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Steelers playoff odds: 54.099%

Written by Dan Gigler on .

That's according to the math modeling gurus at Make NFL Playoffs. After taking a big hit following their loss to the Jets, the Steelers are back above coin-flip odds to make the postseason. 

They are a 34.217% chance to tin the AFC North, the highest of the four teams 

Though in first place by percentage points, Cincinnati's odds of winning the division are a gnat's eyelash lower at 34.129% and 53.303% to make the playoffs. Baltimore is at 14.57% for the AFC North title and 32.512% to advance to the postseason. Cleveland has a better chance to win the division than the Ravens at 17.084% but are slightly less likely to play January football (31.398%). 

If the Steelers win out, they are assured a spot, and a 4-1 finish and 11-5 overall record might as well be a sure thing statistically, with an 99.987%likelihood of advancing. Even a 3-2 record and 10-6 final tally put playoff odds at nearly 90% (89.447%) but after that, it's a tough road to hoe. 

A 2-3 stretch run record (9-7 overall) drops the odds to 23.117% and going 1-4 offers an infinitesimal 0.185 shot. Losing out, naturally, will put the Steelers out. 

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By the Numbers: How WVU stacks up statistically in FBS (Week 12)

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

 

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With two weeks left in the regular season, let's take a look at how West Virginia (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) stacks up statistically against its Division I counterparts.

What you'll find below are the national rankings for West Virginia on all three sides of the ball — offense, defense and special teams. The easiest way to split it this was "GAIN" vs. "ALLOW" on the chart. So, under "interceptions," for example, on the left is the number of interceptions gained by WVU (caught), on the right is the number allowed (thrown).

The NR numbers are the national rankings (and there are 128 FBS teams). +/- marks whether WVU rose or fell in the rankings since we last ran the numbers in Week 9: means they got better, means worse.

+/- NR GAIN WEST VIRGINIA ALLOW NR +/-
-10 35 34.1 Points Per Game 26.4 62 +8
+6 51 184.2 Rushing Yards 181.5 88 -15
-6 12 318.0 Passing Yards 203.7 34 +10
-6 12 502.2 Total Yards 385.2 57 +1
-1 7 26.4 First Downs 18.9 32 +3
-23 24 170 Plays of 10+ Yds 137 55 +3
-11 26 55 Plays of 20+ Yds 39 39 +5
-19 44 24 Plays of 30+ Yds 21 68 +2
-26 36 44.3% 3rd-Down Conv. 30.3% 10 +17
-4 92 43.7% 4th-Down Conv. 18.7% 5 +3
+2 86 80.0% Red-Zone Scores 92.0% 123 -3
-15 89 55.0% Red-Zone TD Pct. 68.0% 109 -23
+18 44 30:54 Time of Possession 29:06 -- --
+2 84 58.5 Penalty Yards Avg. 83.3 5 -4
-1 54 75.9% Field Goal Pct. 88.2% 120 +0
+8 32 42.8 Punt Avg. 42.9 116 +1
-5 11 24.9 Kick Return Avg. 22.3 93 +19
-2 121 3.8 Punt Return Avg. 11.7 111 +16
-21 107 15 Sacks 24 88 -15
-34 65 60 Tackles for Loss 70 101 -3
+27 76 8 Interceptions 8 48 -10
-1 127 1 Fumble Recoveries 14 125 -4
+3 123 -13 Turnover Margin -- -- --

NOTES 

 West Virginia ranks in the top-25 in ... Team: Penalty yards against (5). Offense: Passing yards (12), total yards (12), first downs (7), plays of 10+ yards (24). Defense: Third-down rate (10), fourth-down rate (5). Special teams: Kick return average (11).

• West Virginia ranks in the bottom-25 in: Team: Fumble recoveries (127), fumble recoveries against (125), turnover margin (123). Defense: Sacks (107), red-zone score rate (123), red-zone touchdown rate (109). Special teams: Punt return average (121), field goal percentage against (120), punt average against (116), punt return average against (111).

