Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pens lose to Florida, that's about all we have to say

By Finesse

The Florida Panthers. They evoke less passion from us than anyone in the league, except when it comes to the fact that their mere existence is ruining the possibility of an equitable realignment.  Even when the Pens came back from down 4-1 it was still blahh.  A few thoughts below.

zzzzzzz
Vokoun was shaky even if all the goals against him were on the power play ... Letang is maddening.  He goes from best player on the ice to doing something really dumb within a matter of seconds ... In fact, he might just be really dumb ... I dare you to tell Artistry that Dustin Jeffrey's goal was lucky and one that Theodore should definitely have stopped ... the Pens took 9 minor penalties ... Paul Martin was a +3.  He also has the same amount of points this season as Kris Letang ... Patrick Kane is 585th in the league in "Corsi" rating.  Tyler Kennedy is 245th.  Do you think we could get Chicago to also throw in a late round draft pick in the Kennedy for Kane trade? ... If you don't know what Corsi is, read this ... If Tanner Glass is going to use his ice time to contribute nothing but bad penalties, wouldn't it be better to give that ice time to (gasp) Zach Boychuk?  He hasn't shown much, but it might be helpful to have someone with some skill on the ice while Geno is out.

Pens go to Carolina on Thursday and then to Montreal on Saturday.

Artistry and I are going to be in Montreal on Saturday night for the game.  See the sidebar for details.  LGP.

"Don't be soff."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: The Bachelor Fantasy Suite Recap

Recapping Sean's Fantasy Suite experience with Lindsay, Catherine, and AshLee and asking the tough question: Can walls come too far down?

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Pens win two straight; thoughts on Sid's feet, Malkin, Eaton, Stamkos, and Fleury

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Let's start with an illustration. Despite a strong challenge from Steven Stamkos (we'll get to him), Sidney Crosby still holds GTOG's official "What a Player" title.  He put in a totally dominant performance in last night's victory over Tampa.  His first goal was so much less about his frighteningly accurate shot as it was about his incredible footwork.  There's a reason Lindback left the short side open and it's not just because he sucks.  It's because of Crosby's feet.

Look at Sid's foot positioning when he receives the pass from Kunitz.  He opens himself up to the center of the ice which means that he can keep moving toward the net, while having unimpeded vision back toward the middle of the ice.  This forces Lindback and Brewer to respect the pass.  If Crosby's feet and shoulders are facing the net, Lindback can move to his right and Brewer can turn to his right and try to cut off the angle because Sid would no longer be able to get a pass back to Kunitz.


From this second angle, you can really see -- no one else in the league would have received that pass in that body position.


When he finally looks to the net, you can see Lindack is off his angle and Brewer has no chance to get a stick on the puck.  Also, by turning his feet, Crosby has kept the puck from getting too close to his skates, so it's always in a shooting or passing position.  He doesn't have to stickhandle at all before he shoots -- all he has to do is open his blade and pick a corner.


When he finally shot the puck, it looked more like a pass to the back of the net than a shot.  And that's really all it was. What a snipe. What a player.

More on Geno, Eaton, Stamkos, and Fleury after the jump...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Golden Age: When NHL Referees Mattered

By Artistry

In 1994, the NHL made an under-the-radar decision that no one really cared much about at the time. But it was a bad one. In fact, along with southern expansion and the ensuing 1994-95 lockout-shortened season, it signaled the end of hockey's golden age. Gary Bettman identified a group of men every hockey fan knew, and he took away their names. The league tried to make its referees anonymous and ended up sucking a significant amount of the personality out of the game. Former NHL celebrity ref Kerry Fraser explains in a 2011 TSN post:

The "name to number" change came in the season immediately following the NHL Officials Association labour strike in '94. The change was presented to us at training camp by Commissioner Bettman as the League's caring approach to reduce perusal insult and criticism directed at the officials from game spectators. While "vanilla" might be the flavor of choice, if reducing criticism was truly the intention (which none of us ever believed for New York minute) then it didn't work. It did provide anonymity for the new officials (even from players) but it also stripped most of their individuality.

Indeed. For hockey fans in the 80's and early 90's, the refs were part of the show. They were part of the fun. We would ask each other before a game, "Who's reffing tonight?" That mattered. And when any of these guys took the ice, we knew them immediately, and we reacted. The game was on. 





