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Empty Netter Assists - Goaltending dilemma - 05-24-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Lightning

-So ... Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray (right)?

-“We’re coming back to Pittsburgh for sure.” - Center Evgeni Malkin.

-Head coach Mike Sullivan believes in his team as it faces elimination. He has ever since he took over.

-"If he’s looking for the next-best player or better play, sometimes he gets himself in trouble. But certainly, listen, he plays monster minutes for us.” - Sullivan on defenseman Kris Letang's struggles in Game 5. 

Kelly Cup

-A goal by forward Jarrett Burton with 1:18 remaining in overtime gave the Wheeling Nailers a 4-3 win against the South Carolina Stingrays Monday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final of the Kelly Cup playoffs. The best-of-seven series is tied, 3-3. Forward Anton Zlobin scored two goals for Wheeling while forwards Riley Brace and Cody Wydo each added two assists. Goaltender Brian Foster made 31 saves in the victory. Game 7 will be played at South Carolina Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.

-Burton's goal:

-After the Jump: The Sharks are a win away from the Stanley Cup final.

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Gun Lover

Written by Rob Rogers on .

The NRA endorsed Donald Trump last week. Trump gave a speech to the NRA membership where he not only bent over backwards to appease gun lovers, he also accused Hillary of wanting to take guns away from poor women who live in dangerous neighborhoods. 

20160524 Gun Lover

 

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Trendsburgh: What were yinz tweeting n'at this week?

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

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(Dominique Hildebrand/Post-Gazette)

Welcome to Trendsburgh! Every Monday-Friday at 4:30 p.m., we'll give you a quick recap of what was trending on Twitter and/or Facebook here in the 'Burgh and U.S. throughout the day.

This week: May 23-27.

Thursday

Game 7

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(Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

It's win-or-go-home for the Penguins — again.

Same.

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#RedNoseDay

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With the help of celebrities and social media, the campaign that helps raise funds to fight kids' poverty is off and running. NBC will be running a special tonight for those of you who want to lower your heart rate during the commercial breaks of the Penguins game.

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Baylor

Major changes being made at the Texas university. Via The New York Times:

  • "Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who delivered a report that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, was removed as president of Baylor University on Thursday after an investigation found “fundamental failure” by the university in its handling of accusations of sexual assault against football players.

    The university also fired the football coach, Art Briles, whose ascendant program in recent years brought in millions of dollars in revenue but was troubled by accusations of sexual assault against athletes."

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Blue Lives Matter

Via CNN:

  • "Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a bill Thursday expanding the state's hate-crimes statute to add the targeting of police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel.

    'Coming from a family of law enforcement officers, I have great respect for the work that they do and the risks they take to ensure our safety,' Edwards said Thursday, adding, 'they deserve every protection that we can give them.' "

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Nick Jonas

What a year it's been for the third Jonas brother. Get ready to see a lot more of him this summer: He's been named Entertainment Weekly's cover star.

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Viral video(s) making the rounds:

I've said it once and I'll say it again and again and again: Sometimes I don't *get* the Internet.

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Wednesday

#NoahsArkPGH

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(Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette)

It's baaaaack! Our Scott Mervis got to preview the Pittsburgh favorite earlier this month, but today was the grand re-opening for the whale n'at.

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#SayNoToHYDRACap

The Internet called for Captain America to get a boyfriend yesterday — not to turn into a traitor.

In Marvel Comics’ "Captain America: Steve Rogers," out today, a major plot twist: Turns out Captain America has been an agent for the evil organization Hydra all along.

The Internet, in a nutshell:

RootingForYou

But really:

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Murray

So many possibilities here — Andy Murray almost losing in the French Open, actor Bill Murray having fun with Jordan Spieth, and then there's of course Matt Murray.

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State Dept

From POLITICO:

  • "A State Department watchdog concluded that Hillary Clinton failed to comply with the agency’s policies on records while using a personal email server that was not — and, officials say, would never have been — approved by agency officials, according to a report released to lawmakers on Wednesday."

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#NationalWineDay

Not sure if this is totally true or what but we'll get happily behind it — no glasses needed either!

drink-from-bottle-joke

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Viral video(s) making the rounds:

Tired of Chewbacca Mom? Yes? Well, let us introduce, uh, whatever this is:

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Tuesday

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(Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

Matt Murray

It's official: Murray will be starting over Fleury for tonight's win-or-go-home Game 6. Some quick Twitter reactions:

No pressure indeed.

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#GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend

It's 2016 — why not?

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Or so ask Marvel fans on Twitter. 

The hashtag started trending Monday and has taken off since then. While it's hard to pinpoint how the hashtag started — one news site is saying this 18-year-old is responsible (if so, props!) — it could have been inspired from last week's #GiveElsaAGirlfriend. As GayStarNews reports,

  • "It’s no wonder following the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend hashtag, which called for a lesbian couple in Frozen 2, that fans are now hoping for Captain America to get a boyfriend in the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many see that it makes more sense for Cap to fall in love with Bucky Barnes, his best friend, than the rather rushed and awkward hetero-pairing at the end of Captain America: Civil War."

