It’s tough to repeat in the NHL
PITTSBURGH — The Penguins have Sidney Crosby and the Columbus Blue Jackets don’t.
That should be the difference in their Stanley Cup playoff series, which begins tonight.
It won’t be easy, and will probably go six games.
The odds are against the Penguins repeating as Stanley Cup champions. Teams rarely repeat, and it will be difficult to get through four successful rounds without the considerable skills of Kris Letang.
Evgeni Malkin is back. Not only do the Penguins get one of the game’s most skilled players, they also get a fresh player. He hasn’t played in a month because of a shoulder injury, so he should be ready for the playoffs.
There’s a suspicion that goalie Matt Murray has some sort of hidden injury issue. That’s mitigated by the presence of Marc-Andre Fleury, who played well over the last couple of months.
The Penguins haven’t been as sharp or detailed as they were last year. Maybe they can regain those levels in the postseason.
They’re certain to get a stiff challenge in the first round.
Tyler Glasnow’s first start of the season was horrible.
He couldn’t get people out, he couldn’t throw strikes consistently, and he couldn’t finish the second inning.
There was a lot about that was disturbing, obviously. Maybe the biggest issue is Glasnow showed no improvement from last year’s limited major league audition. He had the same problems then.
He put too many runners on base, then was helpless to stop them from stealing bases. His divided attention led to a loss in velocity and his pitching mechanics went haywire.
The Pirates gave Glasnow the No. 5 spot in the rotation even though he didn’t do much to earn it in spring training. General manager Neil Huntington has said repeatedly that Glasnow has nothing left to prove at the Class AAA level.
Based on Monday’s game, he isn’t ready for major league competition either. His situation is becoming a real dilemma for the Pirates.
It would appear manager Clint Hurdle’s patience has worn thin. Hurdle made a trip to the mound to talk to Glasnow rather than remove him from the game. That rarely happens.
Hurdle also waved away the infielders and made it clear this was a 1-on-1 discussion with his young pitcher.
The conference didn’t make things any better.
Glasnow doesn’t seem to have any answers. He said he would put the game behind him and look forward to his next start.
That is scheduled to be Saturday in Wrigley Field — a hostile environment where he’ll face a loaded Chicago Cubs lineup. Yikes.
The Pirates have options in the fifth spot. They could summon a relief pitcher from the minor leagues and use either Trevor Williams or Wade LeBlanc as a starter.
But the goal here is to get Glasnow up and running in the major leagues so he can fulfill his significant potential.
That seems to be as daunting a task now as it was last year.
It’s on again
There is no offseason in the James Harrison-Roger Goodell feud.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org