 In 2012, West Virginia was a +7 in turnover margin (13 turnovers, 20 takeaways). In 2013 it was -4 (32 turnovers, 28 takeaways). So far, they're -13 (22 turnovers, nine takeaways). West Virginia had 16 fumble recoveries last season and has just one this season.


Stephen J. Nesbitt:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Dupuis the teammate won't be easily replaced - 11-19-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

During training camp, a well-intentioned reporter pointed out to Penguins center Marcel Goc, a native of Germany, that there weren't many German-born players in NHL history.

Right winger Pascal Dupuis was privy to the question and jumped on the chance to make fun of Goc like a rebound off a goaltender's left pad.

“Dere's probably a good reason for dat,” Dupuis, a Quebecois, quipped in his French accent.

Such shenanigans are common for Dupuis. Never resisting a chance to rib a teammate, team employee or a reporter, he is the team's unofficial jester.

“It's kind of a unique relationship with a lot of guys in Pittsburgh the way we make fun of each other,” said former Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen, now a member of the Capitals. “He was all about that. He could take it and he liked to make fun of guys at the same time. From an outsider, it might be hard to understand but that's just kind of how we got along. We all make fun of each other.”

When the team held a press conference Monday to announce Dupuis would be sidelined at least six month due to a blood clot, it was no surprise to see five of his teammates – centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, left winger Chris Kunitz, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Kris Letang – in attendance to support their teammate as he fielded questions in the media room at Consol Energy Center.

He's always been there – I talk for myself – but he's always been there for me since the day he got on the team,” said Letang, a fellow Quebec native. “He's been like a model, an older guy I look at the whole time. He's a great guy around the dressing room. He's one of our big leaders. I think the least little we could do was be here for him.”

Dupuis' tangible attributes are easy to quantify. He is the team's sixth-leading scorer with 11 points in 16 games this season. His value as a teammate and a person in the dressing room appears to be immeasurable.

"During the [2012-13] lockout I spent months working out every day side-by-side with Pascal,” said former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy, now a member of the Ducks. “He pushed the five or six guys who were on the ice every day at Southpointe. But for me he did more than that. He went above and beyond to be complimentary of my game, which gave me a ton of confidence, and saw in me what kind of player I hoped I could become - with some confidence.”

I'm not sure if he does that with everyone, but the whole room has incredible respect for Pascal.”

Dupuis' 2013-14 season was cut short due to a knee injury he suffered in Ottawa Dec. 23. While he was still on the roster, he wasn't around the team on a day-to-day basis. His absence was felt on and off the ice for a team with Stanley Cup aspirations which saw its season end in the second round of the playoffs.

I never really thought of it a lot but afterwards when after the season when you sit back think of what could have changed or what could have been different, then you kind of remember, Oh man, we were missing 'Duper,' said Niskanen. “He did brings those things. So I think it did have an effect.”

The locker room stuff is where you really miss him," said Kunitz. “The guy on the planes and hanging out of dinners. Making fun of situations when we're not feeling as confident as we need to as a group. I think that's the friendship part of what [Dupuis] brings to the team and the leadership stuff.”

Penguins management is aware of Dupuis' importance to the team off the ice.

We certainly want to have him around," said associate general manager Jason Botterill. “He's been a huge asset to our locker room there and the enthusiasm he brings around. Obviously he won't be able to help us on the ice but hopefully help us in different manners. “

(Photo: Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images)

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Dupuis sidelined six months due to blood clot - 11-19-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins are facing another health scare.

Right winger Pascal Dupuis will be sidelined six months after a blood clots was diagnosed in his leg which eventually moved towards his lung. He will be treated with blood thinners and will not be permitted contact during that time.

The ailment was identified during testing Monday after Dupuis had complained of discomfort in his chest.

