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About the Sharks - Game 1 - 05-30-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Sharks.

When and where: 8:10 p.m., EDT.  Consol Energy Center.

TV: NBC, CBC.

Leading postseason scorer: Center Logan Couture, 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists).

Last Game: 5-2 home win against the Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference final. Right winger Joel Ward (right) scored two goals for the Sharks.

Probable goaltenders: Matt Murray (11-4, 2.21 GAA, .924 SV%) for the Penguins. Martin Jones (12-6, 2.12 GAA, .919 SV%) for the Sharks.

Injuries: For the Penguins, center Nick Bonino (undisclosed) and right winger Tom Kuhnhackl (left foot/ankle) are probable. Defenseman Trevor Daley (broken left ankle) is out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), center Kevin Porter (right ankle) and left winger Scott Wilson (right ankle or foot) are on injured reserve. For the Sharks, left winger Matt Nieto (undisclosed) and defenseman Matt Tennyson ("upper body") are questionable.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins had an optional morning skate. Consider this a guess at their lines and pairings:

43 Conor Sheary - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
62 Carl Hagelin - 13 Nick Bonino - 81 Phil Kessel
 14 Chris Kunitz 71 Evgeni Malkin - 17 Bryan Rust
34 Tom Kuhnhackl - 7 Matt Cullen - 16 Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin - 58 Kris Letang
Olli Maatta - 12 Ben Lovejoy
28 Ian Cole - 4 Justin Schultz

-The Sharks had an optional morning skate. Their expected lines and pairings are:

48 Tomas Hertl – 19 Joe Thornton – 8 Joe Pavelski
12 Patrick Marleau – 39 Logan Couture – 27 Joonas Donskoi
68 Melker Karlsson – 50 Chris Tierney – 42 Joel Ward
9 Dainius Zubrus – 16 Nick Spaling – 57 Tommy Wingels

44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic – 61 Justin Braun
7 Paul Martin – 88 Brent Burns
4 Brenden Dillon – 46 Roman Polak

Notes:

-The last time the Penguins played the Sharks, this happened:

-Bonino participated in an optional morning skate after skipping two days of practice. He is expected to play.

-Letang did not participate in today's skate or yesterday's practice. He said he is playing.

-Among players who have played at least one game this postseason, the Penguins have an average size of 6-foot-1, 197 pounds. The Sharks have an average size of 6-foot-2, 207 pounds.

-This is the Penguins' fifth appearance in a Stanley Cup Final. This is the Sharks' first appearance.

-The referees are (No. 4) Wes McCauley and (No. 13) Dan O'Halloran. The stand-by referee is (No. 9) Dan O'Rourke. The linesmen are (No. 65) Pierre Racicot and (No. 75) Derek Amell. The stand-by lineseman is (No. 95) Johnny Murray.

(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Trump posts flurry of tweets after Kristol's 'third-party candidate' prediction

Leading conservative Bill Kristol says Donald Trump will be challenged for the presidency by a impressive independent candidate with a “real chance” of beating the Republican nominee....

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/early-returns/ernational/2016/05/30/Trump-posts-flurry-of-tweets-after-Kristol-s-third-party-candidate-prediction/stories/201605300098

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Empty Netter Assists - Daley not ruling himself out - 05-30-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Sharks

-"I’m not ruling myself out. Doctor-wise? I don’t know, we’ll see. No, I’m not going to rule myself out. There’s no way … I think that’s keeping me going.” - Trevor Daley (above) on his availability for the Stanley Cup final.

-Being left off the United States' roster for the World Cup of Hockey is no big deal for right winger Phil Kessel.

-“Obviously, I never got a chance to play in the Stanley Cup like this. I’ve never been on a team that has felt like this. I don’t even know how to describe it, to be honest. I’m so excited to play for the Stanley Cup.” - Kessel.

-"I think now having gone through those things I definitely appreciate it more. I think I realize how tough it is to get to this point." - Captain/center Sidney Crosby on going seven years between Stanley Cup Final appearances.

-“When I come to the rink I still think I’m a player, so I change in my gear and my underwear and I hang out with the players. When the game starts I put a suit on. I’ll watch a little bit of video before practices, try to help the coaching staff about details of the game, whatever I see from up there. But deep inside I still think I’m a player, so it’s still kind of hard.” - Right winger Pascal Dupuis on his status as he remains sidelined due to a blood clot.

-“Paul is a highly efficient player. The greatest compliment for a player is that he makes everyone around him better, and Paul does that, in spades.” - Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on defenseman Paul Martin (right).

