Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger on Altoona, his guys, and his ankle

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

While so-called media elites gathered in Washington, DC last night to roast the president, the real elites gathered at the Blair County Convention Center in Altoona for the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Among the inductees were revered legends such as former St. Francis basketball star Don Appleman, former Maryland football player Todd Benson, former minor league baseball player Harold "Bucky" Bush, former Duquesne University and WNBA player Candace Futrell, former Villanova basketball player Allen Griffith and Tyrone Area High School's PIAA championship football team of 1999.

And when you have that many legends in one room to celebrate Altoona, you break out the big guns.

Yep.  That's Hancock County, Ohio's own Big Ben Roethlisberger.

He was on hand to deliver the keynote address and Altoona Mirror reporter Buck Frank, who inexplicably wasn't invited to the White House Correspondent's Dinner, was there to cover it all.  Below are some of the nuggets that Frank uncovered from General Ben.  All of them are real.  Except one.

- Regarding his first talk with Steelers first-round draft pick David DeCastro.
"He was saying, 'Did you get those flight plans? Did you get those flight plans?''' ... Roethlisberger said after a few seconds, DeCastro realized who he was talking to. "I can't wait once we get started to get on him about that,'' Roethlisberger joked. 
Much more after the jump....

Friday, April 27, 2012

After the Final Goal: Chris Harrison sits down with Pens GM Ray Shero

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Penguins' GM Ray Shero has given a lot of interviews over the past few days, but other than a few nuggets, no one has cracked him.  Enter Chris Harrison, host of ABC's The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, The Bachelor Pad, How I Met Your Bachelor, My Two Bachelors, Two Bachelors and a Pizza Place, and After The Final Rose.  He tears down walls for a living, and he doesn't even need to ask questions.

No wall too up. No rose too final.
Through back channels, GTOG has obtained an exclusive transcript of Harrison's recent sit-down with Ray Shero in which they recap the 2011-12 season and discuss the team's future.  Chris finds out what Ray is really thinking.

Harrison: A lot happened this season, Ray.

Shero: That's right, Chris. A lot did happen this season.  We started with a very odd press conference about Ferraris and revolving chairs and chiropractors.  We let our walls down as an organization into Sid's recovery, but it just seemed to invite more questions than answers.

Much more with Chris and Ray after the jump...

NFL Draft: Steelers hit homerun; draft angry South African Alan Faneca

By Artistry

The near-consensus among pundits is that the Steelers scored a major coup when Stanford guard David DeCastro fell to them at the 24th pick in the first round of Thursday night's NFL Draft. I have no idea. I've never heard of him. Here's what people say:

ESPN's Todd McShay: perfect pick for the Steelers. Wakes up angry. Goes to bed angry. Tough, powerful, experienced and durable. Upgrades pass pro and run gm

The Trib's Mark Kaboly: Colbert: Decastro was one guy who we would've traded up to get.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: "Everything we would ask him to do we saw him do at Stanford [and things of that nature]."

KDKA's Bob Pompeani: He is a Stud....pulling guard...ready to play.....Steelers patience pays off...and get someone who was expected to be top 10 David DeCastro

Finesse: My only concern is that in college he played a lot of September, October, and November football and then jumped right into January football.  Can he play the Dee-cember football that the Steelers need him to play?  That remains to be seen.

The PPG's Ed Bouchette: I had DeCastro going No. 11

LevonUSC: Pittsburgh Steelers are amazing. They always draft at back end of Round 1 and get players. They're getting a 10-year starter in DeCastro

Artistry: I really have no comment, other than the Steelers need offensive linemen, and guards who are supposed to be great are usually great. With John Rienstra being the glaring exception. But Kevin Colbert didn't draft John Rienstra.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen: Steelers selected Stanford guard David DeCastro. Steelers fans will be reminded of All-Pro Alan Faneca. Evaluators talked about how he dominates physically and gets great movement in run game. Has sound technique. Multiple evaluators said he was the best offensive guard prospect in 10 years. Stanford head coach David Shaw said DeCastro reminds him of Steve Wisniewski, the eight-time Pro Bowl guard with the Raiders who is now an assistant line coach with Oakland. DeCastro is from the Seattle area but his parents are South African. His father and grandfather were rugby stars in that country. His mother, Jennifer DeCastro, said she is 6-1 and took partial credit for her son's height.

Greg Cosell: Not surprised DeCastro lasted this long. I saw him as good player but not special.

Was just told he's not special

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

GTOG readers weigh in on the Penguins' lost season

By GTOG Staff (follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

We don't have the most readers on the internet but we definitely have some of the smartest and most dedicated.  There is a reason we solicit comments -- we get a lot of passion and insight into things that we've never thought about.  So in that spirit, here are some of the best comments and emails we've received since the disappointing end to the Pens' season, or as we like to call them, free labor.  Thanks to everyone for your support.