This is the second time Dupuis has been diagnosed with a blood clot this calendar year. A clot as discovered in January after he suffered a season-ending knee injury Dec. 23. Dupuis was on blood thinners for six months as he rehabilitated from his knee injury.

This is the second medical scare Dupuis has faced this season. During the second period of a 3-2 home loss to the Stars Oct. 16, Dupuis was struck in the back of the neck by a puck. He was removed from the ice on a stretcher after losing feeling in his arms. Dupuis was back two nights later for a 3-1 home win against the Islanders, Oct. 18.

Dupuis missed last night's 4-0 road win against the Canadiens due to the clot. According to associate general manager Jason Botterill, Dupuis will be placed on long-term injured reserve and that will offer the team some relief towards its salary cap.

Note: We'll expand this post once we transcribe some quote from today's press conference.

Update: Here are some quotes from people who spoke at today's press conference:

---

Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, team physician:

How similar is this to the blood clot which wipe out former goaltender Tomas Vokoun's 2013-14 season:

“It is similar to what Tomas had. It's a deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot in the veins. The reasons for them are likely different. It had nothing to do with the operation he had. While he is on blood thinners, he won't be allowed to play in a contact sport but he can do pretty much anything else but participate in such an event.”

Could this end Dupuis' career:

“We don't have an answer for that at this time.”

How important was it that this was diagnosed now:

“Extremely important. This can be a life threatening situation if left untreated.”

---

Dupuis

Does he have hopes of resuming his career:

“It's kind of hard for me to answer that question for me right now. Not all the results came back but I'll put the effort in.”

On the impact of his personal life and his family:

"It's not a great situation to be in but that's the card I've been dealt. Hockey's definitely second on my mind right now. Yeah, they are the most important point of my life right now, a family at home. I've just got to be healthy for them right now.”

On feeling discomfort in his chest:

"The way I felt, [I was] probably was trying to deny it. Probably did not want to feel that way. It felt the same exact way it felt did before and I just did not want to believe it."

On the past 11 months with his knee and neck injuries as well as two blood clots:

"It's been … it's been … it's been hard. But the hockey stuff, the knee, the puck to the neck, this is all stuff that you come back from. You're a hockey player. You're supposed to come back from that stuff. It's a risk you take as a hockey player to be on the ice. But the other stuff, the clot, the lungs … it has nothing to do with hockey. It's life threatening and you have to think of yourself and your family and your loved ones before hockey comes to mind."

---

Penguins coach Mike Johnson

On Dupuis impact on the team:

"Pascal, as we know, you can take a look at his stats and what he's done for this organization, but in the room, I believe all the fans know that and all the media certainly know that, he's an inspirational leader. He's a great voice in the room. An energy guy every day. We're going to need other players as happens at this time to step up. To step up into his role as a player. To step up into his role as a leader. Those things are going to be really important. We've got a great dressing room. We like our start to the season so we're going to be build on that. And then we're going to anxiously await an opportunity to get Pascal back."

---

Associate general manager Jason Botterill

How this impacts the roster and the salary cap:

"It will be a situation where we'll eventually put Pascal on long-term [injured reserve]. That will give us some cap flexibility moving forward here. Then we'll be having discussions as a management group and with the coaches and scouts to see what we do with the team moving forward."

How much will Dupuis be around the team:

"We certainly want to have him around. … As we've said before, Pascal's health is the main issue and main concern right now. But Jim will sit down with Pascal to see what and how we can utilize him moving forward. Like Mike mentioned, he's been a huge asset to our locker room there and the enthusiasm he brings around. Obviously he won't be able to help us on the ice but hopefully help us in different manners."

---

Defenseman Kris Letang

On Dupuis' family:

"I'm only thinking about his family right now. What they're going through. We're just trying to be here for him and try to support him the best we can. It looks like its unfair happening to a guy like that. Just bad luck."

