Saturday, March 31, 2012

GTOPG: Oh, that pass; Pens Win 5-3 (and some non-Pens items)

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

There are a lot of guys in the NHL who can rush the puck into the offensive zone on a power play.  And there are a lot of guys who can make tape-to-tape cross ice passes.  And there are even a lot of guys who can catch those passes on their strong-side and bury it in one smooth motion.

But when your team has the three best guys at doing each of those things, you get this.

It's not the most beautiful goal of the season, but it is illustrative of what having a healthy Sidney Crosby can do.  Look at the 4 Buffalo players in that clip.  They're either mesmerized or paralyzed by Sid and he's not even in a scoring position.  They know he's going to pass.  Sid knows he's going to pass.  Ryan Miller knows he's going to pass.  Still, they can't do anything about it.

And that's what the other 7 Eastern Conference playoff teams are going to be thinking in two weeks.  They could play their best hockey.  They could get all-world goaltending.  They could have a perfect game-plan.  But there's a good chance it will all be for nothing because of one simple truth.  They can't do anything about this.

More thoughts on the Pens and much more after the jump...

Friday, March 30, 2012

How hot (or not) are the Pens heading into the playoffs?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The impetus for this is nothing other than curiosity.

In 2008-09, Dan Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien for the final 25 games of the season.  He lost his first game 3-2 in a shootout to the Islanders (first game Finesse and Artistry watched together -- birth of GTOG) but over the course of those 25 games he went 18-3-4, collecting 40 out of a possible 50 points.

The Pens have 5 games remaining.  In their previous 20, they are 15-4-1, for 31 out of a possible 40 points.  The Pens can match the '08-09 pace if they get 9 of 10 points over the final 5 games (4-0-1).

What does this mean?  Probably nothing, but it helps put in context the last two games against the Islanders.  The Pens looked really bad and clearly have some lingering issues that need to be addressed before the playoffs.  But even if the Pens just get 6 of the remaining 10 points, they'll enter the playoffs just shy of their scorching 2009 pace.

Good teams have bad games, and the Pens have had three stinkers recently.  But it's hardly a sinking ship.  The Islanders are a pesky team that when they try hard, get a few bounces, and Al Montaya doesn't melt down, can win a few games.  It's arguable that they'd win the Southeast division.  We can forgive the Pens for overlooking them (twice).

Tonight is a different story.  Pens are going into a hostile road environment against the hottest team in the league.  If the Pens win in regulation, it increases the Caps chances of making the playoffs by 12.3% to something close to 67%.  So we're thinking maybe Sid goes 5-hole for the win in a shootout.

GTOPG: Crosby resuscitated by cotton balls; Pens lose 5-3

By GTOG Staff (follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

You are going to have some FF games over the course of an 82 game regular season. Even the best of teams will look so out of sorts, so frustratingly incapable of competing with even non-playoff teams, that you, the fan, no matter how dedicated you may be or how consistently you may blog, will Fast Forward through that mother f****er. You just never want to see an FF game on March 29th. And that's what happened last night, folks. An FF game with only a week to go in the regular season.

This almost sucked super hard.
Much more after the jump...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

When did Dan Bylsma become Mike Tomlin?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The best thing about Mike Tomlin, even better than his coaching ability, is the way he speaks.  He can add "in that regard," "things of that nature," or "with respect to" to any sentence and it automatically becomes a Mike Tomlin-esque sentence.

With respect to what day of the week it is and things of that nature, we'll have to see where we're at in that regard.

He also has an uncanny ability to say a great deal of words while saying nothing.

In terms of where we are at with this football team and the things we are doing in the three phases of the game and what not we are at a point in time where we are assessing the nature of where things stand and in terms of what we will be doing from this point forward and things of that nature.

