Steelers 8-8 Finish This Year Feels Better Than 2012

by Steelreign | Feb 04, 2014 - 9:33 PM
Bell1.jpg Heading into the offseason, after watching the Steelers tailspin to 8-8 to finish off the 2012 season, it felt like the beginning of a multi-year rebuilding phase was upon us. There was no reason to believe that there was going to be any quick fixes to the way Kevin Colbert ran this team into the ground with his inability to draft and replace Bill Cowher's players, some of which were allowed to hang around for far to long past their prime. Many fans chose to place blame, for this team's failures, on Todd Haley and his "anemic'' offense and some blamed Dick LeBeau, saying that the game had passed him by, when in truth, the main reason for the failures of 2012 were injuries and an overall lack of talent. The first step in replenishing this roster was not through free agency, but in the 2013 NFL Draft.


After letting the young talent, that did work out, leave, over the last few years in favor of the overpriced, past their prime vets, Kevin Colbert just about had to nail the 2013 Draft to get the infusion of young talent that the Steelers roster desperately needed and that's just about what happened. In last springs draft, Kevin Colbert and Co. added 5 players who are more than capable of being part of a valuable core of players who can be critical of future success of the Steelers for years to come. Of these rookies, the biggest impact was made by LeVeon Bell, who missed the first few weeks of the season, but came on and proved to be the do it all feature back that has been missing from the Steelers offense since Jerome Bettis retired. His presence allows guys like Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones and maybe still LaRod Stephens-Howling to be more effective in relief, rather than being relied on to carry the load. BigDawg.jpg

The Steelers first round pick, Jarvis Jones, didn't have the impact that I initially thought he would, but what he did do was gain valuable experience as a rookie and showed several flashes of... [Read More]
    4 Replies | 823 Views


Penguins Rebound Against Senators

by steeler_salerno | Feb 04, 2014 - 8:02 AM


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Marc-Andre Fluery robs Erik Karlsson with a magnificant glove save.


The Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from their road loss to Phoenix by beating the rivaled Ottawa Senators 2-1 in OT. In what was a lopsided affair statistically from an offensive standpoint for the Penguins, the Senators didn't give an inch, led by goaltender Craig Anderson. But much like his efforts in the playoffs last year, Anderson's stellar and consistent goaltending was not enough to hold off the buzzing Penguins' offense. 1:55 into the 5:00 OT session, James Neal scored to propel the Penguins to victory.



The game started off at a relatively monotonous pace, much like a heavyweight bout. Both goalies were big for their teams early, which only seemed to ratchet up the pressure and intensity. Late into the 1st period, the Senators struck first. After a nifty, "pick play" on Penguins' defenseman Olli Maata, the Senators Stephane De Costa scored short-side on Fleury. It was a goal that Flower would probably want back as he went to the ice a shade early, giving De Costa the opening he needed to score. The Senators lead however, was very short-lived. Moments after the goal, the Senators were called for Boarding. After making some noise with the 1st PP unit, the 2nd PP unit led by Jussi Jokinen made quick entry into the Senators end. Maata took the Jokinen feed and one-timed a shot on goal. With traffic in front of Anderson, Penguins' forward Brian Gibbons deflected the Maata shot past Anderson to tie the game at one. Ottawa's lead was gone after just 2:18.



As the 2nd period began, so did the shots for the Penguins, but not the goals. The Penguins energy boost and better play only seemed to steel the resolve of Anderson and the Senators defense, who love to give up shots. In fact, Anderson is #3 in the East in shots faced/game with 31. The only goalies who see more shots/game are Buffalo's Ryan Miller (35) and Toronto's Jonathan Bernier (32). As the shots began to flow, the ice also started to open up, however the ice was tilted in the Penguins' favor. The Penguins outshot the Senators in the 2nd Period, 16-8. At one point the Penguins had a

... [Read More]
    0 Replies | 573 Views


Minors Review - Middle Infield

by battlingbucs | Feb 03, 2014 - 3:47 PM
Top 5 Prospects
1. Alen Hanson: Hanson is easily the Pirates top middle infield prospect. Sign in 2009 as an International free agent Hanson had his big breakthrough during the 2012 season when he put up eye popping numbers as a 19 year old in A ball. Expectations were high for Hanson coming into the 2013 season and while it would be unfair to call his season a disappointment he definitely didnít do what most were hoping he would. Almost all the questions surrounding Hanson are about his fielding as many scouts question his ability to stick at shortstop. Hanson has the speed and range needed to be a solid defensive shortstop but his arm and consistency remain in question. If Hanson sticks at shortstop he has the bat to make himself one of the better ones in the league and even if he doesnít manage to stick at the position his bat should allow him to become a solid regular at 2B or 3B. Hanson ended 2013 at the AA level and it is likely he will begin back there to start the 2014 season.

