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Predators at Penguins - 02-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-That was ugly. In a sequence of games which have been getting less and less pretty since right before the new calendar year, this was just a limp, lethargic, flat, lifeless outing for a team barely keeping it's head above water since the Christmas break. They played this game the way Marshawn Lunch approached press conferences.

-Keep in mind too, the Predators are a pretty good team. They lead a tough Central Division. They earned this 4-0 win. But the Penguins did little to provide any resistance.

-The Penguins have probably had worst games this season, but in terms of the way they want to play or the identity they want, this was rock bottom. They matched a season-low 21 shots. That has to gnaw at Mike Johnston who is all about shot volume.

-The Predators carved out an early 2-0 lead within the first seven minutes of play and really made life difficult for the Penguins. Roman Josi powered a slapper from the right point through a forest of bodies in front of Marc-Andre Fleury to take a 1-0 lead at the 4:05 mark of the first period.

-Just over two minutes later, at 6:38, Nashville took a 2-0 lead. Simon Despres made a horrendous pass from his end boards to the slot to... Gabriel Bourque. Bourque pounded what was probably the best pass of his career for a one-timer by the glove of a helpless Fleury.

-Things were fairly even for the rest of the first period and most of the second. Neither team generated a ton of scoring chances over that span.

-Near the end of the third period, the Penguins had a meltdown in their own zone which led to Nashville's third goal. After Derrick Pouliot muscled a puck off of Eric Nystrom in the Penguins' right wing corner, he fed a weak pass to Crosby in the slot. Crosby didn't handle the puck cleanly and had it stolen by Taylor Beck. Beck sneaked a pass to Nystrom above the crease and Nystrom deked Fleury out of his equipment before plunking in a layup of a forehand shot.

-Things were pretty stale for the third period until the Predators took advantage of a slashing penalty by Crosby and cashed in on a power play. Taking a feed from Filip Forsberg, Fisher ripped a wrister by the blocker of Fleury from the right circle. Robert Bortuzzo and former teammate James Neal screened Fleury on the play.

-Carter Hutton recorded his second career shutout but it would be a stretch to say he really was pushed in this game. He had a few sporadic instances where he had to steal goals but the Penguins applied little sustained offensive pressure.

-Simon Despres had a nightmare of a day. He and new defensive partner Kris Letang were on the ice for the first two goals. Each were part of the screen on Josi's goal. He had a dreadful turnover which directly led to Bourque's score. He missed several shifts at the end of the second period after appearing to get banged up a bit. Additionally, his puck management was just sloppy. After having an outstanding game against the Devils Friday - admittedly, a much lesser opponent than the Predators - he regressed badly today.

-The Penguins shuffled just about all their lines and defensive pairings today... except for the first line. Regardless, all four lines were just stale. The first line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist just couldn't generate anything.

-Brandon Sutter played a good bit with Patric Hornqvist but they just didn't click.

-Beau Bennett was based primarily on the third line most of the day but eventually found himself on the fourth line with Zach Sill and Craig Adams.

-Marc-Andre Fleury could have maybe stolen a goal here or there, but none of the four goals he allowed were softies.

-The Penguins' power play was lifeless. They generated five shots but almost none of them posed a legit threat.

-Neal had a fairly quiet game outside of boos which rained down a handful of times he touched the puck. He had 15:09 of ice time on 18 shifts and no shots. But, as stated above, he did screen Fleury on Fisher's goal.

-The Predators led in shots, 24-21.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 50-44.

-Josi led the game with 26:01 of ice time.

-Letang led the Penguins with 25:36 of ice time.

-Faceoffs were tied, 24-24 (50 percent).

-Sutter was 7 for 11 (64 percent).

-Paul Gaustad was 9 for 16 (56 percent).

-Crosby was 5 for 15 in faceoffs (33 percent) and went 2 for 7 against Gaustad. A few years ago, he said Gaustad was one of the toughest opponents for him in faceoffs.

-Mattias Ekholm led the game with five blocked shots.

-Paul Martin led the Penguins with three blocked shots.

