Empty Netter Assists - 12-02-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-"I don't define my game [solely] by going out and scoring goals. There are a lot of other attributes that I think I bring." - Chris Kunitz (above).

-With Kris Letang (unspecified) and Marcel Goc (foot) each dinged up, the Penguins moved Craig Adams to the third line.

-How exactly does a 6-foot-4 215-man move so fast on skates? Robert Bortuzzo explains.

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Kurtis McLean has joined Medvescak Zagreb of Russia's KHL.

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins forward Rich Sutter. A first-round pick in 1982, Sutter spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1982-83, he appeared in four games and failed to record a point. After five games and no points in 1983-84, Sutter was traded to Flyers along with two draft pick in exchange for Andy Brickley, Mark Taylor, Ron Flockhart and two draft picks. In nine games with the Penguins, Sutter, a member of the famed Sutter family, failed to record a point. His nephew, Brandon Sutter, is currently a member of the Penguins.

-Happy 81st birthday to former Penguins and Pittsburgh Hornets forward Val Fonteyne (right). Claimed in the 1967 expansion draft from the Red Wings, Fonteyne, the first No. 8 in franchise history, spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins. A member of the franchise's inaugural team in 1967-68, Fonteyne played in 69 games and scored 34 points. In 1968-69, Fonteyne saw action in 76 games and accumulated 29 points. He followed that up in 1969-70 by appearing in 68 games, scoring 26 points and helping the franchise reach the postseason for the first time. He appeared in all 10 of the team's playoff games that spring and recorded two assists. The 1970-71 season saw Fonteyne play in 70 games and record 13 points. Fonteyne's final season in Pittsburgh was 1971-72. He saw action in 68 games and accumulated 19 points. In the 1972 postseason, he played in four games and failed to record a point. During the offseason, he joined the Alberta Oilers of the WHA as a free agent. In 349 regular season games with the Penguins, Fonteyne, primarily renown for his penalty killing abilities, scored 121 points, 70th-most in franchise history, and accumulated only four penalty minutes. In 14 postseason games, he recorded two points.

-Happy 60th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Mario Faubert (right). A fourth-round pick in 1974, Faubert spent parts of seven seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1974-75, Faubert appeared in 10 games and scored one goal. He followed that up in 1975-76 by playing in 21 games and scored nine points. Faubert saw an increase in action in 1976-77 by appearing in 77 contests and scored 13 points. He played in three postseason games that spring and scored one goal. He was limited to 18 games and six assists in 1977-78. After spending all of 1978-79 with Binghamton of the AHL, Faubert rebounded in 1979-80 by playing in 49 games and scoring 18 points. He appeared in two postseason games that spring and recorded one assist. His finest NHL season was 1981-82. He set career highs in games (72), points (52) and penalty minutes (188). The 1981 postseason saw him appear in five games and score two points. Faubert's final NHL season was 1981-82. He was limited to 14 games and 12 points after suffering a career-ending leg injury against the Blues, Nov. 18, 1981. In 231 regular season games with the Penguins, Faubert scored 111 points, 75th-most in franchise history. In 10 postseason games, he scored four points.

-Happy 48th birthday to former Penguins forward Kelly Buchberger. A free agent signing in the 2003 offseason, Buchberger's Penguins career amounted to 71 points, four points and 109 penalty minutes in 2003-04. Following the season, he retired. Buchberger is currently manager of player personnel for the Oilers.

-After the Jump: Welcome back Scott Gomez to New Jersey.

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Boyhood grew on New York critics who also honor Cotillard, Spall

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .



The New York Film Critics Circle has crowned “Boyhood” best picture and Richard Linklater best director. (Above, Ellar Coltrane.)

The Circle, founded in 1935, is an organization of film reviewers from New York-based publications. It honors excellence in the U.S. and world cinema. A year ago, it crowned “American Hustle” its top film.  

Other awards announced today:

3lywnR  mrturner 02 o3  8022080  1406663970Best actress: Marion Cotillard, for two movies, “The Immigrant” and “Two Days, One Night.”

Best actor: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner.” (at right)

Best supporting actress: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood.”

Best supporting actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash.”

Best animated movie:  “The LEGO Movie.”

