Thursday, October 31, 2013

So the Pens beat the Bruins, 3-2. Here are some pros and cons from the big win

By GTOG Staff

Putting a lot of weight on one win over the Bruins would be like thinking that a coin flip is more likely to turn up heads next time because it turned up heads last time. These two teams are about as close as it gets, save for one, maybe two, small, but very important differences. The first, and most important, is the ability to avoid the downward mental spiral, or as we like to shorten it, "mentalability." The Pens dominated the first period of game 1, didn't score, and then couldn't recover for the next 5 periods. The Bruins got dominated in the first period of game 1, shrugged it off, and owned the next 5 periods. That's not a difference in talent, that's a difference in mentalability.

The other difference is attention to detail. Tukka Rask is a very good goalie, but a lot of goalies would put up similarly excellent statistics if they played in front of a team like Boston that never really gives up the Grade A scoring chance. The Pens had a lot of "chances" last year, they just weren't good looks. The Bruins hurry you, they clog lanes, and they make you force things that other teams -- like the Islanders and Senators -- don't do. So yeah, the Pens can get 30 shots a game -- or 54, like in Game 3 -- and it still feels like the Pens are being shut down. That's because the shots aren't threatening. The Pens defense is the opposite. They can hold a team to 21 shots, but it feels like 12 of them could be goals.

The bottom line is that there are very few things that could happen (other than injuries) that would make us more confident or less confident about the Pens chances if they meet the Bruins again in the playoffs.  But last night was a reminder that last year's playoffs was like a blackjack dealer getting hot while you get cold.  Eventually you'll get some good cards, even if the odds still favor the house. Slightly.

With that, a few pros and cons from the Pens 3-2 win.

Pro: The Penguins punched the bully in the nose. Coming off maybe the meekest showing the team has ever had in a playoff series, the Pens took the play to their tormentors for the better part of the night. And they did it without several of their top players. No moment signified the change in attitude more than when Bobby Bortuzzo stood toe to toe with Lucic and Chara in front of Fleury's net. By springtime, Bobby B. will be comfortable ensconced deep inside their heads.

Has yet to play a game where an opponent didn't try to fight him.
Con: It took two perfect shots to beat the bully. Can't remember when the Pens last scored a softie against Tuukka Rask.

More after the jump...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is it possible to win something on the same day you find out Rob Scuderi has a broken ankle? Pens 3, Canes 1

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

The Pens announced last night that Rob Scuderi is out indefinitely with a broken ankle that will require surgery.  Don't bother Googling the standard recovery time from broken ankles unless you want to read a lot of blogs from high school soccer players about their recoveries, but suffice it to say this isn't good.  Scuderi had been noticeable for being unnoticeable which is all you can ask for.  There were times this season when we forgot he was even on the team. It's difficult to overreact when your 34-year-old defenseman -- who you just signed to 4 year, $13.5 million contract in large part because you figured, hey, he may be 34 but the guy NEVER gets injured, he's just a rock back there -- snaps his ankle in two.


He'll be missed most for something we never got a chance to see -- the effect he would have on Kris Letang.  Scuds cannot -- literally, he cannot -- be baited into any sort of run-and-gun style.  He may make the occasional mistake, but they are usually due to God-given limitations, not because the opponent is in his head or because nothing is in his head.  He is, for better and worse, the polar opposite of Letang.  It would have been nice to see if some of his steadiness could have rubbed off on the ol' 58er.

His absence, and presumed trip to long term injured reserve, means two things: occasional available ice time on the blue line for one of the AHLers and cap space.  If Scuderi can make it back before the playoffs, both of these things may be good things.  We have to assume for the time being that Bobby B and Deryk Engelland will split time as the 6th defenseman, but whatever leftover time remains, here's hoping it goes to Dumoulin and/or Despres.  As Olli Maatta is proving, you don't have to endure Wilkes-Barre for years before you are ready for the NHL.  Both Dumoulin and Despres are as ready as they'll ever be for legitimate shots at sticking with the big club.  Bylsma has to find some time for them, but it's up to them to seize it.

A few thoughts on last night...

