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28 February 2009

Just Looking At The Standings...

Well, I was, and I loved what I saw.

The teams in red indicate a loss tonight, the teams in blue, a win. So, as you can plainly see is that most of the teams that are just ahead of us lost tonight. When, yes, I said when, we win tomorrow against Dallas who, by the way, lost tonight, we will move up to the 8th and final playoff spot for now. That is awesome. We would need the two points though, not just one.

I wanted to also talk about that exciting game last night between the Pens and the Chicago Blackhawks. What an exciting game it was. We had alot of good things and alot of bad things that came from that game.

I will start with a good point since I am an optimist. I loved our resiliency. I love the way, even though we kept blowing leads, we still came back to win against a very tough Blackhawk team.

A bad point is the fact that we couldn't hold the lead once we got it.

Another good point is that Jordan Staal played out of his mind with his current linemate in Chris Kunitz. They looked incredible together. This fact could really screw up the Penguins plans if indeed they plan on shipping Staal off somewhere else. They seemed to have instant chemistry. They both had a goal and an assist.

Another bad point is that the Pens were dominated in the third period. They gave up twenty shots and looked terrible.

Another good point was that they never lost hope and Marc Andre Fleury looked incredible in net. After all, you can only do so much when you are in a shooting gallery.

A final bad point is that we gave up a hat trick, which will always go down now as the game Jonathan Toews scored his first. I hate that being in the books.

Being an optimist, I will end these on a good note. Did anyone notice the secondary scoring by this team lately. I am loving it. It isn't all on Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

We played the type of game that was expected, but I would have to say that two months ago, we would have been blown out of a game like that. It was almost like last year, when we played games, you just expected us to win.

I like our outlook, we are just starting to get hot now with a record of 4-1-1 under our new head coach. Who knows where we can go from here.
Let's Go Pens!


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26 February 2009

Trade Winds...Episode #2!

Whitney to Anaheim.

We should all wish him all the good wishes in the world. He was a great guy and a great player for this organization, but we just got too deep in the defensive standpoint. I don't want to get too into Whitney here because I want to cover our newbie.
Chris Kunitz.
He reminds me alot of Ryan Malone, only with more skill. A great fit for Sidney Crosby. He seems like a gritty guy that isn't afraid to throw his body around in defense of his teammates. He is a 20+ goal scorer and 20+ assists as well as a + player. He gets his share of PIM as well. Another thing that keeps getting mentioned is that he plays better with better players. What that means is that if he is on a fourth line, he plays like a fourth liner, first, first-liner. He might be the right person for the job of grit and scoring touch. He plays on the power play and the penalty kill as well. I think this is a good deal for the Pens. Sid should be happy. This hole needed filled.
Height/Weight: 6-0/194
Birthdate: 09/26/1979
Birthplace: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
College: Ferris State
NHL Experience: 4
Salary: $3,500,000
Honestly, after reading all the upsides, I would have been happy to see this straight up. Whitney for Kunitz. It gets better though! We also received in the deal a high prospect in Eric Tangradi. He is second in the OHL behind highly touted John Tavares. This looks really good for the Pens.

Height/Weight: 6-3/214
Birthdate: 02/10/1989
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Draft: 2nd Round, 42nd Overall

On an additional note, Chris Minard was released today. I like this move, he didn't seem to be getting anywhere. I believe the organization gave him all the chances in the world, but he just wasn't working out.
I am officially excited for the next week. Who knows what is next. We got a winger for Whitney and a bonus as well. Are we still going to trade Staal? Also, think about this, if we got all this for Whitney, imagine what we can get for Staal. Who knows, Kunitz could be Malkin's other winger with Sykora and something bigger is in the works for Sid.
I try not to talk about every game individually, but this was a necessary point to talk about.
Kudos to Dan Bylsma.
His system finally worked the way he said it would.
I know it was the New York Islanders, but we have been having trouble with everyone we play and they were no exception. If it wasn't for Yann Denis, I believe it could easily have been 5 or 6 to nothing. This style is exciting and fun, it works only because our players are very skilled. Seriously, could you see a team that has half the firepower offensively be able to control the puck like we can? I don't think so. Bylsma saw the skill and speed we have and knew we could play this style and win. I think if we are as successful in Chicago on Friday, Bylsma will be almost on God status in Pittsburgh. I am finally excited to see what happens next. I have been watching the standings and the teams that we need to lose are losing and we are finally winning. This should give us quite a bit of confidence going into the stretch run.
Let's Go Pens!


