Friday, April 29, 2011

Pirates Game Day 26 Live Blog - @ Colorado Rockies

2011 Steelers Draft. First Round. Cameron Heyward.

This is coming a little late but with my early flight schedule I didn't have a lot of time to throw something up about the Steelers draft. As you already know the Steelers selected Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward with their first round pick, number 31 overall. First, just let me say this is a great pick. Before I get into why here was my overall thoughts on the first round:

I was drive during the opening of the draft so I got to listen to the draft on ESPN Radio which was actually pretty nice. I mean it would have been cool to see it but it was actually pretty good coverage on the radio with me getting to hear the picks one-by-one as they were getting announced.

The draft couldn't have started better for the Steelers, there was a HUGE run on QB's and skill players, something that the Steelers were not really going to go for. A lot of people wanted Mike Pouncey to be in play for the Steelers and a report form NFL Network the day before made it seem like it was a pretty good possibility. To be honest I really didn't think he was oging to fall far enough for the Steelers but it was still nice to think the Steelers were willing to do that.

The key was him getting by the Dolphins at pick 15. He did not. When I heard the pick of the radio I wasn't really shocked. He should be a good fit there if the Dolphins use him in the right situation. In a weird way it kind of felt like he was already a Steeler because of his brother, but that is just how it goes. Best of luck to Mike Pouncey in Miami.

After Pouncey was off the board I wanted Nebraska corner Prince Amukamara. Bad. Early in the day I had commented that it looked as if he was falling on the boards, and he did. A few weeks ago this was a top-10 pick kinda player. As he fell down the board I was stoked that the Steelers might trade up for him. I felt if he got to 20 we could work a deal with Tampa Bay to get him. He went at 19 to the New York Giants. I heard the pick and I let out a string of words that would not be safe for any work enviorment. Whatever.

Now, lets get to the Steelers real pick. On a podcast I had with Ian from The Steelers N'at we both thought there were going to be some options there for the Steelers to draft. One we really liked was Cameron Hayward. There were a few offensive lineman and corners still on the board, but Heyward is a very talented kid and I am thrilled.

A lot of people, when the pick happens, said that this wasn't a pick that the Steelers needed. Sure, it doesn't seem like it NOW, but eight years down the road when teams still can't run against the Steelers with Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward you will look back at this draft and think "Holy Hell, what a pick." If you think he is going to be a bust then please go look at first round draft picks by Kevin Colbert since he has been with the Steelers then come talk to me. Dude just doesn't miss. Also Hood is the only guy under 30 on the d-line, needed to get younger there and this is a perfect spot. They would have had to reach for a corner so this was great.

A little more about Hayward:

-He is 6'4 and 290 pounds, a big boy man

-He is the son of former Pitt standout Craig "Iron Head" Heyward

-In his four years at Ohio State he had 162 tackles, 15 sacks and one INT

-Video of Cam:





-He is on Twitter: @CamHeyward

Really happy to have Heyward on the team and look forward to seeing him in camp and seeing if he can get on the field this year.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pirates Game Day 25 Live Blog - vs. San Francisco Giants

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pirates Game Day 24 Live Blog - vs. San Fransico Giants

The Pirates Make The Colbert Report. Hilarious.

While I was eating dinner tonight I thought I would watch the episode of the Colbert Report that aired last night. Needless to say I was SHOCKED to find that the Pittsburgh Pirates made the show.

It was pretty hilarious. It is about two minutes into the video, but watch the entire thing. The first two minutes are hilarious.

Enjoy:


Penguins Playoff Game Day 7 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

8:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Game 7. The two works that any sports fan loves and hates both at the same time. If your team isn't playing (Chicago/Vancouver last night) then it is a great display of hockey and provide the ultimate entertainment. If you team is in it then you are just on pins and needles for an entire day waiting for the game and thinking about every single option that might happen.

Coming into the series a lot of people were making predictions and picking either the Pens or the Lightning. A common theme in both of them is that the picks were in seven games. This is not a novel idea that the Penguins and Lightning are in a game seven situation. The Lightning are a very offensively talented team and it has shown. The Penguins are a very tough defensive team and it has shown. A lot might seem different since the Penguins were up 3-1 in the series before the Bolts stormed back, but whatever. Could be a lot worse, the Penguins could be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Oh wait...

Tonight is the first "must win" for the Penguins. It is the third straight for the Lightning. Sure the Penguins would have liked to have won games five and six but they were not must win games. Now it is. The Penguins had a few mental lapses in the past two games and it has cost them dearly. It is all on the line now. You know what has to be done.

Game 7's can go in a number of different ways. It could be like 2009 in Washington, happy, thrilling, joyous. It could be like Montreal in 2010, frustrating, angry, depressing. It could be anywhere in between. One thing is for sure is that someone will move on to the second round and one team will be golfing.

The only fitting end for this game 7 is overtime. You don't want to think about it, but you know it is. Even though I wasn't rooting for anyone in that Chicago/Vancouver game I was going through a ton of emotions so I can't even imagine what it would be like if that were the Penguins. Whatever. I am ready, you are ready, we all are ready for what is about to go down. Get ready to hold on to your jock. The season comes down to one game. Biggest in CONSOL's short history. It will be rockin.

Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0


Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1


Game 3 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2


Game 4 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2 (2 OT)


Game 5 - Tampa Bay 8, Pittsburgh 2


Game 6 - Tampa Bay 4, Pittsburgh 2



The Penguins probables

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner/Eric Tangradi
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St Louis
Steve Downie - Dominic Moore - Sean Bergenheim
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund
Marc Andre Bergeron

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pirates Game Day 23 Live Blog - vs. San Francisco Giants

TRBB Podcast 11 - Steelers Draft Preview with @thesteelersnat

It is about that time of the year. With everything that has gone on with the NFL, the lockout and the struggle with thinking their might not be a season next year we have something that is set in stone that football fans can look forward to: the NFL Draft. Joining me on my latest installment is Ian of The Steelers N'at

Ian does a great job over at his blog with draft preparations and draft previews for the entire league. If you need to know something about the draft or who the Steelers might draft then you take a look at his block and you will have everything you need to know.

Over the course of the podcast we discussed pretty much everything about the draft in Steelers style. Discussion points include possible first round picks, will the Steelers move up, first round sleepers, later round picks and everything in between.

I would like to thank Ian for taking the time to come on and talk with me. Make sure you check him out on twitter and on his blog.

You can listen to the podcast below and you can hear all the podcast's on iTunes. Just go to the podcast section and type in "Three Rivers Burgh Blog" and you will get hooked up.

Enjoy and leave your thoughts in the comments.



TRBB Podcast 11 - Steelers Draft Preview   

Monday, April 25, 2011

Layin Eggs. Lightning 4, Penguins 2

Not too much to say about this game so I will keep it short and sweet. The Penguins will now be forced into a game seven at CONSOL on Wednesday. Whatever. Here are some short things that I took from the game tonight:

-The Penguins power play is just dreadful. The Lightning gave the Penguins every chance to get back into the game and the Penguins gave it right back. To call the Penguins power play an embarrassment would be giving it some credit. Interesting to see if Disco throws out some different combinations out there. No idea.

-The Penguins just didn't look into it for some stretches of the game and it cost them. Tampa Bay looked motivated and desperate to win this hockey game and they played like it. Sure there is a game seven on Wednesday so this game wasn't an end all-be all, but anything can happen in game seven's so this isn't a good spot to be in.

-There need to be some lineup changes on Wednesday. I would assume that Eric Tangradi being in the lineup is a given. I would also like to see Mike Comrie in there to see what he can stir up. Who do you sit? Kovy and Conner. Kovy looked like he was out there tonight just to pick up a paycheck and Conner might have had the most frustrating game you can have as an athlete. Tangradi played a nice game in game four and Comrie was playing well before the injury and on the ice he would be one of the top offensive threats. Derek Engellend might get a chance to play as Matt Niskanen hasn't been great but we will see. Expect some changes.

