Jokinen: 'It’s kind of like two different sports' - 02-26-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


Jussi Jokinen (above) collected the second Olympic medal of his career last week when Finland defeated the United States, 5-0, in the bronze medal game at Sochi.

Jokinen was also a member of Finland's silver medal-winning squad in 2006 at Torino.

While the level of success might be the most obvious difference in Jokinen's Olympic experiences between 2006 and 2014, the style of play might be the more significant.

This year's Olympic tournament saw an average of 4.70 goals per game while played on a larger ice surface. The 2006 tournament, also played on IIHF rinks which are 100 feet across, saw an average of 5.42 goals per game.

In contrast, the 2010 tournament played on an NHL-sized rink (85 feet across) at Vancouver had a robust 6.00 goals per game. The 2002 tournament (IIHF rink) played in Salt Lake City had saw slighty more goals per game at 6.09.

(As explained last week in this Q&A with James Neal, while the "bigger ice" is wider, the attacking zones are smaller.)

Why was there such a drop? Earlier today, Jokinen offered some thoughts:

Where you surprised there was a drop in goals in this tournament?

"Maybe a little but. I was able to play during the lockout in the Finish league [Liiga] and I think the game has changed a lot on the bigger ice. I think it’s easier to play defense on the bigger ice. It’s always easier to play defense than score goals. I wasn’t too surprised. Personally, I like playing the smaller ice more. There’s more speed. There’s more scoring chances and more things happen."

Has there been a change in how teams play defense on the larger ice?

"I feel the game has changed so much on the bigger ice. When I got here [to the NHL] in 2005, nine years ago, I thought the game was still pretty similar. I feel right now that it’s kind of like two different sports. The game is getting so much different on the bigger ice."

The conventional wisdom was bigger ice leads to bigger offensive totals. This tournament flew in the face of that notion.

"For some reason, it feels on the bigger ice, you cover the middle and defending on the bigger ice is easier. You just lock up the front of the net, take care of the rebounds and you goalie does the rest. I think it used to be like that, that bigger ice had more goal but it’s even opposite right now. There’s less amounts of goals on the bigger ice."

Do coaches instruct players different on how to defend on the bigger ice compared to eight years ago?

"I think all the coaches are always are looking for the teams to look for better defense. It’s always easier to play better defense than to score goals. The on the other hand, if you look with Finland… the kind of team we had there, if you want to win a medal, if you want beat Canada, you can’t go like that [being aggressive offensively]. It’s not going to be fun for us if we play like that. If we want to be successful, that’s the only way [being tight defensively] we can if we want to beat Canada."

Did Finland play as tight defensively in 2006 when it won silver as it did this year?

"Not that much. Obviously, it’s always that team defense, teamwork has always been one of our keys. We had bigger names and more offensive fire power and all of our stars were healthier. [This tournament], one of our keys was having four players under the puck all the time. Usually, you hear coaches who want three guys under the puck all the time but we wanted to have four guys always. When you have four guys under the puck, it’s tough to the other team to score goals. Our coaching staff had done a great job of figuring way to get the system for us. I think that was the right system for our team in that tournament to be as successful as we can."

You say you prefer playing on a smaller rink than the larger rink.

"Yeah. You watch the games, more things are happening. It’s fast. There’s more scoring chances and stuff like that. Olympics is usually played on the bigger ice. I don’t have anything against playing on the bigger ice but I feel like that way. I feel a lot of players feel that way too, that the game is better on the smaller ice."

Even European players prefer smaller rinks? Or is nationality irrelevant in this case?

"I would think so. Players in Europe and players here, I feel that’s the common thing. The game is better on smaller ice. Obviously, maybe on bigger ice you have less concussions and stuff like that. So obviously that’s a problem [with North American ice]. We need to try to get as good of care as we can on smaller ice and get the game safer. If you can do that, I feel the game is safer on smaller ice."

(Photo: Martin Rose/Getty Images)

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From Watergate to 'House of Cards': Journalists not always true-to-life on film

Written by Kim Lyons on .


Zoe Barnes, played by Kate Mara in "House of Cards."

SPOILER ALERT: If you're not caught up on the current season of House of Cards, mild spoilers ahead.

Much has been written about the portrayal of journalists in the Netflix series "House of Cards." For the most part, the show's fictional reporters are examples of what not to do; they sleep with sources in exchange for information, contact shady computer hackers (whose portrayal is a whole other level of fiction) to help them break the law, and promise to print whatever a source tells them, among other things. One older editor even decries the rise of blogs and Twitter (he's actually a slightly more realistic character, a version of whom a few print reporters have likely come across).

As any reputable journalist knows, most of the antics of HoC's girl reporter Zoe Barnes would get a real reporter fired.  The only truly realistic journalists in the series are the real-life journalists who appear as themselves (Matt Bai and Ashleigh Banfield).