Randy! (With GTOG since the beginning)
Clearly this team is less than the sum of its parts. That's on Ray Shero. It's going to be a huge off-season for the organization as a whole.
P.Co (Steady. Hardcore. Analysis)
Thanks for the podcast. Every time we're knocked out of the playoffs it feels like your girlfriend just broke up with you.  
I thought Fleury was totally out of gas coming into the playoffs. I wrote in a comment about a month ago that this is the first time we see his game slip in March instead of improve. Don't compare him to other goalies - he did play more games than in any other year. Worse, in some of these games he came in relief of Johnson, meaning he couldn't get his his scheduled rest. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I want to believe that a fresh Fleury can carry this team in the playoffs next season.  
The horrible PK - I think it starts with Fleury, too. A shaky goalie kills the confidence of a defense. They don't challenge the d-men as much, they don't forecheck as deep as they are used to, because they're afraid, or rather know, that if the forwards get behind them, it's a sure goal.  
I'm just afraid the Pens now enter the Sharks-Canucks-Caps club, where the regular season doesn't matter anymore. You can get 60 wins during the season, but people will only be interested in whether and when you fail in the post-season, and everything short of an SCF, or even a Cup, is considered a failure. This mindset eventually destroyed these three teams. The only difference for the Pens is that they don't dominate their division as Vancouver does and Washington and SJ used to.  
Yeah, this was definitely a wasted opportunity. Last year was frustrating because you couldn't help thinking what might have been had everyone stayed healthy. This year everyone came back just in time and we were just waiting to get our due chance. And we botched it. No one to blame this time. October seems so far away....
More from @CouchPenguin, Brandy, P.Co again, and a guy who hates Paul Martin after the jump...

Monday, April 23, 2012

GTOPG: Lingering thoughts on Pens' wasted season

By GTOG Staff (follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

As we continue to digest this distasteful end to a season of high expectations, we keep thinking of things we want to say.  We have no idea how many thoughts will trickle out over the next few days, but here's the first batch.  For full emotion and analysis, be sure to listen to our podcast recapping Pens-Flyers.

- Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each had 8 points in 6 games (110 point pace over 82 games).  That's far from being "shut down", but unfortunately when you are so bad defensively that you require at least 5 goals to win every game, it looks like you're being "shut down" if you don't have 2 points per game.  This is not an excuse for those guys not producing yesterday -- it's the Pens fault that they became a team that not only couldn't win a low scoring game, but couldn't even play one.  But it does illustrate how rightfully high our expectations became for these guys...and how they didn't live up to them.

Why we shouldn't crown Claude Giroux, and much more, after the jump...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast: Pens Eliminated by Flyers in Six Games

Tough way to end the season. Finish it out with GTOG as we discuss what went wrong, and what can be done to fix it.

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Correction: Nothing happening here; Pens Eliminated

There is a new formula for games in which the Pens get eliminated from the playoffs.  Give up an early goal, take bad penalties, don't pay attention to detail, give up some more weak goals, get underwhelming performances from your stars, have some flurries that make you think there's hope, have that hope slowly extinguished, go home.

So it was in 2010, so it was in 2012.  The Pens could have won this series having lost a game like this had some semblance of the team we knew this season shown up in Games 2 or 3.  But it wasn't meant to be.  The Flyers are a legitimate threat to win the Stanley Cup (it's critically important that doesn't happen), and they have a star who is definitely on the same level as the Pens top two, at least when he's playing against the Pens' defense and goalie.

We're biased, of course, so it's hard for us to admit that the Flyers deserved to win this series.  But it's not hard to admit that the Pens definitely didn't.

There will be lots of time to reflect on this series, on the team going forward, and what tweaks can and should be made.  Right now, we're just a little bitter about what a wasted opportunity this season turned out to be.

Thanks for riding with GTOG.

Go Pens.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

GTOPG: Philadelphia clenching; Pens force Game 6 with 3-2 win

By GTOG Staff

We finally felt the full power of the long dormant Consol Energy Center on Friday.

But we never imagined what it would take to get that moment, when 18,000 fans screamed for the Penguins until their throats gave way.  If you go back 10 days to when the playoffs started, you'll recall that the Pens were close to overwhelming favorites to not only beat the Flyers, to not only get to the Cup Finals, but to win the Stanley Cup.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the parade.  The Pens backed off for 2+ periods in Game 1, got outclassed in Game 2, and melted down in Game 3.  It was rock bottom. It seemed like there was no hope for a comeback.  Even we felt the hope withering away.