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24 February 2009

Current State of the Unions Address (Pens Style!)

Besides the fact that I missed the last two games for a very good reason...I was drilling with my National Guard unit...I did get to see all the highlights and lowlights from the weekend. I have come to many conclusions here. My first thought is that I love the offense, when we want to have it. It seemed that we were flying so high after that win against the Flyers, our big, in-state rival. We then went into Washington and looked as though we died. Back to back games against these particular two teams is one thing, but for us fans to expect the Pens to win both of them on the road is a significant issue.

I read alot of blogs almost bailing on the Pens after that loss. For instance, read the last sentance in Experiencing the Evolution,"One thing is for sure, if Ray Shero isn't considering the Penguins as deadline sellers after this afternoon's performance, he never will.", Staal Tactics wasn't too encouraging, The Pensblog is as positive as you can be considering all things, and Pensburgh did a good job putting it into perspective. Washington is a very good team, they have a home record of 24-5-1 now. Hell, Philly is 17-8-3. Both those records are brilliant. To go into both towns and win would have been borderline miraculous. Especially considering how we have been playing on the road this year. We are 13-14-4. To pull off two really emotional upsets to days in a row should not be expected from anyone in our position. It was an exhausting couple of games and the schedule wasn't kind. The nice thing is that now we have a couple days to regroup and now we play the New York Islanders Wednesday night.

It is a good team to rebound against. Now, I know the last time we played them, we lost in that shootout. It was, if you remember, the day after Therrian was fired. Bylsma did not have any time to get the team organized to where he wanted them. We should come out with alot of energy. We should also see Kris Letang back on the ice. I would love to see Hal Gill riding the pine simply because of the new style of play. He just doesn't have the speed to keep up. I would also like to see Bill Thomas out there instead of Chris Minard.

I am still keeping up on the possible trades and improvements to this team. It is down to the last week till the deadline. I love this time of year, just to see who thinks they are contenders and who don't think that. I also like to see what teams are willing to do to win the cup. Last year, we gave up alot for a Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. It was a blockbuster trade, but a bust nonetheless. Dupuis does fit in nicely, but we gave up our first rounder and our latest prospect in Angelo Esposito. At the time, it wasn't too much, but now, it seems that the energy has been zapped from this team because of Hossa. He was like the Terell Owens of the NHL. He hung us out to dry, until there was no way we could keep some of the important pieces, and then left. Onto better thinking. I would like to see what we do at the deadline. I know we have Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal on the block. Like I have said in previous blogs, I know I would love to see both Staal and Whitney in a Penguins uniform next year, but they bring too much in return right now and we can't overlook that. Staal is essentially a third line center on the team, but he would be a first or second line center on others. This is because we have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin running those lines. I am really looking forward to seeing what Shero does this year.

What we have now is the opportunity to get into the playoffs. We need to win twice as many games as we lose. In other words, go about 14-7 from here on out. I know we are capable of doing this. If Marc-Andre Fleury will play like he is capable of, then I believe we will be fine. All our hopes fall on his performance. It is alot of pressure, I know, but he has been here for five years now and has won alot and lost alot. He knows how to shake it off to be a winner. It is time for that Fleury to show up.

Here is to the playoffs!

Let's Go Pens!


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22 February 2009

Panthers blow off DePaul, 80-61

About the only thing that didn't go right in the victory was that Pitt didn't cover the 25.5 point spread, but that's not their problem.

Game recap - http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09053/950940-175.stm

DePaul is a team that truly is in the basement of the Big East. The Blue Devil's haven't lost a game by less than double digits since January 29. Yes, you read that correctly. 0-14 in the Big East. 4 more losses and they will be 0-fer the season.