- Not only are the Pens 6th best in goals against per game, but they're also 3rd best in shots against per game (25.5) and third in shot differential (+7.2).  Last year the Pens gave up 29.2 shots per game in the regular season and 32.7 per game in the playoffs.  The best way to prevent another Fleury implosion?  Don't make him do anything.

- There was some discussion last night between Steigerwald & Errey that players back in the day were hazed by shaving their pumpkin.  Your guess is as good as ours.

- We said a few days ago that Malkin doesn't need any help.  Malkin might need some help.  He's putting in a lot of minutes with a lot of guys who really aren't anywhere close to his level.  Putting an $8.7 million player out there with league-minimum wingers guarantees you aren't getting your $8.7M worth.

- Is James Neal ever coming back?  Is James Neal still alive?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Podcast: What's up with the Pens' 3-game losing streak, and are the Steelers watchable?

We discuss the Pens' 3-game losing streak, what to expect from Kris Letang, more reasons Brandon Sutter isn't good, and the Islanders trading for Tomas Vanek. We also discuss the Steelers' loss in Oakland and whether there is anything redeemable about this team.




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How will you feel when Martin Brodeur is on the Penguins later this season?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

It's never too early to emotionally prepare for the inevitable.

The Devils stink.  Possibly the worst team in the league.

The Pens need another goalie.

The Devils got Cory Schnieder to be their goalie of the future.  He's also, apparently, their goalie of right now.

Martin Brodeur understands, but isn't thrilled.

He wants to play.

He wants to play in big games.

The Pens will play in a lot of big games.

His salary (4.5M, expires after this season) is not prohibitive with smart cap management (which the Pens have).

He has a no trade clause so, should the Devils decide to get something for him, he can determine his destination and that team won't have to pay a ransom for him.

He shares an agent with ... wait for it ... keep waiting ... a little longer ... Sidney Crosby.

All of it makes too much sense.  (Except for the fact that his stats in 2 games this season are awful).

No idea yet how I'd feel about this, especially since we don't know if he's still good.

All I'm saying is that it's not too soon to start thinking about it.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pens get wake-up call from good team; Crosby's like, "I've been up for hours." Pens win, 4-3

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

It was nice to finally see the Pens play a team that actually made the playoffs last season, though the results were mixed.  The Pens won, which is obviously nice, but the Canucks carried the play for a good portion of the afternoon.  Such is life against real teams.  A few random thoughts before the Red Zone channel comes on...

- Calculating that someone is on a particular scoring pace after 8 games is usually a pointless exercise, but this season, there may be an exception.  Sidney Crosby is on pace for 174 points.  If that seems inconceivable in today's NHL, that's because it probably is.  But 150 points?  Absolutely in play, health permitting.

- Crosby's level play is obviously an amazing thing, but it does put into clear focus just how reliant the Pens are on him right now.  Without Neal, who will obviously help Malkin, and without Letang, who will make every line a threat to score just by being on the ice, the Pens at even strength are extremely dependent on their three best forwards (Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz) for scoring.  Consider:

The Pens have a total of four even strength goals so far this season on which Crosby, Malkin or Kuntiz haven't had a point (excluding Adams' empty netter against Buffalo).  And none in the past four games.  It's a small sample size so maybe the scoring evens out, but as Boston proved last season, if a good team really wants to shut a few guys down, they probably can.  The Pens have plenty of firepower.  It's just all in a few big guns.

You can imagine how this made us feel.
- Yesterday we brought up the not-that-crazy-anymore idea that Fleury could earn an invite to Sochi if he keeps playing well and all the other Canadian goalies keep being pedestrian.  But even though he played really well overall yesterday, the first goal he gave up ... from center ice, off his chest, over his head, then in the net ... is why he is probably too high of a risk for Team Canada.  It's one thing if that happens in the 8th game of the season against Vancouver.  But if -- and arguably when -- he gives up a goal like that in Sochi and it's on the cover of every sports page in the world?  Now you have an international incident, and unfortunately for Fleury, he won't have Paul Steigerwald there to repeatedly refer to it as an unlucky bounce.

