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About the Flyers - 04-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Flyers.

When and where: 8 p.m., EDT, Consol Energy Center.

TV: NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet One, TVA.

Record: 30-29-17, 77 points. The Flyers are in sixth place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Right winger Jakub Voracek (right), 76 points (21 goals, 55 assists).

Last Game: 3-2 home shootout loss to the Sharks Saturday. Voracek had two assists.

Last Game against the Penguins: 3-2 home overtime win Jan. 20. Goaltender Ray Emery made 33 saves for the Flyers.

Flyers Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Voracek. He has 23 points in 22 career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Flyers: Assistant coach Joe Mullen, player development Kjell Samuelsson.

Ex-Flyers on the Penguins: Right winger Steve Downie, assistant coach Rick Tocchet.

Useless Flyers Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald (372) is one of four active NHL players born in Nova Scotia with more than 300 career games. The others are Islanders right winger Eric Boulton (643), Penguins center Sidney Crosby (621) and Bruins left winger Brad Marchand (372).

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

-This too:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (33-17-8, 2.26 GAA, .921 SV%) for the Penguins. Steve Mason (15-17-11, 2.24 GAA, .927 SV%) for the Flyers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defensemen Christian Ehrhoff ("upper body") and Kris Letang (concussion) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Flyers, defenseman Luke Schenn ("lower body"), right winger Wayne Simmonds ("lower body") and center R.J. Umberger (abdomen/hip) are out. Defensemen Radko Gudas ("lower body") and Chris Pronger (head) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins had an optional morning skate. Consider this a guess based on their lines and defensive pairings from yesterday's practice:

26 Daniel Winnik - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 39 David Perron
17 Blake Comeau - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
13 Nick Spaling - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 19 Beau Bennett
27 Craig Adams

7 Paul Martin - 51 Derrick Pouliot
4 Rob Scuderi - 28 Ian Cole
12 Ben Lovejoy

-The Flyers expected lines and defensive pairings are:

12 Michael Raffl - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jake Voracek
24 Matt Read - 14 Sean Couturier - 10 Brayden Schenn
76 Chris VandeVelde - 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 40 Vinny Lecavalier
25 Ryan White - 52 Nick Cousins - 36 Zac Rinaldo

8 Nick Grossmann - 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto - 55 Nick Schultz
26 Carlo Colaiacovo - 43 Brandon Manning

 

Notes:

-Ehrhoff skated in with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar prior to the morning skate.

-Center Sidney Crosby has 299 career goals.

-Defenseman Rob Scuderi has 98 career points.

-Flyers defenseman Mark Streit returned to the team after missing one game to attend to his ill grandmother in Switzerland.

-The referees are Gord Dwyer (No. 19) and Ian Walsh (No. 29). The linesmen are Mike Civik (No. 88) and Tim Nowak (No. 77).

-Our live blog starts at approximately 7 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Fleury retires - 04-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Marc-Andre Fleury officially announced his retirement. He plans on taking up professional cannonballing.

-With his season in Finland finished, the Penguins plan on bringing Kasperi Kapanen to North America to play for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

-The Penguins' shortage of able-bodied defenseman has increased the demands on Derrick Pouliot.

-“Obviously when you play against one of the best players in the world, you want to try and do something to stop him. Whatever it takes to get under his skin, I think we’re going to try to do.” - Flyers captain/forward Claude Giroux on facing Sidney Crosby tonight.

-With development on the verge of beginning, parking spaces at the Civic Arena site will become scarce.

-Pittsburgh City Council honored Mike Lange.

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Gary Agnew speaks:

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Bryan Rust is slowly working his way back from a "lower-body" injury.

-Happy 32nd birthday to former Penguins forward Jussi Jokinen. Acquired at the 2013 trade deadline, Jokinen has spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. In 2012-13, Jokinen appeared in 10 games with the Penguins and recorded 11 points. He saw action in eight postseason contests that spring and netted three assists. Last season, Jokinen played in 81 games and scored 57 points. During last springs' postseason, he played in 13 games and scored 10  points. This past offseason, he joined the Panthers as a free agent. In 91 career regular season games with the Penguins, Jokinen has 68 points.

-Happy 48th birthday to former Penguins forward Lee Giffin. A second-round pick of the club in 1985, Giffin spent parts of two seasons wth the Penguins. As a rookie in 1986-87, he appeared in eight games and scored two points. He followed that up in 1987-88 by playing in 19 games and recorded two assists. After spending all of 1988-89 with the Penguins' IHL affiliate in Muskegon, Giffin was traded to the Rangers for future considerations in the 1989 offseason. In 27 games with the Penguins, Giffin scored four points.

-After the Jump: Alex Ovechkin hits 50.

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Brewed On Grant: Eagle Watching

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The eagles have had a rough go of it this winter/spring so far. Both eggs failed to produce hatchlings. Not to mention those pesky surveillance cameras! 

 

040115 Eagle Watching

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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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