Penguins at Predators - 03-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-It's trade deadline eve. We tend to stay away from all the speculation and rumors on this subject. It gets nauseating in trying to keep track of every little connection between Player A and Team B. We will have a full-blown chat for tomorrow but we'll indulge in trade talk a tad tonight.

-There has been a lot of talk about the Penguins and Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. With the Canucks moving goaltender Roberto Luongo today, it certainly seems like the Canucks are in a fire sale. Kesler controls his fate with a no-trade clause so if he were traded to the Penguins, he would need to approve it.

-We're not sure Kesler would benefit the Penguins that much. Presumably, he would replace Brandon Sutter on the third line as center and that would be a considerable upgrade but the wingers on that potential line would still be substandard. Ryan Kesler is much better than Brandon Sutter. But is Taylor Pyatt-Brandon Sutter-Joe Vitale all that much better than Taylor Pyatt-Brandon Sutter-Joe Vitale?

-The idea of bringing back a "three-center model" is nice. It certainly worked for the Penguins when Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were those three centers. But the key to that model's success was the third line center having sufficient wingers. A large part of Staal's success was his chemistry with Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Jarkko Ruutu.

-Sutter has certainly been underwhelming his his two seasons here. He definitely has another level or two he could hit but expectations of him must be tempered give the revolving door of substandard wingers he has been paired with this season. One could argue  his best line this season came with Andrew Ebbett and Chris Conner, two AHL/NHL "tweeners," this season.

-Plan A for Sutter this season was Matt D'Agostini for heaven's sake. He's on plan L at this point.

-That's why we think the Penguins' biggest target should be bottom six wingers. They have a hole on the first line's right wing and on the blue line. But Paul Martin (and perhaps Kris Letang) will return at some point on defense. Additionally, Beau Bennett will be back at some point. Finally, Brian Gibbons has done his job as a fill-in on Crosby's right wing a higher level than Pyatt, Conner, Vitale or D'Agostini have on the third line wings. With the exception of Jayson Megna or Harry Zolnierczyk, there arent' any other internal options for those roles.

-That said, if he can upgrade those positions as well, Ray Shero should pursue it in any reasonable fashion.

-Make no mistake, the only standard for this team with Crosby and Malkin is the Stanley Cup. Anything short of that is failure. But don't dismiss the horrible timing of what has happened this season. The ONE year the salary cap has come down since it was insituted, the Penguins have lost their most talented defenseman - Kris Letang - to a stroke and a high-end backup goaltender - Tomas Vokoun - to blood clots. Add Those ailments and the implications they have on the salary cap and the fact that it decreased this season, that's a tough spot for  Shero to operate in.

-Yadda, yadda about "excuses." That's just rotten luck.

-Long time EN reader Bernardo Mainou is in Nashville:

-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Brian Gibbons, Chris Kunitz, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Kris Letang and Paul Martin.

-The Predators' starters are Gabriel Bourque, David Legwand, Craig Smith, Roman Josi, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne.

-Their scratches are Victor Bartley, Rich Clune and Devan Dubnyk.


19:40: Off a turnover by Scuderi from behind his own net, Weber snaps a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.

19:25: Jussi Jokinen whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Rinne fights it off and smother the rebound.

18:17: A backhander by Eric Nystrom from the slot is kicked out by Fleury.

17:28: Rinne, playing his first game since Octiber, seems just fine. Crosby races up the right wing on a two-on-one with Kunitz against Weber. As Weber slides down, Crosby is able to tuck a backhanded pass around him to Kunitz coming in off the left wing. Kunitz jabs a shot on net and Rinne appears to be able to kick it out with his right skate. Wow!

16:52: Roman Josi blasts a slapper from the right point. FLeury boots it out.

15:57: Niskanen and Scuderi are teamed up while Orpik and Maatta are a pair.

15:36: Mike Fisher booms a slapper from the right wing. Fleury eats it up.

15:17: Orpik chops a slapper from the right half wall. Rinne eats it up.

12:53: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Neal has a chance in the slot but loses the puck on a poke check by Ryan Ellis.

11:59: A wrister by Crosby from above the left circle is deflected out of play by Josi.