-Call me crazy but I think that the CONSOL will be a nice home ice advantage on Wednesday. I know that place hasn't been great for the Penguins so far this playoff run, but this is game seven and the atmosphere there has been great all playoffs. The Penguins have to be desperate for this and I think (hope) they will be and the home ice will definatly help. Having last change will be huge.

-For the first time in a "bounce back" game MAF was not sharp. Granted, his defense did him no favors but he needs to be better than that. The goal by Downie was soft and the Malone breakaway was probably something he had a better chance at. The defense left him out to dry but he needed to be bigger than that. That being said I think he will be just find on Wednesday.

-On a positive note Craig Adams is a monster on the penalty kill. He blocks shots like his life is on the line and it is refreshing to see that. These are the types of things the guys need to do and they did a pretty nice job on the PK tonight, with Adams being the best of the best in that aspect.

-Jordan Staal had a very nice game. Scored a huge goal and was very physical and made the Lightning know he was here. If he plays like that on Wednesday I feel good about the Pens chances.

-Kris Letang was bad again tonight. Seems to be like he is really great or really terrible in this series. Tonight was a pretty bad game. He seems like he has no confidence and he is questioning every play he is making and getting frustrated early. Hopefully he can clear his head for game seven.

This sucks.

That is all I have. Leave it in the comments.

This is what playoff hockey is all about. Bring it.

Pirates Game Day 22 Live Blog - vs. Washington Nationals

Penguins Playoff Game Day 6 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

7:00 p.m., St. Pete Times Forum

The Penguins try for the second time to wrap up the series in Tampa Bay when they face the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. Tampa came out and put the smackdown on Pittsburgh in game five and left no doubt that they wanted to complete the comeback and move on to the second around. Simone Gange, Steve Stamkos and Pavel Kubina each registered two goals as the Penguins spotted the visitors a touchdown.

Wasn't pretty, but in the grand scheme of things it is only one game. We can get all worked up and talk about Tampa Bay coming back, but the last time the Lightning won (a 5-1 victory in CONSOL in game two) the Penguins bounced back and took two straight games in Tampa Bay to take complete control of the series. If the Penguins win this game tonight then the loss in game five is a moot point and nobody will really discuss it again. It is what it is.

For the Penguins to win tonight they will have to be much more physical in front of the nets and really clamp down with the top two pairs. Stamkos kind of "woke up" and if he is going to perform to that level then it is going to be even tougher on a defense that already tries to lock down Mary St. Louis.

Keeping the Lightning off the power play didn't really work too well in game five. The Lightning got seven power play chances and cashed in on four of them. That isn't going to cut it. If the Lightning even get five power play chances I don't have a real good feeling about the Penguins in this one. Everyone wants to talk about how bad the Penguins penalty kill unit has been in this series, and while that is true you need to give credit where credit is due. Tampa Bay has a dynamic power play and when given the chance they will beat you.

If there is one thing I really don't want to see is the series come back to Pittsburgh for a game seven. Anything can happen in a game seven and with the way the playoffs have went this year I would be very uncomfortable with having to play that game in Pittsburgh. Coming out and getting the first goal and establishing that they are not going to be rolled over like they were in Pittsburgh.

It has to be comforting to know that the Penguins are a good bounce back team. Marc Andre Fleury is one of the best in the league following a rough start and they are going to need him, and the defense, to play big. This game is going to need to be low scoring because lets face it, the Penguins don't blow up the bulbs on the score board. We should know early if MAF is on his game and if he is that will bode very well for this Penguins team.

Tampa Bay will be fired up and desperate again so it will be interesting to see what they bring early on and what happens if they fall behind early.

Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0


Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1


Game 3 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2


Game 4 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2 (2 OT)


Game 5 - Tampa Bay 8, Pittsburgh 2



The Penguins probables

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Ryan Malone - Steven Stamkos - Martin St Louis
Steve Downie - Dominic Moore - Sean Bergenheim
Adam Hall - Nate Thompson

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund
Marc Andre Bergeron

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pirates Game Day 21 Live Blog - vs. Washington Nationals

Pirates Lineup:

1. Andrew McCutchen CF
2. Jose Tabata LF
3. Lyle Overbay 1B
4. Neil Walker 2B
5. Garrett Jones RF
6. Pedro Alvarez 3B
7. Chris Snyder C
8. Ronny Cedeno SS
9. Kevin Correia P

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pirates Game Day 20 - @ Washington Nationals

1. Andrew McCutchen CF
2. Jose Tabata LF
3. Lyle Overbay 1B
4. Neil Walker 2B
5. Garrett Jones RF
6. Ryan Doumit C
7. Pedro Alvarez 3B
8. Ronny Cedeno SS
9. Jeff Karstens P

Whatever. Lightning 8, Penguins 2

Well if you went to the CONSOL Energy Center today in order to see the Penguins shake the hands of the Tampa Bay Lighting then you were sorely disappointed. The Penguins game out like gang busters for the first 13 or 14 minutes and then they just fell off the proverbial edge. Tampa Bay took charge and silenced the rocking crowd in Pittsburgh. The Lighting got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on a couple of quick goals and then cruised scoring three more times early in the second period. Fleury was chased after giving up four goals on 14 shots and it wasn’t much better for anyone else.

Quick Thoughts:

-Although MAF gave up four goals on 14 shots he was not even close to being the one to blame. The Penguins defense was out to lunch almost the entire game and really laid a egg. They were atrocious and really didn’t look like they were even awake for the game today. They were soft and not physical, letting Lightning players sit on the doorstep and make plays at will. Paul Martin was unusually bad and Kris Letang wasn’t much better. The good thing about this is that playing like this for our defense is more of an aberration than it is normality. I really wouldn’t be shocked if they came out in game six and played like this did in the Penguins wins.


-The Penguins power play really cost them in this game. Usually you talk about a power play being the difference in a close game, but when you need to come back and you are down two or three goals and you get a couple of power play chances and you don’t do anything with them. Sure, the Penguins were down 3-0 but they had a power play chance right after the third Lightning goal and if they put one in the back of the net there then this whole game is changed and they have a chance. They couldn’t do that and really floundered with the man advantage. Nothing new to people that actually watch the Penguins a lot, and it isn’t likely to chance, but whatever.

-Tampa Bay finally showed up to play and they seemed to take out a lot of pent up offensive frustration on the Penguins. Steve Stamkos finally showed up and scored two goals and so did Simone Gagne. This is something that Penguin fans do not want to see. If Stamkos decides to show up for every game then the Penguins might have a really tough time. A lot of this had to do with the horrid defense that the Penguins played today, but hopefully this isn’t a continuing trend.

-The noon game really sucked. Not because it cost the Penguins the game or it threw them off, but because this just was a shitty time to have a playoff hockey game. I know CBC wants to show the Canadian teams and all but this needs to be fixed.

-To be honest I think people are getting way too out of shape about this game. Does it suck that we can’t close out a series at home? Yea. Does it suck we have to go back to Tampa Bay? Yea. Is the series over? No. Being on Twitter today you would honestly have thought the Penguins were getting swept to day at the CONSOL Energy Center and that they never scored a goal in the series. People get way too high or way too low on one game of a seven game series. The series is set at 3-2 in the Pens favor, not the other way around. The Penguins have two shots to win one game, I will take that. If I told you before the series that the Pens would be up 3-2 before the series started going into game six everyone would take that 100 times over. This Penguins team has been through a lot and they are still in a pretty nice position. Please stop acting like one game is the definition of a series; you really make yourself look like an idiotic fan.

