Thursday, January 31, 2013

Steelers' Brett Keisel goes to Super Bowl to promote Brett Keisel and rewrite history

By Finesse

No one panders like Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.

He showed up at the media center in New Orleans for Super Bowl week (shocker, right?) as part of some Head and Shoulders campaign.  No word on whether he arrived in a tractor.  His purpose there appears to be an attempt at rewriting history.  Actually, that's his secondary objective.  His primary objective is to get attention.  That's always his primary objective.  As we wrote in September about his tendency for shameless and transparent pandering:
We're sure Keisel is a nice guy, that much of his humility is genuine, and that he's undoubtedly been a key part of the Steelers' defense over the past several years. But as his physical skills have eroded with age, he's played Yinzer-nation like a drum. By growing a monstrous beard and wearing hunting shirts to training camp, Keisel has made an indelible mark on the Yinzer-psyche (especially women, says me, based on nothing) and this is not by accident. He's become such a world-class panderer to the people of Pittsburgh that he's going to come out of the tunnel in week 5 actually wearing a hard hat and carrying a lunch pail.
But now? We're not even sure that any of his humility is genuine.  After the jump, we analyze the interview he gave to Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dan Bylsma's goatee - and maybe his job - is in jeopardy

By Artistry

Google "Dan Bylsma fired" and you get some entertaining results. Lots of articles from April 2012, when the Penguins were fresh off that disastrous playoff showing against the Flyers. Some horrifically bad Bleacher Report "piece" from October 2010, which somehow the "correspondent" got 1,000 people to read.  And if you dig deep, you can unearth this little gem from November 2010, wherein a brave and resolute blogger, so much younger then, made his case for everyone to just relax and stop talking about firing Dan Bylsma.  As we said at the time, this is just the way things go in the NHL.  It's the one league where emotion can trump everything when it comes to hiring and firing coaches.  The more it feels like somebody should be canned, the more likely it is he will be canned.

Exhibit A
And here we are again. We told you before the season that Bylsma would be under the microscope this season to a much greater extent than he has been in years past.  With the Penguins coming off an inexplicable loss to the Islanders, people are FREAKING OUT. They want answers, and the easiest answer when nothing makes sense is a simple one: "Blame the coach."

Nothing is as bad as it seems after a loss like that.  This is the same team that smoked the Rangers a few games back.  But as Finesse wrote earlier on Wednesday, it's pretty bad. So is the easy answer the right one? Do we blame the coach? Read on for answers, both simple and complex...

Stale, disinterested and mediocre: Your 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins?

By Finesse 

We're hesitant to call last night's 4-1 loss to the Islanders a train-wreck because it takes energy to start a train.  But what the Pens proved last night is that you can be part of a horrific train-wreck while exerting no energy at all.  Let's start counting the bodies.

- Crosby and Malkin

The first six games have revealed the Pens as arguably the most top-heavy team in the league.  We hope that resolves itself with the bottom getting heavier, but if that's not going to happen, then Crosby and Malkin have to be heavier.

These guys deserve more slack on their leash than anyone.  Currently, they are still our only hope of generating offense.  But they may want to entertain the idea of not trying to pass through 11 pairs of skates every shift.  It's not working.

- Marc-Andre Fleury  

He needs to be benched.  The Pens are a team in need of an infusion of some sort of energy, whether that infusion be positive (like a new or young player scoring a goal, haha) or negative (benching an important player).  The NBC Sports crew last night said Bylsma had planned on splitting Fleury and Vokoun 60-40 this season.  Bylsma (more on him later tonight) should flip it and announce that, at least temporarily, he's going with Vokoun as the presumed 60% guy.  If it's hard for Flower to handle being sent to the bench, perhaps the team can make it a more familiar procedure for him by having him start in the net and then skate over to the bench.

He has two good games this year and two awful ones, which is reflective of our confidence in him right now: it feels like the other team is going to score on half of their shots. He can still win games for the Penguins, but when he plays shitty, it's so bad that the Pens are non-competitive.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

GTOG Instant Reaction: Abominable performance as Pens fall to Islanders, 4-1

What an embarrassing performance.  To avoid overreaction after the sixth game of the season, let's spend tonight highlighting three positives.  There will be plenty of time in the morning for the negatives.

