The Rock Garden at Wisley is unparallelled. Photos by Doug Oster
Before I arrived in England I never heard of Wisley Gardens. Even though I saw the Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court and Kew Gardens, seeing Wisley was almost a religious experience.
This is a garden for the trowel and shovel set, gardeners who spend there days digging, weeding, planning and more.
We only had a few hours to explore these pristine gardens, but each area offered something different.
When I got lost among the winding trails filled with rhododenrons, azaleas and other plants of Battleston Hill East I ran into two of the gardeners who tend to this expansive and remarkable woodland garden. I had walked for a half hour in awe of the plants in their prime. "Do they have anything like this in the states, they asked. I paused for a second and simply said, "no, there's nothing like this anywhere."
I hate leaving a garden like Wisley without seeing everything, but sometimes the travel gods require a return trip.
Someday I'll be back here and will spend the entire day, at my leisure discovering the nuances of this wonderful garden ... I can't wait!
For the first time we were greeted with England's famous wet weather. I loved it, this mallard did too.
One of the beautiful combinations were this pink magnolia blooming among purple cammasia.
Wisley houses the national collection of heather plants.
I walked to the very edges of the garden to explore the Plants for Bugs exhibit I saw this old bench sitting among English bluebells. The bench looks out towards a fast moving creek.
-Greetings on an abnormally chilly day in Pittsburgh. Despite the fact we're in late May, it's in the low 50s, cloudy and windy. This is more like March than May. Despite the less than ideal weather, plenty of hearty souls are camped outside for the big screen:
-The Penguins have a chance to end this tonight. It's a cliche to say the fourth win is always the toughest but with the Penguins, it seems to be very true. Since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009, they are 2-6 in games in which they can eliminate an opponent. And in each of those two wins (Senators 2010 and Islanders 2013), they had to go to overtime to get the victory. Despite the lopsided score in Game 4, this won't be easy for the Penguins.
-We're not sure how much weight anyone should put in Daniel Alfredsson's postgame comments following Game 4. It was an honest albeit clunky comment for sure. That said, Alfredsson is one of the sharpest and accommodating quotes in the NHL. We have to believe it was just a bad moment for him. He shouldn't be judged at a bad moment like that.
-We're still scratching our head over Paul MacLean's antics after the game. We can only assume it was some combination of a.) Not wanting to answer a bunch of questions after a blowout loss and b.) Trying to motivate his team.
-There's been a lof speculation over Alfredsson potentially retiring after this season. For the sake of traveling - it's a nine hour drive to Ottawa - we hope this is is final game of the season. But in every other fashion, we hope this isn't the final game of his career. He's a tremendous asset for his team and his sport.
-Brentn Morrow appears to be a scratch again for tonight. He did not practice with one of the top four lines. That said, he did get some time on the second power-play unit today. Beau Bennett played in Game 4 after practicing with the extra forwards mostly the day before that game. Anything, such as the return of Morrow, is possible we suppose.
-The Penguins seem set to place Mark Eaton back on a pairing with Kris Letang. They played with one another rmuch of the second period in Game 3 when things were fairly tight defensively. We're assuming after Letang had a rough game defensively, a reunion with Eaton will help cover some of his mistakes. Matt Niskanen appears set to be teamed with Douglas Murray.
-The Senators appear set to team Alfredsson with fellow all-stars Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. This seems like a go-for-broke move to spark their team's offense. There's a lot of skill on that line but does that move allow the Penguins to focus on it defensively, especially with the last change before faceoffs as the home team?
-Craig Anderson needs another effort like the one he gave in Game 3. He needs to steal goals tonight.
-Someone always brings a couch:
-A few replica Stanley Cups are starting to pop up:
-Towels and lawn signs are being distributed outside:
-The "old" third line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (as well as our thumb covering the logo of a certain media sponsor) is on the cover of IceTime:
-NBC has some really high-end equipment:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Jarome Iginla Team Canada:
-The star of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins comeback posteason win against the Providence Bruins, Brad Thiessen:
-There are a few Senators fans on hand. Daniel Alfredsson:
-The crowd for the big screen:
-Mario Lemieux Wilkes-Barre/Scranton:
(Lemieux played an exhibition game for the AHL Penguins once.)
