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Narduzzi reveals details for Pitt spring game

Written by Sam Werner on .

(Once again, apologies for the video cutting off. I thought I cleared out enough space on my iPhone for today's session, but apparently not.)

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi filled in some details on the format of Pitt's spring game April 18. We already learned earlier in the day that former Panther stars Larry Fitzgerald and Aaron Donald will serve as honorary coaches for the game, and now we know exactly how those teams will be selected.

For one, it'll be a straight-up game with two separate teams, rather than an offense vs. defense affair with some sort of bizarre scoring system.

To divide up the teams, the coaching staff will be split up into two, and they will hold a draft to divide up the Pitt seniors into the Blue team and the Gold team. After that, those seniors will have a draft to divide up the rest of the team.

Personally, this seems like a pretty fun way to divide up the teams. It'll be interesting to see how the players want to make their teams and where different guys are going to be drafted. Do you take an elite talent like James Conner or Tyler Boyd at No. 1, or go with position scarcity and take someone like Chad Voytik with the first pick. Either way, it should be fun to see. Here are a couple of other notes from today.

- Safety Patrick Amara wasn't present at practice, but Narduzzi said it was just a class conflict.

- Narduzzi said he thought the offense bounced back well today after getting beaten in the scrimmage Saturday.

- As for the brewing outside linebacker battle between Mike Caprara and Bam Bradley, Narduzzi said both have been good over the last few practices.
"We're going to find out who wants it more, who's scratching and clawing to be the guy," he said.

- Narduzzi pointed out (correctly) that last year it appeared as if Pitt basically had "run play" running backs (Conner and Chris James) and "pass play" running backs (Isaac Bennett and Rachid Ibrahim). That won't be the case this year. Conner will see an increased role in the passing game, and they'll mix up the rotation a little bit more depending on who's hot. He also noted that there's room for four running backs in the offense.

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Western Conference teams benefit from playoff format - 03-31-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

In 2013, the NHL adopted a new playoff format in which the top three teams of each division qualify for the postseason while two wild card teams, regardless of division, also qualify.

Officially, the NHL has said this change from the old 1-through-8 format was made to stress rivalries. Unofficially, change was made to provide a greater chance of more television-friendly matchups and to reduce travel in the Western Conference.

Recently, five members of the Penguins who spent parts of their careers with Western Conference teams were asked about the format.

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What's your opinion of the current playoff format?

David Perron (right), left winger (Blues, Oilers) - It seems like there's a lot of possibilities on what teams you can face. It's defintely nice. Most of it was [in the Western Conference]. One year in St. Louis, we played San Jose then we played [Los Angeles]. If we had beaten them, we would have to play Phoenix I think. That's three teams that on the West Coast there. Three and a half-, four-hour flight every time. If it goes down to Game 7, it's a lot of travel. I think it's nice mostly for the [Western Conference]. A lot less travel as far as far as playoffs go.

Ian Cole, defenseman (Blues) - It was kind of confusing at first and then once you go through it or are a part of it for a short period of time, you kind of have a better idea of how it works. I think it's interesting to do division rivals for the most part. Obviously, you build up a lot of animosity playing them multiple times during the year and then continue to play them in the playoffs. That ramps it up.

Nick Spaling (right), left winger (Predators) - "It's a little different set up but at the end of the day, I don't know if it's a huge difference maker. It might eliminate one team or something differently but I don't see a huge change in it. You play your division. I don't mind it."

Ben Lovejoy, defenseman (Ducks) - "As a player, I think it would be nice to have a little variety. As a fan, I think it's great to see some of these rivalries come through in the playoffs. I know for us last year, it didn't work out because we had to face [Los Angeles in the second round] but in 20 years, that matchup had never happened. Because of the format, it was able to happen. I think that's good for the game."

Mike Johnston, coach (Canucks, Kings) - "I know in the [Western Hockey League], they've adopted that format as well where they have wild card spots and they keep teams in their divisions. I think the theory there is that you get the rivalries within the division and you getting them playing off. But it's the wild card spot where you can switch divisions that becomes confusing for everybody when you look at it."

How much do you think it benefits Western Conference teams?

Perron - "The time change too affects you. If you have a three and a half-hour flight coming back from [Los Angeles] to St. Louis, you lose two hours. It's a five and a half-hour trip. Most times in the playoffs, you play every other day so Teams will sleep in after the game. Next day, they'll fly out. They'll get in at like 6:30 [p.m.] maybe and right back at it the next day. It's a lot different than if it's a Philadelphia or New Jersey game where they can be in their own bed at 11:30 [p.m.]."