10:11: The Penguins go to the power play as Simon Moser is called for slashing Malkin. That appeared to be a weak penalty. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Neal and Niskanen take the ice.

8:25: Off a cross-ice pass by Crosby, Malkin sweeps a one-timer from the right circle wide of the cage and off the end boards. The puck kicks out and is smothered by Rinne.

8:11: The Moser minor expires. Not much there for the Penguins.

7:57: Maatta rips a wrister from the right circle. Rinne fights it off.

6:55: A wrister by Niskanen from the right point is kicked out by Rinne.

6:00: Taking a pass at the blue line, Smith lifts a wrister from above the right circle over a diving Robert Bortuzzo. Fleury is late to react to the puck and it clanks off the cross bar and out.

5:54: Taking a pass in the right circle, Weber booms a big one-timer which Neal blocks. Ouch.

5:48: The rebound kicks back up ice and springs Kunitz on a rush up the left wing. He cranks a one-timer which Rinne eats up.

3:14: The Predators strike first. Nick Spaling rips a wrister from the right circle but has it blocked by Maatta's stick. It hits off the end boards. Spaling beats Maatta to the rebound and chops it on net. Fleury hugs the right post and fights off the puck with his chest. Gaustad crashes in on net by Chuck Kobasew and directs the puck through Fleury's five hole with the inside of his right skate. Gaustad crashes into Fleury as the puck hits the back of the cage. Officials rule a goal initially but consult a video review. After a lengthy delay, officials award the goal to Gaustad. There doesn't seem to be much on the video which would overturn the call but officials rule that it was kicked in. Wow. No goal.

2:27: Battling for a puck with Malkin, Del Zotto is crunched from behind into the left wing corner boards of the Nashville zone. Oof. Not a smart play by Neal, He even sort of threw his left arm. He heads to the penalty box. That's not the first time those two were involved on a dangerous hit:

-Neal gets a boarding minor. Del Zotto returns to the bench. Sutter, Craig Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.

1:35: After handing his stick to Orpik, Glass lays down to block a Weber slapper in the right circle. Oof.

1:24: Another slapper by Weber from thi gh slot is blocked by Glass again. Dang.

1:08: Orpik blocks a slapper by Josi in the right circle. Adams clears the rebound.

0:37: Bortuzzo stands up Colin Wilson with a stiff check at the Penguins blue line.

0:27: The Neal minor expires.

0:23: As play moves back up ice, Bortuzzo and Wilson are engaged in a fight. It's a pretty fierce but hardly spectacular fight. They mostly wrestle around and land a few punches in tight. Someone is cut but its not clear as there is blood on Wilson's visor. They fall to the ice. Bortuzzo heads to the bench in a huff. His helmet actually slipped down into his jersey. he pulls it out and slam it on the ice before heading back to the dressing room. Yeesh.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 0, Predators 0.


-The Penguins had a few solid offensive chances but not surprisingly, the were limited to the first two lines. That was another flat effort, on offense at least, by the bottom two lines.

-The first two defensive pairings have been switched around. Maatta is with Orpik while Scuderi is with Niskanen. Niskanen-Scuderi was used to some success this season when Letang missed the start of the campaign due to his knee injury. Maatta-Orpik is a relatively new development.

-We're not crazy about breaking up Niskanen-Maatta but the Penguins needed spread the wealth a bit with Martin and Letang injured.

-Tanner Glass is one person who wants to keep his job on the bottom six.

-The Penguins have an 8-7 lead in shots on net.

-The Predators have an 18-16 lead in attempted shots.

-Kunitz leads the game with three shots.

-None of the Predators has more than one shot.

-Weber leads the game with 9:01 ice time.

-Orpik leads the Penguins with 8:19.

-The Predators control faceoffs, 14-9 (61 pecent).

-Legwand is 5 for 6 (83 percent).

-Malkin is 3 for 7 (43 percent).

-Glass leads the game with three blocked shots.

-None of the Predators has more than one blocked shot.


