good blog, check that, great blog, and don't want to see it washed away, for any reason.

I started blogging about a year and a half ago and a lot of it was inspired by the work Seth did. To say that it is a top five hockey blog is giving him no justice to the work he does. If you seriously sat down and wanted to learn 10 new things about the NHL a night every day for a year you could just by reading his blog every day. It is just an unthinkable amount of information and he does an amazing job balancing the satire with the serious stuff.

Over the years he has kept coming with new and fresh ideas and given us game day live blogs for almost every single game. Live blogs aren't good enough for Seth though because he interacts with the fans and his readers like nobody else. If someone has an idea for him and its a legit idea he runs with it. Just an unreal blogger.

Not only is Seth a great blogger but is an amazing person. Just changing things on the blog is one thing but on Twitter he is always willing to chat up things with people and banter back and forth when there is a car crash and Marc Andre Fleury needs to get called out for it.

I don't know what will become of Empty Netters, but the PPG would be foolish to lose Seth as a part of their staff. Who is going to pick up his hockey coverage? Smizik? Laughable. I thought he retired a year ago. I rarely go to the PPG online. I go for stuff from DK and Seth and a few things here and there but if they let EN go they I will probably never visit the site during hockey season. No lie.

This stuff goes way beyond Penguins hockey coverage. Every day Seth puts together a story that covers the ENTIRE NHL. Who else does that? I know PD does stuff like that, but working for a single hockey team and still getting information about the league out there? Unreal. Yinzer's never get to see Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, etc and Seth brings us that information every single day. Every. Single. Day.

I could go on and on but bloggers like Seth are really hard to find. It would be a shame to see the PPG shut him down for whatever reason. If you don't believe what I say just go and read some of the posts that were put up today:

WHYGAVS

PSAMP

Hockey Independent

The Pensblog

PensHead

There are so many more. Hopefully the sheer volume of support can help keep the blog alive. The fans need it, the Penguins need it, the NHL needs it.

Lets Go Pens.

Penguins Game Day 14 - @ Anaheim Ducks


Anaheim Mighty Ducks



10:00 p.m., Honda Center, Anaheim, CA


Game two of the well know West Coast swing that the Penguins take every years. Usually you don't expect much out of this and they are usually some good games because, frankly, we don't get to see these teams very often.

It is fun to watch great players like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf play. We don't talk about them to too much extent here because they are on the West Coast and if you are on NHL Center Ice the games are late (like tonight) so you might not get to see a lot.

Of course we could watch the highlights on SportsCenter if they were too busy jerking off LeBron and the Yankee's. Whatev.

The Penguins were just flat out mugged when they were in Dallas so they will look to bounce back tonight against a down Anaheim team. Hiller is pretty solid in net, but nobody has really been doing a lot of anything there this season. They are last in the Pacific and 14 in the Western Conference so this could be a nice bounce back game for the Penguins.

Duper is back as is most of the lineup so lets hope they start gellin.



MAF will be in net tonight looking to shake off the season long slump he has been in. Brent Johnson got a taste of what MAF has been seeing all season (by that I refer to the 2-on-1's and turnovers) and got shelled himself. You know the good part about all this? It is November.

The power play is mud. 0-for its last-25 or 27 or 50 or something like that. I mean they have to score eventaully right? RIGHT?

In case you forgot what it looked like to score a power play goal:




The Penguins probables:

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Mark Letestu - Max Talbot
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard
Mike Comrie


Defense
Deryk Engelland - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Alex Goligoski - Zbynek Michalek

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury




The probables for the Ducks:

Forwards
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Jason Blake - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Kyle Palmieri - Todd Marchant - Nick Bonino
Josh Green - Aaron Voros - George Parros - Ryan Carter - Troy Bodie
Defnese
Tony Lydman - Lubomir Visnovsky
Paul Mara - Cam Fowler
Andreas Lilja - Sheldon Brookbank

Goaltender
Jonas Hiller

The Stats:


Steelers Game Day 8 - @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Steelers gear up for their second straight prime time game when they travel to Heinz Field West, err, Paul Brown Stadium for some Monday night action. I actually went to Paul Brown for a game a few years ago when the Bengals were supposed to be good (when does that actually happen two years in a row though?) and I must say I thought I was at a funeral service before the game. That coupled with the stadium being empty with about nine minutes remaining in the game with the Bengals only down one score really gave me a clue as to what the fans are like. I am sure there are good ones, they just don't know what success is all about, kinda like their team.

Lets get to it.

