Empty Netter Assists - 01-19-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Post-Gazette's recap from yesterday's game. “We have to start hating those division teams. I don’t think we did that [Sunday].” - Kris Letang on the Penguins' 6-8-3 divisional record.

-Newsday's recap. "Well, I wouldn't say mistakes. I'd say bounces." - Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring goals off errors by the Penguins.

-The New York Daily News' recap. "The Penguins are a good team, but on the road we’re finding a way to do the right things. We did a good job of managing this game today.” - Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

-The Bergen (N.J.) Record's recap. The Rangers moved within two points of the Penguins for second place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

-The Associated Press' recap. "For whatever reason our emotion and intensity level wasn't there. ... We need to make sure we're more desperate than we have been in the last four periods." - Sidney Crosby.


-David Perron speaks:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out this puck:

-Crosby got down low for this puck:

-Mike Johnston offered some advice to Kris Letang on how to deliver a karate chop:

-We think.

-Happy times for the Rangers:

-The Rangers keep beating the Penguins.

-Scott Wilson had two goals and an assist for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 5-4 loss to the Providence Bruins. Carter Rowney netted a goal and two assists for Wilkes-Barre/Barre/Scranton while teammate Jeff Zatkoff made 12 saves in the defeat.

-Franky Palazzese made 27 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 2-1 loss to the Brampton Beast.

-Happy 34th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Ross Lupaschuk. Acquired in the 2001 offseason along with Kris Beech and Michal Sivek in a deal which sent Jaromir Jagr and Frantisek Kucera, Lupaschuk's Penguins' career amounted to three games and no points in 2002-03. He was released in the 2005 offseason.

-After the Jump: Marc Staal gets paid.

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Kevin Hart finishes up weekend of movie opening and 'SNL' hosting with four shows in Pittsburgh

Written by Sharon Eberson on .


If you saw Kevin Hart’s opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live” Jan. 17, you saw the PG-13 version — his words — of the first 10 minutes or so of his stand-up routine at in Pittsburgh last night. You may also have noted the shout out to Heinz Hall in a sketch about him having an appearance there, and that’s where he made those self-preservation jokes pay off.

On Sunday, we heard the R-rated version of the opening about being afraid of the wild animals in his neighborhood (in particular one menacing raccoon), not trusting his contractor and making his son take the trash out in the dark that faded into what seemed like a long, winding path of observations about ordering at Starbucks and his daughter’s patience when it comes to getting a good scream out of him and sorry, but he wouldn’t want to be with someone who had lost a shoulder in a mountain lion attack or lost his or her knees to a nasty orangutan.

The latter lead to his favorite and oft repeated joke of the night — the black woman who reacts to such farfetched stories with, “Orangutan? Reeeeally?” That one got a workout, but it didn’t get old, mostly because of his joy in delivering it.

Hart, the star of “The Wedding Ringer” with Josh Gad, out Friday, had a big weekend that continues today. He was the second half of the What Now? Tour — after three opening acts — here for four shows. I was at the first at 7; then they were on at 10 Sunday and again at 7 and 10 tonight.

The three openers whose names went by quickly got about the initial reaction you’d expect when unannounced acts delay a headliner’s appearance. I say unannounced because, well, try to Google “Kevin Hart” and the tour name and even opening acts and let me know what you find. They were not interchangeable although sex, race and parenthood were through themes, and yes, Bill Cosby was mentioned to groans and a few chuckles. 

A couple of the comedians, Hart included, commented on the cold in Pittsburgh, as if they were surprised there was a chill here in January. Hart had just come from New York so I wasn’t buying that, but the audience went along and laughed politely or heartily throughout the night.

The one constant before Hart’s appearance was warnings about cell phone usage and it was odd to see yellow-shirted security guards with flashlights moving alongside tuxedoed ushers up and down the Heinz Hall aisles.

The emcee may have gotten his biggest laughs when explaining how people of different races and ethnicities should not react if tapped to leave because they were caught using their cell phones during the act.

When Hart finally strode out in a black and white striped jersey emblazoned with “HBA” (hot by association, I take it?), it was to a movie star’s welcome.

Hart’s star is shining bright these days on screen, but he obviously thrives in the glow of a live spotlight. When he left the stage a little before 9 p.m., he made a point to thank Pittsburgh audiences for their support throughout his career, including early appearances at local clubs, and said he would always include us on any tour. We’ll keep the welcome mat out, I’m sure.

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Alabama In Between

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The NRA is trying to dismantle gun ordinances in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lancaster, PA. I am a firm believer in strict gun control. Especially in cities where gun violence is higher. It just makes sense. 