1. Dustin Jeffrey was a huge improvement over Eric Tangradi.

2. Simon Despres was adequate.

3. The goaltending situation might have gotten a lot clearer.

Unlike Ray Lewis, there is no way a Steeler would ever use banned deer-antler spray

By Finesse

Sports Illustrated is reporting that some guy in Birmingham, Alabama may have sold deer-antler spray to Ray Lewis to help Lewis recover from a torn triceps in what seems like an afternoon.  An ingredient in deer-antler spray is banned by the NFL.  Once again, the Steelers are proven to be morally superior to the Ravens.  A Steeler would never do steroids, let alone use deer-antler spray.

Niskanen out 2-4 Weeks; Despres up for huge bump in minutes

By Artistry 

Dan Bylsma said today that the reliable Matt Niskanen will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a foot. Early indications are Simon Despres will slot next to Kris Letang tonight, meaning Despres is going from 0 (healthy scratch) to 60 (playing with a guy who averages like 28 minutes on ice per game) in no time flat. We wish him nothing but success, but we're mortified.

Trade deadline is April 5. We keep hearing rumors of Shero eyeing help on the wing, which is all well and good. But we'd be stunned if Ray Shero waits long to bring in another veteran defenseman. Incidentally, Brian Strait is playing with Mark Streit on the Islanders' top pairing tonight.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: Bachelor Episode 4 Recap

Before you listen to the podcast, make sure to download The Official Get To Our Game Bachelor Viewing Guide. Whenever we describe a move on The Bachelor or Bachelorette as textbook, THIS IS THE TEXTBOOK.  Quick note -- we are circulating the Guide through both GTOG and our spin-off entertainment site, Moving forward, that will be the best way to read all entertainment-related posts. Here’s how to download: 

If you have an iPad: While on your iPad, click here. That will take you to the Guide’s page in the iBook Store. The Guide is free. You can also just search for "Get To Our Game" in the iBooks Store. 

If you don’t have an iPad: You can still capture about 99% of the wisdom by reading the book as a PDF. You can read it by clicking here: GTOG Official Bachelor Viewing Guide PDF.

Now the podcast.  It's Episode 4 and that means feelings are getting real, and emotions are getting raw.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes


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Early evaluation of the Jordan Staal for Mike Zigomanis Trade. Wait...Brandon Sutter isn't Mike Zigomanis?

By Finesse

As Artistry pointed out in our Pens-Sens recap, we are 10.4% of the way through the shortened season, which is the equivalent of being in the second period of the 9th game of an 82 game season.  In other words, Fleury is peaking.  Given the accelerated season and the fact that everything else has pretty much gone according to script so far this year, there's no better time than now to make ABSOLUTELY DEFINITIVE CONCLUSIONS about the blockbuster trade sending Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the pick that became Derrick Pouliot.

And that ABSOLUTELY DEFINITIVE CONCLUSION is this: When Ray Shero made the decision to trade Jordan Staal, he probably didn't expect Mike Zigomanis in return.

The real truth after the jump...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

GTOPG: Paul Martin reclaims seat of power in Ottawa; Pens Win, 2-1 in S/O

By Artistry

We might feel a little silly about dissecting the 5th game of the NHL regular season were it not for this little factoid: with the condensed schedule, we're now more than 10% of the way to the playoffs. It's not that early. Just kidding, we never feel silly dissecting a regular season hockey game.

The Penguins got a big win Sunday against an Ottawa team that put up 8 goals against them in their last meeting, and they did it despite making some of the same careless errors that plagued them against Winnipeg and Toronto. The difference Sunday was a really strong game by Marc-Andre Fleury, a renewed commitment to making simple plays in the defensive zone, and Paul Martin once again taking control of the nation of Canada.

Let's break it down.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

DOWNLOAD NOW: The Official Get To Our Game Bachelor Viewing Guide

We’ve been talking about it for 3 weeks, and it’s finally ready: The Official Get To Our Game Bachelor Viewing Guide. Whenever we describe a move on The Bachelor or Bachelorette as textbook, THIS IS THE TEXTBOOK.

Quick note -- we are circulating the Guide through both GTOG and our spin-off entertainment site,  Moving forward, that will be the best way to read all entertainment-related posts.

Here’s how to download:

If you have an iPad: While on your iPad, click here. That will take you to the Guide’s page in the iBook Store. The Guide is free. You can also just search for "Get To Our Game" in the iBooks Store.