Somewhere along the way, Dan Bylsma picked up on this tactic and has started to run away with it.  This is an actual quote from this morning's Post-Gazette.
 "I think there have certainly been words spoken about where we're at and the situation we're in, how we're playing right now and our mindset in terms of where we're at in relation to the end of the season -- with the games we've got remaining and then heading into the playoffs."

Say what?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

GTOPG: We're already over it; Pens lose 5-3

By GTOG Staff

(Follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

The Penguins were thinking the same thing we were thinking on Tuesday afternoon. Visions of an 8-10 goal outburst, 5 points for Geno, a hat trick for Sid, maybe a snapper off of the faceoff for Sweet Jimmy Neal. When you've got the hottest offense in the league heading down the stretch and the New York Islanders come to town, it's hard to think of anything else. And that's an unforgivable mistake, on everybody's part.

The Pens just forfeited the surest two points they had available over the final seven games. If they didn't get the message in Ottawa, they got it now: their offense only clicks when they control the play, and they only control the play by limiting the other team's offense like they did last week in New York and New Jersey, and most of the game in Philly. Against the Isles, they were uncharacteristically weak on the puck, and everybody was impatient, everybody cheated. Even, for one of the few times all year, Fleury. Don't think we'll see this again.

More on the game after the jump...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Big Ben's Barracks: Haters gonna hate; Leaders gonna lead

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

This is not something we would make up.  From

"Did someone say leadership?"
You can't have too much of a good thing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

GTOPG: We want to, but we just can't; Pens Win 5-2

By Finesse

In a perfect world, we'd write a long, thorough recap and then do a 2-hour podcast about the Pens win over New Jersey before spending the final hour of the podcast discussing Ames Brown's recent tweets revealing that he lives in a Playboy-Mansionesque house filled to the brim with dumped ex-Bachelor contestants, but for an abundance of reasons, it just can't happen today.  We will be much more on top of things this week.

Huge win.  That the Pens seem to be having no trouble scoring 5 goals against Marty Brodeur is encouraging, to say the least.  Go Pens.

Yeah right.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Special Moment with Jeff Jimerson

By Artistry

I saw him sitting on a stool on Friday evening, plucking his guitar, playing to a nearly empty dining room in a Pittsburgh social club, his golden hair shining in the reflected sunlight, and when our eyes met, he smiled and nodded, as if to say, "If healthy, the Penguins are definitely going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and I'll be singing the National Anthem."

Thiessen in net tonight in Ottawa.  LGP.

Friday, March 23, 2012

GTOPG: Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice; Pens smoke Preds, 5-1

By GTOG Staff

What we're really looking at right now with the Pittsburgh Penguins is a Super Friends-type scenario.  You've got your Superman (Geno), your Batman (Sid), your Green Lantern (Neal), your Flash (Letang), your Aquaman (Staal), you've got your various other supporting heroes, and you've got your Wonder Twins.

"Wonder Twin powers, activate."
And you've got your last line of defense, your Gleek.

 Listen, no analogy is perfect. But the game against Nashville on Thursday was touted as a potential Stanley Cup Finals preview, and the Penguins were never, even for a millisecond, in danger of losing. That's a lot of power packed into one team's locker room. 

More on the game, Geno's roll, and Sid's off-night, after the jump...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Matt Niskanen: From Poor Man's Jordan Leopold to Rich Man's Jordan Leopold

By Finesse

Last year, we really didn't like Matt Niskanen.  We gave Shero credit for getting him thrown in the Goligoski-Neal trade, but once we saw him play we longed for the days where we were underwhelmed by Jordan Leopold.  But what a difference a year makes.

Nobody talks about Niskanen and that's the best thing about him.  I can't remember saying a single good or bad thing about him all season, except he does a really good job at one-timing super hard passes.  He's definitely added some grit to his game as he's gotten more comfortable in Pittsburgh and has transformed himself from a nice throw-in piece of an already great trade to an extremely valuable third-pairing defenseman.  He has missed one game all season, plays over 18 minutes a night, and is a +10.  As a 5th defenseman with a $1.5 million cap hit, he's more than just a valuable asset.  He's a luxury.

