Archive for the Pittsburgh Penguins Category

Back from the abyss: Prediction Review

Posted in Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sixers on June 7, 2011 by birdbytes

It’s been too long since my last post here, and it’s time to eat my words on the NHL and NBA predictions.  It’s also time to say “I told you so” about the O’s.

I predicted the Penguins would advance past round 1, and they were one win away from doing so.  But Tampa caught Lightning in a bottle (pun intended) and rode that all the way to the East finals.  There’s always next year…

The Sixers prediction was more tongue-in-cheek, and they played competitively in game-to-game but overall the Heat were too much for the Sixers.

The Orioles are four games under .500 headed into today.  They’ve won 27 games already, which they hadn’t done last year until July.  I hear people say stuff like “take out that 6-1 start, and they are…” But you can’t take those wins away — they count!  If you take the first seven games out of this season, you have to take the first seven out of last season for comparison.  They were reverse that last year.  Those games DO count.

Anyway I thought the O’s would be a 75 win team.  I went on the record, saying as much on 105.7 the Fan back in April.  At the time, the announcers thought I was crazy to think that 75 wins would be a successful season for the Orioles.

See, the O’s are a .500 club.  They’ll hang around .500 all season, and they’ll lose 4 and 5 in a row at times.  It will be frustrating for the fans that don’t look at the standings from a year ago.  I keep reminding myself that (A) they are not a playoff team, and (B) they are on pace to win 75-80 games.  Then I go back to one year ago in the standings.

Take a look:

2010 Orioles on June 7:  16-21 and 21 games back

2011 Orioles on June 7: 27-31 and 6.5 games back

11 game improvement in the win column and 14.5 game improvement in the standings.  Still in last place, but hey… I’ll take progress.

I’m heading to the Yard tonight for O’s-A’s.  Go O’s!

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Penguins, Sixers End Seasons on Same Night

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins, Sixers on April 28, 2011 by birdbytes

Well, that was anti-climactic and maybe even a little unsettling.

I will be able to look back on the season for the Penguins as a success in a few weeks.  But the way the Penguins let a 3-1 series lead slip out of their grips like they did, floundering in games 5 and 6 in all phases and then letting multiple power play opportunities get away in game 7, that was disappointing.

I know they’ve enjoyed a great run of success and it’s a great accomplishment to have come this far without their top two offensive weapons in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  I expected them to win this series, especially after going up 3-1.  So last night was a letdown.

The Sixers on the other hand, nobody really expected them to hang with the Heat.  4 of the 5 games were competitive games in which the Sixers had chances at the end to win, including last night.  One of those the Sixers did win with an impressive 10-0 run at home on Sunday.

The Sixers are a young team with a great future.  They’ll need to have an aggressive offseason to try to bring in one or two bona-fide stars.

For both of these teams, the season ends the same way the Eagles season ended: first round playoff exits.

If the Orioles season ends in the same way, I think that would be considered a huge success… one can dream.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Playoff Time

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins on April 12, 2011 by birdbytes

Wednesday the Penguins drop the puck at 7:08 PM Eastern Time on the first playoff game inside their new digs at Consol Energy Center.

For those of you who haven’t been following the Penguins the last few years or more, it is electricity inside and outside – on the big screen – to be a part of a playoff hockey series.

For me, I love the NFL more than any other sport.  However, hockey playoffs are hands down the greatest sports have to offer.  There is nothing better than 20,000 white towels (or red or orange if you’re a Caps or Flyers fan) waving in unison.  Or watching an entire town erupt when Chris Kunitz (because we don’t have Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin at the moment) light the lamp.

I’m going with Penguins in 6 to take down the Lightning.  I think they’ll come out tomorrow night and have a tough time, but win in overtime.  Seems to be their M.O. lately to win tight, low-scoring games in OT.

Lets go Pens!

Penguins Clinch Home Ice

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins on April 8, 2011 by birdbytes

Another shootout win for the Penguins = 2 more points in the standings.  As I write, the Flyers-Sabres are tied at 3.  If Buffalo can win that in regulation, the Pens just need to win Sunday to get the #2 or #3 seed in the Eastern Conference and win the Atlantic Division.

