With the season one-quarter over, the Penguins' MVP is MARC-ANDRE FLEURY.
It's a tight race between Fleury and Sidney Crosby. But Fleury gets the nod based on consistency with an occasional dose of spectacular, like this save on Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano last night. Fleury's blocker lashes out like a cobra. AWESOME.
Fleury's goals-against average is 2.00, fourth-best among NHL goalies that have played 10 or more games. His save percentage is .921, tenth-best among NHL goalies that have played 10 or more games.
The lone worry: Fleury has played 18 of the Penguins' 21 games. That seems too big of a workload, but Fleury told me that he feels great.
The truth is, none of the above matters. The proving ground begins in mid-April.
As Yinzer Nation celebrates two straight wins, getting the Steelers to the magic 4-6 mark, everyone puts pencil to paper while studying the records and schedules of all AFC teams contending for the conference's second wild card. The Steelers are included.
The New York Jets and Miami are 5-5. The Steelers, Baltimore, Cleveland, Oakland, San Diego and Tennessee are 4-6.
The Steelers beat the Jets, and will play Miami. The Steelers beat Baltimore, but lost to Tennessee and Oakland. The Steelers will play Cleveland twice, including next Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Steelers visit Baltimore Thanksgiving night.
The Steelers, Baltimore and Cleveland are all .500 in AFC North play. At 4-3, Miami and Oakland have the best conference record of the teams clustered. The Steelers are just behind at 3-4.
That second AFC wild-card spot really is up for grabs. The Steelers’ chances are slim, but legit. (For wild-card tie-breaking info, click HERE.)
But the question isn’t who beat who, who will beat who, or who wins what tiebreaker. The question is: Are the Steelers good enough to keep winning?
That’s up to one man, and one man only. It’s also about what he’s allowed to do.
As detailed in my timesonline.com column – click HERE to read – Ben Roethlisberger won yesterday’s game vs. Detroit. Not single-handed, but close.
The Steelers can’t move the ball on the ground. Not one of their linemen consistently gets a decent push on run blocking. The Saran Wrap Curtain shut out the Lions for three quarters yesterday – but allowed 27 points in the second quarter.
The Steelers can’t count on much. But they can count on Roethlisberger. They can count on him that much more when he’s using the no-huddle and calling the plays, as he did for half of yesterday’s game-winning 97-yard drive. Roethlisberger was responsible for 92 of those yards: 82 in the air, 10 on the ground.
Todd Haley, #STFD. Put ego aside and let the quarterback win games. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the Steelers’ best chance. He’s their only chance.
Image Courtesy of Getty Images.
Michael Silver of the NFL Network says the Steelers are unhappy with Ben Roethlisberger's unwillingness to change his style. The Steelers feel Ben is "more engaged" when at Steelers HQ, but does not prepare enough away from the facility. "He's no Peyton Manning" in that regard, apparently.
Perhaps, when he's at home, Ben is busy being a husband and father. Shame on him.
Silver says the Steelers want Roethlisberger to be smarter and put himself at less risk. But if Ben drops three steps and dumps the ball off every time, there’s no point having him. He's Mike Tomczak, not a Top 5 NFL quarterback.
Roethlisberger is what he is. It's served the Steelers well.
Instead of changing Roethlisberger, get a line that can block and a receiver that can go deep. F that bubble screen. Assemble a better offensive platoon around your $102m quarterback.
Roethlisberger is due for a contract extension in the off-season. He reportedly wants $20m per year. The Steelers probably don't want to give Ben that much.
Are the Steelers planting reports designed to drive Roethlisberger away, or get him to take less?
Roethlisberger says he's staying in Pittsburgh no matter what. Now he's got to take what the Steelers offer, or look like the bad guy once the battle starts.
Don't forget, the recent hoopla surrounding Roethlisberger has been reported on the NFL Network. The league’s network. The network the Steelers partially own.
Did Bruce Arians retire? Is Russ Grimm the head coach? Lying is what the Steelers do.
I'm shocked the national media hasn't yet deduced that the Rooney family has never forgiven Roethlisberger for Milledgeville and has since mostly tried to minimize him. Arians was Ben's friend. Todd Haley was hired to put Ben in his place. From bold strokes to dink and dunk. Agenda served, games lost.
...the money, mostly. Here's a screen shot of yours truly announcing WCW Monday Nitro on TNT cable circa 2000-01. Note the graphic.
LINUS OMARK is a 26-year-old Swedish hockey player. In the minors, he often makes highlight-reel plays like this one:
Omark is Edmonton Oilers property. He's played just one NHL game this year. (Admittedly, the Oilers already have too many fancy-schmancy softies at forward.) Omark has just eight goals and 22 assists in 66 career NHL games.
Why can Omark terrorize the minors, but not stick in the NHL?
Same reason the Harlem Globetrotters don't play in the NBA. Substance > style.