19:33: Matt Niskanen to the rescue. Crosby picks up a loose puck in the left wing corner, skate sbheind hte net, fends off Legwand and deals a little pass to Niskanen. Niskanen sneaks down to the dot and cranks a one-timer behind Rinne. What an effort by Crosby. He gets an assist along with Gibbons. Penguins 1-0.

19:21: The Predators get one back immediately. Fisher whacks a one-timer from the right point. It rattles around after hitting a body or two. Neither Orpik nor Maatta can get a stick on the puck. Patric Hornqvist is able to sweep the rebound behind a sprawling Fleury. Spaling and Fisher get assists. Penguins 1, Predators 1.

19:12: Malkin pushes the puck up the left wing and lifts a wrister. Rinne snags it.

18:27: Simon Despres chucks a wrister from the right point. It hits a stick and deflects on net. Rinne fights it off.

17:21: Seth Jones rips a wrister from the right point wide of the cage.

17:01: Off a little feed by Gibbons, Kunitz booms a one-timer from the slot wide of the cage.

15:34: Despres grabs Spaling behind the Penguins net. That's two minutes for holding. That's his third minor in two games. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.

15:02: Racing up the right wing, Weber cranks a slapper wide to the far side.

14:26: A wrister by Legwand from above the right circle is wide to the near side.

13:57: A one-time by Jones from above the right circle hits something and deflects wide.

13:41: Ellis chucks a wrister from center point. Fleury steers it away.

13:34: Despres' minor is killed with minimal threat from the Predators.

12:21: A wrister by Despres from the right point is blocked.

11:54: So close. Off turnover by Weber in his own zone, Neal deals a little feet do Malkin rips a wrister from the slot off the right post. Malkin hunches over in frustration.

11:46: A slapper by Victor Stalberg from above the right circle is deflected out of play.

11:36: Root Sports drops an Eddie Shack reference:

10:44: The Penguins get another power play and once again, Gibbons draws it. He's interfered by Del Zotto. That's the fifth penalty Gibbons has drawn in three games. Malkin, Neal, Crosby, Kunitz and Niskanen take the ice.

10:27: Short-handed, Malkin pushes the puck up the right wing one-on-one against Malkin who is playing defense. Malkin stands his ground ans trips the puck.

9:56: Kunitz chops a puck from the slot. Rinne gets a piece of it with his right leg.

9:32: Niskanen whacks a one-timer from the high slot. Gaustad blocks it and dives to poke the rebound out of the zone.

9:21: Off a cross-ice pass, Malkin leans down and puts a one-timer off the near post.

9:05:  Malkin tosses a pass to the slot. Kunitz taps it on net. Rinne fights it off.

8:49: The Penguins are nabbed for too many men on the ice. Jokinen will serve the minor.

8:44: Del Zotto's minor expires and Nashville gets a power play.

8:35: Smith sweeps a one-timer from the right circle off the near post.

7:42: Jones slams Orpik to the ice with a reverse hit in the left wing corner.

7:09: Weber booms a one-timer from the center point. Fleury gets a piece of it despite traffic.

6:43: Gibbons clears the puck down ice as time expires. He ends up icing the puck.

5:58: Jokinen is skating with Crosby and Kunitz. According to Root Sports' Bob Errey, Gibbons went to the dressing room.

4:59: A wrister by Spaling from the right circle is kicked out by Fleury.

4:11: Nystrom jabs a wrister from the high slot wide to the right of the cage.

3:19: A backhander by Bortuzzo from the left point is blocked by Weber.

3:13: A wrister by Smith from the slot is blocked by Bortuzzo.

0:01: After a few stagnant minutes, Malkin whips a wrister wide of the cage from the left circle.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Predators 1.


-Things really bogged down that period after a fast start. Each team buttoned things down and made it tough for each other offensively.

-Brian Gibbons had solid twenty minutes with a secondary assist and a drawn penalty.

-Neither team's power play has been all that sharp.

-The Penguins have a 12-11 lead in shots on net.

-The Predators have a 32-30 lead in attempted shots.

-Weber leads the game with 18:48 of ice time.


-Orpik leads the Penguins with 15:46.

-The Predators have a 24-22 lead in faceoffs (52 percent).

-Crosby is 9 for 16 (56 percent).