- It looks like Olli Maatta will be sticking around for a while, which leaves the Pens with some tough choices once Letang gets back.  Niskanen-Maatta is a very skilled third pairing ... both are good skaters and both are good with the puck ... but may not be the best when pinned deep in the Pens' own zone.  A possible work-around: Play Niskanen and Maatta, as frequently as possible, with the Crosby line.  Crosby, Kunitz and Dupuis can keep the puck in the offensive zone, and Niskanen and Maatta are talented enough to finish the opportunities Sid creates.  This allows the Pens to spread Letang's offensive ability over the other three lines which, Geno excluded, could use the help.

Doesn't need help.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Beating the Flyers is never not satisfying; Pens beat Flyers, 4-1

By GTOG Staff (follow Artistry and Finesse on Twitter)

Feeling a little detached from the proceedings lately? Tough to get worked up about the Penguins' clinically dispatching lottery hopefuls like Buffalo and New Jersey? Well, nothing like a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia to get your blood flowing.

Feel that?
The Flyers are in such disarray, it brings into sharp focus why Dan Bylsma is such an effective regular season coach. (The playoffs are a different discussion.) Many bench bosses can instill discipline and structure. Many others can get their players to like them. But how many can do both of those things over the long term? Short list. Bylsma's on it. Having Crosby and Malkin in the lineup doesn't guarantee anything, particularly when you're rolling out a bottom 6 of Vitale, Glass, Adams, Engelland, Sutter, and Harry Z. The Flyers arguably had more forward talent in the lineup Thursday night. But Crosby, Malkin, solid goaltending and a pedestrian supporting cast playing with purpose and structure is pretty much all you need to get 100 points and a high playoff seed in the modern NHL. This is part of what makes today's game frustrating. In the early 90's, if you had Lemieux and Jagr, you let the horses run and implemented a defensive system only if you got down 3-1 in a playoff series, if then. Times have changed, and the point is, be glad this isn't your brain trust.

4,833 combined penalty minutes.
Thoughts on the game, after the jump...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Advanced Stats Confirm: Brandon Sutter is Not Very Good

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

We've had a brief but colorful history with Corsis, the recently invented hockey statistic that measures shot attempts.  A Corsi is a shot attempt -- on net, missed, or blocked.  If you're on the ice for a goal, a miss wide, and a shot attempt that's blocked, that's a Corsi For of +3 because that's 3 shot attempts.  Conversely, if you're on the ice for 3 attempted shots against but no shots for, your Corsi is -3.

From a team perspective, Corsi is an affirmation of common sense (having the puck = good; not having the puck = bad).  From an individual perspective, even if you fall squarely in the camp (like we do) that it's a flawed individual statistic because throwing pucks indiscriminately at the net is not always a positive thing, the Corsis can at least be a measure of activity -- that is, when you are on the ice, is good stuff happening (shots for), is bad stuff happening (shots against), or are you just floating around killing time?

"I'll take 'floating around killing time' for $100, Alex"
No one has harped on Brandon Sutter as early and as consistently as we have.  We had high expectations for him, and he's been mediocre at best, irrelevant at worst.  He scored 11 goals in 48 games last year, but as we outlined in our season preview, this was the result of a couple good moments during a season that was otherwise filled with idle blandness, mostly spent losing puck battles on the boards or wandering around the neutral zone while Crosby and Malkin caught their breath.

I've gotten kind of bored complaining about him solely based on what I've watched, so I decided to go somewhere I hadn't gone before -- the Corsis -- to see if it supports what we're seeing (or not seeing) on a nightly basis from Sutter.  And boy, does it ever. (All numbers from ExtraSkater.com, so if they're wrong, I don't know what to tell you).  Let's dive in.

Brandon Sutter was horrible at the 5-on-5 Corsis last year

One key measure of Corsis is to compare how many Good Corsis happen when you're on the ice versus how many Bad Corsis happen.  This is measured by "Corsi For %."  What this means is that if you make 4 Good Corsis, but let up 6 Bad Corsis, your CF% is 40% (because 40% of all the Corsis that happen when you are on the ice are Good Corsis).