-Hutton recorded the third shutout by the Predators ever against the Penguins. Former Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun recorded the previous two in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

-Hornqvist played in his 400th career game.

-Some sights. The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Pouliot had a fan on hand:

-Mark Recchi:

-We always run into Craig Adams fans:

-Tom Barrasso:

-There are a few Predators fans on hand. Seth Jones:

-Mario Lemieux all-star jerseys were popular today:

-Ditto' Fleury:

-No. 25 was a popular number. Randy Carlyle:

-Kevin Stevens:

-And Maxime Talbot:

-It's a winter wonderland outside:

-Patrick Lalime:

-Zarley Zalapski:

-Jean Pronovost:

-Jock Callendar:

-Former Predator Hornqvist:

-Jerseys of the Day: Neal was popular in Nashville form:

-And Pittsburgh form:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

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A farewell

Written by Craig Meyer on .

These kind of posts are typically a little self-indulgent, so I'll try my best to keep it brief.

When I first took over the Robert Morris beat as a 22 year old barely five months out of college, I saw it as an incredible opportunity. I truly did. College basketball had been a part of my life for longer than I could remember and here I was, given the chance to be the conduit between a Division I team and people who had the same kind of passion for the sport that I did.

With that duty came desire. I wanted to do as much as I could to cover the team, but with only so much space available in a sports section of a newspaper in a city with three professional teams and a major college, there was only so much I could do in print. An idea hatched and after some talks with my editors, the Bobs Blog was born.

I wanted this to be a place for people who wanted to know more about their team beyond a 500-word story in the newspaper each week. At times, I probably nerded out a little bit. The blog never quite met my grandiose expectations when I first started it, but I did everything I could to provide content while juggling a few different hats at the Post-Gazette, primarily with high school sports.

As happy as I was to launch the Bobs Blog, I figured at some point there would be a time to say goodbye. That time is now.

It's floated around for a couple of months now, but beginning Feb. 1, I'm going to be covering West Virginia football and Duquesne basketball for the P-G. My first two and a half years at the paper have been incredible, but the opportunity to cover both Division I football and basketball was something I couldn't pass up.

I've deeply cherished my time covering Robert Morris, a school I previously only knew about because I narrowly lost a $20 bet with my sophomore year roommate when RMU came up just short against Villanova in the 2010 NCAA tournament (and, yes, the refs in that game stunk). I've gotten to cover an extremely honest, cooperative person in Andy Toole and have been helped by as good of a sports information director as there is in Jim Duzyk. I've had the pleasure of chronicling extraordinary young men like Karvel Anderson whose on-court excellence is surpassed only by the daunting obstacles they've cleared in life. And I got a front-row seat to what could very well be the most remarkable sporting event I'll ever cover -- seeing the Goliath of a program I grew up around (Kentucky) lose to the ultimate David in a raucous bandbox of a gym.

Most of all, I wanted to thank each and every person who has not only read this blog, but followed my coverage over the past couple of years. I know Robert Morris doesn't have close to a large following, but you all are what really makes my job worth it. And I say this as someone who gets paid to write about sports.

My departure, however, does not mean the end of the Bobs Blog. The beat will be in very capable hands as my colleague Megan Ryan takes over for me. You can follow her on Twitter at @theothermegryan. I can't make any guarantees, but I don't think she'll bog you down with posts about points per possession and effective field goal percentage.

Though I'm not going to be out at Robert Morris anymore -- save for the occasional fill-in appearance -- feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or via email. I'm always happy to chat.

To anyone who I met on the beat -- players, coaches, fans, my esteemed media compatriots -- it was a true pleasure to be a part of this process with you.

Keep on keeping on.

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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About the Predators - 02-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Predators.

When and where: 2 p.m., EST, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports Tennessee.

Record: 31-11-6, 68 points. The Predators are in first place in the Central Division.

Leading Scorer: Center Mike Ribeiro, 43 points (10 goals, 33 assists).

Last Game: 3-0 road loss to the Avalanche Friday. Goaltender Marek Mazanec made 25 saves for the Predators.