-Legwand is 6 for 10 (60 percent).

-Glass leads the game with three blocked shots.

-Bourque and Weber each lead the Predators with two blocked shots.


17:28: Pushing the puck around the offensive zone on a nice individual effort, Cullen rips a wrister from the right circle, Fleury kicks it out with his right leg. Gaustad jumps on the rebound but can't beat Fleury.

16:15: With Chuck Kobasew getting a shift on the top line, Kunitz whacks a one-timer from the right wing. Rinne steers it away.

15:04: Jones pushes the puck up the right wing and has a wrister blocked out of play by Despres.

13:13: Kunitz pushes the puck up the right wing and flings a backhander wide of the cage. Play is blown dead. Legwand is called for Kunitz. Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Niskanen take the ice.

12:32: Niskanen fumbles a puck at the left point of the attacking zone. It skids down ice to the penguins' zone. FLeury races out of the net and pokes it away from an on-rushing Gaustad. They collide a bit and take a tumble. Fleury is able to recover and play th epuck away from Nystrom. That allows the Penguins to play it back up ice. Eventually, Malkin taps a feed from the right half wall to Niskanen above the left circle. Niskanen tees up a one-timer which blows by Rinne and hits twine. The Penguins celebrate and Niskanen points at Fleury back down ice. Fleury has a you-know-what-eating grin on his face and waves back. What a crazy sequence. Malkin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 2-1.

11:58: Off a feed by Taylor Pyatt, Jokinen whacks a one-timer from deep on the right wing wide to the near side.

10:49: Kunitz is out with Vitale and GIbbons.

9:39: Moser chops a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury kicks it out. Niskanen is called for holding Gaustad in front of the net. Sutter, Scuderi, Orpik and Adams take the ice.

9:29: Josi booms a slapper from the right point wide to the far side.

9:12: A wrister by Legwand from the right circle is kicked out.

9:09: Battling for the rebound, Orpik drops Legwand hard in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Orpik might have gotten away with that one.

8:42: The great Joe Vitale chips and chases a puck up the right wing and is cross checked to the boards by Legwand. That's two minutes for interference. We'll have four-on-four play for 1:02.

7:39: The Niskanen minor is killed. The Penguins will have a five-on-four power play for 58 seconds.

7:12: Neal tries to jam in a backhander from the left of the cage. RInne holds it out.

6:42: Legwand's minor is killed. Back to five-on-five. The Penguins didn't really do much with that brief power play.

5:52: Off a feed from Jones, Del Zotto booms a slapper from he left point wide of the cage.

5:15: Sutter lifts a wrister from the left circle over the cage.

4:48: A slapper by Ellis from the right point is blocked by a diving Glass.

4:18: Ellis has another slapper from the right point blocked by Glass' skate.

4:11: Neal muscles the puck up the right wing and punches a wrister wide.

3:17: Off a drop pass by Moser. Weber cranks a one-timer from the right circle off the far post. Yeesh.

2:55: Game. Set. Match. Settling a puck in the left circle, Crosby slides an easy pass to Kunitz in the slot by the glove hand of Weber. What a powerful shot. Crosby gets the only assist. Afterwards, Weber has a few too many words with officials and is given and unsportsmanlike conduct minor and a 10-minute misconduct. Not sure what he did exactly. Wilson will serve the minor. The Penguins get a power play. Neal, Maatta, Malkin, Niskanen and Crosby take the ice. Penguins 3-1.

2:05: A considerable "Let's Go Pens!" chant echos around Bridgestone Arena.

0:35: Rinne is pulled for an extra attacker.

0:20: Ooof. Crosby coasts up the right wing and centers a pass to Glass who has a wide open net but ends up hitting both posts with the puck. How did he manage that?

0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Predators 1.


-Getting a win in general was good. Getting the game's first goal for the first time in seven contest was even better. But the best part of this 3-1 win tonight was how it was earned. This was a playoff-style game which featured some strong defense by both teams. The Penguins just waited this out until opportunities presented themselves and took this game.

-Yes, the Predators don't have an overly dynamic offese and the Penguins got luck with a few shots off the post by Nashville shooters, but this was an impressive defensive effort by the Penguins have been reeling in the absences of Paul Martin and Kris Letang.

