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Jersey Hunt - Lightning at Penguins - Game 5 - 05-22-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The best jerseys at tonight's Penguins-Lightning game:

-Chris Tamer:

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins T.J. Kemp:

-Christian Ehrhoff:

-Nick Bonino:

-No. 17 is popular. Bryan Rust:

-And Petr Sykora:

-Rick Tocchet:

-No. 27 is popular. Alexei Kovalev:

-Georges Laraque:

-And Gilles Meloche:

-Tom Barrasso:

-Conor Sheary:

-Tyler Kennedy:

-Paul Coffey:

-Sidney Crosby Team Canada:

-There are some Lightning fans here. Valtteri Filppula:

-Teddy Purcell:

-There are a few fans of the  Lightning's AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch on hand. Vladislav Namestnikov and Slater Koekkoek:

-And Ondrej Palat:

-Mike Smith Coyotes might seem like a jersey foul but he is a former Lightning:

-Wow. Jonathan Filewich:

-This is elite. Ian Moran:

-This is elite...er. Troy Loney No. 11:

 

-The old 29er, Phil Bourque:

 

-Cullens are popular tonight. Matt Cullen:

-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Lightning forward John Cullen:

 

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Pregame thoughts - Lightning at Penguins - Game 5 - 05-22-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Head coach Mike Sullivan has been pretty tight-lipped with any sort of injury or lineup information from even before the playoffs. Approximately two weeks before the postseason started, he started being brief with any of that content.

So when he announced goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would start tonight's Game 5 at his pregame press conference, before even fielding a question, it was a bit of a surprise.

The fact that Fleury is starting isn't so much of a surprise but the fact that he announced it was the real shocker.

As far as the decision to go with Fleury instead of Matt Murray, it appears to be the right decision. Murray's play has been trending downward - albeit slightly - since the late stages of the second round series against the Capitals. He hasn't been awful by any means. He's played well enough to win. But at the same time, his play hasn't been getting better.

We don't think there's a bad choice between Fleury or Murray. But Fleury seems to be the best choice.

---

Sullivan also announced defenseman Trevor Daley (right) would miss the rest of the season due to a broken ankle. That's a crucial loss for the Penguins. Not only has Daley brought a presence they missed after parting ways with defenseman Paul Martin last offseason but the would-be replacements of Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot haven't exactly had clean games during the postseason. Everything points towards Maatta playing with defenseman Kris Letang tonight. 

Maatta got an endorsement from Sullivan today when asked what he needs to do coming off being a healthy scratch for three games.

"Just to keep his game simple, to relax and have fun and play," said Sullivan. "Olli's been a big part of this team for a long time. As I said yesterday, he's been a top four defenseman for this team all season long.  He's done a terrific job for us.  And when he keeps his game simple, I think that's when he's at his best."

Maatta said he's kept an even keeled approach during his string of scratches.

“At all times, you've got to be ready to go," Maatta said. "It doesn't matter what happens. You have to be ready to play the game. I think that has to be the mindset.”

---

Even though he's only been here since mid-December, Daley has become one of the most respected players in the dressing room. A lot of his teammates spoke to his presence:

Letang - “You never want to see a guy go down, especially a guy that eats a lot of minutes like that. Not only is he good on the ice, he's good off the ice. A good teammate. Everybody loves him in the dressing room. He brings that calmness, that veteran presence. It's huge but people have to step up."

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy - “Trevor's been great for us. He's a brought a veteran element to our [defensive] corps. and he's brought a level of speed and playmaking ability that few guys possess. He's really been a huge part of our team.”

Defenseman Brian Dumoulin - "Yeah, he's an important part of our defense corps.  He's been there, been playing real well for us ever since he got here. He's a leader in the locker room.  He's a leader out there on the ice.  He's definitely a very important person that we want on the ice, but that's part of the game.  Injuries are going to happen.  So we've got to find a way to battle through it and turn it into a positive."