DeJuan Blair had his way, going for 20 points and 18 rebounds in 23 minutes. Blair also set a record. Blair's 41 rebounds in successive games surpassed the Pitt record of 38 by former NBA player and Pitt great Jerome (Send it home Jerome!) Lane.

Pitt won overall on the boards 49-25, an insanely dominant stat.

4 players were in double figures for the Panthers - Blair, Tyrell Biggs with 12 points and 5 boards, Sam young with 16 and 6, and Jermaine Dixon with 11 points and 3 assists.

Pitt is now 17-0 at home with home games remaining against Marquette and Uconn standing in the way of an undefeated home slate. Overall, the Panthers are 25-2, 12-2 in Big East.

With Oklahoma and North Carolina losing, Pitt looks to be #1 in Monday's polls with Uconn a likely #2. Currently, the Big East looks like a strong candidate for two number 1 seeds in those two squads.

The next action is on Tuesday, when Pitt travels to Providence to take on the Friars and then plays at Seton Hall on Saturday.

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Dante Taylor named McDonald's All American

Dante Taylor was already the first five-star recruit to sign with Jamie Dixon and the Pitt. Now he has added another first for Dixon:He's the sixth-year head coach's first McDonald's All-American.

Taylor, the No. 24 player in the country and the No. 10 power forward prospect in the class of 2009 per Rivals.com, was named to the 32nd Annual McDonald's All-American Game East roster Wednesday night. The announcement was the latest honor for a decorated prospect who has already compiled a long list of accomplishments. There are 12 total players named to each roster; 12 to the East, and 12 to the West.

Taylor will be the fifth Pitt-bound player to participate in the All-American game, following Charles Smith (1984), Jerome Lane (1985), Bobby Martin (1987) and Brian Shorter (1987).

Taylor is one of five All-Americans who are headed to Big East schools. Dominic Cheek (Villanova), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut), Peyton Siva (Louisville) and Maalik Wayns (Villanova) will also spend their college years in the conference.

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Larry Legend makes appearance at DePaul game

Pitt beat DePaul 80-61 Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center, and a very special guest was in attendance. Larry Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Larry Legend, was there to see his Panthers. He has some free time since the NFL season is over.

We may or may not see his vaunted #1 retired, but no one can argue that he wasn't the best receiver to ever put on a Pitt uniform, if not the best that college football has ever seen. I personally would have never re-issued the number, but sometimes Pitt does goofy things.
He received two standing ovations. At halftime a large line formed to get autographs and pictures, and the Event Staff people formed a perimeter around him. He spoke to Steve Pederson and Freddy Fu and some other folks. After the game another line formed.
It was great to see an all-time Panther great stop back to take in a game.

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20 February 2009

Loving It!

How about them Pens!
Now, I didn't love the two temporary comebacks from the Canadiens, but I did love the way we played. Malkin scored an incredible goal and Sykora scored a great goal, which is nothing out of the normal routine for them. The thing that wasn't routine was the in front of the goal deflection by Satan, the crash the net goal by Talbot, and (the best one of all) Gonchar scoring a slapper from the point. It was like the good old Penguins. The 94th consecutive sellout was screaming like maniacs, almost like a playoff game.
“When we play a real good game you’ll see extended periods in the offensive zone,” Bylsma said. “It’s up-and-down hockey. It’s not run-down hockey we’re looking to play. We’re looking to play offensive zone time and repeatedly get shift after shift after shift where we can (pin) them in and gain the momentum that way.”

The differences I noticed between Therrian's system and Bylsma's system are as follows:

  1. On offense, the defense is chipping in and sometimes even going deep, even when it doesn't look like their is a play developing. I saw on several occasions the defense were in deeper than a winger.
  2. On defense, the offense was backchecking and giving the defensemen room to move the puck and dig it out of the corners easier. This clogs up the opposing offense and doesn't give them a clear possession. “From behind the bench I saw good things going on the offense, speed, going north-south quickly. I think what I was most pleased with was how I saw our forwards come back in a lot of situations. I think we lifted up sticks, about 10 or 12 times with our forwards coming back and tracking down their forwards.”-Bylsma