Either way, the Pens are on fire and will start at home next week.

Here are some bold predictions for their postseason run:

  • Pens will get Sidney Crosby back in round 2
  • As a result, they will play the Capitals in the Eastern Conference finals (after defeating the Flyers in 7 games and the Sabres in 6)
  • Pens vs. Canucks for the Stanley Cup

Big Games: Penguins vs. Flyers

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins with tags , on March 23, 2011 by birdbytes

Thursday at 7 o’clock eastern time, the keystone state will drop the puck on one of two key match-ups in the next two weeks.

This one is extremely big for the Penguins.  They will enter the game trailing their cross-state rivals by 5 points.  If they want to have any shot at catching the Orange and Black, this one is a must win.  A loss will set them back six points with only one head-to-head remaining.

A win, however, especially if it is in regulation, would change the chase.  That would put the Pens just 3 points behind the Flyers with one remaining head-to-head.  Then if they simply keep pace, beat the Flyers again and get one more win than the Flyers, we’re looking at a division winner and top 3 in the conference.  Why is that important?

For starters, it’s always better to win the division.  If they get one of the top two or three spots, there is a good chance they’ll have home ice through the first two rounds.  It also means they would most likely avoid playing the Caps or Flyers until, at earliest, the conference finals.  The Caps have owned the Penguins this season, and they are on a roll.

It also would give this team a confidence boost heading into the playoffs.

Bottom line, this is entertainment and it is gearing up for the postseason.

Who will claim the best hockey team in PA?

Sidney or Mario? Best Penguin Ever

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins with tags , , on January 26, 2011 by birdbytes

Sidney Crosby is one of the most popular players in the NHL today, and for good reason.  He is leading the league in points at the All Star break despite having missed the last eight games.  The Pittsburgh Penguins have won a Stanley Cup title in his regime, and lost the one before that.  They are a legitimate contender again this season.

Mario Lemieux led the Penguins to consecutive Cup wins in the mid-90s and was arguably the best player of his time.  There is no shortage of comparisons to the Penguins that Lemieux led and the ones Crosby now leads.  Evgeni Malkin is the equivalent of Jaromir Jagr – every superhero needs a sidekick, right?

It is certainly too early to make this judgment given that Crosby is only 23 years old and in his sixth season, but who is the best Pittsburgh Penguin of all time? Throwing out this year so far for Crosby, here is an interesting comparison between two superstars through five seasons of play.

Mario Lemieux was a rookie in 1984-85 and through five seasons he had played in a total of 368 games.  Crosby through five seasons had played in 371 games.  Super Mario had more points through five seasons (715) than did Crosby (506).  For a team captain that is the key stat since these are the top scorers on their respective teams.  However, if you look at the team records the Penguins only made the playoffs in one of Lemieux’s first five seasons, while Crosby’s Pens have been regulars in the postseason.

Statistically, in just about all key categories, Super Mario trumps Sid the Kid through five seasons.  Ultimately players will be judged on winning and not stats alone, however, and Crosby has hoisted Lord Stanley once in his first five seasons.  Lemieux did not win the Cup until his 7th season in the NHL.

I would attribute that to supporting cast and level of competition more than anything so — for now — I believe that Mario Lemieux is still the greatest Penguin of all time.

But at 23, Sidney Crosby still has plenty of time to catch up.

Penguins Looking Better

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins on January 19, 2011 by birdbytes

That was a big win last night, at home against the best team in hockey so far this season.  Detroit came in without Jimmy Howard (who is on my fantasy team) in net, however, and the Penguins took advantage of that very early in the game.  Jordan Staal scored in the sixth minute of the first period when Detroits goalie got stuck behind net, leaving a gimme for Staal to push in.  The Penguins never really lost control after that, but Chris Kunitz (also on my fantasy team) put in the Pens third goal of the night to put them up by two in the second period.

Even without Crosby in the lineup, the Penguins are playing much better hockey the last couple weeks, and will need to keep it up to catch the Flyers.

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