Per Extraskater.com, out of 179 players listed at Center who played in 24 or more of the 48 games last season, Brandon Sutter was 163rd in Corsi For % at 5-on-5.  If this were the SATs, he'd be in the 9th percentile.  His CF% was 42.4%, which means that if Brandon Sutter was on the ice for an entire game during which a combined total of 50 shots were attempted, Brandon Sutter's team would attempt 21 shots and the opponents team would attempt 29 shots.  We're basically at the point where when Sutter gets a shot on goal, we cheer him on like a proud father whose son made his first bowel movement in the toilet: "Yayyyy, you made a Corsi!!!"

Sutter slotted in just behind All-Stars like Max Talbot, Jay Beagle, Mark Letestu, James Wright, and David Steckel.  (In Sutter's defense, he did beat out legends like Joe Vitale, Zac Rinaldo, Zenon Konopka, and the immortal Jay McClement, who, in the Hypothetical Corsi Game described above, would get out Corsi'd by a margin of roughly 32-18).

For comparison's stake, and presented without comment, Jordan Staal is 37th on the same list, with a CF% of 53.6% (meaning he wins the Hypothetical Corsi Game 27-23).

Much more after the jump...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What the Pens (and Dan Bylsma) should do against the Oilers tonight

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

I had the good fortune (I bought tickets) of going to see the Oilers play the Capitals in Washington, D.C. last night.  It was part scouting mission / part curiosity, as I've never actually watched more than 8 seconds of an Oilers' game.  The Caps won, 4-2.

Here's my takeaway:

If you could use an extra $10,000, what you should do is take the $10,000 you have in your bank account, give it to a bookie, tell him you want the Pens -1.5 tonight, and then wait for him to come to your house tomorrow with $20,000 (or $19,000 depending on his cut).

It's not that the Oilers have bad players -- they actually had some impressive individual plays, including a beautiful deflected pass and counter-attack by Justin Schultz (mind you, it was after intercepting a lazy pass from Mike Green) -- but whatever cliche intangibles that a hockey team is supposed to have so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts ... they don't have that.  They don't seem like a real hockey team.



And they don't have a real goalie.

The best way to describe Edmonton is that they look like one of those men's league teams that brings in a bunch of young guys who are home from college to be ringers and help the team win the Molson or Heineken Cup, or whatever beer is sponsoring this year's Christmas Tournament.  Except everyone on the men's league team forgot how few shits college kids give about anything -- especially rec league hockey over their winter break -- and the college kids, while talented, end up just skating around the edges trying low percentage fancy moves, and then piss everyone off by refusing to come off the ice during a power play.

"Pretend like you don't see the old guys trying to get on the ice, and we can play this whole power-play."
Even though Edmonton outshot Washington 30-20 (and even won the Corsis), there was really never any doubt that when Washington's best players felt like scoring, they were going to be able to do so without exerting all that much effort.  I'm not taking anything away from the Caps' 4-2 victory (I am), but there are almost no lessons that can be taken away from beating Edmonton at this point.

So how should Dan Bylsma coach his team in a game that has no bearing on whether the Pens are good or bad or what systems the Pens should run going forward?  The answer: he shouldn't.

For the sake of hockey fans everywhere, Dan Bylsma and Dallas Eakins should recuse themselves from tonight's game and just let the players play.  No coaching.  No systems.  No line-matching.  Nothing but up-and-down hockey.  Raw talent, free from the shackles of structure and discipline.

"Now you've got my attention."
The only reason not to do this is that Fleury could end up in an insane asylum after giving up 13 goals in the first period (and leaving with a 16-13 lead).  But here's the thing: it's a long season ahead.  Let's have some fun along the way.

Screw it, scratch Tanner Glass and let DB suit up.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Podcast: Steelers finally win; Pens split in Florida. Does any of it mean anything?

We discuss the Steelers win over the lowly Jets, plus the Pens' road trip to Florida.

Listen below or check out our Spreaker page. To download the podcast directly from iTunes, click here.  Or you can download, listen, and subscribe via the Spreaker app on iTunes by clicking here, or on Android by clicking here.