Best screenplay: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best non-fiction film:  “Citizen Four.”

Best foreign film: “Ida.”

Best first film: Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook” (opening in Pittsburgh on Friday).

Best cinematographer: Darius Khondji, “The Immigrant.”

Special award:  Adrienne Mancia, former film curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

lifeitself01In other news, the Producers Guild of America announced its nominees for best documentary: “Life Itself” about Roger Ebert, “Merchants of Doubt,” “The Green Prince,” “Particle Fever” and “Virunga.” Still to come are the nominees for best feature which often prove a good indicator of Oscar love.

And the Annie Awards, honoring animation, will narrow this list of nominees to one for its best feature honor:  “Big Hero 6,” “Cheatin’,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Book of Life,” “The Boxtrolls" (below) “The LEGO Movie” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”







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Conner, Boyd and Clemmings named first-team all-ACC

Written by Sam Werner on .

20141101lfPittSports08-7While Pitt may have had an up and down season in terms of on-field results, the Panthers had no shortage of individual talent.
That star power was recognized by the ACC Monday as Pitt had three players named first-team all-conference, as voted on by the Atlantic Sports Coast Media Association.
Running back James Conner, wide receiver Tyler Boyd and right tackle T.J. Clemmings were all selected to the all-ACC first team. Right guard Matt Rotheram was also named to the league's third team.
Conner finished the regular season as the ACC's leading rusher, with 1,675 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season. He set a new conference single-season record for most rushing touchdowns, and also broke Tony Dorsett's 38-year-old Pitt record for rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns in one season.
"It's a heck of a record because of who did it," Pitt coach Paul Chryst said following the Panthers' 35-23 win against Miami Saturday, in which Conner set the record.
"There's a great history of running backs at Pitt."
Conner received the most votes of any player at any position in the all-ACC voting, even more than Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston
Boyd, meanwhile, only built on his spectacular freshman campaign as a sophomore this year. He finished the regular season with 69 receptions for 1,149 yards and eight touchdowns. He is the first player in ACC history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, and just the second Pitt player to do so, joining Larry Fitzgerald.
Boyd was also named as an all-ACC "specialist" for his kick return exploits on the league's second team.
Finally, Clemmings was named the ACC's lineman of the week three times this season, and, along with Rotheram, helped pave the way for the ACC's third-leading rushing attack.
Pitt joined Florida State, Duke and Clemson as the only schools with three players on the all-ACC first team, yet the Panthers finished the year just 6-6. Part of the problem may be that Pitt was the only ACC school that did not have any players selected — even as an honorable mention — on the defensive side of the ball.
The Panthers finished up the regular season Saturday, and now spend the week waiting to find out what bowl they will finish the year in.

Full teams, along with vote totals, after the jump...

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Bortuzzo's skating can be surprising - 12-01-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


At 6-4 and 215 pounds, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is the Penguins' largest player. Never afraid to drop the gloves or slam an opponent into the boards, he's also arguably their most physical player.

Given his size and reputation for physical play, Bortuzzo probably surprised more than a few people, including those on the Hurricanes, when he took advantage of a Carolina line change and burst from behind his own blue line, through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone for a dazzling goal during Saturday's 3-2 road win.

"If you don't know him, it definitely surprises you how quick he is and how fast he is out there," said Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta. "That's probably what happened. He made a great move the last game. He just skated right by [Hurricanes defenseman John-Michael Liles].”

Earlier today, Bortuzzo talked about his skating ability.

How much of an emphasis do you put on your skating in terms of training and workouts?

"It's something my dad kind of preached to me when I was a kid. He thought I was going to be a bigger guy and skating was going to be a big part of my game. It's something you're continually evolving with. In terms of skating with the puck, I think that's just something that's been preached a lot the last couple of years. Get your feet going. That's something they preach and that's what I did."

As a bigger guy, do you think some opponents are surprised when you do attack the offensive zone with speed?

"I'm not sure. I think once you get to this level, it's hard to underestimate anyone's skating level. The game's so fast. Maybe they just see a big guy and they're anticipating maybe the puck being moved or chipped or whatnot. ... My skating can get me out of trouble sometimes as well as having a long stick. "

Explain in basic terms the difference between how someone like Kris Letang skates and how you skate.