-MAF wasn’t strong, but like I said before this is a good bounce back team and an even better bounce back goaltender. I have a good feeling that the Penguins will bring their “A” game in Tampa and have a really good shot of winning the series. To be honest the Penguins aren’t that good at home in clinching games of the playoffs. Haven’t won a single one under Disco. The Penguins, under Dan Bylsma are 5-1 on the road in game clinchers. Take it for what it’s worth.

-The Penguins showed some life in the third period. After spotting the Lightning seven goals the Penguins put a few in and actually carried play for a good portion of the period. The crowd (that was left) actually got into it and it was really nice to see them show some life and maybe give Tampa Bay something to think about for game six. This isn’t like the Penguins didn’t have chances, they hit posts and had pucks nearly go into the net, it just didn’t happen. So is the life in the playoffs. Focus up for Monday.

Whatever. Bring on game six.

Penguins Playoff Game Day 5 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

12:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

The Penguins enter the game looking to do something they have yet to do with Dan Bylsma behind the bench. Clinch a playoff series at home. While the Penguins have had success in the post season that most teams would dream of they just can't seem to finish a team off when they have the chance to on home ice. I am sure we will hear about that 100 times tomorrow and about how home teams are marginal at best in this year's playoffs, but I doubt the Penguins are going to let that phase them.

The Penguins got a really fast start in game four and held on and won on a thrilling, and much needed, goal by James Neal in overtime. It is the stuff you dream of doing when you are a kid and it couldn't have come in a better situation for Neal.

This is going to be kind of a "no shit" kind of statement but the Penguins could benefit greatly by closing out this series tomorrow rather than try to win the series on Monday back in Tampa Bay. Sure there is the obvious reasons as to letting Tampa back into the series and failing to close it out at home and so on and so on, but I think a little bigger thing to keep your eye on is the major minutes that the top four defensive pairing have put up. Big Z is averaging like 28 minutes a game and each member of the top four pair have over 100 minutes in the first four game. Those are huge minutes. The shorter the series, the better. They are going to need their legs if they want to work deep into the playoffs and no better way than to close it out for as much rest as possible.

The Pens will have to once again try to find a way to slow down Martin St. Louis. Dude has been unreal good and at a lot of times he has carried this team on his back to keep them in games. In game four the whole Tampa Bay team was mailing it in before St. Louis scored a huge goal and got the team, and the crowd, into it. To nobody's surprise the Niskanen/Lovejoy pair were on the ice for both of the Tampa Bay goals so that will be key being at home. Disco is going to be able to throw one of those top two pairs against St. Louis line and maybe ease some of that burdon.

I know I have said it the past two games, but the Penguins are going to have to match the energy level early against Tampa Bay. The Lightning have no choice but to go all out and do everything it takes to win this game and send it back to Tampa. The Pens have done a nice job on that in the last two games and I don't really expect anything different today. The Penguins players have said that they got a little overconfident after the game one win and I anticipate them brining all they have to try and end this tomorrow.

If there is one thing we have learned in the past couple days of the NHL playoffs it is that no lead is safe. I think we have seen more 3+ goal leads blown in the last two days than we have seen the entire season. Just unreal. If either team gets out to a lead they can't sit on it. It might be a little eaiser for Tampa to do since they like to throw the trap out there, but if you are the Penguins then you need to get a lead of like seven goals before you actually start feeling good. No idea.

Not much else to say about this game. Hopefully we can see that handshake line and sit back and wait to see who we play in the second round. It isn't going to be easy, but it has to be done.

Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0


Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1


Game 3 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2


Game 4 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2 (2 OT)



The Penguins probables

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Vincent Lecavalier - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Steven Stamkos - Martin St Louis
Adam Hall - Dominic Moore - Dana Tyrell
Ryan Malone - Teddy Purcell - Sean Bergenheim

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

Friday, April 22, 2011

History Is Made: James Neal; Stanley Cup Final Sweepstakes

I might be a little late to the party on this but thanks to VERSUS for sending this over yesterday. You had to know something like this was coming at some point. No idea how you don't watch this 1,000 times tonight.




VERSUS is also throwing together a Stanley Cup Finals Sweepstakes over at Facebook. You can win some cool stuff that includes Cup Finals tickets and a lot of other stuff from them. Go over to their Facebook page and check it out and you can follow them on Twitter here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pirates Game Day 19 Live Blog - @ Florida Marlins

Pirates Lineup:

1. Andrew McCutchen cf,
2. Jose Tabata lf,
3. Lyle Overbay 1b,
4. Neil Walker 2b,
5. Garrett Jones rf,
6. Pedro Alvarez 3b,
7. Chris Snyder c,
8. Josh Rodriguez ss,
9. James McDonald p

Penguins Locker Room Celebration Video + Mike Lange Call

Thanks to the Penguins officials site they gave us a really cool video after last night's thrilling 3-2 double overtime thriller against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The camera catches all the coaches and players coming off the ice as they go into the locker room. Really cool stuff. Disco is all business for like 10 steps and then gives an epic fist pump. Neal looks like he just got his favorite gift for Christmas.




Also thanks to @JeffBruder for finding this on Twitter, it is Mike Lange's goal call from the winner:

The Real Deal. Penguins 3, Lightning 2 (2 OT)



What an unreal time to be a Penguins fan. What an unreal time to be James Neal. If playoff hockey is what it is all about then playoff overtime hockey is all that and a bag of chips. The edge of your seat, never knowing when it going to end, heart in your throat every shot type of emotions can go on for five overtimes or for two minutes and everything in between. I don’t know about you but this team just has what it takes to win. They won because they are a deep team and didn’t have to double shift their top line for almost an entire period. You work all season for times like this and cashing this in puts the team a win away from moving on to the second round. Hockey is a beautiful thing.

How bad did James Neal need something like this. Dude is more snake bitten than any hockey player I have ever seen. He gets good looks and just couldn’t get them to fall. Tonight it fell. I talked about it the past couple of recaps but I was going to start worrying about James Neal when he wasn’t getting chances. This wasn’t so much of a chance as it was luck. He got the puck with a horrible angle and just threw it at the net. It went it. Ballgame. Maybe this opens the flood gates for James Neal, maybe it doesn’t, who cares, game winner.



Might be the best goal call of the year. Listen to what Errey says right before the goal. Also check out all the Pens fans. Unreal

The Penguins now hold a 3-1 series lead on the Lightning and they took both games in Tampa Bay where the Lightning never held a lead on the Penguins. Pretty impressive. This was going to be a tooth and nail type of series and for the most part it has been. I do not think that the Lightning will be able to reel off three straight wins over the Penguins with two of those coming in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been the better team in this series for three of the four games, and I don’t mean that because they won three of the games. They have been downright dominant in 5-on-5 action and I don’t see them going into the tank for three straight games.

General thoughts on the game:

-For the most the Penguins did a pretty nice job of staying disciplined through the entire game. The Lightning only got four power play opportunities and they didn’t manage any great scoring chances on a handful of shots. Coming in they had only scored one goal in a 5-on-5 situation so it was a nice job by the penalty kill unit and a good job of staying out of the box. If the Penguins can stay out of the box the rest of the series it is going to bode well for the team with how good the power play unit is for Tampa Bay.

-I have no idea what a penalty is anymore. Early in the game both teams got banged with goaltenders interference calls that were pretty soft. Later in the game MAF gets literally ran over and laid on and there is no call. On the Tampa Bay second goal MAF gets run over again before the puck goes into the net. No call. Look these non-calls had nothing to do with the outcome of the game but how are players supposed to know what a penalty is? Calling a soft call early and not calling a legit one late? Get it together.

