Kovacevic: Beau knows playoff pedigree
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Brief and to the Point...
Dan Bylsma is the envy of exactly 29 NHL coaches in that he'll be burdened over the next few days to find room in the forward lines for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.
Expect a leaguewide outpouring of sympathy, right?
Well, doesn't mean it's all a cinch:
1. Bylsma's got to almost anticipate chemistry in lieu of actually seeing most of these guys skate together, given the Penguins' many trades and injuries.
2. Great players usually come with great needs, and most are justified.
3. What about Beau Bennett?
Don't overlook that last one.
Bennett absolutely should be part of the playoff lineup. He's been just terrific — finishing, playmaking, passing, even his checking — and he's gotten it done regardless of role or linemates. He shouldn't be dismissed just because he's a rookie or even because the ridiculous depth right now legitimately drops him to the fourth line.
Let's go through the lines: I'd have Sidney Crosby between Jarome Iginla and Pascal Dupuis, then Evgeni Malkin reunited with Chris Kunitz and James Neal. Better to accelerate the chemistry. Third line would have Brandon Sutter with Brenden Morrow and Matt Cooke.
I'll go with Jussi Jokinen between Bennett and Craig Adams. That omits, obviously, Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale, Dustin Jeffrey and, yes, Tyler Kennedy.
The latter won't happen. I know that. You know that. Bylsma has stuck by Kennedy as if they were kin. And maybe you can understand that in the regular season.
But the fourth line in the playoffs isn't about energy. If a team isn't getting energy from everyone in those games, they're golfing sooner than later. Rather, it's about capable production and, given the physical play, it's about making sure you've got reinforcements at hand. With Bennett and Jokinen on the bench, Bylsma has two terrific options should anyone go down. Even his stars.
I asked Bylsma if Bennett's showing enough to stick.
“What I think Beau's shown is that, when he steps into different areas of the game or a fourth-line role like he's been doing, he's still contributing, still making plays,” Bylsma said. “So whether he's in the lineup for the first game of the playoffs or gets inserted into a certain situation, he's shown he can fit.”
• Friday Q: Pittsburgh has eight stadiums/arenas with 4,000-plus capacity inside city limits. Name the only two built entirely with private financing.
Answer at end.
• You only think you fully grasp Pedro Alvarez's early struggles.
Forget the Half-Mendoza average or striking out in half his at-bats. According to his hit chart, before his first home run of the season Thursday night, he'd sent exactly two balls farther than 250 feet in the air. One was a 325-foot flyout to center, the other a 300-footer muffed by the right fielder in Arizona.
He'll come around. Always does. But it's astonishing to watch, nonetheless.
• Has Mark Melancon's arm fallen off yet?
• The Steelers dodged another potential poaching in retaining nose tackle Steve McLendon — by far their most underappreciated player by Mike Tomlin and staff — with a three-year deal Thursday.
Never mind that it came only after risking losing him on another low-ball tender, and only after the Packers invited McLendon for a visit, and only after someone realized that maybe a 36-year-old Casey Hampton or Alameda “Greased Lightning” Ta'amu won't cut it at nose tackle.
All that matters now is that Tomlin stops benching McLendon after every sack.
• Has James Harrison fired his agent yet?
• The Penguins' position atop the East is solid, but the No. 8 seed is still up in the air between the Islanders, Rangers and Jets. Of that trio, the latter presents by far the most attractive matchup and not just because the Penguins have torched the Jets for 20 goals in their past three visits here. The Penguins are flat-out in their heads.
“We do things in this building we don't do anywhere else,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said upon his team's visit last month. “I have no idea why.”
In contrast, I'd want nothing to do with the Islanders' mad speed up front or Henrik Lundqvist in the Rangers' net.
• Has anyone seen the new “CSI: Ottawa” yet?
• Just so I've got this straight: Duquesne AD Greg Amodio in 2010 drops baseball, swimming, golf and wrestling, wiping out 70 of 475 varsity athletes and infuriating the university community while vowing that it was all done to better the basketball programs.
How's that working out?
The men won one Atlantic 10 game this past season, and the women just lost the region's finest coach, Suzie McConnell-Serio, to Pitt.
• Friday answer: The Riverhounds' new Highmark Stadium cost $10.2 million and joined A.J. Palumbo Center — $11 million when built in 1988, plus $4 million in recent renovations — as the city's only major venues built without tax money.
The six that used public funding: Heinz Field, Consol Energy Center, PNC Park, Petersen Event Center, Fitzgerald Field House, Cupples Stadium.
So minor league soccer and Duquesne basketball are our only self-sustaining sports, right?
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tomlin: Penalties only one factor in Steelers’ loss
- Steelers film session: Harrison on the field often
- Women sues over injuries she blames on Pittsburgh EMS
- District college roundup: No. 22 Slippery Rock eases past Seton Hill
- Steelers are vowing to fix the costly penalties, lack of self-discipline
- No one way to fix Western Pennsylvania’s heroin problem, report says
- Paper or paper? California bans single-use plastic bags
- Neil Diamond bringing tour to Consol Energy Center
- Prosecutors float possibility of jail time for former Justice Melvin
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Pitcairn Road to reopen Wednesday