Mehno: Penguins fans must stay patient

PITTSBURGH – Stay calm. It’s a long season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins just had a stretch of three games, all losses, in which they failed to score an even-strength goal.

This brought back memories from the spring, when the Penguins’ high-powered offense sputtered and conked out in the playoff loss to Boston.

When Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are healthy and the Penguins can’t score 5-on-5, something is wrong.

It’s up to the coaching staff to make the necessary strategic corrections.

But there shouldn’t be any doubt that the problems are correctable. Maybe it’s as simple as getting more traffic in front of the net.

The Penguins have long had a tendency to value the pretty play over the gritty one. With their skill level, they always think they’re just one no-look pass from scoring.

But when goals are hard to come by, back to basics almost always works.

Crowd the net and take advantage of deflections and easy rebounds. People call them garbage goals, but there’s no premium for style points. One that glances off a skate counts as much as a breakaway.

The return to the full 82-game schedule requires a perspective adjustment.

The lockout limited last season to 48 games. Points were at a premium. A long losing streak could be devastating. The 82-game schedule is more forgiving. A team can have a bad month and still recover.

All things considered, the Penguins aren’t in bad shape, even with the losing streak. There’s plenty of time to get things right and maximize this team’s considerable talent. It’s only November.

Selling out

Bill Mazeroski’s champagne-stained jersey from the 1960 World Series brought $632,500 at auction.

That’s probably close to the amount of money Mazeroski was paid for his 17-year career with the Pirates.

The items he put up for bids sold for about $1.7 million. Good for him. At 77, he’s established a nice trust fund for his sons and grandchildren, and it’s more likely the items sold will now be on public display.

If you spend $632,500 on a shirt, you probably want to show it off.

Ballot blunders

Some people are upset that Andrew McCutchen was listed as low as fourth on one of the MVP ballots cast from St. Louis.

The bigger injustice is that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was ninth on one of the ballots from Pittsburgh.

If you build it again…

As much as everyone likes PNC Park, it was a huge waste of money when Three Rivers Stadium was demolished after 30 years of use.

It was ugly, but it was still functional. The Steelers doomed Three Rivers when they jumped on the stadium-financing bandwagon and insisted on a new venue packed with luxury boxes.

That’s how we got Heinz Field, which is ugly but functional.

Every elected official who’s ever caved in to the stadium shakedown must have been chilled by the news that the Atlanta Braves will seek a new ballpark, hoping to abandon Turner Field, which opened in 1997.

Three Rivers lasted half as long as Forbes Field did. Has the shelf life of publicly-financed sports palaces grown even shorter?

Mehno can be reached at