  3. On the power play, I really couldn't pinpoint significant differences, all except for execution.

  4. On the penalty kill, I saw the defenders attacking the opposition, making nothing clean for the other team. With the exception of the 5 on 3, it worked perfectly and actually created some offense for us.
They seem to be subtle changes according to the players and the coaches, but it looked nothing like the team under Therrian. Not even last year's team had this grit and tenacity. We took it to them hard and fast. The exciting thing is that this was under two days preparation. They will get another practice in tomorrow before the back to back games aginst the Flyers then the Capitals. I think these two games will be a huge statement to the seriousness of our resolve. If we truly want to get into the playoffs and make some noise, we need to win one, if not both these games. They are huge rivalry games and they are both on the rise.

“I told the players before the game, how you play is going to send a message to the fans and to the Canadiens in tonight’s game,” Bylsma said. “Our guys were focused. Our guys were ready to go. I think they had a clear understanding of what was at stake and how we wanted to play. While I said it wasn’t perfect, I think we sent the message nice and clear. This is a team where we think we can go and play aggressive and we were aggressive offensively more like we wanted to be, and it was a great message.”

I hope the other teams at the bottom of the standings that are within striking distance hear us loud and clear. I am really looking forward to the two games this weekend now.

"We were playing aggressive and took advantage of some good chances. It was a pretty high tempo, and that's the way we want to play," said Sidney Crosby, whose quick pass across the slot set up Malkin's 26th goal. "We were reacting out there pretty well, but at the same time we still have a few kinks to work out."

I completely agree...I can also see us getting a whole lot better too.

"It was not really deflating -- yes, they were coming back but ... I don't think guys were worried, guys were still confident and nobody really had their head down going, 'Here we go again,"' Talbot said. "Guys were ready to go again, we played with passion and desperation and got a big two points."

"Yes, they came back but everybody on the bench said, ‘OK, we can still do this,'" Talbot said. "They came back and the game was tied, but we kind of knew we were going to win that game. The way we played all night, and guys were not worried like the way we have been in the last couple of months. If that game would have happened a couple of months ago, guys would have been like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But tonight the guys were upbeat and we knew we could win.”

I think this was the key quote for me in this game. It is completely unlike something our team would have said a couple months ago. As soon as I read it, I just smiled.

"It's definitely a more fun way for us to play," Orpik said. "It's going to take time to get used to and we were a little sloppy at times, but I thought the work ethic was the best we've had in a while."

“Matt Cooke got me the puck,” Bylsma said. “I told him he’s 10 favors for the coach away from getting in front of the net on the power play.”

“When you play a 60-minute game, the plan is to invest and to wear down and force them to play a pace that makes it hard to keep up for 60 minutes,” Bylsma said. “That’s why it’s a 60-minute game. So we kept playing the pace and we said after the second period, this is a team that played last night, we have to keep playing at that pace and keep attacking aggressively. We have to track back, don’t give them chances to get in the offensive zone. Our thought going out, if we can continue to play at the pace that we established for most of the first two periods, that we would have a good opportunity to get some chances to win the game.”

One thing I am really looking forward to is March 4th. There is a billion rumors running rampant in the league involving the Pens and everyone that is a winger. Keep your eyes and ears open. I watch pretty closely, so keep an eye on my twitter. That sounds serious..Ha Ha.

I believe that moving Therrian and his system out was the best thing for this team, even though he seems to have convinced the entire hockey world that he was the best thing since sliced bread. Good for him, he might get another head coaching job sooner this way.

I think this weekend is key. How we play this weekend will show the league we are back and ready to start defending our Eastern Conference Championship trophy. It may be late, but not too late. Remember, we are four points out of a playoff spot, but six points out of fifth place in the East. I like our position and our spot. It is the perfect time to get hot and roll into the playoffs.
Let's Go Pens!


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17 February 2009

Panthers take down Huskies in great matchup

DeJuan Blair set the tone early in the 1st half, throwing Hasheem Thabeet over his back and sending him to the bench for 4 minutes.

Levance Fields didn't score for almost 37 minutes.