Center Matt Cullen - "He's been so good for us.   He's -- I guess, when he got here, I didn't realize how good he was. I've always thought he was a really good player, playing against him.  But what he's brought to this team has been awesome.  He's a great team mate. He's a great leader.  He skates well.  He's done everything for us.  I mean, everywhere on special teams, five-on-five, he's been great for us, and I think all the young guys would say the same.  He's been a great leader.  I can't say enough about him."

Sullivan - "On a personal level, I feel badly for Trevor because I know how important this is to him and what it means to him and what he's brought to this team.  You know, it's emotional for him.  He's a terrific kid.  He's brought a lot to this hockey team."

---

A somewhat surprising development is the apparent return of right winger Beau Bennett (right) to the lineup in place of struggling left winger Conor Sheary. He skated on a line with center Sidney Crosby and right winger Patric Hornqvist at today's morning skate. Having injured his right shoulder in mid-December, he has not had much playing time the past six months. He's ready to go.

"There's no way to prepare for other than jump in there and play," said Bennett. "If that happens, I just got to get in there as quick as possible, try to make a few plays and get that comfort level back."

"It's been an ongoing process this thing. It's been nagging me since December. It's something with strength and muscle, it will feel better and that just takes time to put on, time to heal. I talked to the trainers and we had long talks about where I was at. I said I wanted to help the team as much as possible if I could down the stretch. And I feel like I've been working hard in practices and enough to feel comfortable to go out there in a game.”

When Bennett was initially injured in December, he was on the first line with Crosby and left winger Chris Kunitz. So the notion of him being a first liner isn't absurd.

"He brings a lot of skill," said Sullivan. "He's a good sized kid.  He's strong on the puck.  He can really shoot it.  But he's a guy that has high end offensive skills.  So if we choose to go that route, that's one more guy that we can use in that capacity. The fact that he's been out for an extended period of time may take him a little bit of time to get his timing.  He'll also be a guy that will play on adrenaline, if and when we put him back in the lineup, because of the nature of playoff hockey.  And usually when players come back into the lineup coming off injuries, they're excited to be back, and they play with a lot of injury and a lot of adrenaline."

---

Center Cedric Paquette was one of a number of Lightning players who drew the ire of of Penguins players in Game 4. Today, he was asked three questions about his role and he used a profanity about making people mad three times:

When the other team is going after you and getting mad at you, is that helpful?

"Every time you get a chance to [tick] them off, like you saw [Letang in Game 4] with [Lightning center Brian Boyle], that's a good thing for us when the star players get mad at us."

When Lightning center Brian Boyle was smiling as he tried to battle Letang and defenseman Brian Dumoulin during the second period of Game 4, does that give the bench a boost?

"Yeah, I think we love to see that. I think the coach approves. Every time you have a chance to [tick] them off like I said, just go ahead and do it. The coach likes that. We all like that on the bench."

Does an important player like Letang draw a lot of focus in that regard?

"Every time you have a chance to hit this guy and just [tick] him off, you should do it. That's why we've done a good job on them."

---

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (right) will miss Game 5 as he recovers from his left leg injury. He suggested if he played a different position, he could play with this injury.

“Being the position we're in, kind of the last line of defense, you don't want to go out there and play when you're not ready," Bishop said. "I think if you're maybe a forward, you'd be okay to go out there and tough through it. But as the last line of defense, you don't want to go out there and do that to your teammates. You've got to wait until you're ready to go and feel like you help your team win.”

“I think most other positions in sports, I think I'd be okay. But obviously goaltender, there's a lot of unique movements that you don't really do in any other sport or any other position. It's obviously tougher to be in this position as a goaltender and have the injury that I have."

---

Boyle played for Sullivan when he was an assistant coach with the Rangers. He had some kind words to say about Sullivan and what he meant to his career.

