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One Term Kane

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has had a rough first term. Certainly, some of it was of her own doing. But that is not the whole story. I think it is clear that the "old boys network" that she set out to clean up was not about to go quietly. The odds were against her from the start. 

20160222 One Term Kane

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Postgame thoughts - Penguins 4, Sabres 3 - 02-21-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

 

Observations from the Penguins' 4-3 win against the Sabres:

After a somewhat listless loss to the Lightning Saturday, the Penguins rebounded with a fairly business-like win against an inferior Sabres team today.

The Penguins didn't really jump all over the Sabres as much as they took the opportunities they were given and converted more often than not. For the most part, this was a pretty bland, stale game. The Penguins just beat a bad team.

Probably the most significant individual development was that Kris Letang rebounded in a big way after allowing his emotions to get the best of him Saturday and really helped key the Penguins offense.

The fact that they allowed the Sabres to kind of creep back into the game was a bit concerning. And they didn't really improve on their inability to prevent screened shots from the opposition. But they got a clean two points on the road.

What happened

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead 9:09 into the game. Center Sidney Crosby corralled a puck near the left corner and fed it to defenseman Trevor Daley at the right point. Daley shuffled a forehand shot towards the net. In the right circle, right winger Patric Hornqvist re-directed the puck with his forehand past the left skate of Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner. Daley and Crosby got assists.

Buffalo tied the game with a power-play goal at the 13:48 mark of the first period. With Hornqvist in the penalty box for slashing left winger Johan Larsson. Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian backhanded a pass to defenseman Mark Pysyk on the right point. Pysyk fed it back to Bogosian at center point. Bogosian ka-boomed a one-timer which sailed by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker and into the net. Center Matt Cullen appeared to be screening Fleury on the play. Pysyk and right winger Brian Gionta got assists.

Left winger Scott Wilson scored a goal for the third consecutive game at 5:28 of the second period to make it a 2-1 game. Working on a four-on-four situation with Larsson minus his stick, the Penguins essentially had a four-on-three power play. Letang controlled the puck in the left circle and fed it to defenseman Derrick Pouliot at center point. Pouliot dealt it back to Letang in the left circle. Letang snapped off a cross-ice pass to Wilson in the right circle where Wilson ripped a wrister by Lehner's glove hand on the near side. Letang and Pouliot netted assists.

They made it a 3-1 lead with 2:10 left in the second period. After Sabres center Sam Reinhart turned a puck over in his own zone, Letang settled it on the right half wall, faked a slapper then zipped a pass through the slot to right winger Phil Kessel positioned to the right of the net. Kessel took the puck, waited, waited, waited for Lehner to slide out of position and roofed an easy wrister into an open net. Letang had the lone assist.

A short-handed goal at 7:52 of the third period made it a 4-1 game. After the Penguins broke up an entry into the offensive zone by the Sabres, left winger Carl Hagelin flipped the puck up ice to the neutral zone. Cullen claimed the puck, skated past Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen and attacked the net. He approached Lehner and fired a forehand wrister on his five hole. Lehner appeared to close the gates but allowed it to trickle into the net. Hagelin had the lone assist.

The Sabres responded 13 seconds later. Still working with the same power play, Bogosian whacked a slapper from the left point. Gionta was positioned in front of Fleury and appears to redirect the puck with his forehand off his skate and past Fleury's glove hand on the far side. Bogosian and left winger Matt Moulson, a former Penguins prospect, netted assists.

Buffalo didn't go down without a fight and scored again with 21.4 seconds left in regulation. Taking a bobbly pass at the right point. Bogosian settled the pass and blasted another slapper which sailed through traffic and glanced off Fleury's glove into the net. Ristolainen had the only assist.   

The Penguins

-Fleury returned to the lineup after missing Saturday's game. Like Jeff Zatkoff the day before, he gave up a number of of goals due to screens. It wasn't an overly outstanding game but he was more than adequate and there weren't any evident signs of whatever ailed him yesterday.

-The fact that the Penguins got offense from their top players was not an insignificant development. After their top two lines were largely inert Saturday, two of their goals today were from top-six forwards.

