Monday planner: Big week for NFL, NHL moves 0

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

A look at the week ahead on the site …

Monday: Fresh off the Penguins column from last night, attention will turn this morning to two notable deadlines today: The NHL’s trading deadline is at 3 p.m., and the NFL’s deadline to apply franchise/transition tags is at 4 p.m. I’m not expecting anything on the latter front as applied to the Steelers, but tabs will be kept. For the NHL deadline, we’ll have a post up that tracks all transactions and allows you to follow along. A News/views entry will follow both.

Tuesday: Tuesday 12 Qs occurs at 9 a.m., though you can submit entries beginning at 12:01 a.m.

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Wednesday: The Morning Java video will go up first thing in the morning. At 5:30 p.m., I’ll make my weekly visit to the 105.9 the X studio to spar with Mark Madden. And by nightfall, I’ll be at the Pete for Pitt’s home finale vs. Miami. Full column to follow.

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Column: Rutherford’s Penguins built ego-free 92

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David Perron is congratulated on his second-period power-play goal Sunday night at Consol. — GETTY

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

If we’re all being honest, there isn’t much to cull from the Penguins’ 5-3 clubbing of Columbus tonight at Consol Energy Center. Hardly anything, really. Not the power play showing actual flow and converting three times. Not the seamless systematic play in the defensive zone and on breakouts. Not Daniel Winnik assisting in his Pittsburgh debut. Not even Evgeni Malkin’s two slick scores.

Sorry, but if anyone recalls that flat-line performance in Vancouver, they’ll readily accept that this is precisely how this one should have played out. Because these reaching, lunging, stumbling Blue Jackets were visibly drop-dead tired from playing less than 24 hours earlier, even as the Penguins, rested for three full days, could wait and pounce.

But hey, there’s no crime in winning when a team is supposed to win, right?

“Columbus is a good team, but they just played yesterday and we were fresh,” Malkin was saying afterward. “We won. We were OK.”

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On location: Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 3 54

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BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Getting ready for faceoff …

Game: Penguins (35-17-9) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (26-31-4), 5:08 p.m., Consol Energy Center

Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (28-13-6, 2.17) vs. Curtis McElhinney (10-12-2, 2.68)

TV, radio: Root Sports, 105.9 the X

Online: GameCenter / Multimedia / Official game notes

UPDATE 5:02 p.m.: The Penguins’ scratches are right winger Craig Adams and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. No immediate word if either is health-related, but neither participated in pregame warmups.

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Wake Forest 69, Pitt 63 53

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BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Getting ready for tipoff …

Game: Pitt (19-10, 8-7 ACC) vs. Wake Forest (12-16, 4-11), 6:35 p.m., Lawrence Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.

TV, radio: ESPNU (national), ESPN3 (online), 93.7 The Fan

Online: GameTracker / Multimedia / Official game notes

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TV: 11:35 p.m. live ‘Showdown’ on KDKA-TV 2

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Coming up tonight at 11:35 p.m., I’ll be part of a live episode of KDKA-TV’s ‘#1 Cochran Sports Showdown‘ that also includes Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller of 93.7 the Fan. The host, as always, will be Bob Pompeani. Video podcast will follow on this site Monday.

You can be part of the show, too. We’re taking tweets for all three individual panelists on the @SportsShowdown official Twitter account.

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News/views: Winnik revved up for Cup run 50

Daniel Winnik lines up for a net-front drill at the Penguins' practice Saturday at Consol. -- DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Daniel Winnik lines up for a net-front drill at the Penguins’ practice Saturday at Consol. — DEJAN KOVACEVIC

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

News: Daniel Winnik took to the ice for his first practice with the Penguins this morning at Consol Energy Center, skating on the third line alongside Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie.

Views: Never mind my views. I shared those the other day from D.C. when Jim Rutherford acquired Winnik from the Maple Leafs.

Instead, here are three questions I just had for the new guy himself …

Very professional, poised. Even handled that Toronto question, which can be a little sticky, with the smartest answer possible. Impressive.

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St. Bonaventure 92, Duquesne 75 4

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BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Getting ready for tipoff …

Game: Duquesne (10-16, 5-10 Atlantic 10) vs. St. Bonaventure (14-12, 7-8), 4:05 p.m., Reilly Center, Olean, N.Y.

Video, radio: Atlantic 10 Digital Network, WJAS 1320 AM, iHeartRadio 3WS HD2

Online: GameTracker / Multimedia / Official game notes

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Saturday site stuff: Coffee’s on me 45

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Eight subscribers at our D.C. meetup Wednesday. Another took the pic. Two arrived later. — DEJAN KOVACEVIC

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

A weekly look at what’s new, what’s coming on our site …

• There’s been no real pattern to our various and many subscriber meetings since the site’s launch. A few hours before choosing a Starbucks in a given city, I’ll post a notice here in the comments, plus an alert on the app and on a couple social media forums, then set up at a table and wait. Sometimes, one or two show. Sometimes, like Wednesday in D.C.., a dozen will turn up.

Either way, it’s a delight — no, an honor — when it happens. Really is.

And trust me, the two who showed in Calgary, through some serious snow and so very far from Pittsburgh, moved me just as much as filling half the Starbucks in Washington.

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It’s funny, but I posted on our Subscribe page at the launch what I thought was kind of a joke about having to buy all Lunatic level subscribers a coffee. But enough folks took it seriously that I soon realized I’d better do so, too. And it’s been a blast, one of the best aspects of going independent.

For the gazillionth time, thank you so much. This endeavor is a success to date 100 percent because of your interest and support in this little … community, I guess.

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Podcast: Rapid fire on 970 ESPN w/ Todd 10

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Here’s the podcast of my weekly rapid-fire segment on 970 ESPN Pittsburgh with David Todd. Lots of Penguins and Pirates.

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Friday Insider: Neil Walker going, going … 119

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Neil Walker takes his cuts in the cage earlier this week at Pirate City. — DEJAN KOVACEVIC

BY DEJAN KOVACEVIC

Roundup of a lot of randomness from a lot of time around our teams …

• Sure sounds like Neil Walker is on his way out of his hometown.

It might not happen soon or even this season, depending on how the Pirates fare, depending on how quickly Jung-Ho Kang and/or prospect Alen Hanson come along. But I’m more convinced than ever, via multiple conversations in the past week, of these three things:

1. The Pirates’ recent multiyear offer, one that Frank Coonelly spoke about publicly last month, was little more than a dressed-up attempt to buy out Walker’s two remaining arbitration years, this and next, plus one year of free agency. As anyone familiar with baseball finances can attest, this type of term is aimed at getting a discount on the arbitration process, nothing more.

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2. Had Walker signed such a deal, with an aim of staying in Pittsburgh, it would have come at a marked discount, and he’d have had no assurance he wouldn’t be traded.

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