In between the Panthers played a solid game and led most of the way, coming away with a 76-68 win over the #1 ranked Huskies. It was Pitt's first win over a #1 ranked team in 14 tries. Pitt is now 1-3 versus Uconn when Uconn is a #1 ranked team and Jamie Dixon is now 4-5 versus Jim Calhoun.
Calhoun threw a total hissy fit afterwards, saying that the refs need to say before the game how they are going to call it and saying that "We have not played that sort of game since back in the early 2000s, the '80s and '90s." He said that referring to the fact that it was a physical game. He was upset because he lost... that's the bottom line.

Blair (22 points, 23 rebounds) and Sam Young (25 points) let the Panthers in scoring on a night when the Panthers would not be denied.

With the game tied at 61, Levance it two straight 3s after having been 0-7 from the field to give Pitt a 67-61 lead that they would not relinquish.

Uconn had outrebounded its last 32 opponents, but last night Pitt took the Huskies to school on the boards to the tune of 48-31. Thabeet was largely ineffective, fouling out late and only going for 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Blair intimidated him early and took it to him all game.

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16 February 2009

Give It A Game!

Now, I hope that all you people really didn't think that the new coach could change anything but line assignments and some other minor things without even a practivce under his belt, because it wasn't going to happen. I do, however love the fact that they did move the assistant coaching around a bit. I was complaining about the Pens keeping Mike Yeo aboard despite our power play woes. Well, they kept him, but moved him to defense as opposed to offense. That responsibility went to Tom Fitzgerald. I like this move. It retains some continuity for our team. He might actually be good with the defense. Today's game that made me nervous beginning to end, was an evaluation period for the coaches and the players. The object was simply to find out who had chemistry and who was willing to put in the extra effort. I saw alot of effort, but I also saw alot of mistakes. I guess they need to practice what Bylsma wants to put on the ice. We play Montreal at home on Thursday. I think we will show what we are capable of in this new system. I liked some of the little things you saw the new coach do that was different, he took some chances to see what the players would give him.

I saw Ray Shero do an interview during the game. He really gave me the indication that this coach might be here to stay. He also gave me the feeling that the whole 1-2-2 idea was all Therrian. I say this because he kept reverting back to not liking the way the team was playing. He wanted more excitement, utilizing our speed and our talent to strike fear into our opponents. I love this thought process. Will we be able to do it? We will see. The staff also interviewed Billy Thomas, our Fox Chapel native who spent alot of time under the guidance of the new coach. He said nothing but great things about Bylsma. He said that he is not afraid to stop practice just to coach. He likes to correct the little things. I am not sure if that was a shot at Therrian for not coaching or a plug for Bylsma. It might be a little of both.

It looked as if the team was liking the wide open style a little more. Fleury let in a weak goal and they smoked him in the shootout. That doesn't happen often.

I do have to compliment the power play for today. The goal we got from Whitney was wonderful, for a split minute, I felt like it was last year. The way the puck was passed back and forth from tape to tape. I almost cried.

The other thing I wanted to mention is the play of Sergei Gonchar. I will be honest. I apparently completely forgot how good he was. I guess we are spoiled with him. He is so smooth and never seems to be out of place. The power play seems easier with him out there. The positioning of his stick and skates on every play seems almost flawless. He seems to bring a positive attitude to the entire team when he is on the ice.

I am really interested in what the staff has in store for the team over the next couple of days. We will really get a feel of what kind of a coach he is and where we will stand come the end of the year. I hope he is everything he seems right now.


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15 February 2009


Now I am all about giving people second chances, but I believe that it was apparent that it was the team that got up for San Jose the other night, and not the coach. I don't think the coach had anything to do with the team winning that game, or he would had instituted that inspiration against the Maple Leafs last night. That was an embarrassing loss, especially because of where we came from and where we want to be. I wanted Michel Therrian ousted weeks ago. I felt that he wasn't able to get the team to play better, no matter how hard he tried. He couldn't inspire them to want to win, even when they looked down and out. He also seemed to have rifts with several players. I understand that everyone is not always going to get along, but we all saw the things that he was trying and most of us didn't agree. I was willing to give him a second chance a few weeks later when we started a new style and it worked. The Pens have enough talent to win these games. It takes a good coach to make the team. We won so much last year, I believe, solely based on talent alone. Reality set in when you could see that the Pens really didn't want to play for him anymore. They needed a change. I think Therrian was a great minor league coach and knew how to work with that level of talent. He had troubles with his other team that he headed up as well, ironically around this same timeline. It seems he can get the team to a certain level and then can't get them any further. I am quite pleased with this decision and actually think it should have been done a couple months ago.