-A big part of that was due to Letang. He had a pretty strong game after appearing to be rattled Saturday. Today's version of Letang is what the Penguins need on a regular basis. He was calm and composed and his passing was very much on point. 

-The Penguins' power play continued to struggle. It went 0 for 3. It is now 1 for 22 (4.5 percent) with center Evgeni Malkin sidelined.

-The penalty kill was up and down. It scored what proved to be a crucial short-handed goal but it allowed two goals on three chances.

-Defenseman Ian Cole returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for 11 games. He had 13:48 of ice time on 21 shifts and was largely inert. He lost a puck battle which led to the Sabres' first goal.

-Wilson's goal was pretty nice. He's got a shot.

-Matt Murray was excellent as the backup goaltender.

The Sabres

-Both teams were dealing with some pretty crucial injuries but the Sabres' probably hurt them more because they don't have nearly the same depth as the Penguins. We wonder how this game would have gone if Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly, the team's leading scorer, was available.

-Bogosian was available and he was a terror from the blue line. Always blessed with a cannon of a shot, he thundered a few pucks from the blue line and caused all kinds of troubles for the Penguins.

-It's not just that he fires the puck hard either. He wasn't just blasting away and hoping it found the net. He was putting it in shooting lanes with purpose.

-Lehner needed to be much better for his team to win this game.

Quotable

-Speaking with media and team employees after the game, head coach Mike Sullivan said he had a chat with Letang about controlling his emotions after he had a meltdown Saturday:

“We did. He's obviously an important player for us. He logs a lot of minutes. He's such a good player when he plays the game the right way and when he has control over his emotions. I love the fact that he's a passionate guy, he's a competitive guy. He really cares. And that's why he's emotional. But I love that about him and that's what I told him. But obviously, he's got to channel it the right way. I thought he did that [today].”

-Crosby spoke of Letang's importance:

"He makes a big difference out there for anybody he's with both offensively and defensively. He controls the puck a lot as a defenseman. He's got a target on his back a bit too because teams don't want him jumping into the play so they're really trying to make sure they finish hits on him any chance they can. He's handled it well. "

-Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins' former coach, spoke highly of Letang:

"He's a dynamic player and does it with unique speed and skating ability on the ice. That was evident [today]. I thought we did a pretty good job of controlling him in the first period with our forecheck and pressure on him. Those two in particular on the second, third goal weren't the only times he found guys. There was a couple other ones. He's like a [Senators defenseman Erik] Karlsson. He's a dynamic player offensively with his skating ability."

-Letang talked about the adjustments his team made as the game wore on:

"I think we played faster. We tried to do too many cute plays in the first [period] and tried to break out clean and they were coming really hard. After the second [period] I think we were moving the puck faster and were winning all the races."

-Sullivan liked Cole's game:

"I thought Ian was solid. I thought he was real solid. He kept his game simple. I think he's good on the penalty kill. He's a good shot blocker. I thought he was solid down low. I liked his game. I thought he brought a lot to the table for us."

-Letang broke down his pass setting up Kessel's goal:

"I was going to shoot and I saw him open so I just flipped the puck on in the back door."

-Wilson mentioned he's been getting help with his sticks as of late:

"[Hornqvist] has been curving them for me. I don't want to give him a hard time about doing it every day. I'll take it when he can do it for me."

-Wilson gave some play-by-play of the goal:

"My plan was to one-time it but as soon as I fidgeted, I had to just kind of grab it and get it upstairs."

-Bylsma called on his players to step up in the absence of O'Reilly:

"We needed someone to step over the boards and take control of the game in that second period. That's got to be someone on the ice right now. That has to be [Eichel], it's got to be [Larsson] stepping over the boards. It has to be got to be one of our players currently on our team that does that."

Numbers

-The Penguins led in shots, 31-27.

-Letang led the game with five shots.

-Left winger Jamie McGinn led the Sabres with four shots.

-The Penguins have a 42-30 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).

-Letang led the game with 28:43 of ice time.

-Ristolainen led the Sabres with 25:58 of ice time.

-Cullen was 12 for 20 (60 percent).