But there is a long history of potraying reporters in movies and on television as more interesting and less realistic than we really are. If you tried to make a movie about what the average reporter does on a given day, it would likely involve a vending machine lunch, waiting for return phone calls, staking out a crime scene in the freezing cold, waiting for a police spokesman to take pity on you and tell you what's happening, and cursing at the computer that has crashed (AGAIN) and lost the 1,000 word story that's already way past deadline.

Not the sexiest job in the world.

The venerable Bob Woodward once said sometimes when people meet him they are disappointed that he doesn't look more like Robert Redford, who portrayed Woodward in the 1976 film "All the President's Men." That movie was, of course, based on the book Woodward co-authored with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (played by Dustin Hoffman in the film), about their reporting on the 1972 break-in at the Watergate Hotel and subsequent coverup by members of President Nixon's administration (read your history, kids).
But All the President's Men was a mostly realistic portrayal of how the reporters got the story.

With the Oscars coming up this weekend, we were thinking about other movies that depict journos, good, bad and otherwise. Newscastic put together a pretty decent list of 10 Movies Every Journalist Should Watch (even though the headline isn't in AP style), and the PG's Barb Vancheri  wrote about the topic of unrealistic journalist movies back in 2007.

Which newsroom-based movie is your favorite, and who's your favorite fictional reporter?

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Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford as Bernstein and Woodward in "All the President's Men." You can see clear evidence of fast-food dining, sadly a staple of many a reporter's diet...





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Tell PennDOT where to go with Parkway East

Written by Jon Schmitz on .


376PennDOT wants to hear from you about the Parkway East corridor.

An online survey is being offered for comments about what people like and dislike and suggestions for improvements, as one of the early steps in a comprehensive strategy to improve safety and traffic flow through the corridor. The survey and a project website are here.

A statement on the website says the project “is not just a study. PennDOT is committed to making real improvements in the corridor.”


The average price of a gallon of gas in Western Pennsylvania went up 9 cents last week, reaching $3.65, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. That’s about 20 cents higher than the price in mid-December and 22 cents higher than the current national average. The national average price per gallon is 35 cents below the average at this time a year ago.


PennDOT’s plan to fast-track replacement of at least 500 smaller bridges through a public-private partnership has attracted plenty of interest. Five teams that include some of the heaviest hitters in the international construction world have submitted statements of qualification. The department will evaluate the statements and invite the highest scoring teams to submit detailed proposals this spring.

Here are the entrants:

Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners: Plenary Group, The Walsh Group, Granite Construction Co., HDR Engineering, HNTB Corporation and Infrastructure Corp. of America

Keystone Bridge Partners: InfraRed Capital Partners, Kiewit, Parsons, The Allan A. Myers family of companies, DBi and American Infrastructure

Commonwealth Bridge Partners: John Laing Investments, Fluor, American Bridge Co., Traylor Bros. Inc., Joseph B. Fay Co., STV Inc. and Infrastructure and Industrial Constructors

Keystone Bridge Builders: Macquarie, PCL, Conti Enterprises and Stantec Consulting Services
Pennsylvania Crossings: Meridiam, Lane Construction, AECOM, Trumbull, Wagman Cos. and Cofiroute.



The project to raise the roof of the J&L railroad tunnel at SouthSide Works has copped two awards: It was named the Project of the Year by the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania and received the Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania.

The project increased the vertical clearance in the 130-year-old tunnel, which passes under the appropriately named Tunnel Park, to accommodate double-stack freight trains. It was completed last year and the park surface has been restored.


menatworkRight-lane closures are possible on the Liberty Bridge in both directions from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays through March 7.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be closed in both directions between Butler Valley (Exit 39) and Allegheny Valley (Exit 48) from 11:59 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday for removal of beams from one of the old Route 910 bridges that cross the turnpike. Traffic will detour Routes 8, 28, 910 and Freeport Road. UPDATE: THE CLOSURE HAS BEEN POSTPONED FOR ONE WEEK BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER THAT IS EXPECTED. THE NEW SCHEDULE CALLS FOR CLOSING IT AT 11:59 P.M. MARCH 8 TO 5 A.M. MARCH 9.

Test bore drillings on the bridge that carries Route 136-West Newton Road over Gillespie Run in Elizabeth Township will cause alternating one-way traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through next Wednesday.

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Lincoln Park's Rowan on torrid scoring pace

Written by Mike White on .

Breakfast table talk after the first night of the WPIAL basketball semifinals

First, don't forget to follow @PGVarsityXtra on Twitter tonight for score updates and notes on all the WPIAL semifinals. If you have a score update or thoughts on a game, tweet @PGVarsityXtra with #wpial

Maverick RowanThe scoring Maverick

Lincoln Park has made it to the Class A championship game and sophomore guard Maverick Rowan could end up with one of the best scoring tournaments in WPIAL history.

Rowan, who already has verbally committed to Pitt, has scored 25, 37 and 35 points in three playoff games for a total of 97. Another game in the 30s will put him among the top playoff scorers of all time.

Only nine players in WPIAL history have scored more than 120 points in a tournament. The all-time leader is Penn Hills' Drew Schifino, who scored 147 in four games in 2000. Next is Chartiers Valley's T.J. McConnell, who scored 144 in 2010.