Will not disappoint you if you don't expect too much.
Preview of Pens-Predators after the jump...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GTOPG: On second thought, maybe leave that power play the way it is; Pens roll, 8-4

By GTOG Staff'

No analysis today for various reasons. Don't really need it. Just watch the tape. LGP.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Watching the Igloo Disappear

By Artistry

Here's the view from my window today.  Sad, isn't it?  They really should have blown it up in "Batman."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Big Ben's Barracks: Ben wants the Steelers to trade for Tim Tebow

By GTOG Staff and Big Ben

After news broke this morning that Peyton Manning intends to sign with the Denver Broncos, Ben Roethlisberger began working feverishly to ensure the Steelers enter the inevitable Tim Tebow sweepstakes. GTOG obtained an exclusive transcript of Ben's conversation with his agent, Ryan Tollner. Let's listen in after the jump...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

GTOPG: When you think of the weekend, try not to think of Scott Hartnell; Pens Lose, 3-2 in OT

By GTOG Staff

There is no sugarcoating an overtime loss in a game the Penguins thoroughly dominated for much of Sunday afternoon, outshooting the Flyers 27-10 through two periods, only to have a manic insane asylum escapee with a pumpkin afro stick a dagger in our 11-game win streak with .9 ticks left on the clock.  That sucked.  No getting around it.  If you take solace in getting 5 of 6 points on a road trip through New York, New Jersey, and Philly, here's what we have to say to you:  we should have had 10 points.  That's how good this Penguins team feels right now.  But...the Penguins pulled within one point of the Rangers with one head-to-head meeting remaining.  Sidney Crosby is on the ascent, looking supersonic on a series of rushes in Philly and increasing his playing time to nearly 18 minutes.  And this loss should ensure that the Penguins keep their edge, knowing that if they don't leapfrog the Rangers and seize the top seed, then a long, aggravating, and physically debilitating series against the Flyers almost surely awaits.

It's official: We want the #1 seed.
- When Geno Malkin spun off of Claude Giroux and slammed the puck past Ilya Bryzgalov to put the Pens up 2-0 in the second, it was the apex of a week that elevated the Penguins above the rest of the field in the NHL.  But when Dan Bylsma sits the team down to watch tape on Tuesday, he should start with everything that happened after that.  Geno and Kunitz taking bad penalties.  Letang engaging with Coburn.  Nobody bothering to even try to move Wayne Simmonds out of Fleury's crease on the first Flyers goal.  Because a lack of discipline and attention to detail is the ONLY thing that will stop a healthy Pittsburgh team from getting at least as far as the conference final.  Running into a hot goalie won't do it.  Marty Brodeur and Ilya Bryzgalov were outstanding this weekend, but it took the Penguins to stop the Penguins from running the table.

More on Crosby, Letang, Kennedy, and the stat of the year, after the jump...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Penguins Should Beware of Eastern Conference Snakes

By GTOG Staff

We focused this week almost exclusively on Thursday's showdown in Madison Square, and after clearing that hurdle, Penguin fans are feeling pretty good about ourselves, aren't we?

Huge fan.
Of course we are. With a healthy lineup, the Penguins look capable of tearing through the Eastern Conference this spring.  And they might.  But let's take a breath and look at the reality of the situation, after the jump...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

GTOPG: Penguins Dismantle Rangers in Crosby's Return

By Finesse

What the Penguins accomplished tonight during an efficient dismantling of an overmatched Rangers team can be interpreted in different ways.  You could say that this was a powerful message sent by the Pens to the top team in the East that, "Uh, hey, excuse us, but uh, you aren't the top team in the East anymore."  Or you could take the overly-cautious jinx-avoidance route and say that this was just another game, a solid road win against a divisional opponent.  But like most things, the truth is somewhere in between.