Down three games to none and facing maybe the most hostile environment in the league, the Pens had become, of all things, the underdogs.  The Flyers, powered by unlimited goals, became the favorites.  They were celebrated in the media.  They taunted the Penguins and their fans.  The people of Philadelphia chanted "you can't beat us."   And they had every right to -- they were killing the Pens.  But heavy lies the head that wears the crown over a cesspool of orange hair.

Sometimes it's good to be the underdog, to have nowhere to go but up, to have no one believe in you.  Because when you're the underdogs, you have nothing to lose.  And when you have the mindset of an underdog with the talent of the overwhelming favorites, well, you're just deadly.

More on Game 5, the Penguins' secret weapon, and looking ahead to Sunday, after the jump...

Friday, April 20, 2012

GTOG Instant Reaction: There's something happening here; Pens win 3-2

The Pens have a big mountain to climb.  But we've got our Sherpa back.

See you Sunday.

Go Pens.

More Countdown to Pens-Flyers Game 5: With all due respect, sir

Countdown to Pens-Flyers Game 5: Do you recognize this feeling?

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

The sun is out today, and downtown Pittsburgh is shaking. With anticipation, emotion, even outright glee.  If you're a hockey fan, there is really no better feeling than this: it's playoff time, you're completely invested, and your team is the best team. There is no objective test for this except for the playoff tournament that's just underway, but you know it. You can feel it.  Maybe you feel it today.

How can this be, you ask?  The Penguins are down 3-1, they just benched (let's just call it what it is) a $5 million a year defenseman in favor of two untested rookies, allowed 9 goals on 15 Flyer power plays (no, really, the Flyers are converting at 60% on the power play) and a bunch of shorties, and they're giving up nearly 6 goals a game.  Still, you may have this feeling.  Do yourself a favor.  Don't question it.  It may not make sense, but neither does this series. Not in any way.  Listen to this feeling. Embrace it. Climb on its back, and ride it. You might fall, and if you do, you will get hurt. But we've learned from the Bachelor that YOU CAN'T WIN UNLESS YOUR WALLS COME DOWN. You have to make yourself vulnerable, otherwise you will be strung along and when you're finally ready to commit, you will have missed the whole journey.  Up to you.  But know this: we're not ready for this to end.  We're giving ourselves to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Fantasy Suite tonight.

Thoughts on Game 5 after the jump...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

GTOPG: Bryzbrovsky Island; Pens Demolish Flyers 10-3

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

You can catch most of our reaction to last night's season-saving romp by the Pens on our Raw Emotion Podcast but because so much happened, there is so much to say.  A few lingering thoughts:

- Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky each had bad games last night for the Flyers, but let's not get too excited about it and think that the Pens are dropping a 10-spot every night.  For the same reasons that Fleury's biggest supporters were standing by him after a horrific Game 2 and Game 3, the Flyers shouldn't abandon all hope in their goalies.

First is the cliche that is always true -- you are never as good or as bad as you think.  Bryz and Bob are not terrible goalies.  They may be mentally fragile, but so was (or maybe is) Fleury. Understanding the psyche of a goalie is hard enough as it is, let alone two Russian goalies, one of whom barely speaks English and another who isn't sure there is any place to hide from bears in the humongous big universe.

via @lindsapple
Second, the Flyers defense and discipline was terrible.  Just like the Pens in Games 2 and 3, the Flyers were the ones leaving guys wide open, giving up countless odd-man rushes, and taking stupid penalties.  If they knock that off -- like the Pens did last night -- it's a different story for Game 5.  It's a lot easier to play goalie when the people shooting at you are covered.  Ask Flower.

Third, the Penguins are really good offensively, just like the Flyers.  The 10 goals last night were not softies or just good bounces (other than Sid's).  The Pens were burying the puck.  This roster has broken goalies a lot better than Bryz and Bob.  But it's also been stymied by worse goalies or, at least in Consol, by Bobrovsky himself.

Didn't save the day. But still could.
More thoughts on the game and more complaining from Ted Leonsis after the jump...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Pens give it to the Flyers 10-3; Are they back?

What a game. The Pens exploded to score 10 goals in Philadelphia (it could have been more) to avoid the sweep and maybe, hopefully, turn the tide of the series. We know this is just one game. But we're happy about it. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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This is us during the podcast

GTOG Instant Reaction: A Heartbeat

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

All we wanted was another game.

via @stuhFAN

See you Friday.

Go Pens.

[Check out our Game 4 recap podcast here]

Penguins vs. Flyers Game 4: What we're hoping for

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

There's a really good chance that tonight will be the last game of the Penguins' season.  We want to be optimistic -- we really do -- but so far we've seen nothing to convince us that this Pens team will get their shit together and win tonight.