-Kevin Steven with a Penguins hat accessory:
-All hail Miroslav Satan:
-We always seem to run into a Craig Adams fan:
-Another No 27, Georges Laraque:
-Jersey of the Night: Now... this is obscure. Derek Sanderson who played here for about 49 minutes and chances are, he might not remember his time here in Pittsburgh given his lifestyle in the 1970s:
-Morrow is dressed for the game.
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascla Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Deryk Engelland, Tanner Glass, Dustin Jeffrey and the great Joe Vitale.
-The Senators' starters are Daniel Alfredsson, Milak Michalek, Jason Spezza, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Phillips and Craig Anderson.
-Their scratches are Mark Borowiecki, Cody Ceci, Stephane Da Costa, Dave Dziurzynski, Derek Grant, Eric Gryba, Mike Hoffman, Matt Kassian, Guillaume Latendresse, Nathan Lawson, Mike Lundin, Stefan Noesen, Jim O'Brien, Shane Prince, Matt Puempel, Peter Regin, Mark Stone and Patrick Wiercioch.
-Jeff Jimerson want to close this out:
19:38: On a strong forecheck, Alfredsson knocks over Orpik in the Penguins' right wing corner.
19:16: Kyler Turris flings a wrister on net from the left half wall. Vokoun squares up and eats up the pedestrian shot.
19:07: Letang goes in deep on the right wing and fires a wrister on net. Anderson kicks it away.
18:50: On a partial two-on-one created by a steal from Letang inside the Penguins blue line, Cooke leads a rush up the right wing. He elects to shoot. Jared Cowne holds his ground and blocks the shot.
18:45: Lots of chances early in this game. Eaton settles a puck at the left point and chops a half slapper on net from the left point. Anderson eats it up.
17:34: Crosby controls the puck in the slot of the Ottawa zone but has it stripped on a nice backcheck by Alfredsson.
17:10: Crosby snaps off a tricky backhander from the right circle. Anderson gloves it.
16:27: Off a feed from Jussi Jokinen, Adams flings a wrister on net from the left circle. Anderson boots it away.
15:43: After forcing a turnover with some hard work down low, Jean-Gabriel Pageau snaps off a wrister from the left circle which hits a stick and deflects over the cage.
13:35: Welcome back Brenden Morrow. Cooke chases down a loose puck on the left wing wall and shields it from Cowen how over-pursues. Cooke then taps a cross-ice pass Eaton in the left circle. Eaton snap off a pass above the blue paint to Morrow who gets behind Cowen and deflects the puck into the cage with his right skate. Heck of a play by Cooke to recover that puck and create the scoring chance. Officials review the play to ensure Morrow didn't kick the puck. The goal will stand following the review. There didn't seem to be a distinct kicking motion on the play. Cowen looked horrendous on that play. Eaton and Cooke get assists. The "Hey Song" is never horrendous. Penguins 1-0.
12:34: Crosby pokes a puck by Conacher at the Ottawa blue line by Conacher and c hallanges Gonchar one-on-one. GOnchar holds him at bay but Crosby is still able to release a wrister from the left circle. Anderson eats it up.
11:43: Turris snaps off a wrister from in tight on the right wing. Vokoun holds i out.
11:25: Stealing a dreadful pass by Gonchar in his own zone, Cooke coasts up the left wing and snaps off a wrister which Anderson steers away.
10:08: Malkin weaves his way through the Ottawa zone and snaps off a wrister from the left of the left wing. Anderson says no.
9:10: Letang steps up at the right point and hammers a loose puck on net. Anderson boots it out.
8:16: Settling a puck at the left point, Niskanen whacks a a slapper which hits a body in front.
7:29: Off some solid perimeter passing in the loffensive zone, Gonchar smacks a one-timer from the right point which Vokoun fights off.
7:20: Tyler Kennedy has a chance in the slot off a feed from Sutter but Phillips races back and dives to poke the puck away.
7:14: Cooke drops Michalek with a hard check in the left wing corner of the Ottawa zone.
6:51: Eaton snaps off a wrister from the right half wall wide on the near side.
6:46: It's a shooting gallery for the Penguins. Letang whacks a slapper from the right point. Anderson fights it off despite traffic.
6:19: Hounding Erik Condra for a puck in the Ottawa zone, Cosby makes a nice strip and steal. But it's a little too nice. Crosby is called for hooking as he got his stick into Condra's hands. It's a little ticky tack but it's a legit call by the book. Stuter, Dupuis, Martin and Orpik take the ice.