-Arron Asham is just a gutty player. He scored another goal for the Penguins and almost knocked in a second one. He just is one of those guys that steps up his game when he gets to the playoffs. He’s a grinder and knows his role and comes to play every single night. Coupled with Rupp and Adams and you are looking at the Penguins best line in the playoffs. Those three guys have done a hell of a job to push the issue. One of the big reasons the Penguins were able to win tonight was the ability of Disco to play four lines the entire game. You could tell Tampa was gassed and the Penguins still had some jump.

-Thank God the Penguins don’t play until Saturday because that defensive unit has to be gassed. Brooks Orpik (40 min), Kris Letang (38 min), Zbynek Michalek (36 min) all played unreal minutes and they might not wake up all day tomorrow, or be able to walk. What a gutty performance by the Penguins defense tonight. Ben Lovejoy and Matt Niskanen were having tough nights and barely saw ice time and the big four made up for it in a big way.

-Although MAF didn’t see a ton of shots he was still very solid in net and held the fort so the boys could grind down the Lighting up top. He only faced 31 shots and stopped 29 of them, not a whole lot of work during the first two period, but he was able to make the big saves when he needed to. Usually MAF is best when he is seeing a lot of rubber, but that wasn’t the case tonight. He was solid and I didn’t see him out of position too many times. If you hold teams to two goals or less you are going to win most games. He has done that all series (sans game 2) and you have to be feeling good. Throw that defense in front of him and you are pretty strong.

-The power play scored a goal. Had to type it out just to make sure I still could. TK was basically left wide open like he was invisible and walked it into the high slot and sniped it past Roloson.

-Gotta give props when they are due. Roloson played a pretty nice hockey game. He ended up making 50 (!) saves on the night and again made big saves to keep the Lightning in it when they were only down by one goal. He has been pretty strong all series but he gave up a few bad, bad, goals tonight. He will probably not sleep for three weeks after the Asham goal and might not sleep for the rest of his life after the Neal goal. Still strong performance. Too bad him team waited 30 minutes to start getting interested in the game.

-As much as I hate looking at him and all his bitching and moaning Martin St. Louis put the team on his back, again, to give them a chance to win. No idea how he scored the first Tampa Bay goal but he was all business. He woke up the crowd and gave them some much needed energy.

-Is Steve Stamkos still alive?

-Like I said I don’t see this series being won by Tampa Bay, but it will be interesting to see how they come out on Saturday afternoon. They know it is going to be an uphill battle but they will come to play and the Penguins will have to deal with it. It will also be interesting to see how the Penguins come out. Luckily there are two days off for them to get their legs under them but that was a pretty emotional win. I think Disco knows what is going on and will hopefully start James Neal. CONSOL is ready to give that kid a standing o.

-Close out opportunity on Saturday. Bring shovels to bury the Lightning.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pirates Game Day 18 Live Blog - @ Florida Marlins

Pirates Lineup:

1. Jose Tabata CF
2. Matt Diaz LF
3. Lyle Overbay 1B
4. Neil Walker 2B
5. Garrett Jones RF
6. Pedro Alvarez 3B
7. Chris Snyder C
8. Ronny Cedeno SS
9. Chuck Morton P

Penguins Playoff Game Day 4 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

7:00 p.m., St. Pete Times Forum

As I stated before in game day before game three that would be the game to see who took control for the first real time in the series. The Penguins game out and absolutely stunned every Lightning fan. Tampa chipped away on two power play goals, but it was the Penguins who showed the true character. TK got the decider about 40 seconds later to beat Roloson.

If the Penguins go back to Pittsburgh up 3-1 in the series then it will be very hard for Tampa Bay to make any kind of comeback. This is almost a must win for the Lightning tonight. If they can't win in front of their home crowd with almost everything on the line they they won't be able to take two games in Pittsburgh, along with one at home.

Lets not get it twisted with my last statement, the Lighting are going to come out. Much like in game two the Penguins are going to have to come out and weather the storm. The Penguins did not do that the last time and got behind three goals before they even knew what was going on. It will be much of the same for the Lightning tonight and the Penguins must be technically sound to shut down the Lightning. I really think the Penguins will learn from game two when they looked out to lunch for must of the first period but they need to force Tampa Bay into playing their game.

In three games I think Roloson has done a pretty nice job for Tampa Bay and kept them into the game when the Penguins were really getting some nice chances. You have to think that Roloson is just going to fall into himself as this series growns longers and I wouldn't be surprised to see one of those games either tonight or Saturday when it comes back to Pittsburgh. No reason for me thinking that, but just a hunch. Maybe that is what this Penguins offense needs though, I mean hell look at what happened to Chicago, Los Angles and San Jose yesterday, their offenses just went off.

Anyone have any idea when Tampa Bay scored a goal that was a power play goal? Me either. Needless to say the Pens need to play smart and not take any stupid penalties and limit the power play that has scored almost at will against the Penguins PK unit.

Should be an interesting game and hopefully the Penguins can play some more 5-on-5 hockey than they have been and take control of the series and potentially close it out on home ice.


Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0


Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1


Game 3 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 2



The Penguins probables (these are a pure guess, Pens were pretty tight lipped about who was going to paly for Kunitz, I assume it is Tangradi and I would assume he would fit right in Kunitz' spot):

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Eric Tangradi - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St Louis
Adam Hall - Dominic Moore - Dana Tyrell
Ryan Malone - Teddy Purcell - Sean Bergenheim

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule

While there might be an NFL Lockout right now that doesn't mean there won't be a 2011 season. Tonight all the NFL schedules were released on a two hour show on the NFL network. Here is what the 2011 Steelers schedule looks like:

Sunday, September 11 (1:00 p.m.): Steelers at Ravens
Sunday, September 18 (1:00 p.m.): Seahawks at Steelers
Sunday, September 25 (8:20 p.m.): Steelers at Colts
Sunday, October 2 (1:00 p.m.): Steelers at Texans
Sunday, October 9 (1:00 p.m.): Titans at Steelers
Sunday, October 16 (1:00 p.m.): Jaguars at Steelers
Sunday, October 23 (4:05 p.m.): Steelers at Cardinals
Sunday, October 30 (4:15 p.m.): Patriots at Steelers
Sunday, November 6 (8:20 p.m.): Ravens at Steelers
Sunday, NOvember 13 (1:00 p.m.): Steelers at Bengals
Sunday, November 20 (Week 11): BYE WEEK
Sunday, November 27 (8:20 p.m.): Steelers at Chiefs
Sunday, December 4 (1:00 p.m.): Bengals at Steelers
Thursday, December 8 (8:20 p.m.): Browns at Steelers
Monday, December 19 (8:30 p.m.): Steelers at 49ers
Saturday, December 24 (1:00 p.m.): Rams at Steelers
Sunday, January 1 (1:00 p.m.): Steelers at Browns

Observations

-The first thing you notice that right off the bat the Steelers are going to have to be ready. They start the season off in fine fashion when they travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens. I am not going to lie I was kind of shocked to see that this was going to be a week one game, but whatever. If you can't get up for the start of the season AND a Ravens game then you don't even have a pulse. Bring it.

-We all knew this was going to happen, but the Steelers have to make a few west coast trips this year. Week seven they are going to Arizona and week 15 they are going to travel to San Franciso for a Monday night game. The Steelers typically have problems going west, but who knows. Both games are spaced out so this shouldn't be too big of a deal.

-Most people might look at the start of the season and think it is brutal from playing the Ravens and the Colts in the first three weeks but as I was looking this over the worst part of the schedule is going to be the last four or five weeks of the season. Traditionally the teams the Steelers play then aren't tough teams (Browns, Rams, 49ers, Bengals) but look at what they have to do. Week 13 they play at home against the Bengals, a division game. They then get a short week to play the Browns on Thursday night football, another divisional game. They then get an extended week before their Monday night game with the 49ers before getting another short week playing the Rams. Luckily three of those four games are at home, but in the NFL getting into a routine is huge and to be so scattered with days off between games it will be very interesting to see how the Steelers handle that.