Instead, we've seen:

- A stunning lack of composure

- a defense as soft as baby thighs

- a penalty killing unit that can't kill a penalty

- a power play unit that can't kill a power play

- a goaltender who can't stop anything

- an MVP who can't get a shot on net

- a 40-goal scoring winger who got himself suspended

- a captain whose leadership choices have been questionable at best, and seems dead set on giving himself another concussion

- a defenseman who might as well have screamed "My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want his heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!" after he jumped Kimmo Timmonen

- a winger with velvety smooth hands who can't resist taking multiple offensive zone penalties a game; and

- a coach with no answers.

But there's nothing to be done about that now.  It's in the past.  The Pens are saying all the right things today. It's refreshing, although completely meaningless.  The solution is simple.  They just have to play better.

Slightly less of this, too.
Sadly, the last three games have eroded our confidence in their ability to do that.  Our Walls haven't been up like this for any game in recent memory.  But one thing we do know, and something that is always true unless you're the Pirates, is that you are never as bad or as good as you think.  This is not a bad Pens team.  Flawed, for sure.  Fatally flawed, perhaps.  But not bad.  If you think back far enough -- you know, like a month ago -- you'll remember watching a team that was at the time, undoubtedly, the best team in the league.  It feels like a distant memory, but it's really not.

We are not optimistic about tonight.  But that doesn't mean we aren't hopeful.  As we said on our post-apocalyptic podcast on Sunday, we are Fanmen, not Fanboys.  And Fanmen know that when you go through 82 games with a team, you have invested incredible amounts of time, energy, passion and emotion.  You don't turn on your team.  You don't take joy in being right that certain players on the team suck.  You don't hope they lose tonight to save the embarrassment of losing the next game, or the next one.  All you want is another game.  And that's all we're really hoping for.

Go Pens.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sidney Crosby: A unique combination of leadership and crazy

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Sidney Crosby's decision to knock Jakub Voracek's glove away in order to bait Claude Giroux into a fight that Giroux probably wished had been broken up sooner was dumb.  But it wasn't dumb because it was "classless," terrible leadership, or some sort of horrible affront to the sport.  It was dumb only because it didn't work.

Outside of the first period of Game 1, the Pens have been completely and totally dominated by Philadelphia.  Every time the Pens score, Philadelphia scores.  Every time Philadelphia gets a power play, they score.  Every time the Pens get a power play, Philadelphia scores.  Every time Paul Martin has the puck, Philadelphia scores.  For 8 periods, plus a short overtime, it's been a total mismatch.

So Crosby, the Pens captain and best player, decided to try to do something to change that.  And he did something that very few people of his stature in the game (to say nothing of his concussion issues) would have done -- he picked a fight.  The guy he picked a fight with didn't want to fight so Sid had to instigate.  And to instigate the fight, he did something that harmed no one, was kind of funny and actually worked to instigate the fight -- he knocked Voracek's glove away.  In a league where TV analysts rip coaches for not fighting each other, we can't pretend to be offended by knocking a glove away.

No! Not the glove!
Unfortunately, Sid's decision to fight Giroux turned out to be a bad one because it did absolutely nothing to get the Pens any closer to beating the Flyers.  But before any more Pens fans decide to throw the final pieces of Sid under the bus, let's take a moment to get our composure.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Great Meltdowns in Penguins History

By Artistry

[Listen to our Game 3 recap podcast here.  And look for more posts over the next few days as we continue to take the temperature of Pens Nation]

Welcome, everyone, to great meltdowns in Penguins history.  Many will point to Game 3 of the Penguins-Flyers 2012 playoff series as undoubtedly the single most epic meltdown in team history, if not all of Pittsburgh sports history.  It's hard to disagree.

This game had all the elements of a colossal implosion: the Asham crosscheck to the throat followed by a punch to the head of his defenseless victim, all in response to a clean hit; Sidney Crosby starting in with Claude Giroux; Kris Letang getting himself thrown out of the game in the first period; Marc-Andre Fleury giving up a goal every 43 seconds; Dan Bylsma paralyzed by the debacle unfolding in front of him. There really is no end to this list.  And there is really nothing that matches this game as a whole, at least in my memory, ever.

But let us not forget our ancestors.  See two of the best meltdowns in Pens history after the jump...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Pens unravel in Game 3 against the Flyers; Lose 8-4

Hey, want to relive a nightmare?!?! Then listen to the GTOG Raw Emotion Podcast recapping Game 3 of Pens-Flyers. Artistry is cracking at the seams, while Finesse didn't see any of Game 2 or 3 so he remains composed. We spend most of the time assigning blame. No one is spared. It's the GTOG Podcast.

