Crosby moves up - 12-21-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Sidney Crosby's insurance goal in the third period of Saturday's 3-1 home win against the Panthers was primarily significant because it snapped an slump of eight games without a goal.

Of completely lesser significance was where that goal put Crosby in the context of history.

That was his 805th point and it put him into the top 150 scorers in NHL history:

Place Player, Position Games
146. Peter McNabb, C 954 363-450-813
147. Pit Martin, C 1,101 324-485-809
148. Ken Linseman, C 860 256-551-807
149. Milan Hejduk, RW 1,020 375-430-805
150. Sidney Crosby, C 579 284-521-805
151. Garry Unger, C 1,105 413-391-804
152. Sergei Gonchar, D 1,274 220-582-802
153. Ken Hodge, Sr., RW 881 328-472-800
154. Geoff Courtnall, LW 1,048 367-432-799
155. Alex Tanguay, LW 968 264-531-795

Numbers are through Saturday's games.

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Lake Como hike reveals the true Italy

Written by Doug Oster on .


blog italy throw Silvia Givera winds up, underhand, to throw a tennis ball to her dog, Diego, are on the banks of Lake Como in Lenno, Italy.Photos by Doug Oster

By Doug Oster / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

LENNO, Italy — Silvia Givera is standing on the picturesque bank of Lake Como. She winds up, underhand, to throw a tennis ball to her dog Diego. The dog stands transfixed until the ball sails far out into the lake, and then he happily swims after it. He brings it back but is reluctant to return it to Ms. Givera. Eventually she gets the ball and the two walk back to Bar IL Golfo in town. She helps run this place, which serves traditional Italian fare. The view of the lake is stunning from the restaurant, and it’s hard to fathom spending every day surrounded by such beauty.
I had just stepped off a water taxi after visiting the amazing topiary gardens of Villa Balbianello and walked past Bar IL on my way to meet my family, in Italy on a parallel trip. While I took 32 people through the gardens of Venice, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, my family used Como as its base to explore Switzerland, the towns around the lake and, most important, connect with relatives near the Austrian border.
When we met in Lenno, my family had already walked more than two miles from the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on the Greenway del lago di Como (Lake Como Greenway). It’s a 10 kilometer trail, a little more than six miles, that winds through neighborhoods and small towns from Cadenabbia south to Colonno in this part of northern Italy.
Of all the remarkable things I saw on my 10-day trip in September, this was one of my most treasured memories. People always say to get off the beaten path while visiting Italy, and it paid off for us in every way.
The greenway is well marked with metal emblems embedded into the trail and bright blue and yellow signs above. We had a few missteps and wrong turns but always found our way on the trail.
We started our walk by a couple of small restaurants and behind industrial businesses. Our first surprise was a rocky slope filled with pink begonias cascading down a rock wall. The second was the sight of a beautiful maid working inside a home. Once we tore our son away, we were back on our hike.

blog italy boatThis picturesque scene of Lake Como was towards the start of our journey.
Before long, we stumbled onto a little lakeside boat launch several yards off the trail. The lake was calm, and we stood there for a few minutes to soak in another sweet view of the water and surrounding hills.
We continued through narrow cobblestone pathways flanked by stone walls punctuated by open shutters and window boxes filled with geraniums, ferns and other plants.
As we rounded a corner in Ossuccio we were struck by an odd looking home, filled with art and a sign saying “free entrance.” I wasn’t sure about going in, but my son led the way.
As we opened the door, Felippo Salice sat watching television. He rose and greeted us with a great smile. His home was filled with a cornucopia of odd treasures for sale. He didn’t speak English, but my wife, Cindy, is pretty good with Italian, and they were able to communicate. The walls were filled with photos of him as a young man, with other family members and even walking in a church processional.
After we talked for a while, Mr. Salice opened another door, which led to even more interesting items. My wife bought an old crucifix from 1950, and I purchased a crazy-looking little bronze face, which might have been at the front of someone’s home. As we bid Mr. Salice goodbye; we felt we had experienced something interesting and special.