Cole - "Yeah except that depending on the wild card, could be playing … let's say St. Louis finish first and the Kings sneak in somehow, they could be playing. I see what they're trying to do but it doesn't always necessarily work out like that all the time. That's part of it. You know that's going to be a part of it whatever the travel is. Obviously yes, you'd like to have the easier road not having to fly back and forth to California all the time."

Spaling - "It is nice to cut down on the travel when. Obviously when you're changing time zones and you got maybe four-hour flights. It is tough on teams to start out a first round like that. It isn't easy. It is nice to cut down travel and get a start on the playoffs a little bit closer to home."

Lovejoy (right) - "It makes such a difference for the Western teams. My first year in Anaheim, we had to play against Detroit and it was four hours. We went to Game 7 and we did that flight a whole bunch of times. Playoff hockey is hard enough. I think anything you can do to cut down on travel makes a huge difference on the body."

Johnston - "It was huge. We [the Canucks] played a playoff series against Detroit and that's a long way to go in a playoff series very early in the playoffs. It's a situation in the west where you're looking at a lot more travel in the playoffs. That four hour flight, four and half hour flight … those really add up when you play a playoff series, especially if it goes six or seven [games]."

(Photos: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images and Harry How/Getty Images)

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Garlic sprouts! Tips for spring planting and harvesting

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog garlic upIt's the most wonderful time of the year! Photo by Doug Oster

The green shoots of garlic have pushed through a thick layer of winter straw announcing the start of the vegetable growing season.

Everyone who knows me is alerted to the garlic sprouting as I love nibbling on the fat center buds of the plant. Lets just say they keep their distance. There's nothing like them and as the plant grow those center buds are never the same as these early greens.

Only harvest the sparingly as the greens feed the bulbs.

If you didn't plant garlic in the fall when you're supposed to, it can be planted in the spring. The bulbs will not get as big, but the greens and seed head, called a scape will still be fun to use in the kitchen.

The trick is finding seed garlic this time of the year. Organic garlic at the market won't be sprayed with an anti sprouting compound, so it might work. If you have a friend with some bulbs left over from the garden, they would work too.

My friends from Enon Valley Garlic told me they've seen some garlic at farmer's markets which is probably the best bet.

The bulbs should separated into cloves and planted three inches deep and six inches apart in good garden soil amended with lots of compost.

A couple months after the greens sprout, there's another delicacy in the from of the seed head called a scape.

Remove them to get bigger bulbs, I use them to make pesto and also grill them.

I leave some of those scapes in the garden. Even though they are no longer attached to the plant, the seed head will continue to swell and grow little bulbets that are a clone of the bulb.

When more than 50 percent of the greens turn brown in July it’s time to harvest the bulbs. They can be pulled out or gently coaxed with a garden fork. If you’re growing bulbs to store all winter they will need to be cured in a warm dry place for three weeks. Garlic lasts longer if the stalks are left attached.

There’s nothing like garlic from the garden, the fresh stuff is filled with oils that will make any recipe special. I even know a gardener who eats raw cloves out in his garden, guess who?

I received one more interesting tidbit from Enon Valley Garlic, the roots of the plant have started to become popular. When harvest time comes around, I'll be doing a story with them about how to use the roots in the kitchen.

Garlic rules!

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Neko Case, Jenny Lewis will play TRAF

Written by Scott Mervis on .

1neko caseNeko CaseThe Three Rivers Arts Festival schedule of free concerts is being rolled out each hour on sponsor station WYEP.

Announced so far:

June 5: Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley)

June 6: Railroad Earth, Elephant Revival

June 7: Alvvays (the indie-rock band opening for The Decemberists March 31 at Benedum)

June 8: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

June 9: The Felice Brothers/Hurray for the Riff Raff

June 10: Milo Greene (LA indie-folk band)

June 11: Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops)

June 12: 

June 13: Neko Case (New Pornographers)

June 14:  Benjamin Booker

 

 

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Troubles at home - 03-31-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-With Kris Letang (above) and Christian Ehrhoff sidelined, the Penguins would appear to be stuck with only five defensemen for the time being.

-The Penguins haven't been very good at home since the start of 2015.

-Today would've been the 77th birthday of former Penguins forward Bill Hicke. Acquired prior to the 1971-72 season from the California Golden Seals in exchange for cash, Hicke's Penguins' career amounted to 12 games and two goals that season. In November of 1971, he was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for for cash. He died July 18, 2005 at the age of 67.

-Happy 50th birthday to the best goaltender in Penguins history (for the time being):

-After the Jump: The Lightning sweep the Canadiens.

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