Last Week:

New Orleans 20, Pittsburgh 10
Passing: Roethlisberger: 17/28, 195 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 15 car, 71 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Wallace: 3 rec, 43 yards, 0 TD


Miami 22, Cincinnati 14
Passing: Palmer: 17/38, 156 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Benson: 20 car, 69 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Owens: 5 rec, 65 yards, 2 TD



Offense (rank in NFL)

Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 297.6 yards/game (27th)
Cincinnati: 355.4 yards/game (11th)

Passing
Pittsburgh: 180.3 yards/game (29th)
Cincinnati: 254.4 yards/game (6th)

Rushing
Pittsburgh: 117.3 yards/game (11th)
Cincinnati: 101.0 yards/game (20th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 21.0 points/game (16th)
Cincinnati: 20.9 points/game (18th)


Defense

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 302.0 yards/game (5th)
Cincinnati: 342.0 yards/game (19th)

Rush
Pittsburgh: 58.9 yards/game (1st)
Cincinnati: 120.7 yards/game (23rd)

Pass
Pittsburgh: 243.1 yards/game (25th)
Cincinnati: 221.3 yards/game (20th)

Points
Pittsburgh: 14.6 points/game (1st)
Cincinnati: 22.3 points/game (24th)




Some players did not make it for the team photo. They all also weren't cast for the TV show. Just not enough time.

Hit the jump

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Penguins Game Day 13 - @ Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars

8:30 p.m., American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX


Does it seem like the Penguins play like three games in four night then take about a week and a half off. No idea ho these guys do it, but I guess this kinda play is a double edged sword. At one end it is very easy to sustain some injuries on streaks like this, but then again the Pengins need to get some bodies healthy right now.

Lucky for the Penguins they are starting to get those guys back. Zbynek Michalek is back after missing some time and will be paired up with Brooks Orpik on the first d-pairing tonight. When these two have some time to gel and start to click this is going to be a scary good pairing.

Looks like it will be a game time decision on GoGo and Disco even talked about going with seven d-men for the game tonight, which will almost ceratinly single out Eric Godard. Hard to put Godard in the lineup when you can throw Derek Engelland out there. Engelland is just a brawler out there and makes some of the best in the game go down. If he doesn't get in a fight then he probably isn't on the ice. Real talk.

Geno is also back in the lineup and after playing on the wing for much of the season it looks as if he will be moving back to his natural center position to play some hockey tonight.

Duper will not be in the lineup tonight because his wife gave birth today to their fourth child, Lola Dupuis, earlier today. Word is Dupuis only made it into the hospital eight minutes before she gave birth. Unreal. Talk about being clutch.

Clutch is what the Penguins need some of. I guess clutch might not be the best work, but they desperatly need some secondary scoring.  Besides Bing and Geno there is little goal production going on in the top six. Not a good thing.

Three games in four nights on the west coast. Buckle up.


The Penguins projected lines:

Forward
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Mike Comrie
Matt Cooke - Evgeni Malkin - Evgeni Malkin
Maxime Talbot- Mark Letestu - Arron Asham
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Eric Godard
Defense
Zbynek Michalek - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Alex Gologoski/Ben Lovejoy - Deryk Engelland

Goaltender
Brent Johnson

Dallas' projected lines:

Forwards
James Neal - Brad Richards - Loui Eriksson
Brenden Morrow - Mike Ribeiro - Jamie Benn
Steve Ott - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish
Brian Sutherby - Toby Petersen - Brandon Segal
Defense
Nicklas Grossman - Stephane Robidas
Mark Fistric - Trevor Daley
Karlis Skrastins - Matt Niskanen

Goaltender
Marty Turko
Kari Lehtonen
Is Marty Turko even still alive?
Stats:






Monday, November 1, 2010

Nightmare In The NOLA. Steelers Lose.

Tough, tough game. A game where the Steelers could have won, but a few mistakes really made the difference tonight. The Saints wanted it bad. They needed this win more than the Steelers did. They got it in front of a rockin stadium. Meh. Here is the recap.

The first quarter was actually pretty lame. Nothing really doing on any of the drives and both teams are really feeling each other out. I guess this really can’t be surprising because they play each other once in a blue moon. Literally.

The Steelers punted in their three possessions in the first half and so did the Saints in their three. Not surprisingly the Steelers did a good job of running the football, and it wasn’t just Rashard Mendenhall. Memo and Redman had first down carries in the first half and each picked up 10+ yards on each. The Steelers never got in Saints territory in the quarter and the Saints got into the Steelers land one time. The one time they did get into Steelers territory it was pretty crazy.