011915 Alabama In Between

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Rangers at Penguins - 01-18-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Maybe it was Sunday afternoon start. Maybe it was playing another New York team. Regardless, the Penguins just didn't display much of anything which resembled urgency in today's 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

-As demoralizing as Friday's 6-3 loss to the Islanders was, they actually played two good periods in that game. Today, they barely pieced together more than a handful of good shifts.

-After this weekend, they are now 6-8-3 in Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division games. Ick.

-Things really started badly from the opening faceoff. With the Penguins trying to establish presence in the offensive zone, Brandon Sutter flung a bouncy crossing pass to Kris Letang at the right point. Letang failed to play the puck and allowed Rick Nash, the NHL's leading goal scorer, to race up the left wing and rip a fairly pedestrian wrister by Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker on the near side. That happened all of 26 seconds into the game.

-Penguin killer Derrick Brassard scored on a rebound at the 6:08 mark to make it a 2-0 lead. After Brassard won an offensive zone faceoff, Kevin Klein rocketed a slapper from the right point. It hit a body or two before Brassard was able to settle the rebond and fire it behind Fleury.

-The Penguins had ample opportunities to tie the game or even take a lead considering they had three power plays in the first period. Alas, they only cashed in on the third chance when David Perron ripped a shot/pass from the left circle. Sidney Crosby was able to settle the puck with his skate and bang it in.

-A little bad luck sunk the Penguins on the eventual winning goal. Just 2:39 into the second period, off an offensive zone faceoff win, Rick Nash chucked a wrister at the cage from above the left circle. Rob Scuderi was fighting Mats Zuccarrello for position in the crease. The puck hit off Scuderi's stick then hopped over and behind Fleury. Maybe Scuderi should not have had his stick there but it was a fluky play.

-A power play goal by Stepan just under three minutes later at 5:34 ended Fleury's day. He was pulled in favor of Thomas Greiss.

-The rest of the second period was fairly lifeless for each team. The Penguins teased everyone with a goal just 4:16 into the third. Perron split the shutdown defensive pairing of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh down the slot then attacked the net. He appeared to lose the puck for a moment as it slid through the five hole of Henrik Lundqvist. After the game, Perron said he wasn't certain if he did indeed lose the puck. He just knew he was hooked on the play.

-Any notion of a comeback by the Penguins was snuffed out when Stepan scored his second just under two minutes later at the 6:15 mark. After a poor turnover by Evgeni Malkin in the neutral zone, Stepan fired a ho-hum wrister by Greiss' blocker on the near side to make it 5-2.

-The Penguins unveiled some significantly different lines and defensive pairings in warmups but it didn't take long for Nick Spaling to be back on the left with with Malkin at center and Beau Bennett.

-Mark Arcobello began the game on the right wing of the second line but eventually found himself on the third line left wing with Brandon Sutter at center and Steve Downie on the right wing.

-The fourth line reverted back to Zach Sill, Marcel Goc and Craig Adams. Once again, that trio was inert.

-On defense, Letang and Paul Martin were together until roughtly midway through the game. At that point, Letang was teamed with Simon Despres.

-Despres started the game with Robert Bortuzzo on the third pairing.

-Christian Ehrhoff played primarily with Rob Scuderi.

-Letang played a pretty rotten game. This was his worst game in a long time. It looked like 2012 Letang. He was just a ball of energy but it wasn't really directed in any particular direction. As a result, he hurt his team today.

-Whatever success the Spaling-Malkin-Bennett line has enjoyed in its brief time together, it wasn't very evident today. Outside of a few nifty give-and-go plays, they just didn't look all that great.

-Downie looked like he was on his best behavior today after his meltdown against the Islanders Friday. He wasn't really a force in any way, shape or form and outside of one little shove behind the Rangers' net in the third period, he didn't really try to start much physically. He looked like someone who was given a reprimand by the coaching staff.

-Marc-Andre Fleury needed to be better. Period. Maybe he has played too much hockey as of late but regardless of any extenuating circumstances, he was not sharp today. He wasn't sharp Friday against the Islanders Friday. Greiss should get the start Tuesday in Philadelphia to allow Fleury a chance to reset.

-Including today, Fleury has played in 15 out of the past 16 games 14 out of the past 15 games.

-Bortuzzo should get consideration for the Norris Trophy after squeaking out a +1 from this mess.

-David Perron was not the problem. He set up the Penguins' first goal then made a dazzling individual effort to score the second. He now has seven points (five goals, two assists) in six games since joining the Penguins.

-Perron had five shots today. In the six games since joining the Penguins, he has 29 shots (4.83 a game.) In 38 games with the Oilers this season, he has 74 shots (1.94 a game).

-Arcobello had a pretty rotten game considering he was demoted from the second to the third line, had a drop pass which led to a breakaway for Carl Hagelin (which Despres was forced to try and defend with a slashing minor) and missed point-blank chance off a pass by Sutter from in tight.

-Nash keeps on racking up goals. Beyond that, he has looked like such a complete player this season. He was strong in all three zones today.

-Brassard keeps killing the Penguins. He had a goal and an assist today. He now has 16 points in 14 career games against the Penguins.

-It would be a stretch to say Lundqvist was challenged a great deal but he did steal a few goals from time to time.

-After the game, Mike Johnston called his team out for passing up shots and forcing passes occasionally.

-The Penguins led in shots, 34-31.

-The Penguins led in attempted shots 60-52.

-Crosby and Perron each led the game with five shots.

-Nash, Stepan and Carl Hagelin each led the Rangers with four shots.

-Letang led the game with 25:53 of ice time.

-Dan Girardi led the Rangers with 22:36 of ice time.

-The Rangers had a 32-30 lead in faceoffs (52 percent).

-Brassard was 11 for 21 (52 percent).

-Sutter was 11 for 19 (58 percent).

-Ryan McDonagh led the game with five blocked shots.

-Martin, Spaling, Sill, Despres and Letang each led the Penguins with four blocked shots.

-Letang (263 points) moved past Robert Lang (261 points) for 28th place on the franchise's career scoring list.

-Marc-Andre Fleury (1,410) moved past Tom Barrasso (1,409) for most goals allowed in franchise history. Fleury reached the mark in 567 games while Barrasso needed only 461.

-Some sights. The ice:

-Fans entering the barn:

-Bortuzzo has a fan here:

-As does Georges Laraque:

-Ron Francis:

-Jussi Jokinen:

-There are several Rangers fans here. Mark Messier:

-Mats Zuccarello:

-The always rare Martin St. Louis-Sean Avery duo:

-We just need to find Darren Turcotte and Kelly Kisio fans to bookend these Adams Graves and Marian Gaborik fans:

-Henrik Lundqvist Rangers:

-Lundqvist Sweden:

-There's an Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid fan here:

-There are a few former Penguins/Rangers players represented. Pascal Dupuis:

-Petr Nedved:

-Darius Kasparaitis:

-Jersey of the Night: Former Rangers/Penguins forward Martin Straka:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.


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Jones-led trio pushes Robert Morris to 85-65 thumping of Sacred Heart

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Lucky Jones’ senior season at Robert Morris largely hasn’t gone how many imagined in would, least of all himself, as an injured finger and unreliable jump shot have made him a limited offensive option.

If his performance Sunday afternoon was any indication, though, that may soon be changing.

The Colonials’ senior forward scored 18 of his season-high 22 points in the first half, helping Robert Morris out to a double-digit halftime lead that set the tone for an 85-65 victory against Sacred Heart at the Sewall Center.

Jones also pulled down 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, both of which have come in the past four games.

He spearheaded a three-man scoring trio -- along with Marcquise Reed and Rodney Pryor -- that accounted for 61 of the team’s 85 points. Reed, a freshman, matched a career-high with 24 points while Pryor added 15.

“When you’ve got two great scorers on your team, it kind of opened it up a little bit for me,” Jones said. “But at the same time, they told me just to keep making the shot – make shots, keep my eye on the target and just knock it down. It’s the same thing I do every time.”

As a team, the Colonials (8-10, 4-2 Northeast Conference) made 19 of their 31 shots (61.3 percent) and six of their eight 3-pointers in the first half. Jones was nothing short of perfect in the game’s first 20 minutes, making all six of his field goals, five of which were 3s. Riding that hot start, Robert Morris jumped out to a 12-point halftime lead.

The Pioneers (7-12, 1-5) cut that deficit to six, 63-57, with just under nine minutes remaining, but the Colonials responded with a 15-3 run over the next five minutes to put the game away.

Robert Morris finished with a single-game season-high in points and a team that entered Sunday ranked among the bottom 100 Division I teams in offensive efficiency averaged an eye-opening 1.2 points per possession.

“We’ve shot a high field goal percentage number so far in conference play, it just has been a little erratic,” coach Andy Toole said. “Consistently, it was probably our best 40-minute performance of the year.”

But in a well-rounded offensive showing, no star shone brighter than Jones, providing perhaps the most convincing indication that his early season struggles ended once his team entered conference play.

In six NEC games, he is averaging 15.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. And despite a subpar field goal percentage of 39.4, he’s starting to believe that his game’s rounding into form.

“Offense goes up and down and I try not to worry about the point aspect,” Jones said. “I’ve just got to make sure I play hard and continue to rebound, continue to defend. As long as I stay ready, the shots are always going to fall for me.”

NOTE: Freshman forward Elijah Minnie missed his second-consecutive game serving a suspension for a violation of team rules. Toole said he’s hoping to have the Lincoln Park graduate back for Thursday’s game at Mount St. Mary’s, but that will largely depend upon “how he responds and how he acts.”


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

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