-This year the Steelers get a week 11 bye week. Last year it was week five. I like where this lies in the Steelers schedule. The later the bye week the better. It is pretty well known that the Steelers are an older team and having a bye week as early as last year really doesn't do a lot for them. The bye is past the halfway point of the season and at a time where the older guys are going to need a full week off in preparation for the stretch run. I like this a lot.

-The Steelers play on prime time five times this season. They play on Sunday night football three times (week three at the Colts, week nine hosting the Ravens, week 12 at the Chiefs) on Thursday night football one time (hosting the Browns week 14) and Monday night football one time (traveling to San Fransico week 15).

-There are some really big games on the schedule outside of anything on NBC or ESPN. The Steelers play the Patriots at Heinz during week eight. This is huge game after what they did to the Steelers last season and you know that Heinz Field is already ready for these games. Another underrated game for the Steelers is when they travel to Kansas City after the bye week. I think Arrowhead is one of the toughest places in the NFL to play and the Steelers have to go there for Sunday night football. It is going to be an electric atmosphere.

-What do yinz think abotu the schedule? Let me know in the comments!

Pirates Game Day 17 Live Blog - @ Florida Marlins

Monday, April 18, 2011

Regaining Control. Penguins 3, Lightning 2

Another huge game from the Penguins in a big time game. All season everyone has talked about what this Penguins team couldn’t do without the likes of Crosby and Malkin, but the Penguins just keep finding ways to pick up huge wins when they need them the most. The most recent was a 3-2 win over the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum. It was a great game to watch if you love hockey. The Penguins jumped out early, Tampa came back and tied it up, the Penguins quickly took the lead back and led to a frantic third period where you were on the edge of your seat, especially if you were a Tampa or Pittsburgh fan. Unreal feelings. Game four on Wednesday night. Buckle up.

This was a great all around game from the Penguins. They played as a team and it worked out. They got scoring from Aaron Asham, Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy and another solid goaltending performance from Marc Andre Fleury to go along with pretty stellar defensive play to get the Penguins two wins away from the second round of the playoffs.

Kris Letang was a monster in tonight’s game. He, in my opinion, was the player of the game for the Penguins. Since Crosby and Malkin have been out it seems as if he has been tentative and hasn’t really played like he did in the first half of the season. In game one Letang was great and tonight it seems as if he found his stride again after a horrific game two. Letang was jumping up in the rush and getting shots on net and still playing a strong defensive game. If Kris Letang plays like that the rest of the series it is going to be hard for the Lighting to get past the Penguins.

To me it was pretty simple, if the Penguins keep the Lightning off the power play they are going to have a great chance of winning this series. Tampa went 2-of-4 on the power play and really got nothing going 5-on-5. In fact the Lightning have only scored two goals this series (in three games) during even strength play. The Penguins were still sort of undisciplined tonight and even though there were a few questionable calls the Penguins need to be smarter. Tampa thrives off their power play and give them enough chances and they will beat you.

In my game day I talked about how Marc Andre Fleury was a great bounce back goalie. He might have a bad game here and there but you are almost certain to get a solid game from him the next time around. He did that tonight. 25 saves for the Flower and when the Penguins were struggling in the second period he was there to bail them out and hold the lead. He doesn’t have to be a goaltender that pitches a shutout every night to give his team a chance to win. When you get a one goal lead in the third period you want your goaltenders to show up and MAF does that. He made some big saves late and didn’t give up a softie. Nice game from the Flower.

James Neal is just snake bit. There was a power play chance for him that he got robbed by Roloson. I see on twitter that people are really taking aim at James Neal and bashing him a little bit because he isn’t scoring goals. Listen, James Neal plays a very nice all around game and has been all over the ice these three games. He is missing the net some and just can’t tickle the twine. I am not worried about him. I will be worried about him, and Jordan Staal for that matter, when they stop getting chances. There is a different between not putting the chances away and not getting chances at all. Neal and Staal are getting chances and working hard. They will fall.

Guys who seem to never get much love are guys like Chris Conner, Mike Rupp and Craig Adams. Both had really nice games tonight. When you play like the Penguins have to without your top guns you need to have guys that are willing to do anything to win. Guys like this are the kind of players you want to have. Conner was unreal with his puck control tonight, especially in the corner and he laid his body on the line as time was ticking down to block a shot from the point out of the zone. Craig Adams is another grinder who has won some big face offs and Mike Rupp is just Mike Rupp. Great job by these guys tonight to get puck control and set the tone.

I know some people are asking for Derek Engelland to get in and play but if he is it’s not for Ben Lovejoy. Lovejoy played a really nice game tonight despite almost getting decapitated in the first period (I will talk about that later). He blocked a team-high four shots and was pretty physical and played within himself tonight. That is exactly what we need a third pairing defender to do, play within himself.

Zbynek Michalek might be the signing of the century for Ray Shero. Dude just does everything for this team. Played almost 28 minutes tonight and any time that there was an odd man rush and he was on the ice there was no doubt that he was going to make a play. Z puts his body on the line and just seems to have the general hockey knowledge to know what to do in any situation. He played a very underrated game tonight and probably saved the Penguins at least a goal. What a player.

With all the talk about head shots and keeping players safe there were two dirty plays in the first period alone of this game, one for each team. Steve Downie, who is boarder line at best, threw a “check” on Ben Lovejoy in the first period that led directly to the Penguins first goal my Talbo. Lovejoy takes the puck behind the Penguins net and as he turns to let it go just get demolished by Steve Downie. Here is the video (via HFBoards with a thanks to Adam http://twitter.com/AGretz for the find)



This should be a suspendable offense, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him go through without anything. The thing that makes me think this will warrant a suspension is that Downie clearly left his feet which is supposed to be a HUGE no-no. I say that and then think of Kronwall and OV and I can see how there will be nothing done about this.

A few minutes later Chris Kunitz made it a lot more difficult to think about what the NHL is going to do. Simone Gange was in the slot and Kunitz sort of came up behind him and got his elbow up into the head of Gange and earned a two-minute elbowing penalty.



It was also a dirty hit, no denying that, and I am really surprised that he didn’t get at least a major penalty. Couple that with the Downie hit and the NHL will have to do double the work (gasp) to make everyone pissed. The way I see it is that both are probably worthy of a suspension if you want to crack down. Kunitz does not have a history with this so that might help him but the fact that Downie was dumb makes it tricky. I see this being a situation that either both players get a suspension or both players get nothing. I think not suspending Raffi Torres last night makes this murky. From a purely Penguins fan perspective this was incredibly dumb for Kunitz. If he is suspended this is a HUGE hit for the Penguins. We shall see. As Adam said on twitter:



So true.

So overall a really solid game for the team. This is more what I expected from this series and it was a real treat to watch. The Penguins regained home ice advantage and if they can snag a game four win on Wednesday they will be sitting pretty. It is going to hurt really bad if Kunitz is suspended, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Comrie or Tangradi better be ready if Kunitz in fact can’t go. Like I said before, buck up, going to be a wild rest of the week.

Pirates Game Day 16 Live Blog - @ Cincinnati Reds

Penguins Playoff Game Day 3 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 @ Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

7:30 p.m., St. Pete Times Forum

If you ask me what is the most important game of a seven game series I would most likely come back and tell you that game three is the most important. Sure it is nice in game one to get a win and start on top and game two is important to either create space or tie it up, but game three is the real first time that we can have a team pull away.