If you don’t have an iPad: Unfortunately, if you don’t have an iPad you won’t get the full functionality of the book (videos, slideshows, etc), BUT you can still capture about 99% of the wisdom by reading the book as a PDF. You can read it by clicking here: GTOG Official Bachelor Viewing Guide PDF

[Special thanks to Evan from TV My Wife Watches for writing the Foreword and @lindsapple for editing help]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pens in Winnipeg tonight; quick thoughts on Tangradi and the Mark Eaton signing

By Finesse

Mark Eaton is back with the Pens.  He signed a 25 game contract with the Baby Pens.  This is huge for us, as our slogan -- So Smart. So Steady. So Serviceable. -- is based off of Ron Cook's description of Mark Eaton.  (We like to think of ourselves as the Mark Eaton of the internet -- serviceable, yet totally unremarkable and forgettable).

I suspect Eaton will see ice time with the big club in short order.  The top 4 defensemen, particularly Letang, are playing minutes that are unsustainable, or at least undesirable, over a 48 game sprint.  I know Letang technically can play big minutes in the sense that he's in great shape, but the issue is whether he can play them well.  His consistent mental breakdowns and discipline issues suggest that he shouldn't spread himself so thin.  The coaches clearly don't yet trust Despres (under 10 minutes of ice time per game), and there is no reason to force minutes upon Engelland (30 and mediocre) and Lovejoy (28 and less than mediocre).  So if you aren't ready to play the young guys like Morrow and Dumoulin, and Engelland and Lovejoy are "ehh" at best, Eaton is a natural choice to eat up some minutes even if his skill set is redundant with Niskanen and Martin.  This doesn't particularly excite us, but like Ron Cook said: He's so serviceable.

- Eric Tangradi has been demoted to the 4th line because of how badly he has sucked in the first three games.  It's too soon to give up on him completely, but the fact remains that he's shown nothing at the NHL level.  He has 5 points in 43 career NHL games.  The Pens have found themselves in this situation with several players over the past several years: a guy not playing well enough to be on a top line, but completely miscast on the 4th line where he essentially has no opportunity to play his way out of whatever it is that's affecting him.  It's hard to have any positive expectations whatsoever for Tangradi on the 4th line with Joe Vitale and Craig Adams.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pens-Leafs podcast, Fleury shot-chart, and other lingering thoughts

By Finesse

A few lingering thoughts on last night's game to compliment our podcast which you can listen to here:

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- At the 1:50 mark you'll see the lowlight of Kris Letang getting beat wide by Nikolai Kulemin, as discussed on our podcast.  Kulemin comes through the neutral zone with speed, but there is no excuse for Letang losing the angle and allowing Kulemin to get the puck toward the net.  It's horrible defense.  Letang is going to be 26 in April and has played 350 games in the NHL.  A true number one defenseman may not get the puck away from Kulemin there, but he doesn't let Kulemin get it to the front of the net.


- And a goalie who is playing well doesn't end up 5 feet to the side of the net when the puck goes in.  To help illustrate Fleury's current positioning problems, here's a reverse shot chart showing where Fleury was located on the ice at the moment the pucks went in the net during the Flyers series and last night.

- We're not trying to be negative about the Pens -- it's a very good team that can win the Cup.  It's just that the same flaws that existed last year still exist.  So it's our position that unless there are personnel changes, or extreme improvements from Fleury or some of the younger players (unlikely, as discussed here), the current team is probably not good enough to win the Stanley Cup. To say otherwise, you need to be able to argue, with a straight face, that a defense that is largely the same as the one that gave up 30 goals in 6 games last spring - with EVERYONE THAT IS STILL ON THE DEFENSE TAKING ON AN INCREASED ROLE - is good enough to win the Cup. We will not be the ones making that argument.

- Think about it this way: If the Pens offense got to face the Pens defense in a 7-game series, we'd be salivating and wondering whether Malkin could score 15 points in 4 games.

- Knowing this, these are the four things we're focusing on right now:

1) What defensemen will be available at the deadline?
2) Can Despres improve enough to actually make a difference?
3) Will Fleury play well enough to stay the #1 goalie?
4) Will Crosby or Malkin win the scoring title?

- On the positive side, Scott Hartnell is out indefinitely with a foot injury.  Let's be honest.  I hope he's out for the season.

Pens Postgame Podcast: Pens fall to Leafs 5-2

[Make sure to check out our big site announcement here]

The Pens went down with a whimper to Toronto on Wednesday night.  We discuss the game and where our confidence level stands after three games.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bachelor Raw Emotion Podcast: A big announcement, plus the episode 3 recap

By Finesse

The thing about raw emotion is that it is always raw, even if it is two days late.  Due to traveling and the start of NHL season, we were a couple days late with this week's Bachelor podcast (to say nothing of not having anything last week).