Can you get used to having so many medical scares with the team in such a short time frame:

(Note: In addition to Dupuis and Vokoun, the Penguins have seen Kris Letang be sidelined with a stroke last season while defenseman Olli Maatta was sidelined earlier this month due to a cancerous tumor on his thyroid gland.)

"No. No. It's kind of playing with the life of somebody. It's not an injury that we can actually get used to that's going to happen every year. The season, you're not go to play 82 games playing great. But these type of things, it's family matters. It's think about yourself before anything else."

On Dupuis' health:

"We're just happy today they found it in time. Actually, he's being under the surveillance of the doctors. So you have to be happy about that part. It didn't get worse. We're just hoping for him to get to a normal life and make sure he can get back on the ice."

On Dupuis as a teammate:

"I think he's a big part of our team. He's always been there – I talk for myself – but he's always been there since the day he got on the team. He's been like a model, an older guy I look at the whole time. He's a great guy around the dressing room. He's one of our big leaders. I think the least little thing we could do was be here for him. "

---

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury

On Dupuis as a teammate:

"He's a big part of the team. He a guy that's always upbeat, always smiling, always … in a good mood. He's got great leadership on our team. Hopefully, we'll still see him enough around at the rink. "

---

EN Says: What's next?

When will this team have a relatively "normal" run of health. These aren't run of the mill ailments for this team. Vokoun, Letang, Maatta and Dupuis have each faced serious, serious medical scares which can have significant impact on one's life.

Forget about taking a tape-to-tape pass on your backhand from Sidney Crosby. How about just going home to your family?

Dupuis' popularity with his teammates can't be quantified. He's easily among the most popular players in the dressing room. Never resisting a chance to needle a teammate or a reporter, Dupuis will crack a well-meaning joke at anyone. 

Reporters are often greeted with a cheery "Hey buddy," when they approach Dupuis for anything. Seeing him a bit rattled at today's press conference had the same effect on those present in Consol Energy Center's media room.

His absence from the dressing room following his knee injury last season impacted the team quite a bit on the ice considering he is used as a top-six forward but his impact off the ice might have been greater.

The team has brought in some light-hearted players such as Steve Downie and Nick Spaling to support Dupuis in terms of keeping the room loose, but it's clear Dupuis is the leading jester on this roster.

As far as Dupuis the player goes, he will be missed. He had been off to a solid start this season having produced 11 points in 16 games while playing primarily on the second line. During Friday's 2-1 win in Toronto, he was reunited with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz on the top line and scored each of the Penguins' goals. He has also been one of the team's top penalty killing forwards this season.

He won't be easily replaced, especially considering the team is bumping its head against the salary cap. Dupuis will go on long-term injured reserve and that will give them some relief in terms of the cap, but this team was already in need of a scoring winger on the second line. All of a sudden, that need has been doubled.

Blake Comeau can be a temporary solution. He has produced a respectable nine points in 16 games this season while playing a variety of roles. He was on Sidney Crosby's right wing last night but ideally, he is a bottom-six forward.

Johnston has been pretty steadfast in his desire to use Beau Bennett on third line and after last night's three-point outburst by Bennett, it's easy to see why. He clearly has chemistry with Brandon Sutter. But at this juncture, using Bennett on the third line might be a luxury the Penguins can't afford.

There don't appear to be any immediate options in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to fill in on the top-six forwards. Centers Andrew Ebbett and and Jayson Megna have been some of that team's most productive players on that team but are probably no better than bottom-six forwards at the NHL level.

 

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Peduto travels deep in the heart of Texas

By Robert Zullo

Mayor Bill Peduto is escaping the city's deep freeze this week for the Lone Star State, where he will be attending the four-day National League of Cities' Congress of Cities in Austin. The theme is "The Future of Cities," with a "focus on the innovative ways cities can drive change," the mayor's office said in a statement.

Mr. Peduto...

Read more http://earlyreturns.post-gazette.com/home/early-returns-posts/6375-peduto-travels-to-texas-for-congress-of-cities

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