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Pens-Flyers Game 3: With fans like these, maybe Pens should move to Philadelphia

By Artistry

It's amazing what three days can do.  On Wednesday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins were Stanley Cup favorites.  By Friday night, fans and media were demanding they 1) fire the coach; 2) get five new defensemen; 3) jettison the Art Ross Trophy winner and likely league MVP; or 4) all of the above.  And the fans and media are not joking.  

The Pittsburgh Penguins trail the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 in their best-of-7 series, which many Pittsburghers would have you believe is a strong indicator that Armageddon is at hand.  People have short memories.  Placed into historical context, it really means little.  Great Penguins teams have trailed by two games in a playoff series many times, certainly in recent years, and dating back to the Cup wins in the early 90's.  You think this is bad?  I recall Dino Ciccarelli scoring 4 goals in a 7-2 win at the Civic Arena to put the Capitals up 3-1 in a playoff series.  Those Penguins ran off 12 wins in the next 14 games to take the Cup.  Championship teams overcome this kind of adversity all the time.  Go look it up.  Or don't.  And if you don't think they've got it in them this time around, don't bother watching.

We'll be watching.  LGP. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

GTOG Instant Reaction: We don't even recognize this team; Pens lose, 8-5

By Artistry

Let's get this done now, because I'm not thinking about it anymore this weekend:

- Marc-Andre Fleury needs to steal Game 3 on Sunday.  The defense is abominable, the penalty kill looked lost, but Flower really let us down tonight.

- Where are all the people who said the Penguins can never split up the Malkin-Neal-Kunitz line?  Those guys are getting embarrassed.  Flip Sullivan and Kunitz, as we've suggested.  Absolutely no reason not to right now.

- The Penguins alone are at fault for this 2-0 deficit, but let's be clear: the officiating has been horrible.  The Pens should have gone up 2 men in the first when Matt Read cross-checked Kris Letang well after the whistle blew.  Yes, Letang tried to sell it, but that doesn't change the fact that it happened.  If you embellish something that is already clearly a penalty, is that really equally punishable?  In any event, Letang went off for diving, Read for roughing, and the Flyers promptly scored shorthanded.  A turning point, especially considering Letang had Bryzgalov dead to rights only moments before and couldn't bury it.

- Where have you gone, Matt Niskanen?  Ben Lovejoy is completely out of his league.

- Sean Couturier is tremendous.

- Never has a single man getting bottle service at the top nightclub in Puerto Rico ever been as upset as Finesse is right now.

All this having been said, we've been through a lot worse and come out of it intact.  Our pulse is steady.  Win on Sunday, and it's a series again.  LGP.  And for the love of mercy, GTOG.

Pens-Flyers Game 2: Pete Laviolette Can't Let Anything Go

By Artistry

Female pattern baldness model Peter Laviolette continues to betray a real distaste for his Penguins counterpart, Dan Bylsma.  In our estimation, Bylsma is guilty of only three things: 1) an unwavering commitment to his "system"; 2) being a huge hockey nerd in the proud tradition of Professor Bob Johnson; and 3) never saying a bad word about anybody.

For reasons unknown to us, though we have offered a theory, Laviolette can't stand him.

After Friday's game day skate, Bylsma commented on the Flyers' Game 1 performance:

"They put 46 pucks behind our defense with a purpose.  The only way to prevent them from doing that is to have them not have the puck to play in the offensive zone.  If you give it back to them, they are going to put it behind our defense and go in on the forecheck."

How did Laviolette respond to a reporter's question about this innocuous and essentially complimentary statement?

"They probably had 50 (pucks) behind us, so I'm not sure what that means."

Bitterness can eat you up inside.
If the Pens come back to win the series, it's going to be a very difficult handshake for Pete.

I'll be back at Consol Friday night for game 2 as Finesse continues his Bachelor Party Tour of America and Puerto Rico.  Follow the game with me on Twitter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

GTOPG: Dan Bylsma is Alive

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

No need to rehash what happened on Wednesday night (you can get a full analysis of Pens-Flyers game 1 here).  We saw it, we tried to digest it, we threw up a little in our mouths, then we forced it down again.  It's over.  Now we're more interested in what's happening on today, because there are two particular things that we fervently hoped the Penguins would not do at practice on Thursday:

1) Change nothing; or
2) Change everything.

The former would have suggested some form of denial akin to going 1 for 35 on the power play in a playoff series against Tampa Bay but refusing to change personnel or tactics.  The latter would have suggested panic.