On the podcast we introduce the GTOG spinoff site where we will be housing all of our future entertainment content, including our Bachelor and Bachelorette posts and podcasts.  Here's a hint: you can find it at  Much more to come on this in the next few days.

The podcast is below, but since we are a few days late, I thought we'd include a quick recap of the episode, segment by segment.  Click here to subscribe on iTunes.


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The teaser opens with Sean on a roller coaster, so you have to assume one of these women is afraid of heights and/or had a brother die on a ferris wheel.  We also see shots of him doing pec flys without his shirt on, his sweaty back pressed up against the machine.  I once worked out topless at my aunt's condo in Siesta Key and sweated so much over every piece of equipment that they probably called an emergency condo board meeting to fine my aunt.  We also see that an ambulance is involved, a woman is on a stretcher, and the other women are praying for her.

1 on 1 with Leslie M.

There are going to be three dates tonight -- one group date and two 1-on-1s.  In other words, it's a huge week.  Chris Harrison advises the ladies to use their time wisely.  The first date card is for Leslie M., the D.C. based political consultant, and asks, "How long will this love last?"  Leslie M. wants to "take their relationship to the next level" because "this is what she's been waiting for."  She may need to dream bigger. Sean takes her to the Guinness World Record Museum on Hollywood Blvd. because "she's fun to interact with."  We learn that Sean's dad owns the Guinness world record for "Shortest Amount of Time Driving the Contiguous 48 States" which is the natural byproduct of his other world record, "Having the Least Amount of Things to Do."  If Sean's dad can't be dead (which is Sean's only mistake so far this season) he might as well be into trivial nothingness.  Can't wait 'til hometowns.

To set the world record for kiss length, Sean and Leslie M. kiss for 3 minutes and 16 seconds, during which Leslie M. calls Hollywood Blvd. "one of the craziest places in America."  Does anyone know what this means?  During the kiss, Sean gets in like 15 hand-ass brushes, and Leslie M. says this is the best day of her life.  GTOG thinks she is a contender: pretty blonde girls in D.C. who work in politics are usually religious and almost exclusively Republican.  There's an 80% chance she's slept with Tom DeLay and a 30% chance she's related to him.  This is Sean's wheelhouse.  They cap off their date by complimenting how uncomfortable they make each other.  Leslie M. tells Sean that he makes her so nervous and he responds, "I'm glad I make you nervous because you made me feel very uncomfortable coming out of the limo."  A Rose for Leslie M....

....with a side of herpes?
Group Date

"Who is going to win my heart?" asks the date card.  "Who cares?" asks America.  Taryn is part of the group date which depresses me because I find her repugnant to the journey.  She is the health club manager who wept during the opening cocktail party for no reason at all, something that should have brought her, and whatever gym she manages, great shame.  I despise this woman.  I have a hard time watching this show objectively because of it.  I also know this is an enormous overreaction on my part.

Sean does pushups with someone on his back while everyone frolics and throws a football around.  Chris Harrison shows up at beach wearing long brown pants, reminding America that (to the best of my recollection) we've never seen his bare legs.  Chris Harrison's legs are the new Robin Quivers' breasts.  A cutthroat 6-on-6 volleyball game is set up so the winning team gets more time with Sean.  Daniella calls it, "literally my worst nightmare."  Taryn is shown on the screen again, and I simply write in my notes, "Karyn again. Really can't stand this woman." (Note: I thought Taryn's name was Karyn for the whole episode).  I'm rooting for the team Taryn isn't on, and a tsunami.  Thankfully Taryn's team loses.  Sean says he wanted to spend quality time with them, but he's also happy to spend quality time with the winning six.  This is a meaningless thought.  It is revealed that Daniela is wearing a wrap around the bottom of her bathing suit, something someone once told me is a warning sign.  At least four of the six losing girls are weeping, indicating they are all crazy or their cycles synced up quicker than usual.  Or both.

On the winning date, Lindsay the substitute teacher makes out with Sean and asks, "what more can I ask?"  She'll hang around for a while but is unremarkable.  Desiree, the current favorite, gets more time with Sean and displays eye contact far superior to Leslie M. Sean tells someone I don't know that there is a lot he doesn't know about her.  Join the club.