2. Max Moroff: Admittedly Iím a bit higher on Moroff than most others. Moroff was drafted in the 16th round of the 2012 draft and only signed with the Pirates after their deal with Appel fell through and they were able to give Moroff 300K to sign. Upon signing Moroff went to rookie ball and posted very good numbers showing excellent plate discipline and good line drive power. For the 2013 season the Pirates pushed Moroff up to full season ball and he ended up with mixed results. Still there was Moroffís great plate discipline but he didnít really hit the ball with any consistency all year. Overall Moroffís makeup at the plate reminds a lot of former Pirateís prospect Robbie Grossman as he is an extremely disciplined hitter who can do everything else well but not great. Defensively Moroff still has some issues to work out but the general consensus seems to be that he has a good chance of sticking at the shortstop position. Moroff is at an interesting place in his development as it would make sense for the Pirates to once again push him to A+ or hold him back in A ball. Iím guessing they hold him back to start the year.

3. Adam Frazier: The Pirates drafted Frazier in the 6th round of this past draft. He was widely considered the best college shortstop in the draft which is more an indictment of just how poor the crop was than it is an endorsement of his skills. I make the statement not to... [Read More]
    0 Replies | 596 Views


Checkmate: Penguins Roll Kings in LA

by steeler_salerno | Jan 31, 2014 - 7:30 AM
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Paul Martin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta celebrate Jokinen's first period goal. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)


The Pittsburgh Penguins wasted little time in dispatching the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 Thursday night. The Penguins scored early and often as they dominated play right from the opening faceoff. It didn't take the Penguins very long to get on the board, just 0:57 into the content, Penguins forward Evegeni Malkin scored to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. The play was setup due to Malkin's line doing an excellent job of fore-checking and creating traffic in front of King's starting goaltender Jonathan Quick. After Quick mishandled a routine glove save, and a failed clearing attempt, Penguins forward James Neal attempted a shot in the slot which was partially blocked and the puck squirted to Penguins forward, Jussi Jokinen who found the puck in traffic and made an outstanding no look behind-the-back pass to Malkin who, was left all alone to Quick's left, slam-dunked the puck home.


The Penguins continued to play the role of the aggressor, as they pummeled the Kings everywhere on the ice. In particular, Penguins forward Tanner Glass and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, where buzzing all over the ice, hitting any Kings' player they could at any opportunity they got. And it paid dividends for the Penguins. However the Kings, who have failed to score with any regularity the past few games, made the most of their first Power Play opportunity. 9 minutes in Chris Kunitz was called for hooking and :16 seconds later, Kings forward Anze Kopitar rifled a laser from the left-point high short side on Penguins goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, to tie the game at 1-1. But the game wouldn't remain tied for very long, in fact, it was tied for less than 1:30. Just :32 after the Kopitar's goal, the 2 Kings players were called for separate penalties on Evgeni Malkin. In the bizarre turn of events, the Penguins wound up with a 5-on-3, 2-man advantage for an entire 2:00. The Penguins wasted no time flashing their #1 Power Play unit, scoring :45 into the 1st Power Play. After
... [Read More]
    5 Replies | 832 Views


Penguins Bounceback Against Sabres

by steeler_salerno | Jan 28, 2014 - 9:09 AM

The Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from their 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars with a 3-0 of their own against the Buffalo Sabres. Marc-Andre Fluery led the way for the Penguins stopping all 24 shots he faced. The Penguins got unlikely goals from defenseman Deryk Engelland and Tanner Glass, as well as from a likely source, forward Chris Kunitz. Kunitz's goal would be the only one the Penguins needed, but getting goals from other-than-top-line scorers was most certainly a sight for sore eyes.



Much like the Dallas Stars game on Saturday evening, there was never really much doubt in this game, although the game was scoreless after one period of play. However, the Penguins never ceded control, out-muscling and out playing the Sabres throughout the matchup. This game also saw the resurgence of the Penguins' PK unit, who after going 1-for-3 against Dallas, stifled the Sabres on all three of their PP attempts.




MAFvsGoalies1000Saves 1-27-14.jpgGoaltender Ryan Miller played an excellent game, and the USA Olympic goaltender, as expected, got little to no help from his defense corps. Miller finished the night with 2GA and stopped 29 of 31 shots (the empty net goal does not count against Miller). It's sad to think that with how well Miller is playing, this Buffalo team is really THAT bad! Here are Miller's major stats through the season thus far (to include this game against the Penguins). It's worth noting and is really no surprise that Miller has faced the most shots of any goalie (~35 per game) in the East. His Shots-to-Goal ratio is actually not that bad; Miller is giving up a goal every 13 shots. Compare that to Fluery who is giving up a goal 12 shots. Fluery has seen however, 115 less shots. Finally, Miller has only allowed 94 GA, which is 2 better than Fluery. My final thought on Miller, he is at the end of his contract, as such, he will be an UFA (unrestricted free agent) at the end of this season. While Miller

... [Read More]
    0 Replies | 535 Views


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