6:11: From center point, Erik Karlsson floats a wrister from center point. Vokoun denies it.
5:00: Turrns whips a wrister from the right circle which Vokoun kicks out.
4:21: As Cosby penalty is about to end, Marc Methot snaps off a wrister from the right half wall. Vokoun boots it away despite traffic.
4:12: Karlsson collects a puck at the right point and releases a slapper. Vokoun eats it up. His effort is greeted with "Vooooooooo...." chants.
3:50: Off a little feed from xx behind the cage, xxx booms a one-timer from point blank range in the slot. Anderosn fights it off.
3:17: Letang has a one-timer from the center point blocked by Alfredsson.
2:37: Cowen chops a one-timer form the left point but it hits Turris and drops him.
2:27: Andre Benoit cranks a one-timer from the ri ght point. Vokoun steers it to the near corner to more "Voooo..." chants.
1:19: Mika Zibanejad enters the offensive zone on the right wing and
1:10: Methot puts a slapper on net from the right point. Vokoun fights it off.
0:30: After Cowen makes a nice play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, he deals a pass from the left half wall to Michalek in the slot. Michalek chops a one-timer which hits a body in front.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Senators 0.
-All things considered, that was a fairly even and entertaining period. Each team had spurts of offensive zone possession as well as a fair amount of quality shots. The Penguins just happened to be more successful on one of their shots.
-Kris Letang looks worlds better with Mark Eaton as his partner. He just doesn't seem to make as many foul-ups.
-Both goaltenders were strong. They turned away a lot of rubber.
-Matt Cooke has been such a terror this series to the Senators. They look so jammed up when he's on the ice.
-Daniel Alfredsson is doing everything he can to keep his team alive. Regardless of his words, he's not going down with out a fight.
-Sergei Gonchar has looked more and more ragged as this series has worn on. He just looks spent.
-The Penguins have a 12-10 edge in shots.
-Crosby land Turris each ead the game with three shots.
-Karlsson leads the game with 9:03 of ice time.
-Paul Martin leads the Penguins with 8:43.
-The Senators have an 11-7 lead in faceoffs (61 percent).
-Crosby is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Turris is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:50: Off a feed by Dupuis off the right wing, Kunitz taps a shot from the slot wide to the right of the cage.
18:09: Murray float a wrister from the right point. Sutter is in front of the cage and deflects the near post.
16:42: Michalek lifts a sneak wrister from the right cirlce. Vokoun gloves it with ease.
15:46: Off a drop pass from Iginla, Letnag lifts a wrister from the slot with Turris blocks.
15:09: Silfverberg appears to get away with a little interference against Neal in the slot. Neal seemed to embellish the interference a bit too.
14:51: Zibanejad chops a half slapper from a badk alngle on the right wing. Vokoun eats it up.
14:06: Pageau hits Adams from behind in the right wing corner away from the puck. That's two minutes for interference. Crosby, Neal, Kunitz, Malkin and Letang take the ice.
13:14: Off some perimeter passing, Malkin chops a one-timer from center point. Anderson gloves it.
12:54: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Martin pops a one-timer from the center point. Anderson snags it with his glove.
12:22: Another goal from in tight. Neal puts an off-balance wrister on net from the left circle. Anderson boots it out. Letang is position to the left of the cage and chops it back on net. Anderson makes a blind save initially. The puck slides just in front the goal line with Anderson unaware of its presence. Crosby and Neal jump all over it and one of them eventually pokes it into the cage. Cowen tackles Crosby afterwards. On the ice officials rule it a goal. A brief video review confirms it. Neal get credit for the goal. Letang and Crosby get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.
10:36: Attendance is announced as 18,656. It is the team's 284th consecutive sellout.
10:11: Malkin skates in offsides and play is blown dead. Zack Smith igves him a little hook afterwards to agitate. Malkin goea after Smith for no reason. Iginla gets in vovled. Officials breakd it up after a few moments. Malkin
9:51: Colin Greening whacks a shot on net from the right circle. Vokoun kicks it out. More "Voooo..." chants.
8:45: Another power play for he Penguins as Chris Neil is called for interference against Letang. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
8:01: Letang floats a wrister on net from the left point. Anderson snags it.
7:51: Malkin chops a shot from the left circle. Anderson boots it out.