Last Game against the Penguins: 3-0 home loss, Oct. 25. Goaltender Pekka Rinne made 23 saves for the Predators.

Predators Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Center Filip Forsberg (right). Just because.

Ex-Penguins on the Predators: Right winger Mark Arcobello, assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald, right winger Patric Hornqvist, center Nick Spaling, C.

Ex-Predators on the Penguins: Assistant coach Kevin McCarthy, Neal.

Useless Predators Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Hornqvist, drafted with the last overall pick by the Predators in 2005, is one of three "Mr. Irrelevants" who have played for the Penguins. The others are left winger Andy Brickley (Flyers - 1980) and defenseman Hans Jonsson (Penguins - 1993) .

The last time the Penguins played the Predators, this happened:


Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (23-10-5, 2.32 GAA, .920 SV%) for the Penguins. Carter Hutton (2-4-4, 2.96 GAA, .893 SV%) for the Predators.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (head) is doubtful. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot), defenseman Olli Maatta (shoulder), center Evgeni Malkin ("lower body") and left winger Blake Comeau (wrist) are on injured reserve. For the Predators, goaltender Pekka Rinne (knee) is out. Defenseman Ryan Ellis ("lower body") is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not have typical line rushes at practice yesterday. Consider this a guess based off their last game against the Devils Friday:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 39 David Perron
19
Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 72 Patric Hornqvist
26 Mark Arcobello - 13 Nick Spaling  - 23 Steve Downie
38 Zach Sill - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 27 Craig Adams

47 Simon Despres – 58 Kris Letang
4 Rob Scuderi - 7 Paul Martin
41 Robert Bortuzzo – 6 Scott Harrington

-The Predators did not practice yesterday. Their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Avalanche Friday were:

9 Filip Forsberg - 63 Mike Ribeiro - 15 Craig Smith
33 Colin Wilson - 12 Mike Fisher - 18 James Neal
7 Matt Cullen - 19 Calle Jarnkrok - 57 Gabriel Bourque
24 Eric Nystrom - 28 Paul Gaustad - 41 Taylor Beck

59 Roman Josi - 6 Shea Weber
14 Mattias Ekholm - 20 Anton Volchenkov
64 Victor Bartley - 3 Seth Jones

Notes:

-Hornqvist has played in 399 career games.

-Ribeiro has 699 career points.

-Wilson has 97 career assists.

-The referees are Eric Furlatt (27) and Steve Kozari (40). The linesmen are John Grandt (No. 98) and Don Henderson (No. 91).

-We will not have a live blog but will have a postgame blog post.

(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 02-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Christian Ehrhoff's head injury has led the Penguins to team Kris Letang (above) and Simon Despres together.

-Welcome back Evgeni Malkin ... to practice.

-Derrick Pouliot was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while Andrew Ebbett was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-EN Says: With Ehrhoff absent, Pouliot is needed to replace some of that offense from the blue line.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Ebbett and Bryan Rust each recorded two assists for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 6-2 loss to the rival Lehigh Valley Phantom. Matt Murray recorded the loss after making nine saves.

-Highlights:

-Franky Palazzese made 22 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-3 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings.

-Happy 77th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Bob Blackburn. Claimed from the Rangers in an intra-league draft during the 1969 offseason, Blackburn spent two seasons with the Penguins. In 1969-70, he appeared in 60 games and scored 11 points. He appeared in six games that postseason and failed to record a point. During 1970-69, Blackburn saw action in 64 games and scored nine points. Just prior to 1971-72, he was traded to Vancouver of the WHL in exchange for cash. In 124 games with the Penguins, he scored 20 points.