The disappearance of the Frasers, Koharskis, Stewarts, and Van Hellemonds is symptomatic of a larger problem. Read on...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Explaining Advanced Hockey Statistics in a Nutshell: The Corsi Number

By Finesse

After doing a post two days ago about how Ovechkin's current decline is not as much like the supposed decline of the true all-time great players as some want to make you believe, we were chastised by that author because in his mind, we hadn't sufficiently "read up on Corsi and Fenwick."  Unlike him, we're comfortable looking in the mirror and questioning ourselves.  So we spent a good deal of yesterday "reading up on" Corsi.  Here's what we learned.

The Corsi number was created in the last decade by Buffalo Sabres goalie coach Jim Corsi, so it must be good.  Basically, the Corsi number measures a player's plus/minus for shots attempted.  So if you're one of those people who thinks that regular plus/minus is of limited utility, you'll love the Corsi number because it factors out scoring goals and factors in getting your shot blocked. [Cut to Tyler Kennedy nodding approvingly].

A player's Corsi number is the difference between the shots attempted by a player's team and the shots attempted against a player's team (while that player is on the ice).  A "shot attempted" includes shots that hit the net, miss the net, or are blocked.  This is the formula:

Corsi Number = (Shots on Target For + Missed Shots For + Blocked Shots Against ) - (Shots on Target Against + Missed Shots Against + Blocked Shots For)

The Corsi number factors out goaltending.  How convenient for Buffalo. 
Still confused?  Here's how you know Corsi is a good statistic.  Because Sidney Crosby is ranked 65th. Thomas Vanek is ranked 273rd. Steven Stamkos is ranked 362nd. John Tavares is ranked 152nd. Patrick Kane is ranked 626th.  Henrick Zetterberg is ranked 220th.  Martin St. Louis is ranked 484th.  Patrick Elias is ranked 45th. Evgeni Malkin is ranked 64th. Matt Moulson is ranked 170th.

In the outdated statistic of points, those ten are ranked 1st through 10th.

Still not convinced about Corsi's utility?  Here's a video from last night's Wings-Blue Jackets game that really encapsulates the Corsi point.  Number 24 on the Red Wings likely got a Corsi point for indiscriminately shooting puck toward the net and having it blocked, which immediately led to Columbus's game winning goal.



As for the Fenwick statistic, we'll get back to you on that.  All we can tell you at this point is that if Corsi and Fenwick were defensemen, Mario would have split them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

GTOG Recap: Are we who we thought we were? Unfortunately. Pens lose to Flyers 6-5

By Finesse

You can blame the loss on Tomas Vokoun a million times over and it would be impossible for anyone to disagree with you, but all he cost the Pens tonight was a point (or two).  Their composure, and any hope we had that this team had grown up, had been lost long before he ABSOLUTELY BLEW THE END OF THE GAME FOR THE PENS.

Come on, dude.
There were flashes tonight of the Pens that we want to see -- skating 5-on-5, playing deep in the offensive zone, rolling 4 lines.  Then there were the other 58 minutes, which devolved into the sideshow we saw in the playoffs and just like last year, the Pens big people let the Flyers little people into their heads.  What resulted was, for much of the night, the continuation of an embarrassing pattern that still eludes explanation.

Kris Letang let himself get drawn into a penalty by Zac Rinaldo, again.  James Neal took a useless interference penalty, again.  Evgeni Malkin took four minutes of penalties because he wasn't a big enough man to take abuse from Sean Couturier and say to himself, "I'm Evgeni F'ing Malkin, I'm going to ignore this idiot."  Tanner Glass decided that he was going to use his 6:37 of ice time to take 4 minutes worth of a high sticking penalty.  And Dan Bylsma, who let it all happen last year, let it all happen again.

Even if Vokoun hadn't Fleury-farted the Flyers' 6th goal into his own net, this game was, on the whole, a complete disaster.  And don't let the accidental-high-stick-fueled mini-miracle comeback fool you -- the only thing the Pens proved tonight is that space is still available in their heads for rent.  Players like Zac Rinaldo are only effective if you let them be effective, and Letang, Malkin, Engelland, and so many other guys inexplicably and routinely elevate scrubs to their lofty level by engaging with them. Yes, it sucks to get cross-checked in the back 11 times without the ref calling a penalty.  And yes it sucks that Rinaldo takes 100 strides before he hits you.  But the best way to prevent a homeless guy from exposing himself to you is to walk away and not make eye contact.

