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Empty Netter Assists - 02-02-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Post-Gazette's recap from yesterday's game. “With the talent we have in here, we have to be able to bring a consistent game every night." David Perron.

-The Nashville Tennessean's recap. "Defensively we tried to stay underneath. They've got a lot of talent on the other side, and I think you've got to pay attention to defense when you play a team like Pittsburgh." - Predators coach Peter Laviolette.

-The Associated Press' recap. "We had some mistakes that ended up in the back of our net and we're playing up hill from there. We still had a lot of time to get back in the game, but we have to figure out how to score goals." - Sidney Crosby (above, with Nashville captain Shea Weber).

-Highlights (so to speak):

-Nick Spaling pushed this puck up ice:

-Paul Martin dealt a pass here:

-Marc-Andre Fleury hugged the post on this puck:

-A good look at the lid of Nashville's Carter Hutton:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-Spaling speaks:

-James Neal got a win in his return to Pittsburgh.

-After the Jump: The Lightning parts ways with Evgeni Nabokov.

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An introduction

Written by Craig Meyer on .

I'm sure you all have had a few of these over the years, so I'll aim to keep this as short as possible.

My name is Craig Meyer and I'm the Post-Gazette's new Duquesne basketball writer, as of yesterday.

A little about myself: I'm the owner of an eight-month-old corgi, I love A Tribe Called Quest and I quote/reference The Wire more than any sane human being should. More importantly, at least for the purpose of this blog, I've been at the P-G for the past two and a half years, where I've covered high schools and Robert Morris basketball.

College basketball has long been a part of who I am and I intend for that to be reflected in my coverage. I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, at the nexus of two of the most storied programs in the game. It's the kind of place where basketball's a part of life and the athletic exploits of a group of teenagers mean a little more than they probably should. It didn't take long for me to embrace that passion.

From there, I went to college at Boston University, where, among other things, I covered the school's basketball team for two years. As far as basketball's concerned, it was a clean and oftentimes frustrating break from everything I had known growing up. But it allowed me to see what it's like for not only a college team in a pro-centric market, but a college team in a city where it's not considered the major athletic university, much like how it is with Duquesne in Pittsburgh.

Despite that relatively low standing, I grew to understand the importance of the coverage I provided for people who had limited options for the information they craved about the team they loved.

It's something I did in college and for the past couple of years with Robert Morris. Now, instead of a school in a smaller league like the America East or Northeast Conference, I get the privilege of chronicling an Atlantic 10 school with a fan base starving for success.

I realize I'm the fourth writer to cover the team in the past four or five seasons, but I also know that I'm taking over for an incredibly capable and diligent writer in Stephen Nesbitt. While I can never predict what our staff movement will be like moving forward, I can assure you that I'll provide the absolute best coverage I can.

Anyone that's followed my work with Robert Morris knows that I love advanced statistics and that I reference them often in my pieces. I don't do it to appear smart (trust me, I gave up on that a LONG time ago), but because these numbers paint a far more comprehensive figure than more traditional per-game measurements. Sometime in the next few days, I'll post a glossary for some of these stats that you can bookmark for future reference.

While I believe in numbers, I also believe in eyes and evaluating games and players that go past the kind of things you find in a box score or on a spreadsheet. To truly understand the game, you need to have both.

But aside from the games and trends are players with stories that go beyond a series of 40-minute games, the kind of stories that I hope to tell in the best way I can. To me, those kind of pieces are the most rewarding part of my job and I look forward to getting to know more about each and every Duke so that you as fans can know more about the players for which you cheer.

There's a select and admittedly small amount of space available in the paper for Duquesne coverage, but I plan on utilizing this blog for everything that can't make it into print. In some ways, I plan on treating this blog like I did the one I started on Robert Morris, but this thing's far from an autocracy. If there's something you would like to see or a feature you'd maybe like to see added, feel free to reach out to me.

Ideally, journalism isn't a lecture, but a conversation, so if you ever want to get in touch, please don't hesitate. My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and my Twitter handle is @CraigMeyerPG. If you're at a game, feel free to stop by press row and say hi. I'm the white, 6-foot-2 25 year old whose hair makes it look like he just rolled out of bed. As much as I plan to get to know the players I cover, I'd also like to know some of the people for whom I'm providing that coverage.

