The Radio PI Podcast Network

Nick Case with Case and Point Sports every Monday. The League with Brian and TJ every Tuesday. Mad Chad and Mike "The Buzzsaw" Asti every Wednesday. Radio PI convering the Penguins every Thursday.

Celebrate PI's Birthday Month!

The year has gone by so quickly and we invite you to celebrate with us. Stay tuned for contests with great prizes for lucky readers throughout the month of April!

3rd Annual Hockey Kicks Cancer

It's back! Hockey Kicks Cancer Kickball Tournament! Register below!

Writer of the Month: Jim Meinecke

When not being Mario Lemieux's best friend, Jim is a full time writer for PensInitiative. He's interviewed Mike Lange and Joe Battista and has become quickly one of our most popular writers.

Rob Ullman

This week in Penguin's history with illustrator Rob Ullman. Check out his store under SHOP for hockey, comics, and pinups.

Chris' Corner

Chris Barron looks at the hot topics around the NHL and shares his perspective. It's alot like Coach's Corner but the views aren't from a paranoid Xenophobe.

Claude Giroux Thinks The Flyers Get Two Points For Winning A Playoff Game




It's Time To Win A Robert Bortuzzo Jersey From PI and @TotalSportsEnt

Last Sunday, we revealed the rules for the Pens Initiative/Total Sports Enterprises Easter Egg Hunt. Simply put, all you had to do was look for all-capitalized words while reading Pens Initiative articles throughout the week.

Today is the day that you can tell us what those Easter Eggs were and enter yourself to win an autographed Robert Bortuzzo jersey, courtesy of the folks at TSE. Simply fill out the form below by listing the Easter Eggs by 12:00 AM Eastern on April 21st (That's Easter Sunday night) and our winner will be announced Monday via facebook, twitter and an article on PensInitiative.com.

foxyform

If you're not 100% certain that you've collected all of the Easter Eggs, or would just like to be certain that you did, here's a little cheat sheet:

On Tuesday, Liz reposted a classic guide to Surviving a Deep Playoff Run - and added one Egg.

Nick Case added one more to the Easter Egg count when he covered a wide-spread, universal and time-honored dislike of Pierre McGuire on Wednesday.

Thursday, Sean Griffin covered Kris Letang's return and it's relation to the playoffs while adding one Easter Egg.

Friday night, Milan Lucic checked out Danny DeKeyser's Easter Eggs and Saturday, PI added 3 more Eggs of their own to the mix. Nick Case found video of Lucic's training regimen and revealed TWO Eggs. Later in the afternoon, Lee Sobotka added another Egg as he reawakened the nightmare that WAS the X-Generation.

So there you have it. Do your research, if you need to, and enter to win.

And, most of all, thank you for joining us at PensInitiative.com!

Do You Remember? by @LCJS


It's incredible how long ago 2004 feels.  In the midst of the X-Generation, the Pens were a terrible team that sold off all of their talent in order to keep the lights in Mellon Arena on.

Ten years ago was the season before Sidney Crosby was a Penguin and the team was in the gutter.  During an 18-game losing streak that year, the Pens went 0-17-1.  Hell, in the first 62 games, they had a putrid 11 wins.

They ended that last season before the lockout 23-47-8-4.

Dick Tarnstrom led the team in points with 52.  Yes, a defensemen led the team in points.  Compare that number to the number of goals scored by Malkin or Neal in recent seasons.  Ryan Malone, not exactly known for having an elite skill-set, led the team in goals with 22.

The crazy bad numbers just keep going.  Do you remember who led the team in wins that year?  Of course you do!  It was S├ębastien Caron who led the team with a whopping 9... count 'em, 9 wins, and 24 losses.  Fleury had 4 wins that year... with 14 losses.  Granted, he was only a rookie.

Orpik and Scuderi were on the '03-'04 team, but neither did anything remarkable - though they aren't the types to put up points.  It should also be noted that Mario Lemieux played for that team, logging 1 goal and 8 assists in 10 games.  Not exactly his best performance.

The Penguins scored 190 goals.

They gave up 303.

The days of Milan Kraft and Rico Fata are gone...