Malkin is going to want a $100 million contract.  Letang is assuredly going to want to be paid like a number one defenseman.  They should start acting like they deserve it.

It's almost certain that Bylsma has tried to address this discipline issue against the Flyers, but whatever he has said is not working.  And that's on him.  The insane has become routine against the Flyers, but Ray Shero didn't put this team together to win games by out-insaning the other team and winning only because you hope the other team's goalie is worse than yours.  He built it to play 5-on-5, and roll 4 lines, and control the puck, and stay out of the penalty box.  Not to have $8.5 million centers and franchise defensemen ripping the helmets off of AHL curtain jerkers after the whistle.

Sure, the Pens could beat the Flyers in another insane 7-game series by getting moderately better goaltending and having a few more disallowed goals not get disallowed.  But they could make it a lot easier on themselves, and the rest of us, if they tried to be grownups for once.  Because as the Kennedy and Sutter goals in the third period showed, we have a pretty good team.  When we act like it.

A few other random thoughts after the jump...

Yay! Alex Ovechkin gets a lot of shots on goal; A quick GTOG rebuttal

By GTOG Staff

We felt compelled to do a quick rebuttal to Neil Greenberg's defense of Alex Ovechkin in the Washington Post today.  Greenberg compares Ovechkin to Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, the Hulls, Steve Yzerman, and "others who have tallied more than 50 goals in four different seasons" to make the point that a scoring decline at age 27 is predictable.  I'm sure Greenberg's chart is accurate, but to compare him to the all-time greats borders on being insulting.


Gretzky: He scored 40 goals in 64 games at age 27 (a 51 goal pace) before being traded to Los Angeles where he immediately scored 54, 40, and 41 goals between the ages of 28-30.

Bossy: Look at Mike Bossy's stats, for God's sake.  The guy scored 50+ every year until he was derailed by injures (and still managed 38 in 63 games in his final season).

Brett Hull and Bobby Hull: Both scored at a pace of 61-62 goals per 82 games from ages 27-30.

Lemieux: Mario scored 155 goals in 152 games between the ages of 27 and 30.  And oh yeah, he had cancer.

"Wake me up when Ovechkin does this.  With cancer."
Ovechkin had incredible numbers as a young player but let's not pretend that any decline that he is experiencing, or will continue to experience, is a decline that was shared by the true greats.  We're not sure who the other players are underlying Greenberg's data, but it's quite possible that the numbers are watered down not by guys like Mike Bossy, but by guys like Alex Ovechkin.

Greenberg also tries to redeem Ovechkin by saying that he is "more engaged in the Capitals' offense than he has been in a while."  Look at how much the bar for Ovechkin has been lowered ... he's the CAPTAIN of the Capitals and makes $9.5 million/year and he's getting credit for acting interested in playing hockey.  O.J. was very involved in Nicole's life. It didn't make him a good husband.

Greenberg then cites another statistic: "His 64 shots on goal are fourth most in the league and reverse his three-year trend of declining shots per game."  If you're Joe Vitale or Jay Beagle, then shots on goal may be a relevant measure of your effectiveness.  When you're Alex Ovechkin, your shots on goal stats are a measure of nothing other than your effectiveness at getting shots on goal.  If Ovechkin is shooting a lot but not scoring, it means that he is not scoring.  If he isn't shooting a lot and is not scoring, it means that he is not scoring.  That's it.

Finally, there's this: "Even with the lone even-strength goal he is still on a 27-goal pace over an 82-game season. Yes, that is low by Ovechkin standards, considering how he lit up the league upon his arrival, but 27 goals with almost no contribution during even-strength is not chump change either."

Putting aside the fact that 27 goals from a $9.5 million player is laughable (Pascal Dupuis had 25 goals last year and he makes $1.5 million), Ovechkin's inability to score at even strength should not be something that is factored OUT of his evaluation.  If anything, it is the one thing that should be factored IN the most.