The Saints started with the ball around the 50 and picked up a first down. The Saints ran a third down play to Julius Jones and it was an incomplete screen pass. Troy came down and made a tackles even know the pass was tipped and Jones did not like it. Actually got up in Troy’s face, and more surprising Troy chirped back. Jones got out of hand and actually pushed Ryan Clark after. 15 yard penalty, out of field goal range. Stupid.

The Steelers got in business at the end of the quarter though. After a big defensive stop on a three and out on the Saints third, and final, possession of the quarter they punted to Manny Sanders and he made one move and was gone. Took the ball into Saint territory where the Steelers set up shop.

The Steelers wasted no time getting the ball moving. Rashard ran the ball on the first two carries of the drive for a first down and then caught a nicely executed screen pass to set up another first down. Then with great protection on a third and three Ben steps up in the pocket and hit El at the goal line for a first down. It was initially ruled a touchdown but it was challenged and ruled he didn’t make it in. Not sure how that is since the Steelers bring their own officials to the game. Ben could have easily ran for the first down but hit El, great play by Ben. With the ball at the one yard line they got nothing. Stuffed on three straight run plays and had to settle for a Jeff Reed extra point for a 3-0 early lead.

I must make the point that on second and goal Mendy took a run off the right side and broke the plane ever so slightly but the refs missed it. I guess we should have got that call since we have the refs in our back pocket right?

The rest of the second half was a lot of field position playing by both teams. Near the end of the half the Saints had the football around the two minute warning and the Saints were deep in their own territory and Drew Brees went for a big play, but Ike Taylor was there.

Swaggin.

Set the Steelers up in the Saints end of the field to get points before the half. Ben went for Hines in the end zone on second down and it was incomplete. A flag was thrown. Darren Sharper kind of launched himself at Hines so I thought he might get called for the new, enforced, head-to-head shot. I thought it might be a little weak, but I would take it. Hines actually got called for offensive PI. The replay showed that Hines had his hand on the DB, but gave about as much push as your one year old kid does. What a weak f-in call. You want to talk about the refs being in favor of the Steelers you can shove it up your ass.

Jeff Reed has to try and hit a 51-yard field goal but can’t get it. Shit.



The Saints take it down the field and set up for a short field goal. They actually have a fourth down play and try to set up in a fake. Mike Tomlin will have none of that. He calls a timeout and resets things and the Saints come to their senses and kick a field goal. 3-3.

If you told me, before the game, that we would go into the half tied at three then I would take it every day of the week. Getting into a shootout with the Saints in not a great idea but if you can keep the score close and tied at halftime that is a win for me.



The Saints opened up the second half with a pretty nice return to set them up with the ball around midfield. Not really what the Steelers needed. The Saints had no trouble moving the ball down the field, until the Steelers didn’t want them to move the ball anymore. The Saints got a PI call in the end zone on Troy (they defiantly have the refs in their pocket) got the ball first and goal at the one. A first pass play was incomplete to a lineman (how bad do you kick yourself if you are that lineman) and the Saints unsuccessfully ran the ball twice and settled for a field goal

Why are you trying to run the ball on second AND third down on this Steelers defense? Do you want to just kick a field goal? You just shoulda brought the team on the field for second down and just saved yourself the trouble. Terrible play calling there.

The Steelers offense was getting nothing going on the Saints defense. Some of it was just not hooking up with receivers, some of it was the loudness of the dome and some of it was just bad play calling. You couldn’t really pinpoint one thing, but you just knew that it was going to come through and give the Steelers a chance to win.

After another mud quarter the fourth quarter was pretty off the hook.

The Saints started the third quarter with a touchdown drive that made the score 13-3 on a 10 play drive that ended with a Marques Colston 16-yard touchdown grab. It was actually a really nice play and


With a little over 12 minutes to go in the game it was pretty much now or never for the Steelers offense. Even though the Saints can’t run the football they can create sort of a run game out of quick passes and still make long drives without running the football.

The Black and Gold got the ball on their own 32 and it took four plays to cash in. Ben got some time and made some great throws to get down the field and then on the fourth play of the drive Rashard took it to the hizzy and it was game on.



If you were watching the game you knew that if the defense could just make a big play or just get a punt then this could get very interesting. Hell I thought we were defiantly going to win there. What happen? The Saints move the ball into Steelers territory then Dick LeBeau strikes. DL dials up a corner blitz and Bryant McFadden puts his helmet right on the football and it is loose and the Steelers recover. That is what big defenses do. The Steelers are set up.

The Steelers are moving the ball again. Really look like they found the rhythm they needed. On the third play of the drive Ben finds Heath Miller down the middle and he takes it to the Saints 30 yard line, but, shit.