Most panicked he ever gets.
Instead, we saw the Penguins coaches do what we've suggested many times: put Steve Sullivan back on the number 1 power play and at least experiment with using Sidney Crosby as the leader of a #1A unit.  Getting Sullivan, the player best suited to consistently gaining the offensive zone with a man advantage, back out there seems like an obvious move, but it also forces a decision about who among Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, and Neal is forced off the top unit.  This is usually portrayed as a coaching dilemma because of the sense that somebody's ego will be wounded by a perceived demotion to the second power play.  At this stage of the season and coming off a game where no one on star-packed top unit looked to have any sense of purpose, seriously, no one gives a shit about hurt feelings.  Credit to Dan Bylsma for quickly pulling the trigger on this.

More on preparing for Game 2, after the jump...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

GTOG Podcast: Pens lose to Flyers 4-3; Panic Button?

There's no way to spin this. A really bad loss. Listen to the podcast for our take and some emotional support.  Then...

...on to the next one.

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Countdown to Pens-Flyers Game 1: Odds and ends, our picks for other series

A few odds and ends leading up to game time.

- Check out our 3-part preview of Pens Flyers.

Part 1: Women of GTOG's Penguins Hotness Rankings

Part 2: Tale of the Tape 

Part 3: Assigning The Onus, plus our prediction

- We get way more daily readers than we have Twitter followers.  That means you aren't following us on Twitter.  The site's Twitter account is @GetToOurGame.  Click here to follow.  We also have individual Twitter accounts: @GTOGArtistry and @GTOGFinesse.  Click on those names to follow.  We will be tweeting live during the games, so if you want the rawest, most unfiltered emotion we have, FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME.  Not to be dramatic.

- Like us on Facebook.

- Artistry will be at Consol tonight. Expect a raw emotion podcast afterwards, win or lose.

- Finesse will be off the mainland USA for games 2 and 3.  Our analysis will still be the best in the business.

- Finally, for the historical record, here are our predictions for the other series.  Remember, our Pens-Flyers prediction is in Part 3 of our preview.

New York Rangers (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (8)

Artistry: Senators in 7
Finesse: Rangers in 5

Boston Bruins (2) vs. Washington Capitals (7)

Artistry: Bruins in 6
Finesse: Bruins in 7

Florida Panthers (3) vs. New Jersey Devils (6)

Artistry: Devils in 6
Finesse: Devils in 5

Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (8)

Artistry: Canucks in 5
Finesse: Canucks in 7

St. Louis Blues (2) vs. San Jose Sharks (7)

Artistry: Sharks in 7
Finesse: Blues in 7

Phoenix Coyotes (3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Artistry: Blackhawks in 6
Finesse: Blackhawks in 6

Nashville Predators (4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (5)

Artistry: Preds in 7
Finesse: Wings in 7

- Nothing left to say.  Go Pens.

GTOG Pens-Flyers Preview: Assigning The Onus and our predictions

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Pens-Flyers Preview Part 1: Women of GTOG's Penguins Hotness Rankings
Pens-Flyers Preview Part 2: Tale of the Tape

You're sitting in the White House Situation Room in May 2011.  You're surrounded by your advisors.  A 5-star General is staring you in the face from across the table.  The head of the CIA is next to you, looking at a live feed from a drone on his iPhone 6.  Hilary Clinton is glaring at you in a sharp khaki blazer while holding a manilla folder that says Top Secret.  Joe Biden is talking about Amtrak.  The top Navy commander in Afghanistan is on video chat from Kabul.  He's telling you they're about 50% sure they have Osama Bin Laden's location pinned down in Pakistan.  He has a team of 72 Craig Adamses standing by in two Chinook helicopters ready to go shoot him in the face if you give the order.

That's pressure.

But it's nothing compared to The Onus.

The Onus is not pressure.  The Onus is not a decision.  The Onus is not responsibility.  No.  The Onus is a state of being.

GTOG assigned The First Onus on January 20, 2011 to Marc-Andre Fleury.  Fleury accepted "De Onus," as he called it, but as it is known to do, De Onus got the last laugh when Sean Bergenheim & Co. scored the same goal at least 4 times in the Tampa series and the Pens bowed out in Round 1.  For the 2011-12 season, GTOG assigned The Onus to Jordan Staal, figuring that with Sid's return imminent, it was Staal who had the chance to make the Pens a truly special team.  Midway through the season, The Onus was temporarily reassigned to Dan Bylsma after an injury to Staal, but ultimately stayed with Staal throughout the year.  Staal did with The Onus about all you can hope to do with The Onus -- he survived it.

But The Onus is a survivor, too.  You don't kill The Onus with a good regular season.  The Onus lies in wait and, like the velociraptors in Jurrasic Park, when The Onus looks at you, you can see it's working things out.  There's only one way to kill The Onus.