Consider us knocking on wood until June.
This was absolutely a statement game by the Penguins, but what statement did it make?  That the Pens are really good?  We knew that already.  But what we don't know yet, and what the rest of the league may be loathe to find out, is just how good the Pens can be.  Bylsma was mixing and matching lines to see what worked.  And everything worked.  Now the question shifts to what works best, and that's the scary part.

Stay grounded with us after the jump...

All Hands on Deck

Today is one of those days where you find yourself regularly taking deep, satisfying sniffs of the spring air and then smacking your palms together in excitement. And when a colleague gives you a concerned look, you just shrug your shoulders and smile.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What we expect from Sidney Crosby's second debut

By Finesse

As we said on Twitter, all we can do is hope that he's ok.  He's earned it.

We talked on our podcast earlier this week about how Sid is a "moments" guy.  He's more prone to seizing the big moments than he is to sustained excellence over long periods of time (he'd obviously do both if he didn't have so many "concussion-like-symptoms," whatever that means, over the past year).  With this knowledge of Sid, our expectations for his return differ from our hopes for his return.  We expect him to score 4 points or get another concussion.

If we had our druthers, he'd play 16 minutes, have a power play goal, and escape MSG unscathed.   But that's not how he rolls.

Monday, March 12, 2012

GTOG Podcast: The Bachelor Finale

Another emotional season of The Bachelor has come to an end, only this time the Final Rose was devoid of all suspense and emotion. No matter. That's what the podcast is for. We debate whether anyone will remember that fake tan girl who came in second but barely cried, whether Ben and Courtney have a future, and whether it's ok to be on Team Courtney and not be sorry. It's raw. It's emotional. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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This podcast is what Neil Lane would have wanted.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Taking stock of the Penguins on the verge of Sidney Crosby's return

A new day is dawning, and hopefully it lasts for longer than 8 games this time. With Sid's return imminent and the Pens on a 9-game win-streak, we talk the playoff picture, whether the Pens should care about getting the #1 seed, line combinations, and so much more. We also touch on Mike Wallace, Peyton Manning, RGIII and what the hell is wrong with people who try to give us Bachelor spoilers. It's about to get real. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

GTOPG: Sid and Ovechkin Saturday; Pens Win in S/O, 2-1

By Artistry

It's Friday night at 10:30 pm. You just drank two tall glasses of something with vodka in it, and a beer. You have two small children, and when the sun comes up, I assure you, they will be there. And they will be ready to pounce. You have the Penguin game cued up on the DVR. They just played the Florida Panthers. Now, I ask you, what do you do? What DO YOU DO?

You fast forward through the game, that's what you f***ing do. At the highest possible speed. It's not a hard question.

Having only watched the Sullivan goal, that guy from Florida's goal, and Neal and Geno toying with Jose Theodore in the shootout, here's what we can tell you:

1) Evgeni Malkin has only one goal and 3 points in the last 5 games, and he was just held scoreless in back-to-back games for the first time since 2010.  As you might imagine, James Neal has done next to nothing over the same stretch.  One assist.  That's it.  And the Penguins just won their 8th game in a row.

But we can never break up this line, right?
2) The Penguins have given up 4 goals over the past 3 games with Brian Strait, Ben Lovejoy, and, as of last night, Simon Despres on the back end.  And they just won their 8th game in a row.

3) This team is very, very good and very, very deep.  And they're about to get a lot better and a lot deeper.

Read on after the jump for the truth about why Sid isn't coming back on Sunday, and, did you hear about Ovechkin? 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

GTOPG: You don't put Mario in a booth; Pens win 3-2

By GTOG Staff

Yesterday was a celebration of all things Mario, and it clearly makes the man uncomfortable.  He was hesitant to have the statue built, and he almost certainly agreed to do all those interviews to hit his quota for the spring so people will leave him alone during the playoffs.  While he was being awkwardly interviewed during the game by Doc Emerick, who ran out of questions immediately upon Mario's arrival, Lemieux allowed Toronto to score two goals.  After Mario went back to his seat, the Pens started their comeback.