...and somehow you would think that things are as bad as ever.

These days, success is expected; so the fan base foolishly raises the alarm when a little patience is all that is required.  It's not even a matter of the team playing badly for a game, as I've seen people raise the alarm after a bad shift.

Is this what we've come to as a fan base?

Are we that spoiled?

As a certain Mad Chad is fond of saying: "Yinzers gonna yinz."

In reality, it's easy to expect the best from a team with this much talent.  With the likes of Crosby and Kunitz, Malkin and Neal, Letang and Martin, Batman and Robin, Tango and Cash, The McMannus Brothers... the list goes on and on. However, we should remember and be thankful for that very same talent, as it wasn't that long ago we had Eddie Olczyk patrolling the bench and Kris Beech was a big part of "the future."

We must remember that Fleury isn't the worst goalie to ever don a blocker.  Adams isn't always a waste of a roster spot.  Letang isn't worthless.

While there are times they have bad games, or bad streaks of games, it's not as if these are terrible players who don't belong on the ice.  Just 10 years ago the Pens were suiting up far worse talent.

That team sported the likes of Lasse Pirjeta, RAMZI ABID and Andy Chiodo.  I'll forgive you if you don't exactly remember them very well.

Let's do our best to try and remember during these playoffs that this Pens team (when healthy) can be as good as any Pittsburgh has put on the ice.  Be thankful that the X-Generation is but a memory, ten years old.  Enjoy the present while it lasts and root on the Pens to make these fresh memories great!

Save the alarms for when the next Matt Murley comes along.
____________________
Lee can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/lcjs

EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE: Inside Milan Lucic's Training

We at Pens Initiative have obtained EXCLUSIVE footage into the training regimen of the Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic!  Click below for the SHOCKING footage!


Lucic Spears a Guy in the Balls, Quenneville Grabs His Balls, And Datsyuk Scores Amazing Goal

Folks, the NHl playoffs have only been going on for three nights, and they have already been amazing. So far, six of the first nine games of the playoffs have been decided by one goal. The games have been super exciting and competitive so far. If this is any indication of how the rest of the playoffs are going to be, hockey fans across the world are in for a treat.

Radio:PI 4/17/14 with @jmarshfof

Last night on Radio:PI, Mad Chad and Brian Blystone sat down with Jesse Marshall of faceoff-factor.com to discuss Pens/Blue Jackets, the NHL playoffs, and the Penguins going forward.

Don't forget that Radio:PI comes to you LIVE all playoffs long with shows immediately following the conclusion of every game!


Some Thoughts About the Pens after Game 1 (And A Story About Nachos) by @MadChad412




The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in game one Wednesday night, by a score of 4-3. The Pens came out flat, but did a good job of being resilient in the face of adversity, which is mostly due to thanks to their leadership, talent, and playoff experience. In the first period, you would have thought that the Blue Jackets were the more experienced team. The Blue Jackets came out, looked better than the Pens, and took a 3-1 lead. The Pens looked flat, especially on defense, having breakdown after breakdown, and couldn't seem to muster any  offense.

Kris Letang: Raising the Bar for Playoff Hopes by @griffTHW


As we begin the 2014 postseason, the Penguins find themselves in somewhat unfamiliar territory.  For the first time in several years, not many consider Pittsburgh one of the true favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup at season's end.  Indeed, question marks about goaltending, depth and injuries combined with uninspired play down the stretch, producing no shortage of doubters.  Whether the Pens struggled as a result of a plethora of injuries that finally caught up to them, fatigue or a lack of meaningful contests late in the campaign, the sputtering squad's recent play has produced lower than normal expectations for a fan base thirsting for another championship.

One reason for optimism, however, comes as a result of the team returning to health at just the right time.  With Evgeni Malkin and Joe Vitale back on the ice, the forward unit finds itself virtually as healthy as it's going to get.  And, while that will certainly serve to make this Pittsburgh team more dangerous, it's the recent return of Kris Letang along the blue line that may provide the biggest impact.