Desiree doesn't think Amanda is right for Sean and seems determined to make a fuss about it.  This would be disappointing to us if Desiree's complaint was that Amanda wasn't there for the right reasons, but note the subtle difference between "not here for the right reasons" and "not right for him" -- Amanda may be there for the right reasons, but still not be right for Sean.  Desiree clearly knows what she's doing.  Her biggest obstacle now is overconfidence.

Kacie B., whose occupation is listed as "Ben's season," decides that she needs to tell Sean something about Desiree and Amanda.  What?  No idea.  Why?  Your guess is as good as ours. Kacie B. tells Sean that she doesn't feel like it is her place to be telling him this, but that this has put her between a rock and a hard place.  Sean asks her why she is telling him this.  (Still no idea what "this" is).  She says she doesn't know why she's telling him this.  She says she doesn't want to be the person who tells him this, but at the same time she is stuck in the middle so she has to tell him this.  (Still no clue what she has told him).  Kacie B. says she's not a drama person and she's having a hard time being herself because of this.  She says this hurts her because she doesn't want to hurt either of them.  ("This" is still elusive).  Sean asks her why she is involving herself in that.  (No idea what "that" is, or if "this" and "that" are the same thing).  Kacie says she's asked herself that and that she doesn't want Sean to think that he is not her focus.  "Is this going to be something that bothers you?" she asks.  Sean says he just wants her to be Kacie B., not the crazy person she's being.  Kacie says her plan may not be working.  YOU THINK?!?!

AshLee's 1-on-1

AshLee, the 32-year-old with the formidable body, is a "personal organizer."  This means she spends her days organizing her personal life, not organizing someone else's life.  Right before AshLee's 1-on-1, Tierra falls down the steps and hits her head.  Cameras don't catch the fall, but the sound guy earned his bonus by adding what sounded like a sonic boom sound effect to indicate that someone fell.  Hysteria ensues in the house while the girls and Sean are praying that Tierra is OK.  An ambulance is called and Tierra is put on a stretcher.  As soon as she realized that leaving the house is the end of her attention, she pops up from the stretcher like Rod Tidwell in Jerry McGuire.

During the date they go to Six Flags with two young girls with disabilities.  It's a nice moment.  AshLee praises Sean's integrity. Reality Steve texts the two disabled girls for information then writes a 14,000 word post to the "haters."

AshLee goes to the Scale of Horrible Things early and reveals that she is adopted and was abused at the foster home.  She makes a point of telling Sean that it wasn't sexual abuse.  Sean's favorite band, The Eli Young Band, plays while they dance.  What are the chances that Sean's favorite band wouldn't be an emo country band?  Sean sees no problem with AshLee being adopted.  AshLee cries about  "immersing herself into the possibility of loving this man for the rest of her life." I weep when I watch Mario Lemieux's breakaway goal against the Flyers in the '97 playoffs.

Cocktail Party

Classic cocktail party this week: not everyone got time with Sean, so they all need to get time with Sean.  Sean takes Sarah out to the driveway to surprise her with her dog.  This makes Sarah, the girl with one arm, feel special.  Tierra tells Sean that she is embarrassed that she fell; Sean asks Tierra if she "trusts it."  Again with the vague pronouns.  Desiree steals Sean from Tierra but then Tierra steals him back.  It's a real back-and-forth cocktail party.  Other women are stunned that Tierra is getting a second conversation with Sean.  Is this in the rules?  Is this even allowed?  Desiree tears up about having to play "the game" -- you know, The Bachelor game -- on The Bachelor.  Kacie B. gets interrupted while she apologizes to Sean and is left thinking, "I can only pray that everything works out."  Sean, meanwhile, is praying that he will be led in the right direction by his heart.  Dueling prayers.  Let's see what God decides...


God's plan is that Kacie B. and Sean are better off as friends, as Sean dismisses her before the Rose Ceremony.  She says she leaves with no regrets.  Maybe because she used them all up during her last comeback?

Rose Ceremony

Drama is manufactured as Sean saves Desiree for the last rose.  He calls her "Des" which is a clear signal to the rest of the ladies that this woman is for real.  The other losers are Kristy the model and Taryn.  YESSSSS!!!!! GOOOOO HOMMMMEEEEEE TARYN!!!!! ENOUGH OF THIS WOMAN ON TV.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On the Flyers early-season struggles: Ha Ha.