In other words, Mario has successfully created the impression that interviewing him is bad luck, but him sitting in his box having wine with Tie Domi is good luck.  If we have to stomach the fact that Mario is best friends with Tie Domi, we can do that, so long as the Pens are winning.

This is Mario's best friend.
A few thoughts on the game after the jump...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What the Pens should do when Sidney Crosby returns

By Finesse

With Sidney Crosby's return imminent, the discussion is shifting to much more important things like, What songs will they play at CONSOL to ruin some of the standing ovations he will get?  When will Jeremy Roenick advocate that someone should punch him in the head?  Will we ever stop saying the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins* should always have an asterisk?

(Something by My Chemical Romance, April 4th, No)

But the most important question, other than Crosby's health, is who he should play with.  There is great consternation about breaking up the Neal-Malkin-Kunitz line, and there are suggestions that Jordan Staal should move up to Sid's wing.

Our position on this is as clear as it is noncommittal: Nothing should be set in stone.  If you go into a playoff series against Laviolette's Flyers or Tortorella's Rangers with a mentality of, "these are our lines, we're not changing them, do what you can to try to stop it," chances are they will figure something out by Game 2.  You have to be flexible, you have to be unpredictable.

But above all, you have to maximize the return on your players, and that's why steadfast refusal to break up Geno's line, or a plan to consolidate Staal and Crosby just doesn't make sense.  A healthy Pens' lineup has an embarrassment of riches, so long as it's used properly.  Here are 4 reasons why the Pens should consider breaking up the Malkin line and leaving Jordan Staal alone, along with our proposed lines at the end.

4. The real difference maker is James Neal.

With all due respect to Chris "Hands" Kunitz, the real magic of the Pens' top line is the chemistry between Malkin and Neal.  Kunitz is as solid of a winger as there is, and gets more out of his skill set than almost any player in the league.  But he is not having some breakout career year.  He's on pace for 57 points, less than the 60 points he had in Anaheim in '06-'07 and about the same as the 55 points he was on pace for last year before Sid got hurt.

But he's just so handsy...
Nor is Geno having a classic breakout season -- it's more like a return to form, at least statistically.  Based on the eye test, Geno is as dominant as he's ever been, but numbers-wise he's on pace for 114 points.  His career high is 113 points in 2008-09, and he wasn't playing with anyone close to James Neal (an aging Petr Sykora?).  And his real takeoff in December is just as likely attributable to his knee finally getting 100% as it is to being paired with Kunitz.  The point is, Geno is capable of magic no matter who he is with.

James Neal is the wildcard.  He's a beast, the best winger the Pens have had in a long time, save for the dalliance with Marian Hossa in 2008.  He's on pace for a 78 points (38 goals).  That's a breakout season for sure, and it's not something you want to mess with.  So, don't.  Leave James Neal with Malkin, a guy who demands more defensive attention than any player in the league.

(As Dejan Kovacevic pointed out in Tuesday's Trib, Neal's scoring pace is slowing -- 3 goals in 16 games.  Kovacevic is a proponent of the carve-it-in-stone approach for Malkin's current line, but 3 goals in 16 games is exactly why you don't want to be inflexible).

Much more after the jump...

The Mario Lemieux Statue: Le Magnifique and Le Fantastique Asses

By Finesse

The Pens unveiled a statue of Mario today.  This is what it looks like.

One could argue that you could do away with the two bent over defensemen and the effect would be the same, but we won't argue that.  Mario often left defenders in hopeless positions of vulnerability.  The statue should be no different.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Crosby Cleared for Contact, Part 2

By Finesse

We've been down this road before.

Crosby announced after practice today that he is once again cleared to resume contact drills in practice.  Here are the two key pieces of news:

He's only been symptom-free for "a few days."  Manage your expectations.