Consider the following:

The Transition Game

When executed properly, Dan Bylsma's system utilizes the speed, precision and skill of one of the league's most talented teams.  It's designed to get the puck out of the Pittsburgh end quickly, with blue liners ideally finding the club's skilled forwards streaking out of the zone with speed. Love it or hate it, the system brings with it the potential to play to the strengths of the some of the game's most talented players.

When both Paul Martin and Kris Letang found themselves out of the lineup, though, the squad suffered mightily.  Without the gifted puck moving defensemen on the ice, the Pens' transition game struggled.  The squad frequently found itself hemmed in its own end, helpless to break out in an effort to turn defense into offense.

With Letang (and Martin) back in the fold, however, the Pens' transition game becomes much more lethal.  The former-Norris finalist's skating ability makes his puck retrieval second to none, while his vision and puck moving skills allow him to hit speeding teammates in stride as they move up ice.  What's more, if there's no real play available, he's more than capable of skating the puck out of danger. 

Is he occasionally guilty of turning the puck over?  Absolutely.  But he also makes life a lot easier for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh forwards.  And, if life becomes easier for them, it follows that life gets better for the Penguins.

Offensive Production

It's no secret that one of the Penguins' greatest weaknesses results from their lack of forward depth.  While the club boasts two of the most explosive lines in hockey, it also employs a bottom-six that struggles to produce offense. 

As a result, it's crucial that defensemen chip in an effort to supplement offensive production.  And, while Matt Niskanen admirably produced a career high in goals (10), assists (36) and points (46) while anchoring a depleted unit for much of the year, it's the dynamic Letang who provides the Pens' greatest offensive punch from the blue line.

Whether it's his propensity for jump starting the transition game, his ability to join the rush or his acumen for lighting the lamp in crucial situations, Letang provides a vital offensive presence from the back end. 

Perhaps that's why, despite only playing in 37 games this year, he led all Pittsburgh defensemen with 11 tallies.  It's why, after missing two and a half months and returning for the final three contests of the year, he recorded a goal and three assists.  Sure, it's a small sample size but it serves to illustrate just how lethal Letang can be with the puck. 

If he can add even close to that kind of production in the POSTSEASON, it could help mask one of Pittsburgh's most glaring deficiencies.


Eating the Big Minutes

One of Letang's greatest qualities comes in the form of his ability to log so many minutes.  His incredible work ethic and freakish stamina allow him to seemingly remain on the ice all night.  Even after suffering the stroke that cost him 26 games, Letang returned to action without a hitch.

"At one point in the game I looked at him and he didn’t have a drop of sweat on him. He’s got a unique and rare condition and skating ability. He’s been out a long time, he’s been out a couple months and he looked pretty darn good out there defending, defending against good players and playing hard. He made some good plays and made a difference in the game.” - Dan Bylsma, on Letang's impressive return to the lineup
When healthy, "Tanger" (24:14) is second only to Paul Martin (24:34) in average ice time amongst Pittsburgh skaters.  He plays in all situation, provides a bit of a nasty streak and relies on his nearly unmatched skating ability to matchup against the NHL's elite.
"You see it offensively, but even defensively, being able to skate and match up against other team's good skill players with their speed, it's unique and it's a spectacle." - Dan Bylsma, on the importance of Letang's skating ability
Not only does eating up all those minutes and playing against the best the NHL has to offer provide the Pens with a defenseman who serves to help control a game, it creates a trickle down effect that simultaneously benefits the rest of the defensive unit.  Because, while the defense performed admirably for much of the season, it was clear that the group started to wear down as the campaign marched on.  With Letang and Martin back to perform the heavy lifting, though, fellow blue liners will benefit from an opportunity to finally spread the minutes around, to escape the weight of replacing the club's top puck moving defensemen.  As a result, the Penguins may find themselves with a sharper, more efficient group in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.

And, if that proves to hold true, the Pens may find more postseason success than many anticipate.

Morning Drive: Radio:PI Postgame 4/16/14

As we do every year during the post season we do a live edition of Radio:PI after every single game, win or lose.  Last night's 4-3 win over Columbus in Game 1 was no different.  Listen in as Evil Shero and Mike "Buzz Saw" Asti share their thoughts, and your thoughts, on the Pens first post season game of the 2014 season.