-Sabres center David Legwand was 5 for 9 (56 percent).

-Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons led the game with three blocked shots.

Historically speaking

-As always, Penguins historian Bob Grove is all over this game:

-Crosby feasts on the Sabres. In 30 career games against Buffalo, he now has 48 points.

Visuals

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

(Photo: Gary Wiepert/Associated Press)

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Pregame thoughts - Penguins at Sabres - 02-21-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins recalled goaltender Matt Murray (right) from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton today. Presumably, with starter Marc-Andre Fleury sidelined yesterday due to an illness, Murray, at the very least, was recalled as a precaution.

Not quite.

Head coach Mike Sullivan was somewhat vague when asked about Murray's recall in his pregame media scrum in Buffalo this morning:

Who's your goalie today?

"Marc's going to play."

So Murray was [recalled] just a precaution in case...?

"Matt's going to back up. Marc's going to play. Matt's going to back up today."

Is that just for today or are there long-term implications?

"I made a decision for today."

Your schedule certainly picks up in March, a ton of games. Obviously Marc isn't going to play all of those games. Is there a chance that Murray is going to be the guy that gets some time up here?

"Of course there's a chance. As I've said, the approach we've taken with this team has been one game at a time and we're not going to get ahead of ourselves. And I've said to you guys a number of times, we've penciled in games where we think it's appropriate for the backup goalie. Nothing is etched in stone. This game has funny way of throwing curve balls at you, like yesterday for example. Nothing etched in stone. We're trying to put all of our players in a position to be successful. Our goaltenders are the same way."

---

To his credit, Sullivan seems very hesitant to criticize any of his players. He likes to say something along the lines of putting "a group of players together that we think gives us the best chance to win" anytime he's asked about a struggling player by name specifically. But that certainly doesn't bode well for Zatkoff moving forward.

What's really odd is that Sullivan seemed to fault the Penguins' defense for not giving Zatkoff clear lanes to see the puck yesterday against the Lightning:

"I think we can continue to improve at giving our goaltenders an opportunity to see the puck from those areas. Those are nothing plays if the goalie sees it. There were essentially three wrist shots from the blue line. We've got to do a better job with our box-outs and sealing the front of the net and trying to move people out of the area. Tying up sticks. That's part of the evolution of generating offense in the NHL. There's lot of traffic in front. There's layers of shot blockers. Sometimes when those pucks get through, they have eyes and they find the back of the net sometimes. Certainly if we can improve on giving our goalie some sight lines, I think we can avoid some of those in future."

---

That said, Sullivan if nothing else, has shown quite a bit of trust or loyalty to players who he coached in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The team's current bottom two lines are a testament to that. There's no reason to doubt that trust wouldn't extend to the goaltending position as well.

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-With defenseman Ben Lovejoy sidelined due to an "upper-body" injury, defenseman Ian Cole is back in the lineup today. He has been a healthy scratch the past 11 games. The author of this blog has tried to talk to him on the record about being scratched and he has politely declined each time. We can tell you he certainly was not happy about being scratched (No, duh.) That's not to say he's mad at coaches or management. It's just a rotten overall situation for him. After starting the season on the team's top defensive pairing, being a healthy scratch was quite a tumble.

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-Lovejoy will miss his first game of the season. That will leave right winger Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, center Matt Cullen and Brian Dumoulin as the only Penguins who have played in every one of the team's games this season.

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

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Deadpool alive and well

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

deadpool0221

 
“Deadpool” is alive and doing very well at the box office. 
 
It was No. 1 at the box office for the second week in a row, adding another $55 million to its total for more than $235 million so far. 
 
risen-CLAV3833 rgb 1Here are the weekend estimates, courtesy of comScore: 
 
1. “Deadpool” — $55,000,000, for $235,394,887  in North America to date. 
2. “Kung Fu Panda 3” — $12,500,000, for $117,104,584  since release. 
3. “Risen” — $11,800,000.
4. “The Witch” — $8,685,270.
5. “How to Be Single” — $8,220,000, or $31,763,633 so far. 
6. “Race” — $7,275,000.
7. “Zoolander 2” — $5,500,000, for $23,718,011.
8. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — $3,836,000, for $921,643,000. 
9. “The Revenant” — $3,800,000, for $165,116,550.
10. “Hail, Caesar!” — $2,635,165, for $26,148,310.
 