Friday, October 11, 2013

GTOG EXCLUSIVE: Photos of Steelers' locker room before Mike Tomlin decided to ban all games prove that Tomlin was right

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

It started a few weeks ago when the 08ers gathered the troops and made them stare at pictures of the 08ers holding the Lombardi trophy. Then Ben, Ryan, Troy, Key and the other generals took away the locker-room game-playing privileges of anyone with less than four years of experience in the league.  But this Leadership only Led to Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert physically assisting defense linemen on their path to sack Ben.

Everything had been tried, yet something still had to be done.

Enter General Tomlin, Commander in Chief of the Men, the Boys, the Obviouslys, the What Have Yous, the Things of That Natures, and the What Nots.  Not since Truman seized the mills in '51 has a Man asserted more control over Steel as Mike Tomlin did yesterday when, to turn around the team's embarrassing 0-4 start, he took the unprecedented step of seizing all locker room games - including obviously the ping-pongs and the pools and things of that nature -- and forbidding anyone, including the 05ers and the 08ers, from playing them.

Ryan Clark (an 08er) is just not tripping about any of it.

WELL YOU KNOW WHAT, RYAN?  GTOG is tripping about it, and we're tripping about it because the truth is that MIKE TOMLIN IS RIGHT.  The Steelers' locker-room, pre-Battle of Tomlingrad, was a free-for-all.  A zoo.  A jungle gym.  A Chuck E. Cheese.

And no, we don't mean that metaphorically.  The Steelers' locker room was actually a Chuck E. Cheese.

We've obtained EXCLUSIVE photos of the Steelers' locker room at various points over the first four games of the season.  Have a look, and then you tell us whether you still think Tomlin deserves to be mocked?

Here are the Steelers making halftime adjustments during the loss to the Chicago Bears:



Before the Titans game, David and Maurkice relax with a game of Twister in the training room:



Coach turns to a familiar face to mentor the running backs:




Todd Haley makes an example out of a dollhouse to motivate the offense against Cincinnati:



And if you still aren't convinced that Tomlin was right, consider: is it really smart to let injured vets continue playing games in the locker room?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pens allow Carolina to briefly think they won't lose; Pens win 5-2

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

Sometimes it's hard to get up for the third Penguins game of the season when a Pirates elimination game is looming and there is nothing about either Pittsburgh or Carolina that made anyone think for more than a nanosecond that the Canes were going to win this game.  While other teams get their shit together, the Pens are already in mid-season form.  There are always arguments to be made that having a stable core group of players can get stale, but the flip side is that there is minimal ramp-up time for the season when everyone is already familiar with everyone else.  The Sid-Kunitz-Dupuis line is running a clinic; Paul Martin is Prime Ministering; Matt Niskanen is adding value to the top-4; and even Tanner Glass is showing a pulse, having already done more this season than he did in 48 games last year.

Good scrap, too.
With this stability comes the ability -- so long as the coaches have patience -- to integrate some new pieces without sacrificing anything.  Beau Bennett is up to over 14 minutes of ice time and he's noticeable for almost all of it, and for all the right reasons.  Rob Scuderi fits like the glove would have fit O.J. if he hadn't been wearing a latex glove and binged on sodium the night before.  And Olli Maatta is giving the Pens something they haven't gotten in a long time from an individual player -- legitimate and tantalizing upside.  If he has six more games like his first three, the Pens have to keep him in the lineup even when Letang returns.  If that means trading Niskanen or scratching Bortuzzo, remember: they're Matt Niskanen and Bob Bortuzzo, not Nick Lidstrom.  Could Maata win Rookie of the Year if he plays 70 games with the Pens this season? Highly doubtful, but the fact that it isn't a laughable question means something.

Blocked this shot.
- Chemistry is a hard thing to define. James Neal has a booming shot and knows how to find a soft spot on the ice. Evgeni Malkin is incredibly creative and always finds the open man. Does that mean they have great chemistry, or do they just have complementary skill sets? Maybe it's both. Maybe it's more the latter. In any event, Malkin and Jussi Jokinen have chemistry. Period.

- One thing we forgot to consider about Brandon Sutter: contract year.  He has a point in each of the Pens' first three games.  If he contributes offensively on a regular basis, reevaluate everything you thought you thought about the Pens' bottom six.