Again -- we take only minimal satisfaction in documenting Ovechkin's decline from terrifying offensive force to terrifying contract who shows occasional flashes.  He was dynamic in his last game against the Pens, so maybe he will get back at least some of what he seems to have lost.  But his decline is not comparable to any supposedly similar decline from the true best-of-the-best, and he doesn't need anyone making excuses for him by creating charts that, at their best, prove only that other unnamed guys started sucking later in their careers, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bachelor Hometown Recap: The Blessing Withheld

Check out this week's full length written recap of Hometowns over at our new Bachelor Site -- The Big Kibitz.  You can find the recap here.

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This is what the Man who holds The Blessing should look like. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: Bachelor Hometowns Recap

It’s our favorite week of the Bachelor season — Hometowns, where the fathers are mustacheoed and The Blessing is on the line. We discuss each Hometown date and the enormous ramifications of Sean’s decision to send Des home. It’s the Raw Emotion Podcast.

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This is what the Man who holds The Blessing should look like. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pens Beat Sabres 4-3; Maybe they do have a first line?

By Finesse

We spend so much time worrying about the winger Sid doesn't have that we often fail to appreciate the winger he does have.


Pascal Dupuis has gone from a throw-in piece of the Marian Hossa trade who had 0 points in the Cup run of 2009, to an incredibly effective and efficient "winger for Sid."  He doesn't snipe like James Neal, and he doesn't put up numbers at the pace that Hossa would have but he works as hard as anyone in the league and it pays off time and time again.  His speed makes him not only one of the most relentless forecheckers in the league, but also one of the fiercest "backcheckers" while the puck is still in the offensive zone.  Even if the opponent gets the first pass by the first forechecker, Dupuis is picking pockets by the blue line and mopping up every loose puck.  And now he's added the Finish to his game.

What a player.  And what a line.

A few other brief thoughts after the jump...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

GTOPG: Beau Knows Hockey; Pens pound Jets, 3-1

By Artistry

When the lockout ended in January, we took a blueprint from the 94-95 Penguins and gave you three keys to success in this shortened season: 1) a strong start; 2) MVP-level output from elite players; and 3) goaltending depth.  We're now 15 games in and the Pens are 10-5, with the league's top goal-scorer (James Neal) and leading overall scorer any minute now (Sidney Crosby, 2 points behind the plateauing Tomas Vanek); and two goalies capable of shutting out the opposition for at least 58 minutes on any given night.

Shutouts bore me. I am...the most interesting goalie in the world.
- MAF played his best game of the season in Winnipeg, and if it weren't for Kris Letang icing the puck late in the third period, he would have just passed Tom Barrasso to become the franchise's all-time leader in shutouts. I would say that play by Letang was inexplicable, except it was Letang, and that explains everything.

- Letang easily eluding a forechecking Evander Kane - who is like a neutron bomb out there - shows why he may be worth top-tier money when Ray Shero tries to sign him to an extension this summer. Getting burned on another sequence by Burmistrov (which happens - Burmistrov has world class hands, actually) and the brain freeze on the icing call shows some of the downside when you're dealing with a still untamed but exceptional talent. You hope Letang refines his game, but whatever, you probably just need to live with it.

- Navy Seal Craig Adams scored two goals, stood up for a teammate by taking down a guy twice his size, and commented after the game that Zero Dark Thirty took some liberties with its portrayal of the raid in Pakistan, which he should know because he was there.

- There is a lot of buzz about Beau Bennett giving up the body to block a shot and thus winning his teammates' respect. Great stuff. But that's not what mattered most to us. Instead, it was the sequence where he darted out from behind the Winnipeg net while flashing the silkiest mitts we've seen on a homegrown Penguins winger since...Markus Naslund? Really, I'm not even sure. But it only takes a split-second display to see if somebody can play in the offensive zone at an elite level or not. I'm pretty sure I saw all I needed to see there.

Sabres on Sunday. We'll see if Vanek can hold off Sid for even another day. LGP.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Beau Bennett Era begins; Let your expectations soar accordingly!

By Finesse

Beau Bennett, the Pens' first round pick in 2010 (20th overall) is expected to make his NHL debut Friday night in Winnipeg.  What should we expect?