This isn't a new topic though. The bromance took off on the Internet when the trailer for "Captain America: Civil War" was first released. As MTV explains:

  • "Amid all of the action and excitement, this bit of dialogue made even the fairweather-ist of slash fans’ hearts flutter: 'He remembered you. Your pal, your buddy, your Bucky.' "

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(astronautseb Tumblr)

Chris Evans — the actor who plays Captain — was asked by Flickering Myth about his character's sexuality earlier in May. Here's what he had to say about a possible gay romance:

  • “That wouldn’t be so bad,” mused Evans, “it’s just never been part of my approach to the character. My subtext didn’t involve that dynamic. I think even with the first Captain America film you see how drawn he is to Peggy Carter. I think in that final scene when I’m putting that plane in the water, he’s far more concerned with not getting to see her again than he is to give his own life."

    "Maybe I just didn’t do my damn job very well. But that’s what I was going for. I think it was very clear that Peggy Carter was the first woman not just to give him the time of day, but to believe in him and to give him support and trust and honesty, and all these things I think he was hungry for. And I thought I put all that in the final scene, but maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was just gazing at Sebastian [Stan] too much.”

So what are some of the reasons the Internet is calling for Captain to have a boyfriend? Take a look:

Not everyone is thrilled, of course.

Ultimately, “Captain America” co-director Joe Russo says the relationship is all up for interpretation:

  • “People have interpreted that relationship all kinds of ways, and it’s great to see people argue about it what that relationship means to them,” he said. “We will never define it as filmmakers, explicitly, but however people want to interpret it.”

Interpretation? Really?

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#HailWV

Lot of sports news coming in from West Virginia, prompting the hashtag to trend.

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Bill Cosby

The comedian was ordered to stand trial in an alleged sex assault.

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Ryan Vogelsong

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(Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

The Pirates put the pitcher on the 15-day disabled list today because of facial fractures, Post-Gazette writer Bill Brink reports.

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OTAs

Spring practice is underway for NFL teams, including the Steelers. Among today's headlines:

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(Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette)

  • "I feel like the whole team was really out there trying to twist my ankles and do little dirty stuff in between the piles.” Le'Veon Bell accused the Cincinnati Bengals of intentionally trying to injure him and take him out of the game.
  • Center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed all of last season after fracturing the fibula in his left leg in a preseason game against the Packers, said his injured leg is 100 percent despite undergoing multiple surgeries last fall to repair the bone.

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Viral video(s) making the rounds:

Chewbacca Mom is back!

You're invited....

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Monday

Fleury

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(Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)

The veteran goalie had a rough return to the net as a starter — does that mean Matt Murray should take over? Not so fast, says Paul Zesie (though a look at the poll does favor Murray.....)

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Vogelsong

There was a scary moment during today's game for the Pirates pitcher

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#BBMAs

Among the things from last night's music awards show making headlines: Demi Lovato's outfit, Justin Bieber's performance (followed by another online rant), Ariana Grande's tumble, Celine Dion's heartfelt speech, Madonna's Prince tribute, Kesha's stage return and so much more. Also: Pittsburgh's own Wiz Khalifa a 2-time winner.

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#IUPtwitter

The hashtag was trending last night and was on the rise again today. On it, students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania were sharing party memories.

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Clarence Thomas

Once again, the Supreme Court justice is taking heat for a controversial decision.

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Viral video(s) making the rounds:

Ouch.

********** 

Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

 

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Penguins believe going into Game 6 - 05-23-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Less than a week into Mike Sullivan's tenure as head coach, the Penguins, reeling from a mid-season coaching change and injuries, were blasted at home, 6-2 by the Bruins Dec. 18 in a game which wasn't as competitive as that lopsided score would suggest.

After that game, Sullivan used that "B" word prominently.

“I mean let's face it. There's a lot of doubters out there right now. … I believe. I believe that we can pull this group together. It's a long season. There's a lot of hockey left. We have a lot in front of us. For me, when you get on the other side of these experiences, I think it makes your group stronger. And that's what we're going to do.”

Sullivan's unwavering belief helped the Penguins rebound from a sputtering start to the regular season and allowed them to finish as arguably the best team in the entire league.

Six months later, they face a completely different and far more dire predicament. They're down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference final against the defending conference champion Lightning. Oh, and Game 6 is in Tampa, Fla.

Still, Sullivan believes.

"I believe in this group," Sullivan said when speaking with reporters prior to boarding a flight to Tampa, Fla. today. "We've got a resilient group here that's shown a lot of resolve through a ton of adversity throughout the course of this season. I don't know that there's a team in the league that's faced more adversity than this team from the start of training camp until where we are today.

"So these guys have shown their resilience time and time again, and probably now it will be tested more than ever. But I certainly believe in this group we have. I think we've got a great group that's going to respond the right way."

Sullivan's words certainly seem to have been absorbed by his players.