He could be back in "a few days."  Dear God.  Buckle up.

GTOPG: If the Pens were in the Western Conference; Pens Win 2-1

By GTOG Staff

If you want to play the what-if game with Crosby's injury, or Letang's, or the 2006 draft where the Pens passed on Jonathon Toews, Nick Backstrom, and Phil Kessel for Jordan Staal, then you're wasting your time.  Because the only what-if game that we're thinking about this morning is What if the Pens were in the Western Conference?

The Pens are 12-2-3 against the West this year.  That is a 130 point pace over a full season.  We read somewhere yesterday that the Pens' PK against the West is 99% or something.  That's a 99% pace over a full season.  We don't know what those numbers tell us, other than the Pens shouldn't be scared of anyone.

A little more after the jump...

Top 10 Moments of The Bachelor: The Women Tell All

By Artistry 

If you were captivated by Courtney taking the stage last night for "The Women Tell All" and squeezing out a few tears as the other Ladies squawked and pouted, this post isn't for you. But if you enjoy the subtlety of Jenna the Blogger acting like she has a sense of humor about her nationally televised meltdown as she fights with all her strength to conceal another, pending nationally televised meltdown as some other Lady hands her a tampon, read on.  Here are GTOG's Top 10 Moments from WTA:

10. The return of Apollo

Could Ryan Sunshine from Ashley's season of the Bachelorette possibly be our next Bachelor?  Don't rule it out.  If you think would-be Bachelor Tim Tebow knows something about the power of the human spirit, you ain't seen nothing yet.

See the rest of this remarkable list, after the jump...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tebow approached to be "The Bachelor;" Would father baby without help of Fantasy Suite

It's more likely that Ben Roethlisberger would be the Bachelor before Tim Tebow would enter the Fantasy Suite with one of these ladies, but it's a fun thought nonetheless. Also, no way Tebow would be insurable for the Broncos with all those helicopter rides.

Want to know how else Big Ben and Tebow compare? Click here for the GTOG tale of the tape...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Big Ben's Barracks: Keep the ball rolling so we can hit the ground running and we're all on the same page.

ESPN's Sunday Conversation with the Leader of Men, via @fsmikey.

GTOPG: Denver Post Thinks You Are Embarrassing; Pens Win 5-1

By Finesse

Remember Adrian Dater?  Yeah I know, stupid question.  He's the guy who we've taken to task for his absurd Top-10 Centers list of two years ago that left Steven Stamkos off entirely and had Mike Richards over Evgeni Malkin.  He also looks like the guy who stands around the school bus stop a little too often.

This is the picture the Denver Post chose to use, so you have to think it's the best one they could get.  
He's the beat writer for the Avalanche and had this to say about all the Pens' fans in attendance:
First off, I never knew there were so many people from Pittsburgh who lived in Denver. Wow, for all the love they showed their Penguins tonight, you’d think they would never have left their beloved city in the first place. But there they where in their Stub-Hubbed glory tonight, sitting in the lower bowls of the Pepsi Center, cheering nonstop for the Penguins in their romp over the suddenly awful Avs again.

(One thing I’ll never ever do again: wear jerseys of my Boston teams in a foreign arena. Not because I would be afraid of being told off, but because I’ve finally come to realize after nights like tonight: that you look foolish. You look dorkish jumping up and down for a team whose city you don’t live in anymore, high-fiving all your phony new friends in similar jerseys around you. I think I finally agree with those who say: If you love your city and team so much, why do so many hundreds of you live in Denver or wherever? I think it’s kind of a big, sad overcompensating plea for attention, and I used to fall into that group too; you want so much for people to think “Hey, I’m from PITTSBURGH (or Detroit, or Boston or New York or wherever), that I’m going to act like every goal we score just won us the Stanley Cup and I’m going to lord it over you poor saplings from Denver – even though we live in your city now.” I finally realize now how annoying Red Sox fans are.)
This is classic Pittsburgh-envy, most commonly seen in Washington, D.C. for hockey, and anywhere the Steelers are playing for football.  The argument goes, if Pittsburgh is so great why didn't you stay?  Right, because everyone who likes where they are from ALWAYS HAS TO STAY AND CAN NEVER EVER LEAVE THAT CITY.  EVER.  Twisted logic from a creepy man.