By Artistry

Our friends in Philadelphia continue to just daintily dip their little toes into the shallow end of the 48-game regular season.  The Flyers started 0-2, and are currently getting smoked by New Jersey, 3-0 in the second period. What could have possibly changed over the last 10 months? This is what Scott Hartnell did during the lockout:

Hartnell took in Game 2 of the World Series in San Francisco. He played golf frequently. He visited friends and family in Canada. 

Tone Setter.

Top 10 Things My Mother-in-Law Said During The Bachelor

By Artistry

Here, with no context whatsoever, are the top 10, OK, the only 10 things my mother-in-law said during Episode 3 of The Bachelor:

10. "Look where they put these people."

9. "Political consultant: what does that mean?"

8. "Where are they? They're in California? No. Where are they?"

7. "What do you think about Harrison getting a divorce?"

6. "So what's a political consultant?"

This is a political consultant.
5. "That's right. It's amazing."

4. "Not a bad body. He's in good proportion."

3. "Nah. There's nothing between these two."

2. "That's why she wasn't picked the first time. Oh, you idiot. You lost it kiddo."

And the number one thing my mother-in-law said during Episode 3 of The Bachelor is:

1. "I don't understand. You recorded it? You don't have to watch the commercials? What night is it? What night is it on? You recorded it? OK."

Thank you all for your patience as Finesse gets this whole Japan phase out of his system. We're on track for a Wednesday night Raw Emotion Podcast full of a lot of pent up feelings.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

GTOPG: Pens trounce Rangers, 6-3; It wasn't that close

By Artistry

The Penguins beat the Flyers and Rangers handily this weekend, serving notice that last spring was not a sign of things to come and that, if anything, maybe Vegas underestimated the Stanley Cup favorites. And Sid Crosby hasn't even gotten warmed up. It's early, teams don't have their legs, they're disorganized, it probably won't mean anything when we play at MSG in April, but think about it: the Pens just went into the lion's den and no one drew a nervous breath except for about 45 seconds late in the third period with Richards/Nash/Gaborik on the ice trying to cut their deficit to one goal. And really, nobody was that nervous.

Better than Xanax.
So many things made me happy about this game, we're going with a top ten list, after the jump.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

GTOPG: And We're Off; Pens Win, 3-1

By Artistry

If we were hoping for one thing out of Saturday's opener in Philly, it wasn't a Malkin hat trick, a Crosby game-winner in OT, or a Scott Hartnell trip, fall, and face-plant. Although any of those things would have been nice. No, our greatest wish was this: that the Penguins would recapture the relentless, self-possessed style they display when they're at their best.  That they would be tough to play against.  And that wish came true.  This game was as sloppy as you would expect the first post-lockout game to be, but you can't overstate the importance of getting these two points and starting to rebuild the confidence and team game that eroded in last spring's playoffs.  Quick thoughts:

- Paul Martin killed it. He really killed it.

- For one day at least, some of the concerns about other defensemen were muted. Letang stayed under control while generally dominating 5 on 5 play and playing half the game. If he stays healthy, he might lead the league in time on ice.  Matt Niskanen looked more than comfortable in a Top 4 role. And Simon Despres showed some astonishing confidence with the puck while playing just the right amount of minutes (10:26).

- Evgeni Malkin was in that holy terror forecheck mode where he undresses puck carriers at will. 2009 ECF level stuff.

- James Neal looks possessed. I think he's getting better.

- Really liked what I saw from Brandon Sutter and Tanner Glass. Not so much from Dustin Jeffrey and He Who Shall Soon Be Displaced From Geno's Line.

- That's the Fleury who used to love playing in Philadelphia. If he's back - and we won't really know until the playoffs - then maybe the Penguins are the favorites. 

Penguins Opening Day: A Quick Reminder

By Artistry

There is nothing better than beating the Flyers in Philadelphia. If you missed it, our 2013 Pens Preview is here.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Penguins Preview: 10 Things No One Else Will Tell You

By GTOG Staff

We're not going to lie. We're about as excited as we ever get in January. As long as we're making Top 10 lists about hockey instead of lining up the Top 10 Possible Starting Times For The Next CBA Meeting At An Undisclosed Location or Top 10 Things Rob Rossi Just Made Up About Labor Law On Twitter, things are fairly fantastic. Seriously, you had us at "The Penguins are playing the Flyers and Rangers this weekend in games that should have playoff-level intensity."  So let's get right to it.  Here are 10 Things No One Else Will Tell You about the 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins.

10. Dan Bylsma has about 12 weeks to Get to His Game.

Let's be real. That 2009 Stanley Cup has Michel Therrien's sofffff, sweaty fingerprints all over it. Since that magical run, Bylsma has been at the wheel for three consecutive playoff disappointments.  He's won only a single series over that span. There is nothing quite like watching him do his "Sid, you ready? Good. You're starting" routine, but if we see another early exit in April, Disco's job can't be secure. You don't squander 4 years of this group's prime and come out the other side unscathed. Not a chance.

Still feeling pretty good about himself.
How can Bylsma turn his playoff fortunes around? Start by not over-thinking it. If something doesn't work, try something else. If Fleury is leaking pucks, play Vokoun. Don't invent a new position for James Neal so you can squeeze your top 5 guys on the first power play. We're not looking for the Higgs boson here.  Is it possible that Dan Bylsma is kind of like that kid in elementary school with the enormous trapper keeper and perfect handwriting and sick organizational skills who, when you peeled away all the layers, really wasn't that smart? We hope not, but it's an open question. We're rooting for him.

9 more things, after the jump...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: Bachelor Premiere Proves That Nothing Ever Changes

It's a new season of The Bachelor, but it's exactly the same as always.  We kick off the year with a new Raw Emotion Podcast, breaking down our feelings after an emotional premiere, a guest appearance from Mrs. Artistry, and some predictions.

And don't forget: Our exclusive Bachelor Guide will be available through the iBooks store soon.

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COMING VERY SOON: The Official GTOG Bachelor(ette) Viewing Guide

By GTOG Staff

As you strap yourselves in for Season 17 of the Bachelor (premiering tonight on ABC at 8/7c), you may be a touch concerned that you won't be able to stomach a lengthy stretch of two hour visits with Sean, maybe the most generic Bachelor since Brad. Wait, that was only two seasons ago. In any event, put your worries aside. There's one thing that's about to become clear: you'll never watch this show in the same way again.

THREE black ladies?
We created an iBook previewing this season, and really every other season, that is finished and loaded into iTunes.  It's just not available yet as of 4:27pm.  Apparently the Apple people are confirming its authenticity or something, which is strange because GTOG is the most trusted name in the blogging business.  Anyway, here's the cover:

It's pretty cool.  This is what our announcement was going to be because we assumed it would be ready by now:
Ladies and Gentleman, we present to you the Official GTOG Bachelor(ette) Viewing Guide, which you can download here on iTunes. From the introductory cocktail party tonight right through to moment Sean breaks up with Brook, the 25-year-old community organizer from Pittsburgh, in June, you will learn to study, rely on, and possibly sleep with this book. We're not asking for thanks, and we're not asking for money. Just be true to your Journey.
We will post/tweet/etc as soon as it's ready.  GTOG Everybody.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Lockout is Over: Let's DO THIS

By Artistry

It's almost incomprehensible that it took until January to resolve some very basic issues. Splitting a large revenue pie between two parties and picking a cap number between $60 and $70 million really had you tied up in knots, huh guys?  Ridiculous. Pathetic. There's a bad taste lingering from the useless meetings, cancelled meetings, and mindless Rob Rossi tweets. We can't stand Bettman and Fehr. Nobody puts Ron Burkle in a corner.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's done. Our long blogging nightmare is over. Let's get to our game.

We're looking at a compressed schedule with a disproportionate amount of games against division rivals, who we think we hate already, but it's possible we don't even know what hate is yet. Jordan Staal has flown south, so we'll need all hands on deck.

Still out of position.
We saw a 48-game season one other time, in 1994-95. Mario Lemieux sat things out, and in that lockout-shortened year, three things proved vital:

1) A strong start. The Pens blew out of the gate with a 12-0-1 record in their first 13 games en route to a 29-16-3 overall mark and a high playoff seeding.

2) Top talent. The Pens had a No. 1 line of Jaromir Jagr, Ronnie Francis, and Luc Robitaille. Jagr won the Hart, Francis led the league in assists, and Lucky Luc buried rebounds.

3) Goaltending depth. Tommy Barrasso started only two games and missed the rest of the season with injuries. Kenny Wregget, the best backup in Pens history (to date), stepped in and led the league with 25 wins.

That's the formula. The bet here is this Pens team is about to check all three of those boxes. Welcome back. LGP. GTOG.