This post has gone on a little longer than I originally hoped, but I just wanted to say how excited I am for this new opportunity. Hopefully it's the start of something enlightening, informative and, most of all, fun.

Let's do this thing.

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Prognosticators

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The weather forecasts prior to last week's "Snowmageddon 2015" were pretty far off the mark, especially for those living in NYC. We might as well get our weather predictions from a groundhog. 

020215 Prognosticators

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Predators at Penguins - 02-01-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-That was ugly. In a sequence of games which have been getting less and less pretty since right before the new calendar year, this was just a limp, lethargic, flat, lifeless outing for a team barely keeping it's head above water since the Christmas break. They played this game the way Marshawn Lunch approached press conferences.

-Keep in mind too, the Predators are a pretty good team. They lead a tough Central Division. They earned this 4-0 win. But the Penguins did little to provide any resistance.

-The Penguins have probably had worst games this season, but in terms of the way they want to play or the identity they want, this was rock bottom. They matched a season-low 21 shots. That has to gnaw at Mike Johnston who is all about shot volume.

-The Predators carved out an early 2-0 lead within the first seven minutes of play and really made life difficult for the Penguins. Roman Josi powered a slapper from the right point through a forest of bodies in front of Marc-Andre Fleury to take a 1-0 lead at the 4:05 mark of the first period.

-Just over two minutes later, at 6:38, Nashville took a 2-0 lead. Simon Despres made a horrendous pass from his end boards to the slot to... Gabriel Bourque. Bourque pounded what was probably the best pass of his career for a one-timer by the glove of a helpless Fleury.

-Things were fairly even for the rest of the first period and most of the second. Neither team generated a ton of scoring chances over that span.

-Near the end of the second period, the Penguins had a meltdown in their own zone which led to Nashville's third goal. After Derrick Pouliot muscled a puck off of Eric Nystrom in the Penguins' right wing corner, he fed a weak pass to Crosby in the slot. Crosby didn't handle the puck cleanly and had it stolen by Taylor Beck. Beck sneaked a pass to Nystrom above the crease and Nystrom deked Fleury out of his equipment before plunking in a layup of a forehand shot.

-Things were pretty stale for the third period until the Predators took advantage of a slashing penalty by Crosby and cashed in on a power play. Taking a feed from Filip Forsberg, Fisher ripped a wrister by the blocker of Fleury from the right circle. Robert Bortuzzo and former teammate James Neal screened Fleury on the play.

-Carter Hutton recorded his second career shutout but it would be a stretch to say he really was pushed in this game. He had a few sporadic instances where he had to steal goals but the Penguins applied little sustained offensive pressure.

-Simon Despres had a nightmare of a day. He and new defensive partner Kris Letang were on the ice for the first two goals. Each were part of the screen on Josi's goal. He had a dreadful turnover which directly led to Bourque's score. He missed several shifts at the end of the second period after appearing to get banged up a bit. Additionally, his puck management was just sloppy. After having an outstanding game against the Devils Friday - admittedly, a much lesser opponent than the Predators - he regressed badly today.

-The Penguins shuffled just about all their lines and defensive pairings today... except for the first line. Regardless, all four lines were just stale. The first line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist just couldn't generate anything.

-Brandon Sutter played a good bit with Patric Hornqvist but they just didn't click.

-Beau Bennett was based primarily on the third line most of the day but eventually found himself on the fourth line with Zach Sill and Craig Adams.

-Marc-Andre Fleury could have maybe stolen a goal here or there, but none of the four goals he allowed were softies.

-The Penguins' power play was lifeless. They generated five shots but almost none of them posed a legit threat.

-Neal had a fairly quiet game outside of boos which rained down a handful of times he touched the puck. He had 15:09 of ice time on 18 shifts and no shots. But, as stated above, he did screen Fleury on Fisher's goal.

-The Predators led in shots, 24-21.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 50-44.

-Josi led the game with 26:01 of ice time.

-Letang led the Penguins with 25:36 of ice time.

