Penguins at Blue Jackets - 04-23-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-One of the good things about covering a playoff series at home and on the road is getting to know the other team a little bit better. During a regular season, you pretty much only get to interview another team's players at the morning skate and after the game and usually, the interviews are limited to immediate concerns involving that night's game. Occasionally, a team will come in a day early and you can talk to them a day before a game but those are rare. During a playoff series, you interact with these players upwards of two weeks. You find out who are the good and not-so-good quotes on that team.

-Last postseason, for a variety of reasons, we enjoyed found defensemen on the other teams to be good quotes. For the Islanders, it was Travis Hamonic. For the Senators, it was Marc Methot. And for the Bruins, it was Andrew Ference. This year, it has clearly been Jack Johnson.

-Johnson has caused a bit of a stir with comments such as saying about how the Penguins were nothing special and his comment about how the Penguins haven't been covering him on his goals. Some have seen it as trash talk or bulletin board material. In every instance we've talked with Johnson, he hasn't come off someone offering inflammatory comments for the sake of shock value. He strikes us as a pretty mellow matter-of-fact kind of guy.

-The Calder Trophy finalists were named today. Forward Nathan MacKinnon of the Avalanche as well as Lightning forwards Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson are three top vote getters. Olli Maatta was not one of them. It's pretty simple to see why. Maatta's a defenseman and generally speaking, defensemen don't put up big numbers which voters usually look at. Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm had a very solid season as well and could have merited consideration. Last season, Jonas Brodin had a fantastic season for the Wild but didn't get a sniff at the award.

-The only way defensemen really ever get consideration is if it is a lean year for forwards. Unfortunately for Olli Maatta, he made his NHL debut in a season when a player of MacKinnon's stature started his career as well.

-It will be interesting to see how quickly the lines get shifted around tonight for the Penguins. We can't imagine the Blue Jackets will have the same intensity to start this game as they did in Game 3. The crowd at Nationwide will be bonkers tonight once again but it won't quite be at the same level as it was for Game 3. It never will be. That was a pretty special crowd. Even if it's one level down, it's still not going to be the same as what went on in this building Monday. The Blue Jackets won't have quite the same jump and that only benefits the Penguins.

-The Penguins worked the same power-play unite of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin today. We're not sure if any sort of tactical changes to that units approach were made. Regardless, the Penguins need it to change in terms of success. Life will be a lot easier with a successful power play.

-We're not sure how long it will be utilized, but the third line of Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter and Jayson Megna which worked out this morning is a bit intriguing.

-Rob Scuderi only got 13:44: of ice time in Game 3 and coincidentally, that was his best game of the series. Part of that was dictated by the Penguins having a ton of power plays early in the game as well as an early deficit. Part of that was probably dictated by his level of play which hasn't been good much of the series.

-Fedor Tyutin could have helped the Blue Jackets defend their lead in Game 3. He is their Paul Martin. He might not put up huge numbers but he has a calming presence where he can settle things down for his teammates and make the right play in most situations.

-A few sights. The barn:

-We really enjoy the arena around the Arena. Columbus is a typical midwest city in that it's a pretty generic grid for how the city is laid out and everything is pretty spread out. There is plenty of green space in this city as well. With most of the trees finally blooming, it's a pretty sight:

-Near the front of Nationwide Arena, there is this quaint walkway lined with bars, restaurants and living spaces:

-Someday soon, hopefully Fifth Avenue and the Civic Arena site can blossom like this.

-Fans were lined up this morning for gameday ticket sales:

-There are a few 412ers here. Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby:

-Marc-Andre Fleury:

-And Miroslav Satan:

-The always rare Luke Richardson/Marc Denis combination:

-And we always have room in our hearts for a Geoff Sanderson fan:

-The ice:

-The signs being distributed tonight are double-sided:

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Don't leave tender plants out tonight, but don't worry about others

Written by Doug Oster on .