According to his Wikipedia page, Bennett had 38 points (13 goals) in 47 career games at the University of Denver.  He missed time in both his freshman and sophomore seasons with injuries. He has 25 points (7 goals) in 35 games with the Baby Pens this year.  He was selected to the AHL All-Star game, but missed it with an injury.

In other words, he hasn't exactly been tearing it up statistically.

But ... he is a 6'1", 200 lb winger drafted in the first round, meaning he fits the description of someone who should be (who we desperately want to be) good.  Maybe he has the right skill set and hockey sense to blossom with Crosby or Malkin as his center.  Or maybe he's Eric Tangradi.

Our official expectation: Optimistic, but tempered.

Nevertheless, I commend the move to give him a shot now because even though he's only 21, he's either good or he isn't.  Hockey is a young man's game.  By 21, you should be able to tell whether he's going to be legit.

Legit at 21.

Matt Cooke is back! Penguins beat Senators, 4-2

By GTOG Staff

Imagine if Sidney Crosby didn't score a goal for the next 2 years, then a puck went in off his butt, and people started screaming, "See? Best player in the world!"

See! Best Achilles stomper in the world!
That's essentially what's happening with the people who are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Matt Cooke intentionally sliced Erik Karlsson's Achilles last night, a group being led by Mike Harrington, the Sabres reporter from the Buffalo News. (You can check his Twitter for the insanity)

Isn't that Chet's shirt?
Here's as simple as we can make our opinion on the Cooke-Karlsson incident.  First, it's fantastic to have the villainous Matt Cooke back, one that is not only despised by the rest of the league, but very effective on the ice.  He brought nothing -- literally, nothing -- over the first 6 games, but has slowly shown a little more sandpaper and scoring touch (5 points in last 6 games).  Last night he was even serviceable on Malkin's wing, which only sounds like a compliment because he's following Eric Tangradi and Zach Boychuk (like following Amanda Bynes on your driving test), but still.  Last year the Pens were missing effective grit -- everything was either an Asham fight or a Malkin offensive zone penalty.  As long as Cooke can avoid crossing over into dirty player territory again, his return to infamy is long overdue.



But that leads to the second question -- was the hit on Karlsson dirty?  We're going to have to agree with Matthew Barnaby on this one, who took to Twitter last night to defend Cooke.  Barnaby did so with the usually obnoxious "you didn't play the game" tactic, but last night he was right on.  If you've never played hockey and you watch the video or some slow motion .gif to conclude that Cooke intentionally stepped down on Karlsson's Achilles, through an opening about the width of a skate blade while Cooke was looking the other direction, then the only thing you're doing is proving that you hate Matt Cooke and can act fake outraged with the best of 'em.

BREAKING NEWS: skate blades are not on the ice at all times. 
In our view, Cooke tried to ride Karlsson into the boards and while they were jockeying for position, Cooke lifted his left leg to regain his balance.  Imagine if someone pushed you really hard from your left side.  Your left leg would come off the ground as you tried to regain your balance on your right leg.  Unfortunately, when he tried to put his left leg down (again, while he was looking to the right), he cut Karlsson.

But if the league is determined to assign some blame to Cooke, the worst that is supported by the video is that Cooke tried some super-awkward slew foot of Karlsson and it didn't work because Karlsson is such a strong skater.  Then Cooke's leg is left in no-man's land and comes down on Karlsson's Achilles.   If the league wants to go this route and suspend him for a game or two, we're all accustomed to that.  The easiest and laziest thing to do in any sports debate is to fall back on a player's reputation from years ago when the current video isn't fitting the narrative you want to tell.  After all, how do you think Maurkice Pouncey keeps making the Pro Bowl every year?

More thoughts after the jump...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: Episode 7 Recap

[Make sure to check out TheBigKibitz.com, our new home for Bachelor stuff]

After such an emotional episode, it’s time to let it all out on this week’s Raw Emotion Podcast and set the stage for Hometowns.

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And as we discuss on the podcast, Tierra really cannot control her eyebrow, as she made clear to AshLee. It’s called Congenital Eyebrow Disease, and it’s debilitating.