Coming out of game three it will either be 3-0 and look to be pretty much over in this day and age (sans Boston/Philly) or it can be 2-1. Granted we know which way this one is going to go but this is a big game in another regard. The Lightning stole home ice away from the Penguins with their big win in game two. The Penguins can claim back home ice with a win tonight.

It wasn't a secret that the Penguins struggle on the power play. They have struggled to massive proportions. 0-for-13 on the power play and they maybe had two of them that actually resembled "good" power plays. Lets not get shocked that it sucks. It is what it is. Have to overcome it and maybe get a goal here soon. If nothing else they need to have good stretches of play on the man advantage and create some quality chances. Even if they don't scored you have to make Tampa work hard. We have seen in two games that Tampa gets pretty tired as the game wears on so that needs to be taken advantage of.

Outside of the power play the Pens have struggled to score goals. Rather than try to get pretty goals they just need to crash the net and get dirty. This team has a lot of grinders and that is what they need to do. Get in the corner, lay the body on someone and get in Roloson's face. Knock him down and make the defense feel uncomfortable. Work hard and they will get rewarded.

Word was that in yesterdays practice (or the day before, I can't keep track anymore) that the Pens were putting in a few new wrinkles to break the trap that the Lightning like to run because if they get the first goal or two then they can really suck the life out of the game.

That being said it will be important for the Penguins to come out and start strong. They were really sloppy in the first period of game two and it cost them, big time. MAF wasn't sharp but he is someone that has made a reputation for bouncing back so I don't anticipate him being lit up for four goals like he was on Friday.


Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0


Game 2 - Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1



The Penguins probables:

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St Louis
Adam Hall - Dominic Moore - Dana Tyrell
Ryan Malone - Teddy Purcell - Sean Bergenheim

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Idea. Pirates 7, Reds 6

What a win for the Pirates. You name it and it happened in the game today. Seemed as if neither team wanted to win but someone had to. Another road win for the battling Buccos and they push their record to 7-8 on the season.

The Bucs started the game off right by doing something that they have only done the three times in their storied history. Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata went back-to-back to lead it off. Can’t really think of a better way to start off the game. Well, now that I think about it back-to-back triples would probably be more fun for me to watch, but two runs on two swings are OK by me. The Pirates tacked on two more runs with a bases loaded walk by Chris Snyder and a sacrifice fly by Ronny Cedeno fo the early four spot.

It was pretty important for the Pirates to get on the board early. As Fox Sports Ohio pointed out after the first inning that Edinson Volquez has something like a 29.00 ERA in the first inning of games this season and then it dips to something like 1.20 for the rest of the innings. Unreal. Luckily the Pirates were able to exploit that and did a really nice job of getting the two extra runs after the McCutchen and Tabata back-to-back shots.

Jeff Karstens gave us a typical Karstens start and went 4.1 innings and gave up five runs, all earned while striking out six. If you were in the live chat during the game when he trotted out for the fifth inning I had made the comment that they (the Pirates) should have the pen ready because when it goes bad for Jeff it goes bad pretty fast. They didn’t and it did. Not to take anything away from Jeff because he is pretty good at his role as spot starter and long relief guy, but this is exactly why he isn’t in the rotation. Just can’t seem to get over the proverbial hump. He got yanked and was charged with giving up three runs in the fifth and giving the Reds the lead back. Could have been a lot worse but I think he should have been hooked quicker. Getting four innings was good and you had to know you were going to use the pen a good bit with a spot starter.

The Reds did a nice job of chipping away early. They scored single runs in the second and fourth before the offensive explosion in the fifth inning. That said looking at the line it could have been a lot worse. The Reds strung together a lot of hits and had a few homeruns, luckily all of them were solo shots. No idea where I am going with this. Whatev.

The Pirates offense was pretty good today despite Volquez being solid after the first inning. The Pirates put up nine hits, which is a decent amount and also speaks to the quality of the hits as they scored seven runs. They also collected eight walks. Last year a big problem of this team was earning free passes. They are a team with a bunch of players that are “free swingers” so it is refreshing to see that they are drawing some free passes this season. The Pirates also stole three bases in four attempts and would have been four-for-four but Cutch slid past second base and was tagged out. Good to see them being aggressive on the bases.

Gotta give a lot of props to Joel Hanrahan too. He earned a five out save, which is something that is not too common to see from a team’s closer. Usually these guys come in after a warm up, face the batters and then they are done. Closers are not used to going to the mound, going into the dugout then going back out there. Harahan wasn’t totally solid, but he was still good. There were some reports that he hit 102 on a pitch, but I think that pitch was well out of the zone, but who cares, 102 is gas. He was regularly at 97-98 and in a closer situation it is tough for a hitter to adjust to that after facing 90-92. Nice job by Hanny.

Pedro Alvarez is struggling something serious right now. His head is not right and much of the time today he is guessing at what pitch is coming and is very off balance when he is swinging at strikes. Almost would be easy to tell Pedro to just see the ball and hit the ball and not think too much. I’d like to see him hit the ball hard the other way and take some good cuts on good pitches but he is just not there yet. He is a notorious slow starter so this isn’t shocking for me, but still sucks. I know he is working hard and he doesn’t like to struggle like this so he will come out of it. I am sure when he does it will be in a big way.

I sometimes want to know what goes through Ronny Cedeno’s head when he does stupid things (almost every game) but then I realize I do not want to do that. If you thought that there were players that had money on MLB games then Ronny had money on this one. Let me set the stage for you. Top of the eighth inning, game tied and GFJ starts the inning off with a single. Chris Snyder square to bunt (which I don’t like) and fouls it off. The Reds then pitch out on the second pitch and GFJ is running, luckily for the Pirates the Red fail hard and don’t even get a throw off. Awesome, runner on second, no outs and here you bunt. Chris Snyder puts down a terrible bunt and Reds pitchers Logan Ondrusek can’t field it. Perfect. First and third, no outs, Ronny is up, who leads the NL in sacrifice flies. Ronny bunts, on his own and Jones get thrown out at the plate.

I know you are probably asking how I know that it wasn’t a squeeze play? Well on a squeeze play the runner on third base breaks for home as soon as the pitcher is at the “point of no return” (meaning that the pitch is almost out of his hand and he can’t much control where the pitch is so he can’t throw a pitch out) Jones would have ran and would have easily scored with the bunt Cedeno put down. Jones actually waited until the ball was on the grass before running and therefore we know this was not a squeeze play. I actually wouldn’t have minded a squeeze play there to put some pressure on the defense. I really don’t even mind Ronny bunting there to put pressure on the defense and apply some pressure, but in my scenario GJF would have just stayed put.

If it wasn’t getting bad enough for Ronny he made it even worse that same inning. After the bunt scenario it was Chris Snyder on second and Ronny on first with Cutch up with two outs. Cutch does a great job of getting a two strike hit to left and Snyder, although not the most fleet of foot, was going to score easy. What does Ronny do? He runs from first to third and nearly gets thrown out. It was a very close play and if he is out that go-ahead (and eventual winning) run doesn’t score because Snyder was still a few feet from the plate (and he wasn’t pulling up, he is kinda slow). That was a horrible bonehead play that could have cost the Pirates. You can’t do stuff like that and expect to win. He should have been replaced right then and there.

There were so many other things in this game that were dumb, by both teams. This was a sloppy game and at times it felt like neither team wanted to win. Last year the Pirates lose this game in the 8th and 9th inning. Nice to see them winning this ball game. I will take them any way I can get it. The Pirates now have six road wins after having only 17 total last year. Unreal. Look for the series win tomorrow with nothing less than a tie.