-Matt Niskanen steeped  up in their absence. He came though with two impressive goals including his sixth game-winner of the season. Where would this team be this season without Niskanen?

-Tanner Glass is certainly aware of what may happen tomorrow at the trade deadline and his play displayed that. He put his body though quite a bit tonight blocking shots from some of the best point shots in the NHL in Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Tanner Glass wants to stay on this team.

-Once again, this game turned into a special teams battle. There were nine total power plays. In the Penguins' three games since the Olympic break, there have a total of 27 power plays (9.0 per game). In their 58 pre-Olympics games, there 366 power plays (6.3 per game). Again, we wonder if the NHL has issued an edict to officials to call more penalties.

-The Penguins mixed and matched their lines and defensive pairings a fair amount tonight for varioius reasons. We're not sure if it really accomplished much. That said, it seemed like Rob Scuderi benefitted a bit by playing with Niskanen once again.

-We're still on board with Brian Gibbons being on the top line. He had a few little plays which helped the Penguins create a few offensive chances and he even drew a penalty which led to a power play. That's the fifth penalty he has drawn in three games.

-Evgeni Malkin was snakebit tonight. He hit a few posts. He had a pretty solid game in terms of creating offensive chances.

-Once again, the bottom six forwards didn't offer much in terms offense. We did like the efforts of Brandon Sutter, Craig Adams, the great Joe Vitale and Glass on the penalty kill however.

-Chuck Kobasew, a day removed from being put on waivers, got a handful of shifts with Crosby and Chris Kunitz and looked like he was shot out of a torpedo tube. He certainly appeared motivated.

-Simon Despres did not help his case with the coaching staff by taking another penalty. His ice time was evident of that. He had a respectable amount of shifts at 21 but he was limited to an average of 35 seconds per shift.

-For a guy who has been sidelined for several months, Pekka Rinne looked pretty good. He stole a few goals and did more than enough to help his team win.

-Shots on net were even, 19-19.

-Nashville has a 43-41 edge in attempted shots.

-Chris Kunitz led the game with seven shots.

-Gabriel Bourque led the Predators with three shots.

-Josi led the game with 26:37 of ice time.

-Niskanen led the Penguins with 23:36.

-The Predators had a 33-32 advantage in faceoffs (51 pecent).

-David Legwand was 9 for 13 (69 percent).

-Crosby was 12 for 22 (55 percent).

-Glass led the game with five blocked shots.

-Weber led the Predators with four shots.

-Niskanen increased his franchise record for defensemen for game-winning goals in a season to six. The NHL record for game-winning goals by a defenseman is seven and is shared by Boston's Ray Bourque, St. Louis' Al MacInnis, Colorado's Derek Morris and Calgary's Dion Phaneuf.

-Niskanen also set a new career-high for points in 37.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.


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About the Predators - 03-04-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Predators.

When and where: 8 p.m. EST. Bridgestone Arena.

TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports-Tennessee.

Record: 26-25-10, 62 points. The Predators are in last place in the Central Division.

Leading Scorer: Shea Weber (right), 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists).

Last Game: 3-1 home loss, Saturday. Carter Hutton made 17 saves for the Predators.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-1 road loss, Nov. 14, 2013. Marek Mazanek made 21 saves for the Predators.

Predators Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Mike Fisher. He has points in three consecutive games..

Ex-Penguins on the Predators: None.

Ex-Predators on the Penguins: Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager; Ray Shero (Shero is a former assistant general manager of the Predators); Tomas Vokoun, G.

Useless Predators Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Predators left winger Eric Nystrom is one of two NHL players born in Syosset, N.Y. The other is Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.

Best Predators Video We Could Find: Former NHL all-stars Peter Forsberg and Paul Kariya connecting on a pretty overtime goal against the Red Wings in 2006-07:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (31-14-3, 2.34 GAA, .915 SV%) for the Penguins. Pekka Rinne (4-4-1, 2.31 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Predators.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defensemen Kris Letang (stroke) and Paul Martin (hand) are out. Right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Predators center Matt Cullen ("lower body") and left winger Nick Spaling ("lower body").