Enough about Therrian. About the playoffs: “That’s our goal,” Shero said. “It’s been uphill battle. This is a resilient group. I’m looking for Dan to come in with the coaches here to rally the troops. We’re looking to make some progress here and make a push. “
The Pens made their AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma the interrim head coach. Balysma retired from the NHL after the 2004-05 season, right before the lockout. He is merely 38 years old and on the fast track for a head coaching position. Balysma may be the ticket to encourage the players the right way instead of the way Therrian did. He played parts of 429 games for Los Angelos Kings and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He was more of a defensive offenseman. He coached for the Ducks affiliate in Cincinnati as well as assistant coach for the Baby Pens during their Calder Cup Finals. He started coaching as an assistant for the New York Islanders. Some say that he is excellent in developing talent. He has been working well with the Baby Pens talent. They have a combined record of 98-49-5-8 since coming aboard last year. I don't know how permanent this coaching change is, but I can see them holding on to him for the rest of the season, obviously, and depending on how the Pens play the rest of the season. The Pens surprisingly reassigned Andre Sarvard to somewhere withing the organization. They also kept assistant Mike Yeo and goaltending coach Gilles Meloche where they are. Tom Fitzgerald, the Penguins’ director of player development, will join the staff as an assistant coach. I like this change all except for keeping Yeo. We have the league's worst power play and that is Yeo's bread and butter.

The new staff will have today and the morning skate, if they have one, tomorrow to prepare for the New York Islanders. Every game from here on is a must win. I was encouraged when I read what Balysma had to say: “I’m a passionate person and energetic person,” Bylsma said. “I believe you need commitment, passion and a high energy level. That’s how I approach life. We have a great challenge that we should enjoy. We should bring all that energy to the rink (Monday) .” “To have an opportunity to coach a team with this much talent and this much possibility is a great chance for me,” Bylsma said. “I look at the players and the roster and I look at a group that can win games right now. We need to do that starting (Monday) on the Island. Players have to believe that we can do this. That’s the approach that we’ll take.” I am impressed with him already, so hopefully their will be a ripple effect on the rest of the team. “Teams should be forced to deal with our speed and skill and we need to be an aggressive group,” Bylsma said. “We’re going to try to get the guys on their toes and going, bringing passion and work ethic to game. If we focus on playing back to our strength and get away from the situation it’s been for a while here, you’ll see a team that can compete and be a contending team.” Like I said earlier, though, I am confused about them moving Sarvard out and leaving Yeo in. Is it really execution of the plays he draws up or are the plays and thought process that bad this year just because Gonchar has been gone. Who knows. I guess we will find out. I am sure Crosby and Malkin would love to have steady linemates. Orpik, who had a recognized problem with Therrian, should be quite happy. I hope this change is right inline with a quality trade.

I have heard so many rumors, who knows what to expect. As I recall last year, we didn't hear anything about us getting Hossa, so who knows what Shero has up his sleeve this year. I know he is shopping Whitney and Staal. I know alot of you are saying how you want to be rid of Whitney and Staal and their contract. I agree only with Whitney, and only because we have NHL ready offensive defenseman on the Baby Pens squad. I think he absence from the team for the first couple months hurt him. When he came back, there was so much pressure to perform since Gonchar wasn't there, he hasn't been able to play as well. I think his performance in the playoffs last year is a big selling point. Ok, now, onto Staal. I would love to see what a good coach can do with him. He is in need of a little development, we all know that. He is still young enough in age and his career to make subtle changes the way he plays to make him better. I am going to sit here and hope for the best.
I would love to see something happen in this game to give us all hope.