The truth is that you could probably find just as many displaced people from Columbus (picking a city at random) living in Denver as there are from Pittsburgh -- the difference is that people from Columbus don't give a shit about their hometown, so they don't go to the games when their team comes to town.

Just a desperate cry for help from a sad, little, and lonely man.

More on the game after the jump...

Friday, March 2, 2012

GTOG's Solution to NHL Concussion Issue: Brandy's Law

By Finesse

We may not have the most fans on the internet, but we definitely have the best and most dedicated.  In response to our debate about Eric Nystrom's hit on Kris Letang, SuperFan Brandy had this to say in the comments:
I'm just tired of it. There's always an excuse, especially once Feb. hits. Typical blame the victim mentality that has put how much talent on the sideline: Sid, LeTang, Backstrom, Toews, Pronger, Horton... The list is so fricking long I can't even remember a portion. 
What's it going to be - six months, a year, a year and half before we see Tanger again? There's no chance he'll be back with a second concussion in four months. 
So here's another season gone without two top-flight talents. Much as I love this game, why watch it when there's little to no chance the team will be intact come playoff time? Why spend to the cap when when large portions of it will spend half the season or more in the press box? 
And more importantly, now that this year of the core is lost: who will it be next year? Geno? Staal? Sid again? Neal? Someone will throw a shoulder into one of their heads to slow them down. Every player in the league knows there are no consequences for recklessness. I'm not saying they intend to send guys off the ice. They just don't care. And why should they?
Such emotion, such passion from Brandy (also, big shout out to P.Co, who always brings the goods).

"I probably have de concuss."
So while we at GTOG have at least a mild difference of opinion on what Nystrom should have done in that situation, we are in agreement that the concussion problem has gotten bad enough that the best route to take is to ban all shots to the head. (Unfortunately for some people, like Jeremy Roenick, this hit would still be slightly borderline because it's 99.999% clear that Letang's head was hit, but it's possible that the shooter on the grassy knoll hit his chest first.  Also, hits to the chest can cause concussions -- ask the Staal brothers).

So how do we implement such a system?  Simple.  Just like Fox News gets Florida to enact laws named after abducted kids, we give power to the individual most equipped to exercise it: Brandy.  Therefore, we're bringing Brandy's Law to the floor of the GTOG Senate.

Finesse: What say ye on Brandy's Law?
Artistry: Yeah, sure that's fine. Can you do a post on it?

Democracy in action.

An attempted morale booster after the jump...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Big Ben's Barracks: Commander's Log, 3/1 in the Year of our Lord 2012

Dear Diary,

We lost a man in battle today. He never saw the end coming.

Hines was so young. I'll never forget the last thing he said to me before he died. He lay there clutching his Super Bowl MVP trophy and with the final burst of strength he could summon, he handed me the trophy and said, "Don't let them forget. Don't ever let them forget."  

I never loved Hines. Mostly it was because he didn't have a cool nickname like the rest of My Guys Tone, Twan, Tonio, and Plax.  But I always respected Hines.  He always paid the price, and My Guys liked him.

It was October 2008 when I saw the type of My Guy he could be.  The winds were howling that day. It's like God was burping and just wouldn't stop.  Historians refer to that day as the Day Crack Back Blocks Stopped.  I just remember it as the Day I Heard Keith Rivers' Jaw Crack.  I can still hear his screams in my dreams when I'm passed out at some rural community college bar.

Our battalion also just brought on a new leader. His name is Shaun Sarrett.  His title is Quality Control Coach.  I don't know what that means, but I don't trust him.  I've been watching the Military Channel ever since I stopped invading frat parties.  I know better than to trust S.S.  