7:45: Malkin takes a poor penalty and kills off the Penguins' power play. He tries to reach over Cowen in the right wing corne rof the Ottawa zone for a p uck and is called for holding. We'll have four on four for one minute.
7:12: Good night Ottawa. Taking a pass on the left wing half wall, Letang cuts to the slot and rips a wrister by the glove hand of a halpless Anderson. That has to be stopped by Anderson. That all but crushes their chances in this game and this series. Kennedy and Orpik get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
6:45: Neil's minor is killed. The Senators will have a five-on-four advantage for one minute.
5:49: Karlsson snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is bloced by Cooke. Karlsson recovers his rebound and flings a wrister over the net.
5:43: As Malkin's minor is killed, Murray flings a puck out of play from his own zone. That's two minutes for delay of game. Orpik, Martin, Adams and Suttertake the ice.
5:19: Stealing a puck off Karlsson at the left point, Sutter rushes it up ice and chips it behidn the Ottawa net to kill time.
4:49: Gonchar snaps off a wrister fromthe right hal wall. Michalek redirects it on net from the slot. Vokoun eats it up.
4:08: Neil weeps a shot on net from the left of the cage. Letang slides down to block it.
3:42: Just as Murray's minor silled, the Senators strik. Spezz acontrols the puck behind the Penguins net and is mushed into the end boards by Orpik. Spezza shields the puck from Orpik and is able to snap off a backhanded pass to Michalek in the crease. Michalek takes the pass and snaps off a wrister behind a helpless Vokoun. Spezza and Turris get assists. Heck of a pass by Spezza. Penguins 3-1.
2:51: Off a drop pass from Karlsson, Slifverberg pops a slapper on net from the right half wall. Vokoun gloves it.
2:01: Gonchar is in deep for apuck in the right wing corner and is slammed into the boards by Niskanen. Oof.
1:12: More penalties. Kunitz and Turris get tangled up in the neutral zone. Turris gets a slashing minor while Kunitz is nsabbed for slashing.. Four on four for two minutes.
0:45: Greening has a chance off a feed in the slot but Vokoun's left leg kicks it out.
0:29: Evgeni Malkin. Superstar. Hounding Pageau for a puck at the Ottaw blue line, he forces a turnover. Neal recovers the puck on the left wing wall and deals it to Malkin at the blue line. Malkin races in on a breakaway with Pageau in chase. Malkin rips a wrister bheind Anderson and restores the three-goal liead. What a brilliant, dazzling play. Neal gets the only assist. Malkin could makes a case for one. The "Hey Song" is always brilliant and dazzling. Penguins 4-1.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Senators 1.
-Talent and depth took over in that period. Each team had chances. Each team had offensive zone time possesion. The only difference was the team with loaded with all-stars did a better job at taking advatage.
-Letang is having a wonderful game. It's not just his points. He's been responsible in his own zone most of the evening. Again, the presence of Eaton seems to have aided him quite a bit.
-The period got a little sloppy for both teams in terms of discipline. Each squad took silly penalties.
-Anderson just looks overwhelmed at this point. He can only be expected to do so much.
-There's 20 minutes left in their season. The Senators are going to empty the tanks.
-The Senators have a 22-21 edge in shots.
-Letang leads the game with five shots.
-Condra leads the Senators with three.
-Letang leads the game with 16:58.
-Karlsson is right behind him with 16:52.
-The Penguins have a 22-20 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Crosby is 13 for 19 (68 percent).
-Turris is 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-Niskanen, Cowen and Methot each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: THere will be 48 seconds of four on four play to begin the period.
19:39: Crosby lifts a wrister from the left circle. Anderson knocks it dead and covers.
19:20: This just gets worse for Ottawa. Alfresson is called for hooking Letang. The Penguins will have a four-on-three for eight seconds. Neal, Malkin, Martin and Letang take the ice.
19:12: Kunitz and Turris return to the ice.
19:05: Neal lifts a wrister from the right circle. Anderson knocks it dead and covers.
19:02: Off an offensive zone faceoff win by Crosby, Letang chops a one-timer from the slot. Anderson fights it off.
18:21: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Crosby lifts a one-timer from a bad angle to the right of the cage well over the net.
17:25: Off a neutral zone turnover, Iginla snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Anderson eats it up.
17:20: Alfredsson returns. The Penguins had a few quality chances with that two minutes.
16:30: Crosby has a chance in the left circle blocked by Phillips.