-The last 11 months have been a crazy ride for Sharks center and former Penguin Nick Spaling.

-"If you give him any time and space, he'll make plays. If you're in his face all the time, bump him, gap up on him. It's not necessarily going to frustrate him, but he's going to know you're there and he won't be able to make plays. If he does, he'll make you look silly." - Sharks defenseman Marc-Edoard Vlasic on matching up against Crosby.

-“They’re fast. They’ve got a lot of speed. Kind of similar to what we saw with Nashville. I think the speed is going to be the biggest thing.” - Sharks goaltender Martin Jones on the Penguins.

-"My brother John, he always has a huge beard, so I'm kind of following him and [defenseman Brent Burns'] footsteps. So, I got two mentors that I can look up to." - Sharks forward Joe Thornton on why he decided to grow a massive beard.

-Stanley Cup Final tickets in San Jose aren't cheap.

Kelly Cup

-Forwards Derek ArmyJarrett Burton, forward Anton Zlobin and defenseman Clark Seymour each had a goal and an assist for the Wheeling Nailers in a 7-6 win against the Allen Americans in Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Final Sunday. The best-of-seven series is tied, 1-1. Forwards Shane Bakker and Riley Brace each recorded two assists for Wheeling while goaltender Brian Foster made 23 saves in the victory.

Memorial Cup

-An overtime goal by forward Matthew Tkachuk gave the London Knights a 3-2 win against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the Memorial Cup final.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Penguins

-As he faces a latest round of legal issues, former Penguins left winger Kevin Stevens' friends continue to worry about him.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jiri Slegr (right). Acquired in the 1997 offseason in a deal which sent a draft pick to the Oilers, Slegr spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. In 1997-98, Slegr appeared in 73 games and recorded 17 points. He saw action in six playoff games that spring and recorded four assists. Despite appearing in only 63 games in 1998-99, Slegr's offensive numbers went up as he netted 23 points. During the 1999 postseason, he played in 13 games and contributed four points.  In 1999-2000, Slegr played in 74 games and scored 31 points, including a career-high 11 goals. He appeared in 13 postseason games that spring and scored five points. After appearing in 42 games and recording 15 points in 2000-01, Slegr was traded to the Thrashers for a draft pick. In 252 regular season games with the Penguins, Slegr scored 86 points, the 100th-highest total in franchise history. In 29 postseason games, he scored 13 points.

-Happy 26th birthday to former Penguins defenseman David Warsofsky. A free agent signing last offseason, Warsofsky appeared in 12 games for the Penguins and scored one goal this season before being claimed off waivers by the Devils. 

Patrick Division

-Former Capitals/Canadiens/Canucks forward Jan Bulis announced his retirement.

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Rob Carr/Getty Images and Ken White/Allsport)

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Penguins - Sharks preview - 05-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins vs. Sharks

Penguins Leading Postseason Scorer: Right winger Phil Kessel, 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists).

Sharks Leading Postseason Scorer: Center Logan Couture, 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists).

Penguins Expected Starting Goaltender: Matt Murray, 11-4, 2.21 GAA, .924 SV%.

Sharks Expected Starting Goaltender: Martin Jones, 12-6, 2.12 GAA, .919 SV%.

Penguins Postseason Statistics

Sharks Postseason Statistics

Penguins Injuries: Center Nick Bonino (undisclosed) is probable. Defenseman Trevor Daley (left ankle) is out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), center Kevin Porter (right ankle) and left winger Scott Wilson (right ankle or foot) are on injured reserve.

Sharks Injuries: Left winger Matt Nieto (undisclosed) and defenseman Matt Tennyson ("upper body") are questionable.

Penguins with Stanley Cup bling: Centers Matt Cullen, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, left winger Chris Kunitz, defenseman Kris Letang, right winger Pascal Dupuis, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Sharks with Stanley Cup bling: Jones.

Something worthwhile about the Penguins: The Penguins are second in the NHL with 3.22 goals per game this postseason.

Something worthwhile about the Sharks: The Sharks are first in the NHL with 3.50 goals per game this postseason.

Something useless about the Penguins that is vaguely connected to the Sharks: Bonino (two), a former Sharks draft pick, is one of five active players with multiple series-clinching overtime goals. The others are Canucks left winger Alex Burrows (two), Devils center Adam Henrique (two), Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane (three) and Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (two).

Something useless about the Sharks that is vaguely connected to the Penguins: The first playoff goal in Sharks history was scored by defenseman Shawn Cronin in Game 1 of a 1994 Western Conference quarterfinal against the Red Wings. Former Penguins right winger Pat Falloon and left winger Bob Errey had assists.