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13 February 2009

Kipper's Music Review

Before I begin I should let people know some background on myself. I am an admin at The Pens Forum, The Steelers Forum and The Bucco's Forum. So to some this should be strange that admin of sports message boards is writing a blog about music. Before I was involved in Sports site's, I also co-ran a local music magazine in Pittsburgh and ran that magazine's website and Message Board. I also had a monthly column in the Magazine as well. A couple of years before that, I did cd reviews for another local music publication. As if that isn't enough, I've been a local musician/drummer for over 10 years, been in bands since I was 17, released 3 studio cd's and have played plenty of stages all over Pittsburgh.

Instead of me reviewing cd's of bands that are being pushed down our throats by the record industry, I'm going to take the time instead to review cd's of bands that people might not have ever heard of before that I find worthy of people taking a listen to. I'm a big fan of Melodic Rock (catchy melodies, good hooks, screaming guitars, non-whining vocals etc...) so my reviews generally will stick to that genre.

Work Of Art - Artwork (2008)

I came across this cd reading the Melodic Rock website (www.meldoicrock.com) and they had a couple of samples there of some songs. The first song I listened to took me back a good 25 years because it sounded like Toto reincarniated with a little more aggressive sound and fancier guitar work.

The Pros to this cd is that it is insanely catchy. Every song has great melodies and strong hooks. The background vocals are tight and the lead singer sounds like a mix of the 2 prominent Toto singers ; Bobby Kimball and Joe Williams (song of composer John Williams).

Another interesting aspect of this cd are the keyboards. An instrument that was at it's height in the 1980's and disappeared for out of tune guitars in the early 90's MTV pushed grunge movement. Work Of Art does a good job using the keyboards as texture rather than lead components which allows the guitar and rhythm section to carry the songs musically. However after not hearing keyboards in new rock music like this for so long it made me realize how much I missed them because they fill a void and a hole in the music that bands anymore are trying to fill by overlaying detuned guitars. You get a brighter, fuller but wider ranger of sounds which makes it musically more interesting to listen to. Every time I listen to this cd I'm picking out something new to focus on, which is always a plus.

The Cons is the mix of the cd. It's mixed a little too brightly for my tastes which makes any sound that is brighter a little tougher on the ears. The brighter tones could've been scaled back more but who knows what their recording budget was.

All in all this is a pretty good cd. If you're a fan of heavier music, you aren't going to dig this. If you are a fan of good melodic rock in the vein of Journey, Toto, Mr.Mister, Europe, Survivor, Night Ranger, Foreigner, then this is definitely a must listen.

Some of the stand out tracks in my opinion are ;

Her Only Lie
Why Do I?



