GEICO SportsNet Central Update with Michael Jenkins

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GEICO SportsNet Central Update with Michael Jenkins

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Stadium Series game proves Penguins — the birds — really hate fireworks

Stadium Series game proves Penguins — the birds — really hate fireworks

While the Capitals were inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, trying to get Alex Ovechkin a shot on net, the Penguins and Flyers — two of the Capitals' Metropolitan Division rivals — we're making their final preparations for their Stadium Series game at Heinz Field on Saturday night.

And while the players were applying eye black and getting ready to adjust to the elements, the real festivities were already underway.

With Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown serving as the pregame hype man, the Pengiuins brough out real pengiuins for one final "awwwwwww" moment before the action begun. 

Penguins are cute, clumsy and as we're about to find out, just as terrified of fireworks as humans.

Fireworks scaring penguins at the Stadium Series game

The Penguins — the team — beat the Flyers 4-2, behind Sindey Crosby's 34th goal of the season. It was the Penguins' first home stadium game since the 2011 Winter Classic, in which the Capitals beat the Penguins 3-1.

RELATED: UPDATED NHL POWER RANKINGS

 

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Morning tip: If Scott Brooks has any magic left in his touch with Wizards, now is the time

Morning tip: If Scott Brooks has any magic left in his touch with Wizards, now is the time

After a 34-21 start, it's hardly tiime to pull any fire alarms when it comes to the Wizards. But concern? That's legitimate after their second uneven, lackluster performance since the All-Star break.

Like the Philadelphia 76ers, the Utah Jazz ran circles around this defense. The Wizards were confused, not protecting the rim, allowing open three-point shots, etc.

Basically, they were playing 180 degrees opposite of the Jazz who held them below 100 points for the first time in 24 games. 

So what has gone wrong all of a sudden? Is one of the NBA's hottest teams no more?

-- The assertive, aggressive defense that was there during an 18-3 stretch has dissipated. They're botching coverages and rotations similar to what took place during a 2-8 start. They've lost that edge. John Wall, their best player, was absent on defense vs. the Sixers and it usually gets contagious. 

--Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris aren't pulling their weight. Porter is 6 of 18 shooting, including 1-for-7 from three; Gortat is 6-for-19; and Morris is 9-for-21, 11 fouls, a disqualification and ejection. But defensively they've all been worse. The best starting five in the East is no more.

--Jason Smith has played a total of four minutes in two games. Coach Scott Brooks has to find his most effective bench player for most of the season some minutes. The energy level that has been lacking tends to pick up by his mere presence on the floor.

--Kelly Oubre's calling card has been defense, and he has been absent on both ends. His eight minutes were his fewest since Nov. 26 (also the last time he didn't crack double-digit minutes played), when he was yanked from a game vs. the San Antonio Spurs because of his lack of focus. 

--Trey Burke is back to the player he was when the season began; unable to run the offense, not confident in his play and now behind Tomas Satoransky in the pecking order. Burke only played five minutes, half of what he played vs. Philadelphia. 

--Wall has 15 turnovers in the last two games.

--Brooks has to make some tough decisions with his rotations and if it requires benching key players or drastically cutting their minutes this might be the time to do it. In the past, it's in moments like these when the train begins to go off the tracks. He has to be ahead of the curve. 

[RELATED: Wizards complain of lack of free throws after loss to Jazz]