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins all-star forward Mark Recchi (right). A fourth-round pick in 1988, Recchi spent parts of seven seasons with the Penguins over three different stints. As a rookie in 1988-89, Recchi appeared in 15 games and recorded two points. He followed that up in 1989-90 by playing in 74 games and recording 67 points. In 1990-91, Recchi saw action in 78 games and led the team with 40 goals and 113 points. During that spring's postseason, Recchi played in all 24 of the team's games and scored 34 points while helping the franchise claim the Stanley Cup for the first time. After 58 games and 70 games in 1991-92, Recchi was traded to the Flyers along with Brian Benning and a draft pick in exchange for Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson, Ken Wregget and a draft pick. After several seasons with the Flyers and Canadiens, Recchi returned to the Penguins as a free agent in the 2004 offseason. Following the 2004-05 lockout, Recchi played in 63 games and scored 57 points in 2005-06 before being traded to the Hurricanes at the trade deadline in exchange for Niklas Nordgren, Krys Kolanos and a draft pick. Recchi returned to the Penguins yet again as a free agent in the 2006 offseason. In 2006-07, he played in all 82 games and scored 68 points. During the 2007 postseason, he appeared in five games and recorded four assists. After 18 games and eight points in 2007-08, Recchi was claimed off waivers by the Thrashers. In 389 regular season games with the Penguins, Recchi scored 385 points, 13th-most in franchise history. In 29 playoff games, he scored 38 points. He is currently a player development coach with the Penguins.

-Happy 25th birthday to current Penguins forward Jayson Megna. A free agent signing in the 2012 offseason, Megna has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Penguins. Making his NHL debut in 2010-11, he appeared in 36 games and scored nine points (five goals, four assists). This season, he has played in 12 games and has one assist. He is currently assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-After the Jump: Zbynek Michalek gets a rare goal.

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Robert Morris unable to get over hump in 71-68 loss to Bryant

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Even as his Robert Morris team won four consecutive games and raced to a tie atop the Northeast Conference standings, Andy Toole knew all the pieces didn’t quite fit together.

On a roster that features a combined 10 years of Division I experience, one flaw was particularly glaring – immaturity. Toole’s players weren’t necessarily immature individuals, but they had trouble maintaining a certain level of focus over time, particularly with all of their recent success.

While that shortcoming was largely concealed over the past several weeks, it became all too apparent Saturday afternoon, as a cold start ultimately foiled a spirited comeback attempt in a 71-68 loss to Bryant at the Sewall Center.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult to deal with adversity, but it’s also sometimes difficult to deal with success,” Toole said. “When you’re not the most mature [team] and you win four games in a row, you feel like all you have to do is show up. And that’s the furthest thing from the truth. That’s what we tried to do – just show up and play.”

The loss snapped a season-high four-game win streak for the Colonials (11-11, 7-3 NEC) and dropped them into a second-place tie in the conference with the victorious Bulldogs (10-10, 7-3).

That lack of energy that Toole referenced was most obvious in the game’s first 20 minutes, when Robert Morris came out flat and almost dazed in one of its biggest games of the season. It missed 17 of its first 24 shots and averaged just 0.83 points per possession, well below its season average of 0.99. In the final 9:18 of the first half, they were limited to one made field goal.

It trailed by seven at halftime and by as many as eight with 1:38 remaining, but it found a spark late. Six consecutive points from freshman Marcquise Reed got the Colonials within two and a 3-pointer from Lucky Jones made it a one-point game with 12 seconds left.

Following two made free throws from Bryant’s Joe O’Shea, Jones missed a potential game-tying 3 after a long inbounds pass from forward Aaron Tate. Rodney Pryor collected the rebound, but could not find an open teammate behind the arc as time expired.

The Colonials trailed by 10 points on two different occasions in the second half and though they were able to claw back both times, they were never able to tie or take a lead.

“We didn’t come out like we were supposed to and for the rest of the game, we were playing catch-up,” Tate said. “We couldn’t get over the hump.”

Reed finished with a team-high 20 points while Jones added 19 points and eight rebounds. Fewer than 48 hours after scoring 28 points on 10 of 14 shooting, Pryor went two of 14 for seven points.

For all of Robert Morris’ offensive failings, it allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 54 percent from the game, including a 62.5 percent clip in the second half.

Those numbers were yet another sign to Toole that his team still has steps it needs to take before it arrives at any kind of a destination.

“It was a disappointing loss, but sometimes you get what you deserve,” he said. “I think that’s what we deserved today.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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