- One thing we never find ourselves thinking: when does Matt D'Agostini come back?

- No reason to be satisfied about anything. Home games against non-playoff teams are games you expect to win.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ten takeaways from the Pens' perfect start, plus the Flyers fire Peter Laviolette [CORRECTED]

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

We're through the first weekend of the NHL season and the Pens are 2-0, Fleury looks sharp, and the Flyers are 0-3  It's been a perfect start.  Here are 10 takeaways.

1. Let's not get too excited.  It is entirely possible, if not likely, that Buffalo and New Jersey could end up being the two worst teams in the Eastern Conference this season.  Particularly Buffalo.  They may be one of the worst teams in a long time, especially once they get rid of Vanek, Ott, and Ryan Miller.  Not that they aren't terrible with this guys ... just saying that their peak terribleness is still to come.

2. But it's OK to be excited about Beau. Beau Bennett is special.  The kid has hockey sense wafting like a cloud over his head.  We'd never submit that a James Neal injury is a good thing -- particularly given how Neal was flying in the preseason -- but Beau on Geno's right wing could be a revelation.  When a guy has the potential that Beau does, he has to play with similarly gifted players so that he can approach his ceiling.  Case in point:  When James Neal was 22 years old in Dallas, he played a lot with Brad Richards and Loui Erickson and scored 27 goals.  When he was traded to Pittsburgh and played with Mark Letestu while breathing in Alex Kovalev's exhaust fumes, he didn't do much of anything.  When he got a chance to play with Geno, he scored 40.  There's no reason Beau can't follow a similar trajectory (albeit without the 2 month stretch dragging Kovalev's corpse back onsides) if he gets to skate regularly with Geno.

Right-handed, too.
Eight more after the jump...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fleury and the Penguins shut out the Devils, 3-0; Trade rumors swirling around the Ducks?

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

It's hard to come up with a ton to say about the Pens' 3-0 win over New Jersey last night, but from a long-term perspective, most of what happened was, obviously, positive.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who usually (and admittedly) blows shutouts late in games, made his best saves late to preserve the shutout, despite Tanner Glass taking an obvious offensive zone boarding penalty with 35 seconds left, his last and best attempt to ruin the evening.  It doesn't mean he's going to be great all season, but it certainly doesn't mean he won't be.  Regardless of how exasperating it is to track his mental fragility, his mental fragility is the reality, so whatever helps boost his confidence is a great thing.  We actively root for us to be wrong about him.  If he wins another Cup, he deserves to go around punching every critic -- including us -- right in the face.  We'd welcome such a moment.

Punch us in the face, Marc-Andre.
More after the jump, including thoughts on rumors of trade talks with Anaheim...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ted Leonsis is in midseason Subtle Excuse Making form, but then again, when isn't he?

By Finesse

The surest sign that NHL season is upon us is when Ted Leonsis resumes blogging in short declarative sentences that, while literally just factual statements, are presented under a thinly veiled Snuggie of excuse making.  The Caps lost 6-4 on Tuesday night to Chicago.  Ted recapped the game by arranging factual declarations in a way that, if you know Ted at all, was nothing but whining about the unfairness of his Capitals being forced to play Chicago on opening night.  If you're new to Ted you may not pick up on his tone, but give it a shot.  All you need is the first three sentences:
I am glad that one is out of the way.
We lost to the defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago 6 to 4. The game started at about 8:25 PM EST and didn't end til about 1100 PM EST.
Let's give this a spin in the GTOG Translator:

Uh oh.
Statement: "I'm glad that one is out of the way."
Translation: "CAN YOU BELIEVE THE NERVE OF THE NHL TO MAKE US PLAY IN CHICAGO ON OPENING NIGHT?!?! IF WE MISS THE PLAYOFFS BY TWO POINTS, YOU BETTER BELIEVE I WILL WRITE IN THAT BLOG POST, 'We played Chicago on opening night. Other teams did not play Chicago on opening night.'"