Blog big pansy wat 414Pansies laugh at 30 degrees, basil and houseplants need to come inside when it gets cold along with other plants. Photo by Doug Oster

I've been inundated with questions about what to do with plants when temperatures are predicted to drop below 30. Anything tender like basil, or houseplants should be covered or brought back inside.

It's way too early to put anything frost sensitive outside, things will get cold well into May.

The good news is anything out there like spring bulbs or shrubs and trees will be fine. In the vegetable garden asparagus, rhubarb, peas, greens, cole crops like cabbage and root crops will be unaffected.

Pansies, snapdragons and sweet alyssum will shake off the frost too.

I don't put out tender flowers or vegetables until after May 20th. Tomatoes May 30 and peppers go outside in June.

One of the keys to gardening is planting the right plants at the right time.


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About the Blue Jackets - Game 4 - 04-23-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Blue Jackets.

When and where: 7 p.m., EDT. Nationwide Arena.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), Fox Sports Ohio (Columbus market), NBC Sports Network (Rest of the United States), CBC, RDS.

Leading postseason scorer: Jack Johnson, 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist).

Last Game: 4-3 home loss in Game 3. Brandon Dubinsky had two assists for the Blue Jackets.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1, 2.98 GAA, .899 SV%) for the Penguins. Sergei Bobrovsky (1-2, 3.32 GAA, .904 SV%) for the Blue Jackets.

Injuries: For the Penguins, center Brian Gibbons (suspected shoulder) is doubtful. Center Marcel Goc (ankle) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (knee) are on injured reserve. For the Blue Jackets, right winger Nathan Horton (abdominal) and defenseman Fedor Tyutin are out.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby -22 Lee Stempniak
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
59 Jayson Megna - 16 Brandon Sutter - 19 Beau Bennett
15 Tanner Glass - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams

7 Paul Martin - 44 Brooks Orpik
4 Rob Scuderi - 58 Kris Letang
2 Matt Niskanen - 3 Olli Maatta

-The Blue Jackets primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

38 Boone Jenner - 19 Ryan Johansen - 5 Jack Skille
11 Matt Calvert - 17 Brandon Dubinsky - 13 Cam Atkinson
18 R.J. Umberger - 42 Artem Anisimov - 71 Nick Foligno
 26 Derek MacKenzie - 55 Mark Letestu - 14 Blake Comeau

58 David Savard - 7 Jack Johnson
27 Ryan Murray - 21 James Wisniewski (above)
6 Nikita Nikitin - 47 Dalton Prout


-The last time the Penguins played this Blue Jackets, this happened:

-Right winger Chris Conner (foot) was activated from injured reserve.

-Gibbons did not participate in the morning skate. Goc did.

-"It's fun to have those expectations." - Lee Stempniak on being part of a Stanley Cup contending team.

-Tyutin did not participate in the morning skate.

-The referees are Gord Dwyer (No. 19) and Dan O'Halloran (No. 13). The linesmen are Bryan Pancich (No. 94) and Jay Sharrers (No. 57).

-Our live blog, direct from the capital of the Buckeye State, begins at approximately 6 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: John Grieshop/Getty Images)


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CineGrille -- film and food -- opens at Latitude in North Fayette