After the jump, we discuss candidates for The Onus, assign The Onus, and give our official predictions...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Penguins vs. Flyers: Tale of the Tape

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

It's time to get down to business.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to begin.  And once the Penguins and Flyers face off on Wednesday night, once this long anticipated, seemingly inevitable battle commences, reason will surely take a backseat to an avalanche of raw, unfiltered, steaming emotion.  That's why we need to do this now, while our mind is right.  This has the potential to be one of the most memorable playoff series of our lives. These teams despise each other.  They both have legitimate Cup aspirations.  Who has the advantage? GTOG gives you the Tale of the Tape.


Playing the Flyers is a totally unique experience.  Somewhat counter-intuitively, gutlessness becomes a huge factor.  And being the savvy organization that it is, Philly has spent the better part a decade developing this under-appreciated characteristic.  To wit:
  • Derian Hatcher knocked out Sidney Crosby's teeth with dirty, gutless high stick, but no one could catch him on the game-winning breakaway goal in OT.  Gutless.
  • The Flyers couldn't close after building a 3-0 lead at home in that memorable Game 6 against the Pens, and watched Pittsburgh go on to take the Cup in '09.  Gutless.
  • The Flyers signed Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to gigantic contracts, only to abandon them on Dry Island before shipping their leaders out of town.  Gutless.
  • Scott Hartnell bit Kris Letang's finger.  Gutless.
  • Jaromir Jagr couldn't handle the pressure of coming back to Pittsburgh a returning hero, instead grabbing the extra cash and signing with the Flyers.  Gutless.
  • Danny Briere cried about a perfectly clean check, sat out with back contusions, now suddenly he's fine.  Gutless.
  • Claude Giroux took a pass on playing the regular season finale in Pittsburgh.  Gutless.
  • Nobody on the Flyers, not even activated-for-one-game-for-one-purpose Jody Shelley, wanted any part of Steve McIntyre in that final regular season game.  Gutless.
We're sure there are plenty of things we missed.  The Flyers are just so deep in gutlessness.  Then again, the Penguins did put out the Craig Adams line that one time in the final minute of a 3-goal game.  

Edge: Flyers


The Flyers have a certain swagger to them, to be sure.  They've got a very good team with a great balance of young talent, veteran moxie, and former Pittsburgh Penguins.  But the Penguins have a guy who when Sidney Crosby said he wanted to be last to take the ice for pregame introductions, interrupted, pointed to himself, and said "Three years Super League."  The Penguins have a GM whose heart rate actually slows at the trade deadline.  This is the Penguins owner:

There are so very many pictures we could have used to illustrate this point.
The Penguins are on a different level entirely.

Edge: Penguins

The Tale of the Tape continues, after the jump...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hot or Not? The Women of GTOG rank the Pittsburgh Penguins

By GTOG Staff

We know this may be the best Penguins team since 1992-93, but is it the best looking Penguins team?  It's not an easy question.  We've been very lucky.

1991 was a very good year.
Each Penguins roster is like a snowflake, unique in its beauty.  There's really no need to even comment on it, but that won't stop us.  By popular demand, the Women of GTOG are back to give you our 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins Hotness Rankings.  Today we have Artistry's wife, Artistry's mom, and a new addition, Finesse's Aunt.  (Check out their NFL quarterback rankings here). Let's get right to it, after the jump.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

GTOG Investigates: Why Tortorella and Laviolette think the Pens are "Gutless" and "Arrogant"

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

In the past week, a full-scale propaganda war has been waged against the Penguins organization, their coach, and Sidney Crosby.  In some ways, it's just an amplified version of the whispers and innuendo we've heard from other players and coaches in the league, but the directness of the attacks and the sheer volume with which they were screamed makes me think that maybe -- just maybe -- there is something else at play here.

Let's put aside for a moment the criticism of Crosby.  It's something he's heard since he was 14, and as he showed yesterday, he's perfectly capable of handling it.  Instead, let's look at why Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella attacked Dan Bylsma and the Pens organization as a whole.  I have a theory.

Find out the theory after the jump...

Friday, April 6, 2012

GTOPG: Gutless AND arrogant Pens get home ice; Win 5-2

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

As we mop up the last of John Tortorella's tears, here's a few additional thoughts on the game.  If you want more on Whine-Gate, scroll down to the next post or click here.

- Can't blame the Rangers for not really trying in this game.  They went all out for 80 games to get the #1 seed.  They're allowed to coast for a night.  They're a formidable playoff opponent, to say the least.  A Caps-Rangers opening round is must-see-TV.

- Having said that, the Rangers are toast if anything happens to Lundqvist.  Marty Biron doesn't create fear in his opponents.  He creates confidence.

