Column: Penguins driving the hard route 19

Los Angeles Kings v Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby stays on the puck after being hauled down by the Kings’ Jarret Stoll. — GETTY IMAGES

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

Sidney Crosby had a choice.

He could have spun away from the check, slipped back along the boards, whirled and twirled and dazzled and deked, as he did to no avail all through the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring. Or he could simply have lowered his shoulder and plowed his own path through to the low slot.

He chose the latter, and Chris Kunitz roofed his rebound.

Kris Letang dangled along the right edge of the power play. He could have tried to dispy-doodle through a defender. Or he could have darted hard to the inside and forced the puck to the net.

He chose the latter, and he was credited with the goal when his flick ricocheted off a defenseman.

Ugly?

Heck, no: Penguins 3, Best Hockey Team In The World 0

“They’re the champions,” Evgeni Malkin was saying late Thursday night of the Kings, formally crowned as such two of the past three years. “It’s great to play against them.”

No doubt. Better yet to beat them, no doubt. Even with Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick out, Darryl Sutter’s roster is still the biggest, baddest around.

More…

On location: Penguins 3, Kings 0 90

IMG_7950

Penguins fans — and at least one of the Kings — stream into Consol before faceoff. — DEJAN KOVACEVIC

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

Getting ready for faceoff …

Game: Penguins (5-2-1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (6-1-2), 7:08 p.m., Consol Energy Center

Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (4-2, 2.34) vs. Martin Jones (0-1, 0.75)

TV, radio: Root Sports, NHL Network (national), 105.9 the X

Online: Live box score / Multimedia / Official game notes

Welcome our sponsor, Allegheny Health Network 37

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

Major announcement on the site this afternoon: Please join me in welcoming our first corporate sponsor, Allegheny Health Network.

l_wpahsBeginning Nov. 1, per our contract signed today, Allegheny Health Network will be a big part of what we do, including but hardly limited to the main display advertising on the page and the main ad on our upcoming app. I’ll have public appearances such as a November concussion seminar featuring Merril Hoge, Pierre Larouche and other luminaries. I’ll have access to Allegheny Health Network’s unrivaled medical staff for information related to health matters in columns. I’ll choose an occasional topic related to sports injuries with an aim toward educating. All that and much more.

This partnership, I’m proud to say, was the initiative of John Paul, the globally renowned CEO of Allegheny Health Network as well as a longtime reader. In fact, it was Mr. Paul’s suggestion before the site launch to offer readers a three-year subscription level, later to be called the Lunatic Level. My own plan called for one-month, six-month and one-year plans. He forecast that readers would seek a longer commitment and, well, he’s a CEO and I’m not for a reason.

I’m immensely grateful to Mr. Paul, Kathy McKenzie, Lindsey Melnyk and many others who worked for weeks to put this into motion the right way, and I look forward to working with them.

This is Allegheny Health Network’s Twitter account. I ask, please, that you give a follow.

One last thing, for you the reader: Know, please, that this site is subscriber-driven and will remain so. None of this comes close to happening without the remarkable support you’ve shown. I’d never want any other development, welcome as this is, to distract from that.

So thank you, above all.

Interview: Kelvin Beachum, Steelers 9

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

When citing the Steelers’ best offensive players, one could comfortably go 11 deep and still forget to mention Kelvin Beachum. But maybe it shouldn’t be that way.

The third-year pro out of SMU ranks seventh in the NFL among all tackles, fifth among left tackles, in Pro Football Focus ratings. This despite allowing an unsightly five sacks — three of those in one game against the Bucs — which illustrates how well he’s done on the rest of the snaps.

I spoke with Beachum at the team’s South Side headquarters about his technique as an undersized lineman, his close relationship with Ramon Foster and, of course, the Ravens.

News/views: Giants match Family’s feat 65

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

News: Giants win the Series, Giants win the Series, becoming the first road team to win a Game 7 since the Pirates’ 1979 Family and capping perhaps the greatest pitching performance in playoff history by Madison Bumgarner.

Views: A lot of what San Francisco does is considered old-school, and that was on powerful display with the use of Bumgarner on this night, but that’s three championships in five years now, so good luck with all those rebuttal theses.

They’re an amazing franchise, built on pitching and defense and guts and more pitching.

More…

Column: Steelers can’t let Cortez play Sunday 61

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers

Cortez Allen breaks up a pass intended for the Colts’ Donte Moncrief Sunday at Heinz Field. — GETTY IMAGES

DEJAN KOVACEVIC, DK ON PITTSBURGH SPORTS

If the Steelers lose the rematch with the rival Ravens this weekend, here’s betting it won’t be because of the offense. Not with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell each ranking No. 1 in the NFL at his respective position in Pro Football Focus’ most recent rankings. Not with Martavis Bryant’s breakout and Markus Wheaton’s with maturation adding to the options. Not with the offensive line “completely feeling it now, like a band of brothers,” as Kelvin Beachum was telling me Wednesday on the South Side.

If the Steelers lose, here’s betting it won’t be because they have big heads from the Indianapolis W:

If the Steelers lose, here’s betting it won’t be because of the defensive front seven. Not with the regaining a push it had previously only showed in Charlotte. Not with Jason Worilds rediscovering his terrorizing 2013 form. Not with Ryan Shazier’s return freeing up Lawrence Timmons to perform what Brett Keisel beautifully described as “being a Steeler.”

If the Steelers lose, be eminently sure it won’t be because of the atmosphere. Not with Mean Joe Greene’s No. 75 being retired, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the man whose combination of brilliance and bullishness defined “being a Steeler.”

No, if the Steelers lose, it will be because Cortez Allen plays a lot.

More…