16:09: Play is halted as Neil and Murray tangle in front of the Penguins crease. Neil appeared to spear Murray in the legs. Murray went down. As he appeared to return to his skates, Neil took the opportunity to punch him. A scrum ensues. Officials struggle to break it up. Eventually, Neil is sent to the penalty box for slashing. What a wonderful player. Dupuis appeared head to the dressing room. Malkin, Crosby, Martin, Letang and Neal take the ice.
15:33: More penalties. Martin blocks a shot by Turris. Turris is called for slashing. Martin for roughing. Each were ticky tack penalties. The Penguins keep a five-on-four advantage.
14:25: Off a feed by Letang, Niskane hammers one-timer from the left point which is blocked.
13:47: Orpik chops a slapper from the left point. Anderson eats it up.
12:48: Gonchar ha sa wrister from the rpoint blocked by Crosby.
12:31: Letang drops Zibanejad with ahit into the left wing boards of the Penguins' zone.
12:20: Conacher jolts up the left wing boards of the Penguins' zone for a lose puck is but is smacked into the glass by Murray. Ouch.
12:12: Conacher has a chance in the slot. He winds up for a slapper but is slashed on the right hand by Cooke. That's two minutes for slashing. This is dor or die for the Senators. Martin, Orpik, Adams and Dupuis take the ice.
11:34: Gonchar lifts a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun fights it off.
11:24: Off a drop pass from Spezza, Karlson whacks a one-timer over the cage.
11:04: Spezza settles a puck at the right point and booms a slapper. Vkoun kicks it out with his right leg despite traffic.
10:38: Gonchar gloats a wrister from the left point. Vokoun scoops it out to "Vooooo...." chants.
8:53: Game. Set. Match. Taking a pass from Malkin, Oprik coasts the puck along the behind the cage. Gonchar recovers it but loses it to Neal just to the right of the net. Neal takes the puck and lifts a wrister over the blocker of a helpless Anderson. Gonchar looks completely dejected. The goal is unassisted. The "Hey Song" is never dejected. Penguins 5-1.
7:49: The Senators nearly get one back. Off aturnove rby the Penguin int hie orwon zone, Silfverberg rips a wrister which sneaks through Vokoun and slides juuuuust wide to the far side.
6:46: "Hey, Hey, Hey, gooood-bye" chants begin.
6:28: Turris isn't ready to say good-bye. Poking a puck at the Penguins' blue line, he splits Letang and Martin and rips a wrister from the left circle by the glove hand of Vokoun on the far side for a goal. What a shot. Cowen and Greening get assists. Penguins 5-2.
5:59: Smith lifts a wrister from the right circle.
5:36: Smith rips a shot from the left circle. Vokoun kicks it out. Michalek has a chance on the rebound to the right of the cage but Eaton falls and pokes it away.
3:40: Phillips whacks a puck from the right point. It hits a body in front.
2:30: Spectacular. Just.... spectacular. Letang controls a puck behind his own net and deals to Malkin in front of the Penguins' blue line. Malkin leaves a drop pass for Neal. Neal does the rest. Flying through the neutral zone, he gains the Ottawa blue line, dekes Gonchar out of his socks and attacks the Ottawa net. He lifts a wrister by the glove hand of an overwhelmed Anderson. It's a hat trick for Neal. Hats litter the ice. Gonchar's rough night just won't end. Malkin and Letang get assists. The "Hey Song" will get a maitenence day tomorrow. Penguins 6-2.
1:28: More "Hey, Hey, Hey Good-Bye" chants.
1:10: Jokinen is called for holding Methot. Murray, Niskanen, Cooke and Sutter take the ice.
0:30: A thunderous "Let's GO Pens!" chant rains down.
0:05: Two rwister by Gonchar from the slot are blocked.
0:00: End of game. End of series. Penguins 6, Senators 2.
-Just like in the quarterfinal round against the Islanders, depth was the difference. The Penguins had a lot. The Penguins didn't. The Senators played much of the series without their top center, Jason Spezza. The Penguins had two former Hart Trophy winners in the lineup the entire series at center. That's a huge difference.
-Healthy was a big factor too. Aside from a few bumps and bruises to the likes of Brenden Morrow or Chris Kunitz, the Penguins wer emostly healthy this series. The Senators dealt with Spezza coming back off the shelf midway through the series, Eric Gryba getting knocked out in the first game and Erik Karlsson playing at less than 100 percent.