Bachelor Episode 7 Preview: Three Things You Should Have Already Known

Head over to The Big Kibitz to get ready for tonight's Bachelor episode.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Recap: Pens lose to Devils during breakout session of National Whistleblowing Convention

By Finesse

The National Association of Whistleblowers held their annual meeting in Newark, New Jersey this afternoon but their small-group afternoon breakout session was interrupted by rival gangs of large men. Veteran whistleblowers Chris Lee and Gord Dwyer were leading a session titled, "Blowing Your Whistle: How to Do it Endlessly" on the floor of the Prudential Center when close to 40 men wearing red and white uniforms and armed with sticks, helmets, and rubber discs emerged from the tunnel and started chasing each other around. Though Lee and Dwyer were initially startled by the intrusion, they were able to quickly gain their composure and resume blowing their whistles only 44 seconds after the scary men started chasing each other.

Over the next two and a half hours, Lee and Dwyer combined to blow their whistles twenty times, delighting the raucous crowd of 17,625 whistleblowing fanatics. "I spend a lot of my hard earned money to come to these whistleblowing conventions," said Steve Turco, a lifelong member of the NAW who shelled out $465 to bring his wife and kids to the convention. "Today were some of the best whistles I've ever heard. I really feel like professional whistleblowing is about to take off in this country."

Chris Lee prepares for a Whistle Blowing scrimmage in 2011.
More after the jump...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

GTOG Podcast: Pens defeat Caps 5-2, We Discuss

The Pens PP looked insane tonight.  And oh yeah, the Caps are really having a hard time these days.  We discuss in the GTOG Podcast.

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Sike.

When Baltimore wins the Super Bowl, you need to relish small victories

We wonder, did Lardarius Webb ever feel the graffiti? (Video via Dan Steinberg @dcsportsbog)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Raw Emotion Podcast: Next Crews Get Ready for the Cross-Cut!

Click here to go to our new Bachelor site, TheBigKibitz.com, and listen to this week's podcast recapping the two night Bachelor Event.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

GTOG Instant Reaction: Eat, Despres, Love; Pens Win, 4-2

By Artistry

That play by Sidney Crosby in the last minute of the game - when he took on the Islanders defense along the boards, denying them the puck, outworking and out-skating and out-stickhandling three guys - that is the essence of what we missed for the past two years. Just glorious. Quick thoughts on game:

 - Simon Despres has to be better than expected for the Pens to make a run with this defense, and tonight he was. The baby gazelle will still have some growing pains, but when he flashes, he flashes. The big hit in one zone and a one-time blast for a goal in the other? What an unbelievable shift.


- Speaking of exceeding expectations, can this whole Brooks Orpik/Paul Martin shutdown thing be real? Averaging 25 minutes a game against the opposition's top line, and neither of them have a single penalty minute through 10 games. And Martin is starting to make plays in the offensive zone, getting the puck low and on net for deflections and spinning off of guys trying to defend him on the point. Basically, if you see Paul Martin on the street, you should salute.

- The Pens killed off about 6 straights minutes of penalties in the second period. It was not unlike the Dance...of Champions.



- Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding through two periods, but struggled with controlling rebounds in the third.  Whether he thinks so or not, healthy competition with Vokoun suits him.

- After hearing the Islanders' fans cheer when Sidney Crosby lay bleeding on the ice after taking a puck to the face, I wasn't sorry anymore that their team is moving to Brooklyn.

- Before Mark Recchi, before Kevin Stevens, even before Downtown Robby Brown, whenever we watched a game my friends and I would play "What if" with Mario Lemieux. As in, What if Lemieux had Dino Cicarrelli on his line. Imagine Tony Tanti on Mario's wing. What if we had Rick Tocchet (that wish came true). It's what you do when any great player lacks a proper wing man, but when you're dealing with a talent discrepancy such as the one between Lemieux and, say, Perry Ganchar, the What if game takes on a whole different intensity and level of longing. Anyhow, I thought about all that Tuesday every time Michael Grabner exploded into empty ice. What if Crosby were the one looking to get him the puck?

- Haven't made a ruling yet on Zack Boychuk. Nice speed and good creativity, but you can see why he's had a tough time sticking at this level.  Get a body on him and he's pretty much finished.

- Tanner Glass is a man.

- Don't look now, but as of this second the Pens lead the Eastern Conference. Seriously, don't look now, it's meaningless. Caps in town on Thursday.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Doubling Down on the Raw Emotion Podcast ... TUESDAY NIGHT

For all Bachelor material, visit www.TheBigKibitz.com.

As we’ve discussed on our Raw Emotion Podcasts, this year of The Bachelor has been all about doubling down on the formula because, after all, the formula works. So that’s why ABC decided to double down on The Bachelor this week with not two but FOUR HOURS of Bacheloring. Who exactly was demanding this?

Our Raw Emotion Podcast is going down Tuesday night and will include new Big Kibitz theme music. It’s going to be huge.

In the meantime, download our Bachelor Viewing Guide. It will be the second best decision you ever make. The best will be downloading it, then telling a friend to download it. It’s free, and you will like it.

Hearing good things about internet cats.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GTOG Instant Reaction: Pens troll the capital; win 6-3

By Artistry

Pens fans in the DC area have a tradition. When the Penguins win at Verizon Center, they gather on the steps across from the arena and cheer, chant, and generally troll the entire city until everyone left in the building files out and goes home. According to GTOG's on-the-scene correspondents, today was on another level.

Super Sunday.
A week ago, we were talking about firing the coach and deporting half the Canadians on the roster. And underlying a general feeling of dread was the notion that we might never see Sidney Crosby elevate his game to something resembling his pre-concussion level. This is a good reminder for all of us: the Penguins - and especially Crosby - still deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Suddenly, Crosby looks like the best in the world again. It started when it looked like he was shot out of a cannon in Saturday's dominating win over New Jersey.  And Sunday, at a point in the game when everyone in Washington knew he was looking to get the puck to Chris Kunitz for the hat trick and the Caps were falling all over themselves to prevent it, he did it anyway. He might as well have turned to the owner's box and flipped Ted Leonsis the bird.

We've been particularly tough on Hands lately. For those new to the blog, that's an affectionate reference to Kunitz and his soft, supple mitts. Originally dubbed "Hands of Stone" when he initially seemed to lack the finish to be Sid's primary winger, we shortened it to "Hands" when we began to appreciate his underrated offensive game along with everything else he brings to the table. For now, it looks like Hands is back. And, in the blink of an eye, so are the Penguins.


LGP. GTOG.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is Kris Letang even good on the power play? The numbers may surprise you.

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Over the last two-plus seasons, the Penguins' power play has been the team's most confusing, yet predictable, feature.  It's confusing because it has hall-of-fame talent but feels wildly underachieving.  And it's predictable because Dan Bylsma will always try ridiculous configurations in practice, Paul Coffey will always volunteer to consult even though no one is asking him to, and the Pittsburgh media will always say that either Crosby or Malkin would be upset if they were put on different units despite no evidence that their egos couldn't handle it.

The one constant on the power play during this span has been Kris Letang.  So we thought it was worth asking: is Kris Letang even good on the power play?


The surprising numbers, after the jump...

Friday, February 1, 2013

GTOPG: Pens own Manhattan, Stifle Rangers 3-0

By Artistry

There's no tonic for ailing Penguins fans like watching the Rangers at MSG and realizing, hey, we may be running a slight fever, but those guys have the Ebola virus.  The Pens responded as they had to in the wake of Thursday's horrific showing and Tomas Vokoun was completely locked in, but you really can't discredit the Rangers enough. They stunk. A bigger test of where the Pens really are right now should come Saturday against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Devils.

- If you think the Pens have looked particularly top-heavy in the early going, take a look at the Rangers scoring breakdown.  That's a portrait of scorelessness by quite a few men. Ryan Callahan is out for a couple of weeks, and the Rangers are paying for the Rick Nash trade in a way they probably never appreciated. Anisimov and Dubinsky were very effective players for them, and Anisimov, in particular, was a certified Penguin killer. Nash looks past his prime. Maybe he heats up at some point, but if you were expecting his production to skyrocket by virtue of finally being on a line with other top talent, I predict you will continue waiting and may want to grab a snack or something.


- The team defense was vastly improved in front of Vokoun, but his cool under pressure and the contrast to Fleury right now can't be understated. He should be back in net on Saturday before yielding the second of back-to-back games to MAF on Sunday.

A new power play theory, after the jump...