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Brewed On Grant: Playoff Beard

Written by Rob Rogers on .

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS! LET'S GO PENS! Nuff said. 

20160601 Playoff Beard

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John Baer: Pa. budget: June gloom or brand new brightness?

Not to peddle progress or optimism in a state familiar with neither, but there are flickers of hope in usually hopeless Harrisburg that could be suggestive of positive change....

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/early-returns/2016/06/01/John-Baer-Pa-budget-June-gloom-or-brand-new-brightness/stories/201606010121

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Print

John Baer: Pa. budget: June gloom or brand new brightness?

Not to peddle progress or optimism in a state familiar with neither, but there are flickers of hope in usually hopeless Harrisburg that could be suggestive of positive change....

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/early-returns/2016/06/01/John-Baer-Pa-budget-June-gloom-or-brand-new-brightness/stories/201606010121

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Speed on display between Penguins and Sharks - 05-31-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns was pretty direct when asked about his reaction to seeing Penguins left winger Carl Hagelin get loose on a breakaway in the first period of Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final Monday.

“Oh [bleep].”

Burns was pretty direct in how he defended the play as well. 

He chased down Hagelin, a former winner of the NHL's fastest skater competition at the All-Star Game, from the Penguins' blue line to the Sharks' left circle in order to lift his stick and strip the puck.

"It's just one of those things where you just turn the legs on and start skating," said Burns who is one of the NHL's best skating defensemen despite being a robust 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds.

"Not many can catch [Hagelin]," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "Burns might have got Hagelin at the end of a shift because I'm not even sure flat out if he could.  It shows you what an athlete [Burns] is and the speed he's got. 

Bursts of speed were on display all over the ice in what ended up being an enthralling 3-2 victory by the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

In many ways, the game was very representative of the NHL's most demanded resource in 2016.

Skating.

"This is probably going to be some of the fastest hockey that any of us have played when you look at the two teams and how they match up and how they want to play," said center Sidney Crosby. That will be a big part of the [series]."

"Two teams that play a very similar style are playing each other. You didn't play one heavy, physical heavy team against a team that's trying to slow things down a bit. Both teams like to play with a lot of speed.”

Game 1 got off to a - pardon the pun - fast start in that regard.

“It felt fast," said defenseman Brian Dumoulin (right). "That's a fun game to play up and down. We enjoy playing that type of game and we want to be even faster.”

In the decade since the NHL's 2004-05 lockout which led to new rules designed to promote offense, speed has in many ways become the league's defining characteristic. Slower, physical defensemen who typically inhabited the lower pairings of defensive corps. have largely been phased out in favor of waterbug blue liners.

"It's incredible," said Sharks center Joe Thornton, an 18-year veteran. "When I first came in, it was all [6-foot-4, 6-foot-5] defensemen. Slow, big, hold you up. Now, everybody's quick. Under 240 [pounds]. And just quicker. With no red line too, you're out of your zone in a hurry so you've got to be on your toes.”

"When me and Joe first broke in, it looked more like a rodeo out there I think with the hog-tying and hooking and holding and grabbing," said Sharks left winger Patrick Marleau, also an 18-year veteran. "It's sped the game up. I think it's made the game better, more enjoyable to watch."

Sharks center Dainius Zubrus is one of the NHL's few remaining connections to the days larger defensemen who could double as aircraft carriers on skates were in demand. As a rookie, he reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1997. Among his teammates were defensemen Kjell Samuelsson (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) and Chris Therrien (6-foot-5, 235 pounds).

“You're talking 20 years ago man," said Zubrus. "[Two] lockouts or whatever it is. Five changes of rules. Definitely much faster. There's been a couple of rule changes that have happened have helped that I think. Less clutching and grabbing and all that stuff. I think the league is a lot more exciting to watch. I think the game is much faster. I feel like it's a better game.”

The difference in forwards is noticeable from the perspective of a blue liner as well.

“I think the third and fourth lines back when I first came into the league were bigger, stronger and it was a lot more physical," said Sharks defenseman Paul Martin, who entered the NHL in 2003-04. "Nowadays, you have three or four lines that can skate and move the puck and create offense. Especially on our team, we have that depth and ability to score and skate and get up and down the ice.”

For older and larger players such as the 36-year-old Thornton (right) who stands 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, a premium is kept on maintaining his skating abilities.

"You've got to keep your skating up. I think you have to work on your skating because everybody flies out there. So I think your skating is huge. Your conditioning is huge. You've got to put in the time."

Prior to Game 1, DeBoer suggested the Penguins were the fastest team in the league. The Penguins realize it's an advantage they have to exploit.

"It was a fast-paced game for sure," said Hagelin. "Two teams that came out with a lot of intensity.  We skated really hard in the first obviously.  They kind of caught up to us in the second when we stopped skating a little bit. I think overall we have to use our speed to be successful in the series."

"That's as quick of a game we've played this year," Penguins center Eric Fehr said. "It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy and it was a fun game to play.”

However long the Stanley Cup Final lasts, it seems clear the pace on display in Game 1 won't dissipate.

"It was back and forth," said defenseman Justin Schultz. "It's going to be like that all series."

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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'Bonino, Bonino, Bonino!': Punjabi hockey broadcaster gives epic goal call in Game 1

Written by Andy Wittry on .

Harnarayan Singh - 196KB

Harnarayan Singh's Twitter profile photo

Can you say Bonino 10 times fast? That's exactly what Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play broadcaster Harnarayan Singh did last night after Penguins center Nick Bonino scored the winning goal in Game 1, giving the Penguins a 3-2 victory.

Singh, a 31-year-old broadcaster in his ninth season broadcasting NHL games, provides the flair and emotional reactions reminiscent of a European soccer broadcaster, while doing so for Hockey Night in Canada's Punjabi edition, a rarity in the world of hockey that's dominated by English and French broadcasts.

When he began working for Hockey Night in Candada, Singh was in charge of arranging and paying for his own travel, forcing him to "beg the maintenance staff to turn off the noisy floor waxers, sleep on a bench, and head to the gate when security opened at 4 a.m.," according to Maclean's.

The son of Indian immigrants, Singh has connected to the Sikh Canadian community as he did with his call of Bonino's game-winning goal Monday night: "Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino, Bonino! Nick...Bonin-ooooooooooo!"

The call was impressive, but imagine if Tom Kuhnhackl had scored the winning goal Monday night. 

Follow Andy Wittry on Twitter @AndyWittry.

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