Will write again soon,


P.S. I understand we also just lost Aaron Smith. I never met the man, but I've heard the same stories you've heard, about how he stopped the run.  May his biceps and triceps find peace. 

GTOPG: Debating The Nystrom-Letang Hit; Pens Win 4-3

By GTOG Staff

Kris Letang left the Pens-Stars game last night after getting hit in the head by Eric Nystrom.  Letang had a concussion earlier this season, and the simplest way to put this is that if Letang is out again for any extended period of time, the Pens are f'd.

Here's the hit.

And here's Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick arguing about it:  (Don't eat while watching).

We at GTOG agree that Jeremy Roenick is still pissed about the 1992 Finals and is an intellectual lightweight, but we have differing opinions on NystromLetangGate.

Artistry: Whether you think Eric Nystrom's hit on Letang was clean or dirty or somewhere in between, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't have happened. How many players - star players - need to be concussed before Jeremy Roenick realizes it's not Sega 1993 out there anymore?  The puck was at least five feet away from both players when Nystrom made contact with Letang's face. The Penguins defenseman was as vulnerable as a darkhorse Bachelor contestant in the Fantasy Suite. There shouldn't be any ambiguity about what Eric Nystrom needs to do in that situation: Avoid the hit. The inevitable next-day debate about the legality of these plays is potent cocktail of miserableness: you take an injury and you add meaningless analysis, tedious Brendan Shanahan videos, and Mike Milbury. It's unpleasant, and it's unhealthy for everybody. Just ban hits to the head already.

Finesse: I don't believe that Nystrom had a responsibility to avoid the hit.  In fact, he's been coached to make that hit since he was 12.  We, as Penguins' fans, LOVE when our guys hit the opposing defensemen.  That's what Grind Bitches Down is all about.  Chris Kunitz spent the entire spring of 2009 hitting defensemen who didn't have the puck.  That might explain the rather tame reaction to the hit from the Pens.  In this particular case, Kris Letang reached for the puck at the last second and it caused his head to dip much lower than where it would be if he was standing up straight.  Nystrom did what hard forechecking forwards do -- he took the body, and he did so without raising his arms at all toward Letang's head.  The point of Nystrom hitting Letang was not to injure him, it was to wear him down and make him think about getting hit every time he went back for the puck.  The fact that the puck was not on Letang's stick at the exact instant he was hit shouldn't matter.  Letang had made a play on the puck and Nystrom went to finish his check.

Roenick, however, is wrong to blame Letang.  This incident was not anyone's fault.  Letang made a play to clear the puck out of his zone and Nystrom made a play to forecheck an opposing defenseman without intentionally targeting the head.  If you think Nystrom should be suspended, that's fine.  But if that happens, then we need to be clear what is being punished: a legitimate hockey play that, because of circumstances, resulted in contact to the head.  Now that we know so much about the impact of concussions, maybe the league would be right to punish that.  But it's wrong do have expected Nystrom to do anything differently.

More on the game after the jump...

Hall of Fame Hines

By Artistry

He won't retire, but we're calling it now.  Hines E. Ward, Jr. belongs in Canton. First, the numbers for the fiesty underdog 6'0, 205 pound third-round draft choice, who, he reminds us, was taken in the third round:

1,000 catches (8 all-time)
12,083 receiving yards (18th all-time)
85 receiving TDs (13th all-time)
2 Super Bowl wins
1 Super Bowl MVP
4 Pro Bowls
12-6 record with 88 catches, 1,186 yards, and 10 TDs in 18 playoff games

Add to that the commonly held view that Ward may have been the best blocking wide receiver of his era. And we haven't even gotten to the intangibles.  Or the emotion. Oh, the emotion.  Adieu, sweet Hines.  Adieu.

Big Pens/Stars GTOPG coming later today.