Statement: "We lost to the defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago 6 to 4."
Translation: "It is inherently unfair that we had to play the 'defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago.'  Why didn't the league make someone else play the defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago?  No excuses, but we played the defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago."

Statement: "The game started at about 8:25 PM EST and didn't end til about 1100 PM EST."
Translation: "Not only did we have to play the defending Stanley Cup champs in Chicago on opening night -- something no other team had to do -- we also had to start the game at 8:25 PM EST.  We are used to starting games at 7:10 PM EST.  Making my players adjust to changing time zones is inherently unfair, and it reflects a bias against the Caps.  Also, for some unknown reason, I feel the need to express time as either EST or EDT depending, of course, on whether it is standard time or daylight savings time.  It is important that I do this.  Other hockey blogs do not differentiate between standard and daylight savings time, and I feel that this confuses people.  What also confuses people is that it is actually currently daylight savings time, not Eastern Standard Time.  I was wrong, but it is still unfair."

Realizing how badly they screwed the Caps, the NHL sent Ted an official apology letter.  GTOG has obtained a copy.  This is an exclusive.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

GTOG Podcast: Official 2013-14 Penguins Preview, plus we relive the Pirates' huge win over the Reds

In the middle of Buctober, the Pens decide to start their season, so we preview it all.  We start with about 20 minutes of Pirates, then break down the upcoming Pens season.  What will happen with Fleury?  Is the season too long?  Can anything happen during the regular season that will change your expectation for the playoffs?  All that, and so much more.  It's the GTOG Podcast.

Listen below or check out our Spreaker page. To download the podcast directly from iTunes, click here.  Or you can download, listen, and subscribe via the Spreaker app on iTunes by clicking here, or on Android by clicking here.



2013 GTOG NHL Preview Part 5: Metropolitan Division Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

Part 1: Pens Over/Unders
Part 2: Pacific Division Best Case / Worst Case
Part 3: Central Division Best Case / Worst Case
Part 4: Atlantic Division Best Case / Worst Case

We can offer no defense of the NHL's determination to name a division the Metropolitan Division.  We cannot forgive the NHL's steadfast refusal to name anything (or everything) after Mario Lemieux.  Would the league be a better league if the four divisions were named Mario, Lemieux, Mario Lemieux, and 66?  Yes, yes it would be.

Without further ado, here's our quick take preview of the Metro division, which we will undoubtedly refer to as the Atlantic Division.  Old habits die hard.  Just ask Mike Green's defense on Marian Hossa's empty netter last night.

Carolina Hurricanes

Best Case: Inspired by the Canadian Olympic team tryout snub, Cam Ward elevates back to the top of the field among Eastern Conference goalies.  Jeff Skinner puts his concussion woes behind him and gives the Canes a truly dynamic group of top 6 forwards.

Worst Case: The defense is terrible.

Prediction: They sucked abnormally hard at the end of last season, so the expectations are probably a little lower than they should be.  Most likely not a playoff team, but if completely healthy, they could be feisty.

Underrated douche on the ice.
The rest of the Metro, after the jump...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2013 GTOG NHL Preview Part 4: Atlantic Division Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios

By GTOG Staff (follow Finesse and Artistry on Twitter)

Part 1: Pens Over/Unders
Part 2: Pacific Division Best Case / Worst Case
Part 3: Central Division Best Case / Worst Case

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins

Best Case: Loui Eriksson + Jarome Iginla > Tyler Seguin + Nathan Horton.

Worst Case: The Penguins score, what, 4 goals in the Eastern Conference Finals series?

Prediction: The B's will get more regular season production out of Eriksson and Iginla, but the team won't be quite as effective come spring. We're betting Tuukka Rask cashed in at the right time.  Expensive long-term goalie contracts do not always work out how you want them to.


Buffalo Sabres

Best Case: They flip Tomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and, somehow, Tyler Myers, for high-end youth and picks. No way can they let Miller and Vanek walk next summer for nothing. BTW, the Pens should do this year what they couldn't do last -- get Ott.

Worst Case: Mediocrity.

Prediction: More classic Ryan Miller press conferences.



The rest of the Atlantic, which wasn't the Atlantic last year, after the jump...