To close out the work week, it's time to opine on Michael Haywood, the HBO Pens/Caps reality show, Jets/Steelers, the Pirates' hot stove moves, and the one and only King Crosby:
1. I listened to ample talk radio the last few days, hearing Yinzer upon Yinzer opine on new Pitt hire Michael Haywood. Unfortunately, it's a pointless exercise that makes about as much sense as giving out draft grades the day after the NFL draft.
No one can say right now with any certainty what kind of coach Haywood will turn out to be, nor will they be able to for some time. There are numerous examples on both sides of the argument. I just hope for Pitt's sake that he's more Jamie Dixon/Mike Tomlin than Steve Kragthorpe/Ron Zook.
Haywood is not taking over a program in disarray; he's got quality players, quality recruits, and quality facilities. The expectations are not to rebuild, they're to take Pitt to a level that Dave Wannstedt could not reach. It could be a task that Haywood is up to, or he could be a completely bad fit. But right now, no one knows how this marriage will play out.
2. I watched “24/7 Penguins-Capitals Road to the Winter Classic” on Wednesday night, and thought it was pretty entertaining and well done. Bruce Boudreau did not come off well, Max Talbot was Max Talbot, and the Pens seemed like a team that legitimately has good chemistry.
I would've enjoyed more face time for the always-entertaining Geno Malkin, but there's room to grow. As far as the numerous f-bombs, I have to think that they have absolutely no impact on the Capitals, who hear them every other minute out of Boudreau's mouth. But hey, that's not our problem.
3. Sunday's Steelers-Jets game should be the cliched "street fight" that most expect, but I like the home team in this one. Both teams are streaking: the Steelers have won four straight, allowing just three touchdowns along the way. Conversely, the Jets have gone in the wrong direction since their meltdown against New England on MNF and have resorted to tripping opponents on the sidelines in their quest for any edge possible. They've been outscored 55-9 over the past two games and haven't scored an offensive touchdown since the third quarter of their win over Cincinnati on November 25. Rex Ryan better start digging deep in his bag of tricks, and fast.
Mark Sanchez has not fared well in cold weather and odds are that it's going to be pretty frigid at Heinz Field on Sunday. He'd better fix whatever ails him (and his struggling running game), or else it's going to be a very long day getting chased around by James Harrison and Friends. Steelers 19, Jets 10.
4. I guess I should say something about the Pirates' hot stove moves, but they basically look just like their hot stove moves in any other year. There are no major difference-makers in the lot, they took no chances on anyone risky but with upside, and they added no one who will sell a single ticket. Looks like we can write in Losing Season 19.0 in indelible ink.
5. I don't know how Sidney Crosby goes without a shot in the last two games, but that's a trend that has to end immediately. I'm all for sharing the love on offense and working Evgeni Malkin back into things, but no shots out of #87 in back to back contests is not a recipe for Penguin success in any way, shape, or form.