-Faceoffs were tied, 24-24 (50 percent).

-Sutter was 7 for 11 (64 percent).

-Paul Gaustad was 9 for 16 (56 percent).

-Crosby was 5 for 15 in faceoffs (33 percent) and went 2 for 7 against Gaustad. A few years ago, he said Gaustad was one of the toughest opponents for him in faceoffs.

-Mattias Ekholm led the game with five blocked shots.

-Paul Martin led the Penguins with three blocked shots.

-Hutton recorded the third shutout by the Predators ever against the Penguins. Former Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun recorded the previous two in 2001-02 and 2002-03.

-Hornqvist played in his 400th career game.

-Some sights. The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Pouliot had a fan on hand:

-Mark Recchi:

-We always run into Craig Adams fans:

-Tom Barrasso:

-There are a few Predators fans on hand. Seth Jones:

-Mario Lemieux all-star jerseys were popular today:

-Ditto' Fleury:

-No. 25 was a popular number. Randy Carlyle:

-Kevin Stevens:

-And Maxime Talbot:

-It's a winter wonderland outside:

-Patrick Lalime:

-Zarley Zalapski:

-Jean Pronovost:

-Jock Callendar:

-Former Predator Hornqvist:

-Jerseys of the Day: Neal was popular in Nashville form:

-And Pittsburgh form:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

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A farewell

Written by Craig Meyer on .

These kind of posts are typically a little self-indulgent, so I'll try my best to keep it brief.

When I first took over the Robert Morris beat as a 22 year old barely five months out of college, I saw it as an incredible opportunity. I truly did. College basketball had been a part of my life for longer than I could remember and here I was, given the chance to be the conduit between a Division I team and people who had the same kind of passion for the sport that I did.

With that duty came desire. I wanted to do as much as I could to cover the team, but with only so much space available in a sports section of a newspaper in a city with three professional teams and a major college, there was only so much I could do in print. An idea hatched and after some talks with my editors, the Bobs Blog was born.

I wanted this to be a place for people who wanted to know more about their team beyond a 500-word story in the newspaper each week. At times, I probably nerded out a little bit. The blog never quite met my grandiose expectations when I first started it, but I did everything I could to provide content while juggling a few different hats at the Post-Gazette, primarily with high school sports.

As happy as I was to launch the Bobs Blog, I figured at some point there would be a time to say goodbye. That time is now.

It's floated around for a couple of months now, but beginning Feb. 1, I'm going to be covering West Virginia football and Duquesne basketball for the P-G. My first two and a half years at the paper have been incredible, but the opportunity to cover both Division I football and basketball was something I couldn't pass up.

I've deeply cherished my time covering Robert Morris, a school I previously only knew about because I narrowly lost a $20 bet with my sophomore year roommate when RMU came up just short against Villanova in the 2010 NCAA tournament (and, yes, the refs in that game stunk). I've gotten to cover an extremely honest, cooperative person in Andy Toole and have been helped by as good of a sports information director as there is in Jim Duzyk. I've had the pleasure of chronicling extraordinary young men like Karvel Anderson whose on-court excellence is surpassed only by the daunting obstacles they've cleared in life. And I got a front-row seat to what could very well be the most remarkable sporting event I'll ever cover -- seeing the Goliath of a program I grew up around (Kentucky) lose to the ultimate David in a raucous bandbox of a gym.

Most of all, I wanted to thank each and every person who has not only read this blog, but followed my coverage over the past couple of years. I know Robert Morris doesn't have close to a large following, but you all are what really makes my job worth it. And I say this as someone who gets paid to write about sports.

My departure, however, does not mean the end of the Bobs Blog. The beat will be in very capable hands as my colleague Megan Ryan takes over for me. You can follow her on Twitter at @theothermegryan. I can't make any guarantees, but I don't think she'll bog you down with posts about points per possession and effective field goal percentage.

Though I'm not going to be out at Robert Morris anymore -- save for the occasional fill-in appearance -- feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or via email. I'm always happy to chat.

To anyone who I met on the beat -- players, coaches, fans, my esteemed media compatriots -- it was a true pleasure to be a part of this process with you.

Keep on keeping on.

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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