“He was great to me," Boyle said. "He was the assistant coach so a lot of times you can talk to them a little bit more when you have things on your mind or you're searching for answers as a young player trying to make an impression. He was always there to help me. Tell me what I needed to hear. Not necessarily was it what I wanted to hear. But he made it clear to me he was in my corner and he was trying to make me a better player. He was instrumental in helping me get to where I got to when I was in New York. A lot of those lessons, I try to apply now. He's a big part of that, him and [former Rangers head coach John Tortorella]."

"He's a really good man. He's a good coach."

---

Professional wrestler Shawn Michaels, a.k.a The Hearbreak Kid, is in town for tonight's game. He made a stop at a Primanti Bros. location to tryout the HBK sandwich along with former Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel:

Crosby admitted being a fan.

“Yeah, I was," Crosby said. "I liked Bret 'The Hitman' Hart but I was also a Shawn Michaels fan. That would have been right around the time I was following it. He was in his prime then. It's kind of cool. That kind of stuff kind of develops out of no where. It's fun. I think that line is playing great. It's pretty cool they've been able to set something up there."

(Photos: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images and Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press and Lynne Sladky/Associatd Press)

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About the Lightning - Game 5 - 05-22-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Lightning.

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

TV: NBC Sports, CBC.

Leading postseason scorer: Right winger Nikita Kucherov, 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists).

Last Game: 4-3 home win against the Penguins in Game 4. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves for the Lightning.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (0-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%) for the Penguins. Andrei Vasilevskiy (2-2, 2.58 GAA, .932 SV%) for the Lightning.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right wingers Beau Bennett (right shoulder) and 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 Lightning, goaltender Ben Bishop (left leg) and center Steven Stamkos (blood clot) are out.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: Both teams had an optional morning skate. Consider this a guess at the Penguins' lines and pairings based on today's skate:

19 Beau Bennett - 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

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

-Consider this a guess at the the Lightning's lines and pairings based off Game 4:

18 Ondrej Palat 9 Tyler Johnson (above) - 27 Jonathan Drouin
23 J.T. Brown 51 Valtteri Filppula - 24 Ryan Callahan
17 Alex Killorn - 86 Nikita Kucherov - 90 Vladislav Namestnikov
13 Cedric Paquette - 11 Brian Boyle

77 Victor Hedman - Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison - 62 Andrej Sustr
25 Matt Carle  - 55 Braydon Coburn
29 Slater Koekkoek

Notes:

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

-This too:

-Head coach Mike Sullivan announced Fleury will start.

-Sullivan also announced Daley will miss the rest of the postseason due to a broken ankle.

-Right winger Beau Bennett left the ice well before left winger Conor Sheary after today's morning skate.

-Stamkos said he had no update on his status. Bishop said he is still going to through the process of healing. Both players skated for appxoimately one hour today.

-The referees are (No. 6) Francis Charron and (No. 23) Brad Watson. The stand-by referee is (No. 4) Wes McCauley. The linesmen are (No. 71) Brad Kovachik and (No. 54) Greg Devorski. The stand-by lineseman is (No. 95) Jonny Murray.

(Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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Neshannock's one-of-a-kind one-two punch ...... WPIAL baseball semifinal preview, predictions

Written by Mike White on .

Neshannock's Frank Fraschetti is one of the winningest pitchers in WPIAL history. But Fraschetti has a sidekick - and the two are a combination for the ages.

Near the end of the season, Fraschetti became only the sixth pitcher in WPIAL history to win 30 games. He tacked on a WPIAL playoff win and is now tied for third on the all-time list with 31 wins.

But Neshannock also has fellow senior Rich Serignese, who is a pretty big winner in his own right. A quarterfinal victory gave Serignese 21 wins for his career. Now that's 52 wins between two pitchers. No one knows the WPIAL record for most victories between two pitchers in the same class. But considering that only six pitchers have won 30 games, Fraschetti and Serignese just might be the winningest duo in WPIAL history. Agree? At the very least, they have to be near the top. (Pictured is Fraschetti).

Fraschetti is 31-4 in his career while Serignese is 21-4. That's 52-8, a terrific mark for two pitchers. And they could add more. Neshannock has made it to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and plays tomorrow (Monday) against Shenango. Serignese pitched in the quarterfinals Thursday. So Fraschetti should get the start this time.

Is three days enough?

It will be interesting to see how many teams in tomorrow's semifinals use pitchers that pitched in Thursday's quarterfinals. That would be working on only three days rest.

One of the things that was puzzling about the WPIAL is when the brackets first came out, there was no mention of when the quarterfinals would be played. The WPIAL didn't put anywhere on the brackets or let schools know when the quarterfinals were scheduled. There were so many coaches who were preparing for first-round games wondering when the next round would be played. Things like that affect their pitching decisions.

Just a note to the WPIAL for the future. When the brackets first come out, at least give a tentative date for the quarterfinals.

Previews and predictions

Let's take a look at the WPIAL semifinals and offer some predictions (all games are Monday):

CLASS AAAA

Plum (21-0) vs. Hempfield (16-6) at North Allegheny, 7 p.m. - So, does Plum pitcher Alex Kirilloff come back on only three days rest? He pitched six innings in Thursday's quarterfinal. Kirilloff's status will be key. After all, he is 6-0, his ERA is 0.73 and he has allowed only 11 hits in 38 innings. Wow. No matter who pitches will face a Hempfield team that is in the semifinals for what is believed to be only the second time in school history. Hempfield has never played for a WPIAL title. Plum has played in four championships. Plum hasn't exactly knocked the cover off the ball in the first two playoff games. The Mustangs' hitting and defense will be keys. Winner: Plum.

Canon-McMillan (14-7) vs. Norwin (14-7) at North Allegheny, 4 p.m. - Two teams with identical records. Norwin is trying to make the final for the second consecutive season and will try to knock off a Canon-McMillan team that has won 10 of 11. You would think no way Canon-McMillan would use sophomore Zach Rohaley again at pitcher. The Big Macs have used his arm a lot lately. He pitched into the fifth inning of Monday's first-round game against North Hills (North Hills had him with 100 pitches). Then the Big Macs brought him back with only two days rest and Rohaley pitched all seven innings in a quarterfinal win. If he doesn't pitch, Canon-McMillan might turn to freshman Cam Weston. Canon-McMillan is trying to make it to a championship game for the first time in school history. Old Canonsburg High School won titles in 1935 and '36. Winner: Norwin.

CLASS AAA

Chartiers Valley (14-7) vs. Mars (14-5) at Burkett Complex in Robinson, 4 p.m. - Chartiers Valley hit the skids near the end of the season, losing four in a row. But the Colts have righted themselves to make the final four and will face a team that beat out defending WPIAL champ Knoch for a section championship. Mars hasn't been to the semifinals in 21 years. Neither team has ever won a WPIAL title. Winner: Mars

Knoch (14-6) vs. Blackhawk (17-4) at Burkett Complex in Robinson, 7 p.m. - Knoch was the team that supposedly had all the pitching at the start of the season. But it's Blackhawk's pitching that has been most impressive in the postseason. The Cougars have two shutouts in two WPIAL games. Knoch has allowed only three runs in two playoff games and will most likely throw Alex Stobert, who is 6-1 this season and 13-1 the past two years. Blackhawk is trying to make the title game for the eighth time, and the seventh under coach Bob Amalia (pictured)Winner: Blackhawk

CLASS AA

Neshannock (18-2) vs. Shenango (11-10) at Chippewa Park, 4 p.m. - Ya think baseball was pretty good in Class AA Section 5 this year? Three of the four semifinalists are from Section 5 - Neshannock, Shenango and Riverside. That's pretty impressive. Shenango lost to Neshannock twice this year by scores of 12-6 and 4-2. Shenango is a decided underdog against Neshannock pitcher Fraschetti. Shenango is trying to make the title game for only the third time in school history and the first since 1995. Winner: Neshannock.

Riverside (18-2) vs. Keystone Oaks (13-5) at Burkett Complex, Robinson, 2 p.m. - Can Keystone Oaks' pitching slow down Riverside? The Panthers have scored 10 runs in each of their first two playoff games. Riverside is trying to make a title game for the sixth time under longtime coach Dan Oliastro. Keystone Oaks has never played for a championship. Winner: Riverside.

CLASS A

Greensburg Central Catholic (14-3) vs. Union (13-5) at Upper St. Clair, 3 p.m. - Greensburg Central Catholic is the No. 1 seed and got a first-round buy. But the Centurions needed 10 innings to get by Bishop Canevin, 5-4, in the first round. Greensburg Central had a .399 team batting average in the regular season and Tommy Pellis was the first WPIAL player to hit .700 in the regular season in at least 15 years. But Pellis (pictured) went hitless against Bishop Canevin. It would behoove Union to keep him off the bases also. Union's offense also is pretty good. The Scotties have scored double figures in eight of 18 games this season. Greensburg Central Catholic is the defending champion. Union has never won a title. Winner: Greensburg Central Catholic.

Serra (20-2) vs. Vincentian (16-6) at Upper St. Clair, 6 p.m. - Both of these teams have strong hitters. That means pitching will be the key in this contest. Vincentian has allowed only one run in two playoff games, but Serra's offense is on a different level than Vincentian's first two postseason opponents (Springdale and Sewickley Academy). Serra has scored 18 runs in two playoff games. Serra is trying for its third WPIAL title. The Eagles won two in 2009-10. Vincentian has never made it to the championship game. Winner: Vincentian.

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Empty Netter Assists - Daley's status uncertain - 05-22-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Lightning

-Defenseman Trevor Daley's status after suffering a suspected left leg injury remains uncertain.

-The Penguins have a good history when series are tied 2-2.

-So... Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray?

-"We can't worry too much about what they do with their goalie. It doesn't change anything we do." - Lightning center Alex Killorn on if the Penguins potentially starting Fleury or Murray.

Kelly Cup

Goaltender Brian Foster made 35 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 3-1 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final of the Kelly Cup playoffs. South Carolina leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

-Highlights:

Blues - Sharks

-Forwards Kyle Brodziak and Troy Brouwer each scored two goals for the Blues in a 6-3 defeat of the Sharks in Game 4. Forward Paul Stastny recorded two assists for St. Louis while goaltender Jake Allen made 31 saves in the victory. The series is tied, 2-2.

-Some sharp passing led to a game-opening goal by Brouwer:

-Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made a fantastic save against Blues forward Robby Fabbri but couldn't deny Blues forward Jori Lehtera on the rebound:

-Pass of the Night: Sharks forward Joe Thornton set up captain/forward Joe Pavelski for their team's first goal with a great pass:

-Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon and Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson got into a rare playoff fight:

-A good look at the fight:

-Allen was all over this puck:

-Cool Photo of the Night: Jones taking the ice:

-Happy times for the Sharks. Not so much for Allen:

-Stastny and Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic battled for this puck:

-Brodziak being popular:

-Blues captain/forward David Backes missed the final two periods due to an undisclosed injury.

-"I'm sure [Hitchcock] will tell you he made all kinds of great adjustments and every one of them worked. Hats off to him." - Sharks coach Peter DeBoer on Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Atlantic Division

-The Lightning re-signed pending restricted free agent forwards Tanner Richard and Joel Vermin to one-year two-way contracts.

-The Sabres signed defenseman Brycen Martin, a third-round pick in 2014, to a three-year entry-level contract

IIHF World Championship

-Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot made 30 saves for Canada in a 4-3 win against the United States in the semifinal round.

-Talbot had issues with this puck:

-Canada forward Connor McDavid crashed in on United States goaltender Keith Kinkaid and defenseman Connor Murphy:

-Two goals by Hurricanes forward prospect Sebastien Aho led Finland past Russia, 3-1.

-Finland goaltender Mikko Koskinen kicked away this puck:

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images, Yuri Kadobnov/Getty Images, Minas Panagiotakis/AFP/Getty Images, Christian Petersen/Getty Images and Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

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