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Trade Winds

So, I woke up way too early this morning. My wife had her crazy alarm set for 7:30 when we went to bed around 2:30. We were watching Iron Man on Blu-Ray, which was incredible. So I am up and finally decided to try and capture this trade and put it into words.
Well, everyone and their brother is on this potential trade. I will give you my opinion as well as some statistics and monetary thoughts about it. It is the big trade between the Penguins and the Lightning. Tampa Bay's 33 year old Martin St. Louis for our 25 year old Ryan Whitney. Everyone is quoting The Fourth Period.com for their article. I see that as the only credible source so far. I think we all know that the Pens are looking for a top winger for Crosby. That much is not a secret. There is alot of excitement amongst fans because Whitney is having sorta a down year right now and Sid needs help. Some of the sites are: The Steel City Sports Fan, The Pensblog, and Pens Nation.com. Here is a statistical and monetary chart for your enjoyment:
Click it to blow it up.
Ok, let's put this into perspective.
My first thought: is it prudent to get rid of a top defenseman like Ryan Whitney when he is really so young? I think the only reason it is a good idea to trade him in general is because we have Sergei Gonchar for at least another year, Kris Letang, another offensive defenseman that is definitely coming into his own and will eventually be better than Whitney, and finally Alex Goligosky, who is currently serving some time in the minors only because we could. Goligosky is a top club offensive defenseman and doesn't deserve to be in the minors, but he was the only one we could chance sending down without losing him on waivers. Whitney's contract also dictates a bit of money coming up in the next few years. We can afford him, but it would make sense to move him now while the getting is good and teams are willing to trade their top players.
Second thing on my mind: is Martin St. Louis too old for our team and for the money? I say no, simply because he does have quite a few years left in the tank first of all. He is 33. He isn't 37 or 38. We do need the veteran leadership. He has won a cup in his time. I have also heard alot of speculation that he is more the reason Vincent Lecavalier is as successful as he is. St. Louis is fast and can make room for himself, just what Sid needs. I think he has a great touch as well. I believe we have the players to give him the room Crosby and St. Louis, if they were on the same line, they could be very dangerous. This move would also give them some of what they need as far as leadership goes.
Lastly: what is the difference in cost? I look at the numbers and I see a significant difference. Maybe not this year or the next, but after that. St.Louis makes $5 million this year and Whitney is making $3 million. The good thing about the two contract is that they go in opposite directions. St. Louis' contract was designed top heavy meaning he was paid more at the beginning than at the end. Whitney's was quite the opposite. His pay gets higher as time goes on. Whitney is signed on for one more year than St. Louis right now also. We would save about $5 million in salary over the course of their contracts.
This would put the lines like this:
Odd Men Out
Satan/Godard, Caputi, Minard, Eaton
*these players can be rotated in based on injury and performance
St. Louis also has a no trade clause, meaning he has to approve the trade. I can see him easily doing this. One thing I do worry about is what kind of package deal this might be. Would this be a straight up St. Louis for Whitney or will they throw in a couple other names? I have no idea.
I have heard that the Pens are also looking in other places for a winger, but for right now, I think this would be the best fit. This would definitely make Sid happy and would separate Sid and Geno's lines. We get Gonch back tomorrow and possibly Fedotenko, which would be a boost. Getting Gonch back is everything like they said, a Norris-caliber defenseman at the trade deadline for absolutely nothing. I honestly think that if we make this trade alone, we will be very threatening come playoff time. Tell Shero to pull the trigger on this one. We just have to get there.


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10 February 2009

Sixburgh Steelers

Ok, I know I already talked about the Superbowl and all that, but a couple things are irking me so bad that I have to write about them.
First of all, let's talk about people calling Ben Roethlisberger a drama queen. The whole situation started when Ben released information to SI about broken ribs during the Superbowl. They asked the team and they supposedly had no idea. It seems most reporters didn't read the whole article that was written. Ben said he knew they hurt, but didn't know they were broken until after the Superbowl, once he got back to Pittsburgh. He didn't say he knew ahead of time or anything like that. He also said his preliminary tests showed nothing before the Superbowl. Even if they were that hurt, you think he is going to sit out the biggest game of his career? I don't think so. He isn't going to let on to anyone that it hurts because they might possibly sit him or the other team could find out and hit him harder. I think that is common sense. Another point that was made was that Ben says he is injured alot when he really isn't. I don't think that is the case. I think it is sorta like a Belichek thing for the Steelers. You don't want everyone to know someone is or was injured because you don't want that reputation that Belichek has as a deceiver when it comes to injuries. So, when Ben says he had an injury, it isn't because he is a drama queen, it is because he is or was. The team knows it makes them look bad when he comes out and says these things and they don't report them. All in all, I just think if Ben would know to keep these injuries to himself alot of this heat would be gone.
Second, all about the fans saying we are getting handed Superbowls that we didn't deserve. I am going to sit here and tell you that we deserved everything we got. Team that continually win will always be hated by all the other teams just because they are not winning and we are. That is the bottom line. The other teams fans will continue to argue until next year when a new team wins or we win again. At that point, there will be a whole other game to whine about.
Last, but not least, this is not a complaint, but more of an honor for the Steelers. Alot of teams that are currently transitioning to some degree are looking at the Steelers and how they are run, from top to bottom, and they are trying to mimic us. I think this is the greatest compliment to our organization. I started noticing it with the Cowboys thinking of their locker room chemistry instead of the pure talent they have been getting by with. Then you hear for teams that are looking for the next Tomlin for their team. I love this.
Let me know if you agree or disagree and why.


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