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


blogmenubv423A breathy Marilyn Monroe and screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” helped to mark the grand opening of CineGrille in North Fayette today.
It’s an 85-person movie theater with wait staff serving food and beverages to patrons at their seats at Latitude 40. 
The entertainment center at The Pointe at North Fayette had a soft opening for the theater in January but cut the ribbon today with invited guests, a Marilyn lookalike, popcorn, candy and fancier food, and projection of the climactic, Pittsburgh-centric finale of the Batman movie. 
The full movie was going to screen afterward, with “The Lego Movie” scheduled to open Thursday. 
The film looked and sounded great, and the seats are comfy with small trays that slide 90 degrees to serve as a small table and reveal a cup holder. Carlene Gnazzo, vice president of sales and marketing for the venue, calls it “La-Z-Boy seating with tableside service, minus the remotes.”
The chairs are in clusters of five with plenty of leg room and access to the aisles for waiters or waitresses to bring food such as margherita pizza or tacos or grilled buffalo wings. The alcohol menu includes martinis, margaritas, wine and beer. 
CineGrille shows second-run movies (roughly six to eight weeks after release), with the “Frozen” sing-along a recent popular pick for children and adults.  It’s all digital projection and sound, with 3-D capability and a screen measuring 25 feet by 11 feet. 
Regular admission is $8 but the complex also is pitching the space for corporate or social events along with birthday parties for children and adults. 
Details are available at but parents can buy blocks of tickets or opt for the CineGrille birthday package, $21.99 each. That gives early access to the theater 11 a.m. to noon, with one movie ticket per guest, unlimited soda and popcorn, one-topping pizza, two adult tickets per package and a birthday invitation template.
Latitude, with 65,000 square feet, has all sorts of entertainment options, from a bowling alley and live performance space to a restaurant and sports bar. It’s located  at 200 Quinn Drive not far from the Walmart. 
The complex is in the process of transitioning from Latitude 40 to Latitude 360. The Pittsburgh location opened in November 2012 and is part of a national chain based in Jacksonville, Fla. 
Photos by Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


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Stempniak: 'It’s fun to have those expectations' - 04-23-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


If any one player is emblematic of how the Penguins roller coaster of a first-round series has gone, it's Lee Stempniak.

In the first overtime period of Game 2 Saturday, Stempniak had a chance off a rebound to score a would-be game-trying goal but failed to get a clean shot off. The Blue Jackets scored in the second overtime period to claim a 4-3 win.

Monday, with his team trailing 3-2, Stempniak ripped a wrister by Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky's left shoulder on the near side from the right wing. In between those extremes, Stempniak has worked on the team's first line and the third line. At today's morning skate, he worked on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

Recently, Stempniak talked about his experiences in the series thus far:

You expressed regret on not scoring a goal in overtime of Game 2 off a rebound. What did it feel like to score the game-tying goal in Game 3 in contrast?

"It feels good to finally score in the playoffs. It was my first career goal and to score a goal in a key situation is good. I guess you sort of look at [Game 2] and wish you would have scored it. But I sort of moved on from that already. You have to move on from game to game. It definitely felt great to get that goal but I don’t feel like it’s vindication for what happen in Game 2."

Describe the the non-goal in Game 2.

"It was a good shot from [Sidney Crosby] and the rebound the rebound came to me. Just a bang-bang play. I just tried to get it over his pad to the far side and I think he got his blocker on."

And the goal in Game 3?

"It was a nice pass from Chris [Kunitz]. He made a nice pass to put it through. It was sort of a short two-on-one with Kris Letang on the left side. I looked to see if there was a pass there and I looked him off. I was able to shot short side."

You've played in the playoffs before but not on a team with championship expectations like the Penguins. How new is this for you?

"I’ve only been in the playoffs two times. It’s definitely a different set of expectations being in Pittsburgh. It’s fun to have those expectations and be a team that’s looked at to compete for the Stanley Cup. We’re a team that believes it can win the Stanley Cup. You really enjoy those expectations and the challenge that comes with it. It’s been fun. It’s been a pretty crazy series so far with changes and giving up leads. It’s fun. I can’t wait for Game 4."

You've played on the first and third lines in his series thus far. How much of an adjustment is there in going between lines during games?

"Probably a little bit less than you would think. Obviously with Sid and Chris, they look to score I think off the rush more. They’re great players in the offensive zone on the forecheck, especially Sid. He’s able to beat guys in the corners and behind the net using his strength and skating. Playing, with Brandon [Sutter], …. We’re going to be good defensively, get pucks out and really try to generate offense from working on the cycles, the forecheck and getting bodies to the net. I think the differences in those situations in the playoffs are sort of minimized. Whatever line you’re one, first line to fourth line, everyone is looking to get pucks to net, bodies to the net and score goals that way. I think it’s less of an adjustment than most people think."

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


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