Pirates Game Day 15 Live Blog - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Pirates Lineup:

1. Andrew McCutchen 8
2. Jose Tabata 7
3.Lyle Overbay 3
4. Neil Walker 4
5. Pedro Alvarez 5
6. Garrett Jones 9
7. Chris Snyder 2
8. Ronny Cedeno 6
9. Jeff Karstens 1

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pirates Game Day 14 Live Blog - vs. Cincinnati Reds

Pirates Lineup:

1. Andrew McCutchen 8
2. Jose Tabata 7
3. Lyle Overbay 3
4. Neil Walker 4
5. Pedro Alvarez 5
6. Garrett Jones 9
7. Ryan Doumit2
8. Ronny Cedeno 6
9. James McDonald 1


Friday, April 15, 2011

Back To Square One. Lightning 5, Penguins 1

Well if the first game of the series was how the Penguins were going to win the series against the Lightning then the second game of the series is how they will fail. The Penguins got dominated in the first period of play and spotted the Lightning three goals and could not come back in a 5-1 defeat.

If you only watched the first period of play you would probably wonder how the Penguins even made the playoffs. There were bad chips and uninspired play and anything the Lightning wanted to do they got to do. Very few Penguins chances and it looked really bad. Letang played maybe his worst period of the season and everyone was literally stunned. I had no idea what was going on and sure, I was pissed, but I knew coming in the Lightning were going to come out strong and try to take control of the game and get even, and they did.

Outside of the first period I truly think that the Penguins were the better team. Down 3-0 they cracked the scoreboard with a Craig Adams goal about nine minutes into the second period and you could just feel the life and energy come back into the team. The Lightning started the second period messing around and it bit them as Roloson misplayed a puck and Adams capitalized.

To say that the Penguins dominated the second period would be a true understatement. They had unlimited chances to get even more into the game but they just couldn't capitalize. James Neal whiffed on a beautiful chance in front and Mark Letestu rang a pipe, both with the score 3-1, and that seemed about it. The Lightning got an insurance goal with like 14 seconds left in the period after Orpik took a penalty, which basically sealed the deal for the game. The third was trap city and even though the Penguins got some shots they never really threatened Roloson.

Overall I am upset because this wasn't the Penguins game. The bad start really set the tone for the Lightning tonight and it was a pretty steep climb for the Penguins. I really didn't see the Pengiuns sweeping this series and I knew that a bad game was going to happen but it still doesn't make it sting any less.

Fleury was less than stellar tonight. He, along with much of the team, seemed pretty lethargic and any time you give up a three spot in the first period it is going to be tough to come back from. MAF is pretty good in bounce back games and I expect him to be in top form when he comes on the ice Monday night in Tampa Bay.

I don't really think I need to say this but the Penguins power play is just tough to watch anymore. None of their power plays tonight looked good and that might be the reason they lose a couple more games this season. 0-7 on the power play isn't going to cut it. When the Penguins cut it to 3-1 they had power play chances to cut the lead to one and they failed. It is spots like that when you need a power play to come thought. They didn't and it killed them tonight. One or two goals from the power play and the Penguins maybe win this game. I shouldn't be shocked that the power play was this bad after watching the Penguins this season but still somewhat frustrating.

All told the series is 1-1. Could be a lot worse for this team. If you ask me the Penguins played one bad period in two games. So one of six period the Penguins were noticeably out played. I will take that every day of the week. Does it bother me that the one bad period they had cost the team a win? Yes, it does. But if the Penguins go down and win two in Tampa Bay then people will not even remember this game was played. Even if the Penguins come back tied 2-2 in the series it would not be terrible. I think people get too caught up in one period and one game. It is a seven game series and there is a lot of hockey to be played. The Penguins will come back ready, we have seen that throughout the season. Disco will have them ready.

The Pens going to Tampa now, if you didn't hear. The Penguins were one of the best teams in the league with 24 road wins, the fourth most in the NHL. Disco will rally the troops and this team seems to play better when they have something to prove. Would not shock me for the Penguins to come out strong on Monday and play an inspired game. The world is not ending as some people on Twitter may want you to think.

Not a pretty game, but there is a lot more hockey to be played in this series. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Come back strong on Monday.

Pirates Game Day 13 Live Blog vs. Cincinnati Reds

Can't get much worse than last night.

The Pirates changed up their lineup a good bit for today. Here is what they are going to put on the field:

1. Andrew McCutchen 8
2. Jose Tabata 7
3. Lyle Overbay 3
4. Neil Walker 4
5. Pedro Alvarez 5
6. Garrett Jones 9
7. Chris Snyder 2
8. Ronny Cedeno 6
9. Charlie Morton 1

Penguins Playoff Game Day 2 - Conference Quarterfinals Game 2 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning

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

Another big game taking place at the CONSOL Energy Center as game two is almost upon us. The Penguins came out and really set the tone for the series in game one and put up a 3-0 shutout win behind the spectacular play of the defense and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury.

In the overall picture of the series this is just one game. It could be worth as much as 25% of the series or as little as 1/7th of the series, but this one will go a long way in telling us how long this series might go. If the Penguins can pull off a win here they will be in the drivers seat, up 2-0, and really putting a lot of pressure on Tampa Bay to hold their serve at home.

In the same respect I think the Penguins are really going to have to weather the storm a little bit in the first period tonight. I know it seems strange that a home team will have to weather the storm when they are up 1-0 in the series but I really think that the Lightning were sort of embarassed with how they played in the first game, especially Steve Stamkos. He was invisible after the hit by Brooks Orpik and only registered a single shot.

I have a feeling that the Lightning will come out with guns-a-blazing trying to get the early lead so they can trap the hell out of the Penguins and squeeze the life out of them.

A few keys to the game:

1) Penalty Kill - Tampa is going to get some more opportunities and keeping them off the board on the special teams will be huge
2) Weather the storm - Talked about this above.
3) Attack Roloson - He broke in game one. Go to the net and get a ton of pucks at him.
4) Don't sit back and expect MAF to pitch another shutout - Tampa will eventually score a goal. It is so important to get on the board early, and often, to make this a moot point.

This is going to be exciting and you have to think that the white clad fans at the CONSOL are going to be ready for this one.

Previous Series Games:

Game 1 - Pittsburgh 3, Tampa Bay 0



The Penguins probables:

Forwards
James Neal - Mark Letestu - Alexei Kovalev
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal- Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Max Talbot - Chris Conner
Mike Rupp - Craig Adams - Aaron Asham

Defense
Kris Letang - Brooks Orpik
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Goaltender
Marc Andre Fleury


For the Lightning:

Forwards
Simon Gagne - Steven Stamkos - Steve Downie
Nate Thompson - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St Louis
Adam Hall - Dominic Moore - Dana Tyrell
Ryan Malone - Teddy Purcell - Sean Bergenheim

Defense
Victor Hedman - Pavel Kubina
Matt Lundin - Eric Brewer
Brett Clark - Mattias Ohlund

Goaltender
Dwayne Roloson


The Playoff Stats:

TRBB New Feature: TiqIQ


I am excited to announce that as of this post you will now be able to purchase tickets to all major Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) straight from the same blog you come to in order to read and gain incite about the teams.

I am working with TiqIQ to give you the one stop shop for ticket purchasing. You might have seen these services on other blogs such as The Pensblog, Blitzburgh Blog and Raise the Jolly Roger (among others) and I am happy to say that I will join that list. The different about purchasing tickets at TRBB is that you will be able to purchase tickets for all three teams in one spot.

You will notice that there is a widget on the left side of the site as well as being able to order and purchase tickets via the link here and the link on the navigation bar at the top of the website.

I must say that I have used TiqIQ before and have had great results with it and have found they have the lowest prices as they pull results from a number of the best ticket distributors and give you the price (including fee's) so you don't have to bounce back and forth between a bunch of different websites trying to find the best deals.