-Special teams were once again huge. Outside of Game 3, the Penguins dominated both special teams situations most of this series. The Senators just couldn't keep up.
-A huge adjustment made in Game 4 which continued in Game 5 was the reunion of Kris Letang and Mark Eaton. As Dan Bylsma put it mildly, the first period of Game 4 was not Letang's best. Eaton and Letang were reunited at the start of that game's second period and have been together most of the past five period. Tonight, Letang had was might have been his best game of the postseason. He produced a bunch of offense and was responsible in his own zone most of the night. The Penguins better have Eaton drive Letang home in the HOV lane tonight.
-What a dazzling display of skill by James Neal. Before Game 4, he was in a pretty nasty funk having failed to produce any offense this postseason other than his goal in Game 1 against the Islanders. Question started to arise over production. He answered those questions in a big way with five goals in his past two games.
-Matt Cooke was a terror for the Senators in this series. He simply spooked them in terms of his physical play and his always underrated puck skills. Cooke dominated the Senators in so many facets.
-There weren't too many highlight reel saves but Tomas Vokoun was stead and reliable in net. He's given this team such a calming presence in net since he took over for Marc-Andre Fleury. How can anyone question his status as the starter at this moment?
-Aside from one spectacular pass by Spezza, Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik were stead and reliable most of the series. They were a big reason the Penguins were able to contain the Senators' limited source of offense.
-Brenden Morrow might only be capable of giving you a handful of minutes a night. He might be slower than a Zamboni. But when he plays, he gives this team a presence few others in the NHL can. He doesnt' back down from any sort of confrontation. He chips in some offense and he can stick you on you wallet with a hit. He's Gary Roberts without the cult following. He showed that presence tonight.
-The Senators have nothign to be ashamed of based on this effort. The scores were lopsided in the past two games, but they gave an honest effort. There's only so much they could do against the this team.
-Senators defenseman Marc Methot put it best when he said, "I've never seen a team like this before." Methot continued and compared the Penguins to the 2008-09 Red Wings he faced in the postseason as a member of the Blue Jackets. That Red Wings team lost the Stanley Cup to the Penguins.
-Daniel Alfredsson, the targe of scorn for his comments and speculation about his future, was probably the best player for the Senators in this series and this postseason. He led them in scoring with 10 points in 10 games. He scored their biggest goal of the series. He was responsible defensively. We sincerely hope we haven't seen the last of this great player.
-Craig Anderson could only do so much. Every man has his breaking point and the Penguins found his. They just overwhelmed him with shot after shot after shot. Anderson might not be a goaltender who can win you the Stanley Cup. But he's a goaltender you can win the Cup with.
-We would have liked to see Erik Karlsson at 100 percent. He's a splendid talent when fully healthy. There are few players with better wheels than Karlsson.
-Overall, the Senators have a nice collection of young talent mixed with a group of steady and reliable vetrans. If those young players can develop, this will be a dangerous team.
-Sergei Gonchar's play got progressively worse as the series wore on. He was almost tragic in the last two games. The Penguins took advantage of their former alternate captain.
-Colin Greening was a nice player throughout this series. He's not someone you would normally notice, but he found ways to take advantage of his opportunities and contributed quite a bit to his team.
-The Penguins led in shots, 33-31.
-Letang led the game with six shots.
-Kyle Turris led the Senators with four.
-Karlsson led the game with 25:48.
-Letang led the Penguins with 24:19.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 40-29 (58 percent).
-Sidney Crosby was 21 for 31 (68 percent).
-Turris was 11 for 17 (65 percent).
-Jared Cowen led the game with three blocked shots.
-Matt Niskanen, Martin, Cooke and Craig Adams each had two blocked shots.
-Neal recorded his first career postseason hat trick and the 13th in franchise history.
-Neal and Crosby each recorded a hat trick this series. It was only the second time the franchise has had hat tricks in the same postseason series. Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr each collected a hat trick in the same game, 7-3 win against the Rangers in Game 5 a 1996 semifinal series.
-The Penguins clinched a playoff series on home ice for the first time since 2008 in the Eastern Conference final against the Flyers.
-Letang (47 points) moved past Martin Straka (46) and Gonchar (44) for eighth place on the franchise's all-time postseason scoring list.