blog italy filipeFelippo Salice welcomed us into his home. He was selling things he had collected for many years.
Back outside
We crossed a street and eventually came upon the faded frescos of San Giacomo, a church that dates to at least the 11th century. As we looked around the outside we were treated to another spectacular view of the lake. Standing on a narrow, overhanging walkway we could see big fish swimming at the bottom through the crystal clear water.
The trail ascended and as we climbed we passed an abandoned estate, where we briefly had an “Under the Tuscan Sun” moment. We thought better, though, of following in the Frances Mayes character’s footsteps and renovating an old villa. We took a breather at a small, cool waterfall that meandered. There were warm greenish purple figs hanging from trees for tasty snacks.
As we reached the summit and began to descend, we were greeted with a hard-to-beat view of the bell tower of Chiesa di Sant’Andrea in Sala Comacina.

blog italy towerA stunning view of the bell tower of Chiesa di Sant’Andrea in Sala Comacina.
I always recall George Clooney’s comments about Lake Como and why he chose to live here. One day he watched as workmen headed for home singing, each with a lunch pail and bottle of wine in hand. As we approached two men pouring concrete one whistled a tune as he worked on a modest trail-side home.
At the bottom, we were desperate for a bathroom break. Two Australians and their Italian friend pointed us toward the ferry home and also a bathroom.
We had to hike back to Sala Comacina for both, which was about a 20-minute walk. “It’s not safe,” I yelled to the family as I looked at the narrow berm and tiny, speeding Italian cars flying by. “This is how they do it,” my wife screamed and off we went, stopping to peer around curves, running to the next safe spot. We found what we needed at Enoteca Wine Bar.
A bit of serendipity
AlessandraAlessandra Carminati saved the day for my family. I enjoyed our 45 mintes together.Alessandra Carminati was preparing the bar for patrons and was happy to allow us in for a bathroom break and point my wife in the direction of the ferry stop.
The printed ferry schedule at the dock confounded us. Two women sitting nearby tried to help. They didn’t speak English, but my wife was able to ascertain that there was no ferry going north to Tremezzo where they were staying and only one more going south to my hotel in Moltrasio.
They learned of a bus headed north, and we parted ways. Since I had 1½ hours to kill before my ferry, I headed back to the Enoteca bar, where Ms. Carminati poured me a large beer and made me a nice plate of meat and cheese.
As we talked, she told me of her love of Italy. How she lived out of the country for a time but longed to return home. She wondered what I thought of Italy, and when I told her of my unending love for the country she flashed a sweet smile and opened up, telling me where all the food on my plate came from.
“The cow cheese is from up there,” she gestured toward a steep hill. Each bite was better than the last, and as she poured me another beer, one of her friends stuck in traffic yelled and waved to her through the open front door. “Alessandra,” he screamed, which made her smile again. Her grandmother came in to sit for a bit and then her grandfather, who runs the nearby Grand Hotel Victoria. Another friend came in for a small beer and some cheese.
The two of us talked for 45 minutes — about tourists, food and her long journey on a bike to and from work each day. Despite our brief time together, we connected in the way that’s hard to explain. In another life, we’d be friends. It’s one of the beautiful things about traveling, stumbling upon a person and place like this.
“Will I see you again, maybe next year?” she asked. I didn’t have the heart to tell her we’d probably never meet again.
As the ferry slowly crossed the lake, I thought of Ms. Carminati and how her kindness had saved us that day. I couldn’t get her sweet smile out of my head. It embodied what Italy is all about.


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Empty Netter Assists - 12-21-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. “When your goalie’s bringing that sense of calm, it allows guys to be patient, not force things.” - Sidney Crosby on Marc-Andre Fleury.

-The Miami Herald's recap. “They’re a good team, but if we play like that every night, we’re going to win more than we lose. I’m really happy with our group. We did a lot of real good things.” - Panthers coach Gerard Gallant.

-The (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Sun Sentinel's recap. "It was fun. I was really excited to score a goal back home.'' - Panthers forward Vince Trocheck, a native of Upper St. Clair on scoring his third goal of the season.

-The Associated Press' recap. "It's incredible ... something you dream about. First NHL game, first goal ... it's very exciting." - Derrick Pouliot on scoring his first career goal in his first career game.