"[Letang] is probably one of the purer skaters in the league so it's definitely a big difference. I think it looks different too. If you've ever seen [former Penguins center] Jordan Staal skate, he's a great skater but sometimes doesn't look like he's going as fast as someone like [Letang] but he definitely is moving at a high pace. There's definitely a difference in what it might look like."

What happened with the goal you scored Saturday night?

I think I might have been at the end of my shift too. My first thought was what they preach. Kind of just get your feet going. I looked up and I had some space. I think I had some flanker guys coming to my right and left. My first thought was get the [Carolina blue] line and maybe make a play to one of them. Space just kept opening and then I took the ice. I was fortunate to get one by the goalie.

(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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All-America Selections announced. New impatiens immune to downy mildew disease!

Written by Doug Oster on .

Impatiens BouncePinkFlame-AAS2015-2Impatiens Bounce Pink Flame PPAF 'Balboufink' is one of the 2015 AAS winners. It won't succumb to downy impatiens mildew. Photos courtesy of All-America Selections

Winter is for dreaming about the garden.

It's always exciting when AAS announces their winning varieties for the season. Since 1932, All-America Selections has been testing plants and choosing their favorites..

They have trial grounds all over the country where new varieties are grown and tested. There's one in South Park run by my friend Denise Schreiber, the greenhouse manager for Allegheny County Parks. During the season you can stop by and see how next year's plants are doing. It's always fun to get a sneak peak at what's being grown.

Some of my favorite plants are AAS selections including 'Torch' tithonia (1951), 'Juliet' tomato (1999) and many more. The fact that they are grown in many different regions under a variety of conditions. Until this year all plants were started from seed, but now AAS has started testing plants which are propagated vegetatively. In some cases it's easier for growers to make more plants through cuttings and other techniques.

The first two winners grown this way are impatiens. Impatiens SunPatiens 'Spreading Shell Pink' and Bounce Pink Flame PPAF 'Balboufink.'

I've grown the SunPatiens series, it's performed well for me. Even though SunPatiens are bred to take more light than standard impatiens, I find them a perfect substitution in shady areas. They are immune to downy impatiens mildew, a disease which has become virulent across the country.

The Bounce series is also immune. They are bred to look like the Impatiens walleriana we normally grow as a bedding plant but will not succumb to the disease like walleriana does. The bounce series is named for its ability to return to form with watering after a dry period.

Pepper HotSunSet-2014AAS-logo1Pepper 'Hot Sunset' is an AAS winner that brings the heat and flavor.

There were 10 varieties grown from seed which also won this year. One regional winner which sounds interesting is a thick walled hat wax pepper called 'Hot Sunset.' It's brings the heat, but also offers great flavor, sets early and produces all season long. There are some other interesting peppers which won too.

Basil DolceFresca  AAS2015-1-crop1Basil 'Dolce Fresca' is another 2015 AAS winner. This variety is compact and pretty.

Basil 'Dolce Fresca' stays pretty all season and is compact, only reaching two feet tall maximum. After harvesting, the plant rebounds quickly and retains its compact shape. I'm always looking for plant like this which can be planted in corners and other tight spots in the vegetable garden. Basil is a wonderful ornamental plant too. I've grown them in hanging baskets in consort with flowers.

Salvia SummerJewelWhite-AAS2015-2-cropWho wouldn't want white flowers like this is the garden? Salvia 'Summer Jewel White' is tough and prolific.

Another plant I'm intrigued with is salvia 'Summer Jewel White.' I saw red and pink varieties of this plant last year, they were beautiful and prolific. This is a great way to get a tough sun lover with white flowers in the garden.

All of the winners will be available locally or through the Internet. Adding something new to grow along side old favorites is one of the fun things about gardening.

The AAS website has a complete list of this year's winners and every plant which has ever one the coveted title of All-America Selection. You might be surprised to find how many of your favorites are listed. I love to look through the older listings to find plants which have gone out of fashion. I know any plants which capture my attention will perform well in the garden.

There's also an AAS display garden at Schenley Plaza which I did a story and video on last season. Spending time in that garden is a great way to get ideas for your own plantings.

Winter is for garden dreams, planning and making lists for next year's season. There are plenty of cool AAS winners to consider.




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