Playing his old teammates

The Lincoln Park vs. Monessen game in the Class A championship presents an interesting storyline. Elijah Minnie, Lincoln Park's second-leading scorer, played at Monessen as a freshman.

Minnie then was sent to Summit Academy, a school for adjudicated youth near Butler. He spent his sophomore year at Summit. Rather than go back to Monessen as a junior, he chose to attend Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland. 

Record numbers

Scoring records fell during Monessen's 110-99 victory against Vincentian in last night's semifinals. Anyone who was there should remember that game for a long time.

The 110 points by Monessen broke a 25-year-old WPIAL playoff record for most points. Brentwood scored 109 against Elderton in 1989.

The 209 points combined by both teams smashed the 35-year-old WPIAL playoff record of 188 set in 1979 when Union beat St. Joseph, 99-89.

Section 1 uprising

Section 1 and Westmoreland County, stand up and be proud.

The Hempfield and Penn-Trafford girls teams have both made it to the Class AAAA championship. It truly is a first-time occurrence.

Until this happened, not one of the eight teams in Section 1 had ever made it to a title game, let alone two. The teams in Section 1 besides Hempfield and Penn-Trafford are Laurel Highlands, Albert Gallatin, Norwin, Connellsville, Latrobe and Kiski Area.

Too crowded

I know rental costs are a concern so I'm not sure this could be done. But in the future the WPIAL shoulder seriously consider playing some of these semifinals as single games instead of part of a doubleheader. Especially if the Palumbo Center is not going to be used for semifinal games.

Single games especially make sense for some of these boys games. It's just way too crowded at some games. Sometimes, people are standing everywhere. And if you want to maybe get there for some of the first game, forget it. You have to stand and wait until the place clears out a little.

Just a suggestion.

Remembering "Sonar" Myers

The Burrell girls are in the WPIAL final for the first time ever and there is a tie between this team and the Burrell boys team that was the first basketball team from the school to play for a title.

The 1979 Burrell boys team featured Joe Myers, a blonde bomber with a great shot who was nicknamed "Sonar." His daughter, Natalie, is a sophomore and one of the top players on the girls team.

In 1979, Burrell played Beaver Falls for the Class AAA title. It was the first time I attended the WPIAL finals in person. I had watched the finals for years as a kid on WQED channel 13, listening to Bill Cardille, Bill Hillgrove and Red Donley. And I'll always remember "let's go to Dr. Tony Brungo with the halftime stats."

Anyway, in 1979 my friend Jim "Buster" Lang and I ventured downtown in my parents black and red Impala to watch three title games at the Civic Arena. We were juniors at North Hills High School and the main reason for our journey was to watch some friends and classmates as the North Hills girls team played in the second game of a championship tripleheader against Franklin Regional.

I will never forget Midland's Boo Kirby banking in a long shot to beat Ford City in the first game. Franklin Regional's Pam Miklasevich and Cheryl Ellison were too strong for North Hills in the second. And in the third game, "Sonar" Myers, Brian Sharick and the Burrell boys looked like they were going to knock off powerful Beaver Falls.

Burrell took a five point lead with a little more than a minute remaining. Not totally sure of our way around downtown, "Buster" and I decided to hurry up and get out of the Arena and beat the traffic. We thought the game was over. I got home, turned on the 11 o'clock news and - WHAT? Beaver Falls came back and won, 55-54?

Damon Bryant brought Beaver Falls back. Supposedly, there was a controversial jump-ball call near the end.

By the way, "Sonar" Myers had 22 in the game before going on to play at Duquesne University.

What did I learn? Don't ever leave a game early with Beaver Falls.

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The Pressure drops rocksteady debut

Written by Scott Mervis on .


pressureAfter spending almost a decade in punk band Weekend Warriors, David Riel found a more chill groove with The Pressure.

The band, which formed in 2008, goes tropical and back in time with a ’60s brand of ska, rocksteady and reggae.

“I’ve had a deep admiration for ’60s music most of my life,” he says, “and in high school was into Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Riley. This band came from a sort of retirement from my more fast-paced days of playing in punk bands. It’s always been a point in my musical career that I wanted to reach.”

The challenge, particularly in Pittsburgh, was assembling the musicians to pull it off.

“It was really difficult not only to find musicians that like this style but to get people that can play it,” Mr. Riel says. “Pittsburgh is not the hotbed for rocksteady musicians. The Pressure has gone through quite a few iterations over the past five years to get the right combination.”

It can be heard on The Pressure’s self-titled debut album, which captures the ’60s rocksteady vibe with soulful vocals from Annie Wagner and Eric Mazurak, and the instrumentation, equipment and techniques from that era.

Mr. Riel says it’s a change of pace for these parts.

“We play a lot of shows with bands that don’t really align with our style, but their fans seem to really dig what we do — a breathe of fresh music where most bands in the states prefer to play more of an upbeat fusion of ska and punk.”

The LP release show is at the Thunderbird Cafe, Lawrenceville, at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10.


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