Penguins Playoff Preview with @JoshYohe_Trib and @MikeColligan by @PandaPSU


Mike Colligan and Josh Yohe were nice enough to take some time out of their busy schedules leading up to the Pens opening first-round series with Columbus to give us a glimpse into their crystal balls of what will be the keys for the Pens this series, and who they predict will be drinking from Lord Stanley come this time in June. We would love to hear your comments with your own predictions for any of the topics mentioned. Enjoy and Let's Go Pens!
# NAME TWITTER POSITION DOB BIRTH PLACE
7 BETH MYNCIN
Beth Myncin
@pghgirl15222 SCHEDULER/WRITER 7/1 PITTSBURGH, PA
20 BRANDON MARINACCI
Brandon Marinacci
@brandon20m TWITTER MANAGER 12/30 PITTSBURGH, PA
17 BRIAN BLYSTONE
Brian Blystone
@toonsbrian PODCAST/WEBMASTER/WRITER 12/2 GIRTY, PA
8 CHAD DIETZ
Chad Dietz
@pgh_hockey_dad REDDIT/TWITTER 4/8 PITTSBURGH, PA
69 CHAD NOLAN
"Mad Chad" Nolan - 412SportsTalk.com
@madchad412 PODCAST/FEATURED WRITER 11/7 MUNHALL, PA
48 CHRISTOPHER BARRON
Christopher Barron
@chrisrbarron WRITER/PROMOTION 12/15 WATERVILLE, ME
24 DAMIAN ROMANO
Damian Romano
@jagrmeister FOUNDER/WEBMASTER/WRITER 10/28 RAVENA, NY
88 DYLAN O'BRIEN
Dylan O'Brien
@pitmound WRITER/FANTASY EXPERT 7/30 PITTSBURGH, PA
12 EXCITED BOB ERREY
"Excited" Bob Errey
@excitedboberrey FEATURED WRITER 1/23
1/23, kid
PITTSBURGH, PA
44 IAN INSECT
Ian Insect - construxnunchux.com
@construxnunchux CONSULTANT/PROOFREADER 10/25 PITTSBURGH, PA
86 JIM MEINECKE
Jim Meinecke
@pandapsu FEATURED WRITER 8/6 JOHNSTOWN, PA
64 KYLE FRITZ
Kyle Fritz
@luigilemieux FEATURED WRITER 3/27 FT LAUDERDALE, FL
79 LEE CJ SOBOTKA
Lee CJ Sobotka
@lcjs FEATURED WRITER 10/11 GIBSONIA, PA
87 LIZ
Liz
@chicksdighockey FACEBOOK/FEATURED WRITER 5/3 PITTSBURGH, PA
11 MIKE "BUZZSAW" ASTI
Mike "Buzzsaw" Asti - ChampsSportsNetwork.com
@mikeasti11 PODCAST 1/26 PITTSBURGH, PA
22 NICK CASE
Nick Case - CaseAndPointSports.com
@nick422 PODCAST MANAGER/WRITER 4/22 CARNEGIE, PA
5 NICOLE TRACEY
Nicole Tracey
@hockeynicole FACEBOOK MANAGER 11/15 PITTSBURGH, PA
21 PAUL CLEMENTE
Paul Clemente - ConstruxNunchux.com
@evil_shero FOUNDER/MANAGER/WRITER 5/26 PITTSBURGH, PA
10 ROBERT ULLMAN
Robert Ullman - AtomBombBikini.net
@robullman ILLUSTRATOR/WRITER 11/23 WARREN, OH
18 RYAN NOBLE
Ryan Noble - ConstruxNunchux.com
@ryannoble66 SCHEDULING MANAGER/WRITER 9/8 TORONTO, ON
3 RYAN VALDISERRI
Ryan Valdiserri - TheClassyYinzer.com
@theclassyyinzer MERCHANDISE 9/14 MT LEBANON, PA
27 SEAN GRIFFIN
Sean Griffin
@griffthw FEATURED WRITER 5/5 RICHMOND, VA
29 TIM CURRAN
Tim "TJ" Curran
@toonsjack PODCAST 11/1 ST. LOUIS, MO