If this didn't go in, it was probably a lucky save.
- Speaking of French Toast, he followed his coach's lead and went on a tirade against Brooks Orpik, calling his knee-on-knee hit against Stepan "gutless and dirty."  He then continued, per Dave Molinari's hall-of-fame recap, "That guy is known for sticking his knee out and his elbow out. I don't really care what he says in defense of what he did. It was dirty. It's what he's done all his career. He's going to continue to do that unless somebody gets him either with a suspension or whatever."

The "or whatever" part of that quote is intriguing.  Either he is referring to on-ice vengeance against Orpik (which obviously would be a special exemption from his coach's lament, "Just no respect amongst players. None. It's sickening.") OR he had to stop his sentence because he got distracted by being scored on again.

- But having said all that, the Pens are toast if anything happens to Fleury.

- Sorry, can't move past the whining thing yet.  Does anyone whine more than John Tortorella?  Anyone?  Ever?  In the history of the world?  We're on the record as saying he's a really good coach and that the Pens have reason to fear the Rangers on the ice.  But Torts whining about whining is like an asparagus telling you that your pee smells.

Good coach. World-class complainer.
A few more thoughts after the jump...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tortorella Tirade: Rangers join Flyers in propaganda war against Pens

By Artistry

The Penguins cruised to a 5-2 win against a motivation-free Rangers team on Thursday, and in the process Brooks Orpik took out Derek Stepan on a knee-to-knee hit. A 5-minute major to Orpik wasn't nearly enough for John Tortorella, who had this to say after the game:

"It's a cheap, dirty hit.  I wonder what would happen if we did it to their two whining stars over there.  It's one of the most arrogant organizations in the league.  They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens.  They'll whine about something else over there, won't they, starting with their two (expletive) stars."

[UPDATED: Here's the video.]

Ooookay.  Anyone detect a trend this week?


Waaah waaah.

Waaah Waaah Waaah.

This is what people do when they're jealous.  Or terrified.  Or both.

Pens and Flyers for the foreseeable future.  Strap yourselves in.  GTOG.

Farewell to Daniel Sepulveda, the Bo Jackson of Punters

By Artistry (follow me on Twitter)

What began in 2007 with the promise of punting immortality ended today with a couple of paragraphs buried under news about recovering running backs coach Kirby Wilson. The Steelers cut ties with legendary, strapping, 6-3, 230 pound punter Daniel Sepulveda.

"Yeah I punt and I'm jacked. YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?!?!"
"I've never seen a punter with guns like that.  Biceps, pecs, lats.  This guy had all the tools.  That's a man you go into battle with," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. 

After being taken in the 4th round of the NFL draft, the expectation was that Sepulveda would be the next punting superstar, a cross between LeBron James, Taylor Lautner, and Ronaldo.  Yet this remarkable physical specimen had a meniscus made out of Aaron Smith's triceps, opening up repeated opportunities for new, permanent punter Jeremy Kapinos.

When reached for comment this morning, Kapinos said, "Mmm. You mean I have to go to training camp?"

Pirates Opening Day! GTOG's Official 2012 Major League Baseball Preview

By Finesse

We started hearing rumors last night that today was Opening Day in Major League Baseball and these rumors were confirmed this morning.  That means it's time for GTOG's Official 2012 Major League Baseball Preview.

The Pirates are looking to improve on their 72-90 finish last season and they showed that they're serious about turning this thing around with two big offseason acquisitions.  First, they brought in 36-year old catcher Rod Barajas.  You simply can't put a price tag on the impact an aging catcher who hit .230 last season can have on a franchise.  (Oh, it's $4 million?).

Rod Barajas, commanding his Men.
Then in December the Pirates brought back fan favorite Nate McLouth.  McLouth was a Pirate from 2006-2008, and he actually made the All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in 2008.  Naturally, the Pirates traded him to Atlanta for Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hern├índez. With the Pirates, Locke went 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in 2011 and begins this season in AAA Indianapolis.  Charlie Morton begins the season on the Disabled List.  Gorkys Hernandez is starting the year in the minors and has never had a major league at bat.

The pride of Altoona, Gorkys Hernandez!
Meanwhile, in 250 games over three seasons with Atlanta, McLouth batted .229 with 21 total home runs.  He called his decision this offseason to sign a one-year deal with the Pirates for $1.75 million a "no brainer."

So YES, what I am telling you is that the Pirates now have McLouth AND all the guys he was traded for!

With these moves, Vegas is bullish on the Pirates, setting their over under for wins at 73.  This would just surpass the 1996 Chicago Bulls for best single-season record of all time.

Seven things you didn't know about the Pirates, and our predictions, after the jump...