Heath Miller is probably the most reliable Steeler in terms of holding onto the football but this is that one rare time of the season that he fumbles. Huge play.

The Saints get the ball move it down the field and score. I am not even going to talk about how. James Harrison gets tacked with a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty AFTER getting held. I mean what is new. I guess it is a good thing we have the refs in our back pocket, right?




Lance Moore TD. Troy just missed knocking the ball out but big ups to Moore for hanging on there. I fumble that ball in a second. I guess that is why he plays in the NFL.



Game.




Thoughts:

-In the grand scheme of things this game doesn’t hurt as bad as some other losses can hurt the Steelers this year. Sure it sucks losing and I hate it more than anything, but lets be realistic, you are going to lose a game or two during the season. If your few losses are to NFC teams in a hostile environment then it isn’t that bad. The loss will not factor into any tie breakers and lets face it that was a Super Bowl champion from last year and they are playing to stay in the hunt in the NFC, that was no slouch team, especially at home.

-That was playoff football. No question about it. The teams never play but they were geeked up for the game. Tensions were high and the stakes were big and it was a great football game to watch. The Steelers defense came to play. If you can hold the Saints offense to three first half points and 20 for the game you have a good chance of winning. A break here and there and the game is the Steelers. Not a total loss.

-The loss can be broken down into a couple of plays. The Heath Miller fumble, the missed field goal and the goal line stand by the Saints defense. The Steelers have to put the ball into the end zone when they have first and goal from the one. They ran the ball three times and got stuffed all three times. If there was one thing I wanted to see it was Ben take a quick snap right up the middle. He gets in, no question. Hopefully BA learns from that.

-Interesting how the Steelers used their punt returners for the game. Any time the Steelers were going to be inside their own 20 they had Randle El out there to return punts. I understand this, I don’t really want Manny back there, yet, in those situations. Most of those are going to be fair catch punts and Randle El does a nice job of catching the football and knowing what to do. The time that the Steelers were going to get favorable field position Manny was out there and boy did he not disappoint. He returned a punt for 38 yards. I hope he gets more comfortable in that role because he is a difference maker. He did fumble once on a kickoff return so that needs to be cleaned up, but this kid is special.

- On the topic of special teams, Dan Sepulveda is a difference maker. In a first half that was largely a field position Sepulveda gave the Steelers defense a fighting chance. He punted the ball four times for a 48 yard average and pinned the Saints inside the 20 twice. What a player. If the Steelers won that game Sepulveda was going to be a huge reason why. Without a doubt.

- Ike Taylor needs to be resigned. I know people bash him a lot in Pittsburgh but he has been good all season. Another interception last night and he has been great in coverage all year. Ike is not going to have the stats and the lack of catching the football keeps him out of the Pro Bowl but he is the real deal. He is going to have his breakdowns like any DB but they are pretty few and far between. What is also great about Ike Taylor is that he might be the best tackling corner in the league. A few times last night he was in the open field, one on one with ball carriers and he made a good form tackle each time.

Resign him.

- Ziggy Hood played a pretty nice game in place of Aaron Smith. He is not Aaron Smith but it was nice to see him make a few plays. Hopefully he can build on this and continue good play.

- If Lawrence Timmons isn’t a Pro Bowl player then I don’t know who is. This guy has been easily the best player on this defense all season. 12 tackles last night, two tackles for losses and a QB hit. He is just a monster no matter where he plays on the field.

- Troy was not good last night. He has not been good the past couple of weeks. Just doesn’t seem like himself. I am sure that will change and over the course of a season players are going to have cold streaks so we will see, but he wasn’t very good last night. I am not worried, just worth mentioning.

- There are very few plays were James Harrison doesn’t get held. I am not talking about a hand slipping over his shoulder holding, I am talking about straight arm bar around the throat holding. It is sickening and although we should be used to seeing that it is very frustrating when he gets held like that and then James Harrison gets called for a penalty. Give me a break.

- From all accounts that was the loudest place that most everyone on the Steelers squad have played on. Listening to Tunch and Wolfe today on the radio and they said it was even louder during timeouts than it was during the game. Unreal. That dome can keep noise in. One thing I was impressed with was that the Steelers had zero false start penalties. Very nice. They were still confused because they were going with silent signs and such but this was probably the first real time they needed it. Reminds me of 2005 in the RCA dome. Disaster the first time, but they learned and it helped them in the future. True, they will not play in the dome in New Orleans again this year, but they might have to play somewhere as loud and they will be prepared. Just sayin.


Well big game coming up. Another prime timer against the Bungles. Get your minds right.