Here are some of the other benefits from TiqIQ:

Features and Benefits (via TiqIQ website):
1. Aggregated Listings: They aggregate all major sellers in the market so you can find the best deal.

2. TiqZone Categorization: They break each venue up into TiqZones, which are groupings of sections that we’ve determined are comparable in value.

3. TiqIQ Statistics: They provide ticket-level buying intelligence through their IQ rating and TiqIQ Statistics.

4. E-Ticket Filter: Want tickets last minute? You can find all the available e-tickets so you can print your tickets from home or the office.

5. All-in Pricing Option: Before you complete your sale you'll be able to tell exactly how much your tickets will cost including all service and shipping fees.

One of the key features that TiqIQ gave me was the opportunity to have all three major sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) in one spot. On the widget to the left you can hit the drop down menu and pick which team you want to get tickets to and you can get started. Very cool.

I'd like to thank TiqIQ for giving me a chance to put this stuff up on the site and give all of my readers a place to go and purchase tickets so that they can get the best prices for the big games.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Down And Out. Brewers 4, Pirates 1

Well, to be honest I wasn't even going to touch a recap for this game. As a Pirates fan there is a lot we have all been through these past 18 years, and tonight was just another notch on that belt. It was very ugly and there really wasn't a lot to watch in this game. Maybe that is why less than 10k showed up at PNC Park, again.

Paul Maholm gave up two runs in the first inning and looked pretty bad doing it. I honestly thought it was going to be a double figure defeat to a team that I hate more than any other in baseball. To my surprise Maholm calmed down and gave a nice outing. He went seven complete and scattered four hits and struck out six. Too bad the Pirates only gave him four hits to work with and no runs.

The Brewers tacked on two more runs in the ninth inning and despite loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth it wasn't enough. The Pirates did score there first run since Sunday (for real) on a wild pitch. Too bad the Pirates were painted into a corner with only one bat on the bench left and the pitcher spot up after Josh Rodriguez was batting with two outs after JRod was filling in for Ronny.

Can't hit Jones for Rodriguez because then you have no shortstop and you have the pitcher coming up. Josh was obviously overpowered at the plate, but there is nothing you can do with it. He hasn't looked good all season, but this was a mismanagement of the bench from earlier in the game when Hurdle burned a lot of players in bad spots.

The Pirates looked lethargic and struck out 14(!) times on the night. They could not solve the puss chucker Randy Wolf and really looked disinterested all night.

I understand this team is going to be pretty streaky and they are going to have bad (and really bad) nights and in turn they will have some really good nights. This was a really bad night. Knowing they will eventually play better (can't play much worse offensively) but that doesn't make this game any easier or less frustrating.

Next up are the Reds. Hopefully Chuck Morton can get the Pirates back on track.

Pirates Game Day 12 Live Blog - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers still suck.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MAF City. Pens Win. Penguins 3, Tampa Bay 0

For the first half of the first period the Lightning really had the Pens on their toes. They had at least double the shots and were pushing the issue and getting some good scoring chances. The next two and a half periods were the Penguins saying "we are better than you" and dominating the game. The score ended up being 3-0, but if you watch the game it was much more than that. The Penguins took their game to the Lightning and made them play the Penguins style of game.

Also, has anyone seen Steven Stamkos? Did he show up in Pittsburgh? I didn't think so either.

I don't think I should have even said one more sentence before I mention Marc Andre Fleury. A year after getting yanked in game seven of second round against Montreal he made sure the same wasn't going to happen this year. He stopped all 32 shots that the Lightning threw on him with some massive saves in the first period to keep this team tied up and gave the offense a chance to figure it out. MAF made two epic saves, one on Lecavalier where he got his blocker on a shot from the door step and another on Malone where he should get 5-10 for the goal he saved. Malone tried to get into MAF's grill all night but it didn't matter. MAF was locked in and you could have probably played 6 more periods of hockey tonight and the Lightning still wouldn't have been able to solve MAF. Some have said that MAF might have to pick up a few shutouts and maybe win three of the games in this series for the Penguins to win this series. Well, there is one of them.

Fleury was great and so was the defense. Brooks Orpik made it known early that it wasn't going to be a cake walk for Mr. Stamkos as he leveled the young star on the first shift of the game. Stamkos' name was not called the rest of the game. The defense shut down the two big dogs of Tampa Bay to only three shots (Stamkos 1, St. Louis 1) and made the role players beat them. They could not. The foursome of Letang, Michalek, Orpik and Martin all played over 21 minutes tonight and they were good, which made the Tampa Bay offense not good. They were physical, aggressive and fast to the puck. They moved the puck out of the zone exceptionally well and was a big reason the Penguins didn't get buried by the 1-3-1 trap all night.

James Neal played his best game as a Penguin tonight. He only tallied an assist and three shots on goal but he was great of the fore check and was more physical than I have seen him in his short time with the Penguins. Before the game Potash got an interview with him and you could tell he was excited to be in that playoffs and he wanted to make an impact. He did just that. He laid out great hits in the offensive zone and made a beautiful pass to set up Alex Kovalev for the games first goal. Neal took a pass from Martin and had a lane to shoot but fed the puck cross ice to Kovy who tapped it into an empty net while he was being shielded by a player with no stick. Amazing pass. If Neal continues to play like this the offense gets that much better.

The Penguins did a great job of getting pucks at the net. In my game day I said that Roloson was a little old and that he wasn't up to the caliber of a Fleury. With the trap that the Lightning play they don't let him see a lot of rubber. During the regular season the Lightning only averaged just over 28 shots against a game. Tonight they gave up 39, the most that Roloson has seen all year. needless to say if this keeps up the Lighting are not going to have a good chance of winning this series.

So if you are like me you were super pumped for the Neal goal. I was out of my seat giving unreal fist pumps and yelling at the TV. Watch the replay, give another fist pump and say to myself that MAF can hold the fort. I look down at twitter to give a keyboard smash and I look up and Aaron Asham busts into the zone, I start to sit down and he gets Roloson out of position and plants one into the back of the net. Unreal. That is how you respond to scoring a goal, 18 seconds after the first. You got back and get more. The Penguins were hungry and they weren't going to back off and rely on the defense. The fourth line comes out and creates something. Total team effort.

I have to give it up for the people at CONSOL tonight. When ROOT came on for the Penguins going out to the ice for it was deafening. I expected that. First game of the playoffs and such it is expected to have a good buzz. Something that was really cool was the National Anthem. Jeff Jimmerson wasn't in the building, which was strange, but they had a member of the forces there to sing it. No problem with that whatsoever. Near the end of the anthem he stopped singing and let the fans sing it for about 10 seconds. The fans were loud and if that didn't give you chills you are not even an American. Never had that in Pittsburgh but I thought it was so cool. Even though it was a 0-0 game for the first two periods there was a noticeable buzz. They were giving "Lets Go Pens" chants and really getting loud during extended stretches when the Penguins would hold the offensive zone and it was nice to hear. When the Penguins scored their goals this is what Chris Mack had to say, who was in the CEC on press row:



Mad props to the fans. Great job. Keep it up.

It will be interesting to see how the officiating goes in game two. The Penguins lined up for six power plays and the Lightning only got one. Obviously power plays change the momentum of the game, but what are you going to do? Would love to hear people talk about how the officials favor the Penguins, since, you know they were the second most penalized team during the regular season. The official did miss a high sticking call, but I really didn’t see too many more misses. It will come around and I am sure this will even up more, but for the Penguins to be successful they will need to limit the Tampa power play and they did that tonight.

Overall it was a great game to come out with and a great way to open up the CONSOL Energy Center for playoff hockey. I can’t wait for it to be Friday already.

What did yinz think? Leave it in the comments.