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' lines at practice today were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
17 Taylor Pyatt - 16 Brandon Sutter - 46 Joe Vitale
15 Tanner Glass - 27 Craig Adams - 12 Chuck Kobasew

-Their defensive pairing rotated. Consider this a guess:

3 Olli Maatta - 2 Matt Niskanen
44 Brooks Orpik - 4 Rob Scuderi
47 Simon Despres - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

-The Predators expected lines and defensive pairings are:

57 Gabriel Bourque – 11 David Legwand – 15 Craig Smith
33 Colin Wilson – 12 Mike Fisher – 27 Patric Hornqvist
24 Eric Nystrom – 13 Nick Spaling - 25 Viktor Stalberg
16 Rich Clune – 28 Paul Gaustad – 21 Simon Moser

59 Roman Josi – 6 Shea Weber
5 Michael Del Zotto – 4 Ryan Ellis
42 Mattias Ekholm – 3 Seth Jones


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

-“It’s tough. You just want to go out there and play and try not to worry about it too much. It’s a little tricky, but you try to stay focused and worry about my job. It’s kind of out of my control, so I just go out there and try to play.” - Sutter on being the subject of trade rumors.

-Kobasew had 599 career games.

-Kunitz has 199 career goals.

-Rinne will be making his first appearance since Oct. 22. he has been sidelined due to a hip injury.

-The referees will be Francis Charron (6) and Brad Meier (34). The linesmen will be Steve Barton (59) and Matt MacPherson (#83).

-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 7:45 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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Ineligible player knocks team out of PIAA playoffs ...... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

The Kennedy Catholic High School boys basketball team has been a regular participant in the PIAA playoffs. This year's team qualified again, but was knocked out before ever playing a game.

Kennedy Catholic, located near Sharon, was disqualified for the playoffs for using an ineligible player in last Friday's District 10 Class A consolation game. Kennedy Catholic defeated Eisenhower, 66-62, in double overtime.

On Monday, Kennedy Catholic informed the PIAA that it had used an academically ineligible player in the game. PIAA rules clearly state that a team must forfeit any game that an ineligible player is used. Thus, Eisenhower gets to go to the WPIAL playoffs and not Kennedy Catholic.

This was not a great Kennedy Catholic squad. The team was 14-9 before the forfeit. But you can bet the players still wanted to compete in the PIAA playoffs. Eisenhower plays Ridgway in a first-round game Friday.

Why them again?

It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense when you look at the PIAA Class AAAA boys bracket and see New Castle playing Bethel Park again. This is the same team that New Castle beat in the WPIAL quarterfinals on the way to a WPIAL title. So Bethel Park plays two games in a row against the same team. Why?

Well, look at the Class AAAA bracket and it does make a little sense. From the west, five WPIAL teams qualify, the District 6 champ, the District 9-10 champ and the City League champ. It wouldn't seem right if the WPIAL champ had to play another district champ in the first round, would it? Well, besides the WPIAL teams, that's all that left from the west. And doesn't it seem right that the WPIAL champ play the lowest seeded team? Well, that's the No. 5 team from the WPIAL.

Of course, if the WPIAL had "playbacks" for the No. 5 spot, all the quarterfinal losers would play for the No. 5 spot. But that's not going to happen. The WPIAL uses the "follow-the-leader" system, where the team that loses in the quarterfinals to the WPIAL champ automatically gets the No. 5 seed.

Now here is something that makes you scratch your head about the PIAA playoffs. In Class AAAA girls, the same amount of teams qualify from the west as the boys. However, in the girls bracket, the WPIAL champ plays the No. 4 team from the WPIAL, and the No. 5 team from the WPIAL plays the District 6 champ.

Go figure.

Oh, brother

There are two brothers coaching teams in the Class AAAA boys playoffs. Ben O'Connor is the coach at Bethel Park Kevin O'Connorwhile his younger brother, Kevin, is the coach of McDowell, which won the District 10 championship and then the District 9-10 regional. (Kevin is pictured)

Could the brothers meet in a PIAA game? Well, let's just say that Bethel Park would have to beat New Castle and then ... well, let's just stop there. Don't count on an O'Connor bowl. Ben has done a great job at Bethel Park, but beating New Castle?