-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Kris Letang versus Florida's Willie Mitchell:

-Steve Downie versus Florida's Erik Gudbranson:

-Downie was more mellow here:

-Pouliot was pumped:

-Florida's Roberto Luongo was focused:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-Fleury speaks:

-With Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Martin placed on injured reserve due to undisclosed injuries, the Penguins recalled Pouliot and fellow defenseman Taylor Chorney from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-"It's always been my favorite rink to play. Even my first time I got here with Carolina I had four points, so it's been a good rink for me. Being here for a year-and-a-half was probably the best time of my career, so it's fun to be back.'' - Panthers forward and former Penguin Jussi Jokinen on Consol Energy Center.

-"There's different pressure, more expectations here. I'm sure it's different in Florida this year. They're playing pretty good, a good record and doing well in tight games." - Marcel Goc on the differences between the Penguins and his former team, the Panthers.

-How has Kasperi Kapanen been doing?

-Jeff Zatkoff made 35 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 3-0 shutout of the Binghamton Senators. Alex Boak netted a goal and an assist for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.


-Reid McNeill and Barry Goers are all of a sudden the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' top defensive pair.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins recalled defenseman Paul Cianfrini from the Wheeling Nailers and assigned goaltender Eric Hartzell to Wheeling.

-Franky Palazzese made 19 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-3 loss to the Greenville Road Warriors.

-Happy 33rd birthday to former Penguins forward Shane Endicott. A second round pick in 2000, "Endo" spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2001-02, Endicott appeared in four games and recorded one assist. After spending the next three seasons with the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Endicott appeared in 41 games at the NHL level in 2005-06 and recorded two points. In the 2006 offseason, he joined the Predators as a free agent. In 45 games with the Penguins, Endicott scored three points. He currently runs his own hockey skills training service in Saskatchewan.

-After the Jump: Alex Ovechkin scores a stunner of a goal.

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Final Hobbit easily wins box office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


“The Hobbit” easily won the battle of the box office, grossing more than $90 million in North America since its Wednesday release. 
Its Friday through Sunday estimated take easily put it ahead of the third “Night at the Museum” comedy. 
Here are the early figures courtesy of Rentrak: 
1. “The Hobbit:  The Battle of the Five Armies” — $56,220,000, bringing its total since Wednesday to $90,627,210.
2. “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” — $17,300,000.
3. “Annie” — $16,300,000.
4. “Exodus: Gods and Kings” — $8,065,000, or $38,901,511 to date. 
5. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1” — $7,750,000, for $289,226,689 so far. 
6. “Wild” — $4,150,000, for $7,210,737 after coming out of very limited release.
7. “Top Five” — $3,570,000, or $12,455,797.
8. “Big Hero 6” — $3,563,000, nudging its total to $190,441,423.
9. “Penguins of Madagascar” — $3,525,000, for $64,172,461 to date. 
10. “P.K.” (a Bollywood comedy in Hindi) — $3,461,068.


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Panthers at Penguins - 12-20-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Aside from a little fray known as the 1996 Eastern Conference Final, the Penguins and Panthers don't have much of a history as rivals. They've mostly played an endless of string of ho-hum meaningless regular season games with little impact on anything of consequence in the 20-plus years the Panthers have been in existence.

-That was not the case tonight as the Panthers and Penguins butted heads repeatedly in a contest which saw a combined 76 penalty minutes and 60 minutes of pretty entertaining hockey which resulted in the Penguins escaping with a 3-1 win at Consol Energy Center.

-First, all the penalties. It started innocently enough when Scott Harrington was given two minutes for high sticking Aleksander Barkov at 7:15 of the first but from that point on, there was a pretty steady march to each penalty box. Anytime the Penguins dared venture towards the Panthers net, the Panthers took exception and made sure the Penguins knew it. Any perceived trespass of goaltender Roberto Luongo's personal space was met with plenty of shoves, punches and even in one instance, use of a helmet as a weapon. We can't recall the Panthers ever putting up this much fight to crease crashers, at least during Penguins games.

-Look at all these penalties:

-Willie Mitchell and Kris Letang drew fighting majors during a crease crash by the Penguins which resulted in Mitchell ripping Letang's helmet off and swinging it back at Letang. It appeared to strike Letang and/or a linesman who was trying to break up the fight. No word if the NHL will consider supplemental discipline.