-Kennedy (27 points) moved past Paul Coffey and Marian Hossa (26 each) for 19th place.
The PIAA moved the state basketball championships back to Hershey this year - and the change helped the PIAA pocketbook.
The PIAA this week released financial information from the winter championships and the winter sports playoffs came in $67,975 above budget. One of the main reasons was the basketball playoff revenue, which was $90,758 above budget.
Part of the reason for the increased revenue in basketball was an attendance spike of 10,000 fans for the boys and girls championship games. The PIAA moved the basketball championships from Penn State to Hershey this year. Attendance at Giant Center in Hershey was 24,582 while attendance at the final year at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center was 14,421.
From 1976 through 2006 (with the exception of 1979 when the title games were played at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh), the PIAA title games were played at either Hersheypark Arena or Giant Center. The PIAA decided to move the games to Penn State in 2007. The games attracted 33,008 fans the first year at Penn State, but attendance dropped drastically in following years.
Besides ticket sales, the cost of rent at Giant Center in Hershey was much cheaper than the rent at Bryce Jordan.
Holmberg loses tiebreaker - and gold medal
The first day of the PIAA track and field championships are today at Shippensburg University and there was an interesting happening in the Class AAA girls high jump involving Hempfield sophomore Maddie Holmberg. She jumped exactly as far as the gold medalist. But Holmberg was given the silver medal because her second-best jump wasn't quite far enough.
Confused? Well, here's the story. Holmberg tied Chambersburg's Marshay Ryan for first place with a jump of 19 feet, 10 inches. In this event, if two athletes tie for first, the tiebreaker is the second-best jump. Holmberg looked in good shape with a second-best jump of 19-4. But on her final attempt of the event, Ryan jumped 19-5 and beat Holmberg for the gold.
The 19-10 by Holmberg is a monumental jump. She is only the fourth athlete in WPIAL history to clear 19 feet and her jump came close to the WPIAL best (in any meet) of 19-11 1/2, held by South Park's Nikita Lewis (1998) and Winchester-Thurston's Cassie Richards (2001).
It was a great effort by Holmberg.
Hopewell's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who jumped 19-3 at the WPIAL championships, finished sixth at 17-11 3/4.
***** More from the PIAA track and field championships today: Cyre Vargo of Fleetwood High School set a Class AAA championshp meet record with a of 5 feet, 11 1/4 inch in the high jump. To put that in perspective, consider that it would have placed sixth in the WPIAL Class AA BOYS championships.
***** Belle Vernon opened Dan Palm's position of baseball coach. Palm guided Belle Vernon to a spot in last year's WPIAL AAA championship game, but the program was placed on two years probation by the PIAA because of a benches-clearing fight during a PIAA playoff game last year. Palm was one of the coaches ejected from the game.
Palm also was suspended by the district for three games this year for unspecified reasons.
***** From what I know, what I hear and from looking at other sources, don't expect any WPIAL baseball players to be selected in the first few rounds of this year's draft. In fact, according to Baseball America projections, there isn't a player in Pennsylvania who ranks as a top prospect for the draft.
Probable goaltenders: Tomas Vokoun (5-1, 1.82 GAA, .930 SV%) for the Penguins and Craig Anderson (5-3, 2.66 GAA, .928 SV%) for the Senators.
Injuries: For the Penguins, left wingers and Chris Kunitz (undisclosed) Brenden Morrow (undisclosed) are questionable. For the Senators, defensemen Eric Gryba (undisclosed), Patrick Weircioch ("lower body"), left winger Mike Hoffman (collarbone) and right winger Mark Stone (ankle) are out. Center Dave Dziurzynski (concussion) is on injured reserve.
4 Mark Eaton - 58 Kris Letang 7 Paul Martin - 44 Brooks Orpik 3 Douglas Murray - 2 Matt Niskanen
The Senators lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:
9 Milan Michalek (above) - 19 Jason Spezza - 11 Daniel Alfredsson 14 Colin Greening - 7 Kyle Turris - 22 Erik Condra 15 Zack Smith - 93 Mika Zibanejad - 33 Jakob Silfverberg 89 Cory Conacher - 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 25 Chris Neil
3 Marc Méthot - 65 Erik Karlsson 2 Jared Cowen - 55 Sergei Gonchar 4 Chris Phillips - 61 Andre Benoît
-The last time the Penguins and the Senators played, this happened: