Sidney Crosby

Trying to put the Penguins’ potential letdown in historical context


“It’s hard to come up with another really good team in any sport that crumbled the way these Penguins are,” writes Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook in a scathing piece published today.

If you haven’t heard enough bad things about the Pens, the column is worth a read.

But it also made us wonder how the Penguins’ letdown, especially if they get swept, would stack up against other famous letdowns.

And we mean letdowns, which aren’t necessarily collapses. For example, the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead to the Flyers in 2010, but the B’s were the No. 6 seed in the East. Nobody considered them Stanley Cup favorites. Plus at least they made it to the second round.

Nor are we simply talking about first-round upsets. For example, it was definitely a letdown for the Red Wings when they lost in the first round to the Oilers in 2006, but we don’t recall Detroit losing its collective mind like we’re seeing from Pittsburgh.


1. The Pens were the Cup favorites

2. They’re on the verge of getting swept

3. They’re on the verge of getting swept out of the first round

4. And above all, they’re going down in flames. Blowing leads. Surrendering 20 goals in three games. Losing all focus. Their owner is reportedly embarrassed by their antics. Really, it’s the textbook definition of a meltdown.

The one thing you can say in Pittsburgh’s defense is that Philadelphia is a very good team.

But I’m trying to think of another team from any sport that has all those four points covered, and I’m having trouble.

If you can think of any, please do share.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.