 

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About the Sabres - 02-21-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Sabres.

When and where: 12:30 p.m., EDT, Marine Midland Arena HSBC Arena First Niagara Center.

TV: NBC.

Record: 24-28-7, 55 points. The Sabres are in seventh place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: Center Ryan O'Reilly, 49 points (17 goals, 32 assists).

Last Game: 4-0 road win against the Blue Jackets. Goaltender Robin Lehner made 38 saves for the Sabres.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 road loss Oct. 29. O'Reilly and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen each had two assists for the Sabres.

Sabres Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Center Jack Eichel (above). He has a four-game scoring streak.

Ex-Penguins on the Sabres: Head coach Dan Bylsma, goaltender Chad Johnson, left winger Matt Moulson (Johnson and Moulson were each draft picks by the Penguins but never signed with the team).

Ex-Sabres on the Penguins: Associate general manager Jason Botterill, center Kevin Porter.

Useless Sabres Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Bylsma is one of two people to coach the Penguins and Sabres. Hockey Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman is the other.

The last time the Penguins played the Sabres, this happened: 

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (23-13-6, 2.35 GAA, .922 SV%) for the Penguins. Robin Lehner (4-4-2, 2.30 GAA, .932 SV%) for the Sabres.

Injuries: For the Penguins, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (illness) is in. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy ("upper body") is out. Right winger Beau Bennett (right shoulder), Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), centers Nick Bonino (hand), Eric Fehr ("lower body"), Evgeni Malkin ("lower body") and defenseman David Warsofsky (concussion) are on injured reserve. For the Sabres, center Ryan O'Reilly (undisclosed) and defenseman Cody Franson (neck) are out. Centers Tyler Ennis ("upper body") and Cody McCormick (blood clot) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: Neither team had a morning skate. Consider this a guess on the Penguins' lines and pairings based on Saturday's game against the Lightning:  

62 Carl Hagelin - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 7 Matt Cullen - 81 Phil Kessel

34 Tom Kuhnhackl - 40 Oskar Sundqvist - 17 Bryan Rust
43 Conor Sheary - 11 Kevin Porter- 23 Scott Wilson

58 Kris Letang - 3 Olli Maatta
6  
Trevor Daley - 8 Brian Dumoulin 

28 Ian Cole - 51 Derrick Pouliot

-UPDATE: The Penguins announced their lines as:

 

14 Chris Kunitz  - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
62 Carl Hagelin 7 Matt Cullen - 81 Phil Kessel
34 Tom Kuhnhackl - 40 Oskar Sundqvist - 17 Bryan Rust
43 Conor Sheary - 11 Kevin Porter- 23 Scott Wilson

58 Kris Letang - 3 Olli Maatta
6  
Trevor Daley - 8 Brian Dumoulin 
28 Ian Cole - 51 Derrick Pouliot

 

-Consider this a guess at the Sabres' lines and pairings:

9 Evander Kane - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
28 Zemgus Girgensons - 15 Jack Eichel - 88 Jamie McGinn
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Niclas Deslauriers - 17 David Legwand - 26 Matt Moulson

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
3 Mark Pysyk - 6 Mike Weber
29 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian

Notes:

-Goaltender Matt Murray was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while defenseman David Warsofsky was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for conditioning purposes. To make room for Murray on the roster, Malkin was placed on injured reserve.

-Murray will serve as the backup goaltender.

-With Lovejoy expected to miss his first game of the season, defenseman Ian Cole will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for 11 consecutive games.

-Right winger Patric Hornqvist has 299 career points.

-With O'Reilly out, the Sabres recalled right winger Justin Bailey from Rochester of the AHL.

-Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges has 98 career assists.

-The referees are (No. 33) Kevin Pollock and (No. 34 ) Brad Meier. The linesmen are (No. 50) Scott Cherrey and (No. 90) Andy McElman.

(Photo: Jen Fuller/NHLI via Getty Images)

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