-After that, Steve Downie could be seen screaming at the Panthers bench using a series of words which rhyme with "puck." Following a double high-sticking minor by Erik Gudbranson against Sidney Crosby, Downie challenged Gudbranson to a fight at center ice. Gudbranson may have won the fight on points - he landed a few overhanded punches - but Downie won the hearts of the crowd at Consol Energy Center when he ended the fight by tackling Gudbranson to the ice. The linesmen tried to break them up while they rolled on the ice but Downie kept going after Gudbranson and eventually created a sandwich with linesman Derek Amell serving as the meat. Downie was escorted to the dressing room while mocked Gudbranson's high advantage (6-foot-5 to Downie's 5-foot-11) and then pointed at the Panthers bench again. And on Dec. 20, 2014, Pittsburgh Penguins fans chanted "Down-EEE! Down-EEE!" to their one-time nemesis."

-Considering he used to be greeted with "Downie Soft" signs from the F balcony at the Civic Arena, it's safe to say Downie's popularity in this city has changed.

-If you didn't see Downie's ... interaction ... with Gudbranson, here you go:

-Downie ended up getting 17 minutes in penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct for trying to fight Gudbranson after their altercation was essentially over. He now has 135 penalty minutes which is tied with Richard Zemlak for the 75th highest single-season total in franchise history. It took Zemlak 31 games in 1989-90 to accomplish that feat. Downie needed 32. What a slacker.

-Downie is only 43 penalty minutes from breaking into the top 100 career totals in franchise history. With five games before Jan. 1, he could do it before the New Year.

-Getting to actual hockey, the Penguins got some big contributions from a re-tooled third line of Downie, Marcel Goc and Nick Spaling. Spaling scored the first goal off a crazy knuckle puck which glances off the stick of Gudbranson then the glove of Roberto Luongo and then the right post. It was a bit fluky but Spaling will take it. Downie and Goc got assists.

-For Goc, it was only his third point of the season. He obviously hasn't produced much offense this season but he's been playing with the likes of Craig Adams and Zach Sill must of the year. Playing with Spaling and Downie is like playing with Richard and Bossy by comparison.

-With so many injuries and illnesses ravaging the lineup as of late, Spaling had been pressed into a top-six role for much of the past month or so. While he was hardly a liability, he wasn't exactly a great asset in that role. Tonight, he seemed a lot more comfortable on the third line. He had two assists and a nice offensive zone steal in the third period which created a nice scoring chance in tight.

-Mike Johnston agreed Spaling is probably a better fit for the third line:

"[Spaling] is the type of player that is really good defensively. He's a guy that's is a complimentary guy anywhere he plays. So, when he's playing the top two lines, he's a responsible forward that can chip in. When he's playing in a checking role, you know that he's safe and solid and he kills penalties. So, can he play up top? Sure. He's done it in the last few weeks but he probably is more of a player that is suited for a typical checking-type line."

-Derrick Pouliot looked really good in his first NHL game. He was pretty smooth. There were a few mistakes such as a turnover here or there but that is kind of the complete package with him. He's a gambler much like Kris Letang. Considering it was his first career game, he looked pretty confident and in control most of the night. And the shot he scored on was an absolute later past the glove hand of a pretty good goaltender.

-Courtesy of Penguins broadcaster, Pouliot became the seventh player in franchise history to score a goal in his first career shot. The list is as exclusive as it is varied:


Player, position Date Opponent Result
Marc Chorney, D March 17, 1981 Canucks Loss, 4-3
Steve Gatzos, RW Feb. 3, 1982 North Stars Loss, 9-6
Mario Lemieux, C Oct. 11, 1984 Bruins Loss, 4-3
Rob Brown, RW Oct. 21, 1987 Devils Loss, 5-4
Aleksey Morozov, RW Oct. 1, 1997 Kings Tie, 3-3
Brian Gibbons, RW Nov. 18, 2013 Ducks Win, 3-1
Derrick Pouliot, D Dec. 20, 2014 Panthers Win, 3-1

-Brown actually scored on his first two career shots.

-Pouliot was paired primarily with Rob Scuderi and they seemed fairly comfortable with one another. Pouliot had 15:07 of ice time on 21 shifts. He also had 2:29 of ice time on the power play. He had one goal on two shots and blocked one shot.

-The Penguins had four young defenseman in the lineup in Pouliot, Simon Despres, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin. They responded well under pressure from a Panthers team which played a pretty aggressive game and dominated the puck for quite a bit of time tonight.

-That's where Marc-Andre Fleury came in. He stole quite a few goals tonight and with the Penguins nursing a 2-1 lead at the start of the third period, he rejected several quality chances as his teammates were struggling to keep up. Fleury was arguably the Penguins' best player once again tonight.

-Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in eight games tonight and celebrated like he was shouting at Odin in Asgard. He looked very relieved.

-Crosby got slashed on the hand a few times by pest-like center Dave Bolland and even left the game for a stretch of the first period. He came back with tape wrapped around his right hand. He seemed to try to cover it up with a towel while talking with media in the postgame but it was visible when he declined to shake hands with Lemieux citing his hand. There was no word on the status of his hand.

-Bobby Farnham managed to avoid the penalty box and even drew two penalties tonight, an interference minor from Brian Campbell and a cross check from Bolland. Farnham keeps finding way to contribute.

-Chris Kunitz looked okay in his return. Nothing spectacular. He didn't hesitate to go to the net at all. He had 19:18 of ice time on 21 shifts, one shot and two penalty minutes.

-The Panthers were pretty impressive. They just couldn't finish much against a hot goaltender. They'll be trouble Monday when these teams meet in Florida.

-This was our first chance to see Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick in this year's draft, in person. He was legit. He looked very confident for a first-year player at a position which usually isn't as easy to learn at the NHL level as forward. In the third period, Evgeni Malkin had a two-on-one with Patric Hornqvist against Ekblad. Ekblad read Malkin's pass and broke it up a little bit with the blade of his stick. That forced Hornqvist to fire a poor shot which Luongo stopped easily.

-Upper St. Clair's Vince Trocheck played his first professional game in Pittsburgh and looked pretty good. He had a ton of friends and family in the building tonight - 60 to 80 by his estimate - and they didn't have to look hard to notice him. He scored his team's only goal on a beauty of a tip-in.

-Luongo was pretty solid. None of three goals he allowed were softies. The first one was a fluky triple deflection. The second was a perfect shot and the other was a tap in by the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner. Luongo had nothing to be ashamed of tonight.

-The Panthers led in shots on net, 46-34.

-The Panthers dominated attempted shots, 80-54.

-Crosby led the game with seven shots.

-Trocheck led the Panthers with six shots.

-Despite serving a fighting major, Kris Letang led the game with 26:30 of ice time.

-Brian Campbell led the Panthers with 23:56.

-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 41-38 (52 percent).

-Goc was 11 for 17 (65 percent).

-Bolland was 11 for 16 (69 percent).

-Scuderi led the game with five blocked shots.

-Nick Bjugstad led the Panthers with three blocked shots.

-Crosby's goal made him the 150th all-time scorer in NHL history.

-Craig Adams was scratched from the lineup due to what the team claimed as an undisclosed injury. It snapped his consecutive game streak at 319. The last time the Penguins didn't have Adams in the lineup was a 5-1 road wina against the Flyers, Oct. 16, 2010. The lineup from that game:

-The Andrew Hutchinson era was intense.

-Speaking of intense, a few photos. The ice:

-Here's an artsy photo of a chipped-up goal post:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Brent Johnson had a fan on hand:

-This might be the first Nick Spaling jersey we've seen:

-It was a good night for No. 12. Ryan Malone:



-And Bob Errey:


-Lemieux had fans in Pittsburgh and Laval form:

-These Lemieux and Zarley Zalapski fans just need to meet up with a Randy Cunneyworth fan and they'll be set:

-Paul Coffey:

-We're not sure if the lettering here is accurate, but a Craig Simpson fan is always welcome:

-Jerseys of the Night: This was the only Panthers jersey we saw all night, but there were a lot of people wearing it. Vince Trocheck:


-Game summary.

-Event summary.



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