Big Lead Sports Bar


Koz: Where’s the Reset Button?

Last week at this time, Penguins fans were on top of the world. Sidney Crosby had risen to the top of the scoring race and looked ready to pull away. Despite a handful of injuries to key players, including the franchise goalie, the Pens ripped off an incredible winning streak to rise to the top of the standings. Most of this was made possible by Ty Conklin’s version of a Western Pennsylvania winter tradition second only to Punxsutawney Phil – namely the random goalie who comes from nowhere to resurrect the Pens out of a mid-season funk.

So where are we today? Suffice it to say, if you were playing out this Penguins season on your Sega Genesis, you’d be looking for the reset button right now.

If you’ve ever played a sports video game, you know what I’m talking about. Injuries to one or two guys -- ok, that makes it a challenge. Three or four? You start wondering if anyone beta tested the game. Then your star player goes down for “six to eight” in the middle of an MVP season. The coup-de-grace comes in the very next game when two more guys get hurt and you’re forced to start a line of computer created players just to fill your lineup. Now you’ve thrown your controller across the room and your poor dog is walking with a limp. Bad times.

Well this isn’t Sega. It’s real life. On Monday, Coach Therrien’s starting line consisted of three centers (#25 - #11 - #16). The Filewich-Brent-Minard line (I don’t even know their numbers) made their season debut, not just as a group, but as individuals. The whole trio has the combined NHL experience of 15 games, and it’s all credited to Tim Brent’s brief stint with Anaheim last season.

Yesterday, Sidney Crosby announced to the world that he’s giving up hockey for Lent. We are one bad rut in the ice away from Kenny the Cotton Candy Guy cracking the fourth line.

He can peddle spun sugar, but can he forecheck?

Where shall we turn for inspiration in these dark days? How about Animal House!?

“Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough … the tough get going! Who’s with me?”

Bluto’s right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. I’m in. We’re okay. Here’s the reality: We’re spoiled. We have two of the top 10 players in the NHL. We have Evgeni Malkin.

What, me worry?

After scoring 15 points in the last nine games and successfully negotiating peace in the Cedric Wilson hostage situation, Geno was able to convince the NHL honchos he’s worthy of the All-Star game. He’s possessed right now. Let’s assume Malkin continues to beast out and celebrate goals like the Nintendo 64 kid a couple times each game, all the while gaining loads of experience and confidence. If Geno can dominate like this now, why would you put him back on Sid’s line? There’s no reason the Pens can’t get back to the original plan of having Sid and Geno centering the top two lines. Even John Blutarsky with his 0.0 GPA knows two scoring lines are better than one.

Malkin can lead us through the desert and keep us in playoff contention through March. Even with the patchwork group in two games without Sid, the team looks fine. We’ll learn a lot from Thursday’s game against the Flyers, who will literally be flying because as I write this they are getting embarrassed in their own building by the Devils.

But before I go, I owe you something about the All-Star game and a suggestion to improve the league. I present to you…

The Hockey YouTube of the Week: I’m tired of people ragging on the NHL All-Star game. Okay Canadian media, we get it -- it’s not “real” hockey. There’s no checking. There’s no defense. We know, and we’re ok with it. You should be too! It’s fun! Just because there’s no place for any of the Maple Leafs, doesn’t mean we should bag the whole thing. It’s not like home-field advantage for the Stanley Cup Finals is on the line (I mean honestly, who would do that? Even the NHL isn’t that desperate!). So if you need a reason to rekindle the All-Star magic, here is a must-see that proves the game is relevant, entertaining, and memorable.

In 1990, as a wee lad, I was fortunate to attend the All-Star game at the Civic Arena. Insanity ensued 21 seconds into the game. Special bonus feature: Look for Kerry Fraser’s hair. It’s criminal that they make him wear a helmet now. Would the NFL ever dream of forcing Ed Hochuli to wear sleeves?

The NHL would be better if the conferences were still named after dead people.

I hope you’re feeling better now. Enjoy watching Evgeni and his landlord in Atlanta next week. Oh and please, back away from that reset button.


Pops Freshenmeyer said...

I always loved how Marv Albert pronounced Patrick Roy's name as "R-wah." Marv's one of the all-time great play-by-play men, but he sucked at calling hockey.

Pops Freshenmeyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Duke from Dukes Court said...

great post. I'm interested to see how the Pens play without Sid. Having Sid out could actually help Geno develop his game and learn that he has to take over sometimes.

God Bless Ty Conklin

Chris said...

I'd give anything to be able to play some Golden Axe right now.

Koz said...

Did any of you ever play the X-Men game for Sega where you actually had to press the reset button to complete the one stage? I was so confused by that part forever, and I think I finally accidentally figured it out.

Koz said...

PS: Since this was posted it was announced that Tyler Kennedy has mononucleosis. I mean, come on now. Seriously? Mono?

What's next? Yellow fever? The mumps? Bubonic plague?