Former Sharks on the Penguins: Bonino (Bonino is a former draft pick who never played for the organization). Assistant coach Bill Guerin.

Former Penguins on the Sharks: Assistant coach Bob Boughner, goaltending coach Johan Hedberg, center Nick Spaling, defenseman Paul Martin.

Who needs to be the difference for the Penguins: Defensemen Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, etc. With Daley sidelined, the Penguins' remaining healthy defensemen must find a way to compensate for his veteran savvy while facing as talented of a crew of forwards there is in the NHL.

Who needs to be the difference for the Sharks: Couture, centers Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, left winger Patrick Marleau and defenseman Brent Burns. The Sharks' dangerous power play has driven its offense through the first three rounds. It will need to do the same against a sturdy but hardly automatic Penguins' penalty kill.

Best Penguins YouTube Video We Could Find: Penguins center Jordan Staal's short-handed goal against the Red Wings in Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final:

Best Sharks YouTube Video We Could Find: Sharks center Tomas Hertl's goal against the Blues in Game 3 of the 2016 Western Conference final:

EN Prediction: The Penguins will really feel the absence of Daley in this round. With the Sharks boasting a big, quick, deep and experienced group of offensive forwards, they will be able to take advantage of a younger group of Penguins defensemen. Sharks, 4-3.

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Spaling: 'It's been a crazy year' - 05-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist goes way back with center Nick Spaling. As prospects in the Predators' system, they were linemates with the Milwaukee Admirals as far back as 2008-09.

They've been friends for nearly a decade.

The only problem is they're no longer teammates.

The Penguins dealt Spaling to the Maple Leafs last offseason as part of the trade which brought right winger Phil Kessel to the Penguins. in the midst of yet another re-building project, the Maple Leafs dealt Spaling to the Sharks prior to this season's trade deadline. Starting tomorrow, they'll be competing against one another in the Stanley Cup Final.

"Obviously you're always happy for your friends to be successful," said Hornqvist. "But when you play against him, he's not your friend anymore.”

Spaling has found a role on the Sharks' fourth line and has been one of the team's top penalty killers.

“He's just a smart hard-working player," said Hornqvist. "He always showed up. He's never going to have a bad game because he works so hard. You know what you'll get from him every single night. He's a good role player and he's been really good for them.”

Roughly 11 months after being dealt from an underachieving Penguins team which lasted only five games in the postseason to a re-building Maple Leafs team with no hopes of even reaching the postseason, Spaling is four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Today, he talked about the past year.

---

What have the past 11 months been like?

"It's been a little bit of a crazy ride to get here I think. Obviously if you asked at the start of the year, where you thought you'd end up, this would have been beyond expectations for me. It's been a crazy year. I got traded in the offseason obviously from here to Toronto, close to home. That was exciting in its own way. Then to get traded again, you don't know where you're going to end up. And to join a team like this is great. And to end up in the [Stanley Cup] Finals is a dream come true."

What did you make of the one season you spent with the Penguins?

“It was a lot of fun. Obviously, it's a great team. It was a fun year. I think we didn't play as well as we could have when it mattered and that's what it comes down to.”

Did you anticipate being traded by the Penguins?

"I think any time you don't reach the expectations the team has set out, the team has got to make moves. I think this team has shook things up a lot. I got traded to Toronto which is mixed emotions obviously. I got to go close back to home which is new for me.”

The Maple Leafs clearly are in a rebuilding project. Was it difficult being on a team like that?

"I think we actually played better than a lot of people thought. It's a team that obviously they've got a plan and they're sticking to it. I think they're bringing in a lot of great pieces and they're building like they said they would. It was a lot of fun to play there. For me, being lucky, being close to home, it's the team that I grew up watching. I enjoyed my time.”

What was it like going from a rebuilding project to the Sharks, a team with legit Stanley Cup hopes?

"You never know. Obviously, being in the last year of a contract, we knew a trade was possible and to be able to join a team like this and end up here, it's what every player wants. I definitely got lucky and very fortunate to be here. … Obviously at the time of year and the position Toronto was in, it made sense to for them to start trading players and get draft picks and whatever they can in their situation. You end up on a team like this, really fortunate to be here and to end up in the [Stanley Cup] Finals, you can't ask for anything more than this."

What's your role with the Sharks?

"I want to create some energy. We want to play the puck. We want to play a heavy game and just do what we can to contribute offensive, defensively and help the team win."

(Photos: Harry How/Getty Images)

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