Name that school

It's always interesting at this time of year to look at the schools that qualify for the PIAA playoffs from Philadelphia and see the number of relatively new charter schools that qualify for the playoffs or names of other schools that you never remember seeing before.

And get this: The No. 1 Class A girls team from District 12 (Philadelphia) is actually called Parkway West. Seriously. The school used to be called Parkway Gamma. At Parkway West, supposedly you don't want to go in this school around 8 in the morning or 5 at night. Students apparently are all bunched together in the hallways and no one moves.

Some other names of schools in the PIAA playoffs that you don't see often in other PIAA playoffs: Sankofa Freedom, which opened in 2009, qualified in Class A boys while Palumbo (opened in 2006) qualified in Class AA. New Media Charter (opened in 2004) qualified in Class A boys.

Mastery North Charter (Class AAA girls) is a charter school at the old Simon Gratz public school.

Philadelphia Electrical (Class AAA boys) opened in 2002.

It might get to the point where it will be rare to see a public school make it to the Class A or AA finals.

Ones to watch

Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia is one of the top Class AAA boys teams in the state once again and the No. 1 team from District 12. Neumann-Goretti features a player who has a four-star rating in

Ja'Quan Newton is a 6-foot-3 guard who averages 21.7 points a game. He already has signed with Miami (Fla.). (Newton is pictured. Photo from Philadelphia Inquirer).

Neumann-Goretti won the PIAA title three consecutive years from 2010-12.

Roman Catholic is the No. 1 Class AAAA team from Philadelphia and has two Division I recruits. Shep Garner has signed with Penn State and Rashawn London with Drexel. Both are 6-2 guards.

Earlier this time

The Lincoln Park boys team was stopped one game short of the PIAA Class A title game last year when it lost to Johnsonburg, 59-53, in the semifinals. Lincoln Park will get a chance for revenge, only earlier in the tournament this year.

Lincoln Park meets Johnsonburg in a first-round game Friday at North Hills.

Actually, Lincoln Park already got a measure of revenge against Johnsonburg earlier this year when Lincoln Park traveled to Johnsonburg for a Dec. 17 game and won, 77-59. It makes you believe that Lincoln Park should roll in this PIAA game. But Johnsonburg does have two players averaging 21 points a game in Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson. They both have scored more than 1,000 points.

Johnsonburg is 21-4 and the No. 3 team from District 9.



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Steelers, Travoltified.

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Inspired by Slate's John Travolta name generator, the folks at Uproxx decided to run the names of top athletes through it, often to hilarious effect. But why let them have all the fun? I did the same with a handful of current Steelers.  

Introducing, #7 in black & gold, Brian Ridgardser! 

trav bigben

trav troy

trav tomlin

trav rooney

trav pounce

trav AB

trav bell

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LET'S MAKE A SEEN: Garden of Peace Project

Written by Natalie Bencivenga on .

There are certain people who inspire just by being themselves. Michael David Battle, founder and director of the Garden of Peace Project, is one of them. At just 26 years old, Michael  has already positioned himself as the one to keep an eye on in the upcoming years on Pittsburgh's political and humanitarian scenes. Michael began his journey in the political sphere at 13, when he realized that since he couldn’t vote in the 2000 election, his mission would be to register as many people as he could. This led to Michael’s next job on  the city council, before he decided in 2012 to start his own non-profit.

The Garden of Peace Project sprang to his mind when he began considering the ways in which marginalized people living in Pittsburgh navigate health and wellness systems. He wanted to create a network for those with limited access to transportation as well as information to get the help they needed to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

His vision includes a space for counselors, a low-income health clinic, and will be focused on helping the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, invisible minorities, asexual, and allies) population and those living with HIV. He hopes to create a place where people, organizations, corporations and communities can come together in a spirit of hope and collaboration to help empower one another and enhance the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being of all people, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations within our city.

Check out Michael in the video clip below:

Together, let’s make a seen! To get involved or receive more information, call 412-879-0477 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can also check out their website:



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