Two of the team's top forwards have all but guaranteed a Game 7.

"It's one game at a time," right winger Patric Hornqvist said after Sunday's 4-3 overtime loss at home in Game 5. "It's not first to three. It's first to four. Obviously, they're in a better spot than us right now. If we play the game we can, we're going to be fine here. We're in a tough position. You know what? It's no doubt in my mind that we're going to come back here for a Game 7."

"It's not easy, but it's just one game, focus on game, 60 minutes," center Evgeni Malkin (right) said today. "Remember it's work hard for 60 minutes. I believe my team. I believe myself. And we can get it back at Pittsburgh for sure."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was somewhat pragmatic when told of Malkin's expectations of playing Game 7.

"What's he supposed to say in that situation?" Cooper asked rhetorically. "'We're done. We're just going down as a formality.' Of course they're going to say they're going to win, and they should. They're a good team, a good, confident group, but we feel the same way. But, look, you've got to win four, and we're a little closer to four than they are, but you've still got to get four, and that's all our group is thinking about is let's just get that fourth one."

Belief is one thing. Executing and playing well is another. The Penguins realize this.

"We've got to go out and try to get a win in Tampa," said left winger Chris Kunitz. "We have to do a better job of playing 60 minutes of hockey though.”

"We know the recipe," said defensman Kris Letang. "I think we proved it during that series that we're able to beat that team and playing the right way."

If playing the right way involves any changes to the goaltending position with Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray, Sullivan shed little light on that subject.

"I'll have a decision in the morning [Tuesday]," Sullivan said.

After Fleury (right) allowed four goals on 21 shots in Game 5, Sullivan declined to assess his play after the contest. Today, he offered some thoughts.

"I thought Marc made some big saves for us, especially early in the game," Sullivan said. "I thought he really settled into the game in the first period and made some real big saves. He might have got away from it a little bit as the game went on. And to Marc's defense, it's a tough situation when you haven't played in a long time and you get thrown into a high stakes environment like that. But I thought early on in the game, I thought he looked really strong. He was tracking the puck well."

Regardless of who is in net, the opponent or other circumstances, that "B" word continues to be the common theme for this team. It has been ever since Sullivan arrived.

"We're always confident in our group," said center Eric Fehr. "We believe in ourselves. We know we have the players in the dressing room to do it. We just have to go out and play. I think one thing we've learned against Tampa Bay is you can't take a second or a minute off against these guys. They're a really quick strike. They capitalize, like a lot of teams haven't in the past."

"If we can just stay focused for a full 60 minutes, I like our chances."

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Peter Diana/Post-Gazette and Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins - Lightning - 05-23-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Lightning

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. The Penguins lost a game in which they were leading after two periods for the first time this season.

-The Associated Press' recap. "It wasn't the best I have felt in a game. Still, I have been practicing a lot, so I should have been better." - Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

-The Tampa Bay Times' recap. "He shows once again he's a big game player. He's got, what, 11, 12 goals now? That's pretty incredible. Hopefully he's not done." - Lightning coach Jon Cooper on left winger Nikita Kucherov.

-Highlights:

-Pro wrestler Shawn Michaels took in the game:

-Fleury had a moment alone:

-Downtimes for Fleury and defenseman Kris Letang:

-Fleury reached back for this puck:

-Right winger Phil Kessel and Lightning center Tyler Johnson each remained focused on this puck:

-A good look at Johnson's overtime goal:

-Kucherov was pumped:

-Happy times for the Penguins. Not so much for the Lightning:

-Patriotic times:

-A hockey night in Pittsburgh:

-“We’ve just got to bounce back. It’s first team to four, not three. That’s our mindset and we’ve just got to play even harder.” - Right winger Bryan Rust.

-Defenseman Trevor Daley will miss the rest of the postseason due to a broken ankle

-“Obviously, he shows once again that he’s a big-game player and [we’re] very happy to have him on our side.” - Lighting defenseman Victor Hedman on Kucherov.

-"It's tough being in the position [goalies are] in, kind of the last line of defense. You don't want to go out and play when you're not ready. If you were maybe a forward, you'd be okay to go out and tough through it. But as the last line of defense, you don't want to go out there and do that to your teammates. You've got to wait until you're ready to go and feel like you can help the team win." - Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop on his recovery from a left leg injury.

-A lady dressed as the Stanley Cup and was lifted in the air by two men during goal celebrations last night at Consol Energy Center.

Blues - Sharks

-Blues forwards David Backes ("upper body"), Robby Fabbri ("lower body") and Scottie Upshall ("lower body") are all questionable for Game 5

-Sharks coach Pete DeBoer and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sure don't have warm feelings for one another.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Penguins

-The Penguins signed center Jake Guentzel, a third-round pick in 2013, to a three-year entry-level contract. Guentzel, 21, just completed his junior season at Nebraska-Omaha by playing in 35 games and scoring 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists). Joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on an amateur tryout basis, he played in 11 regular season games and scored six points (two goals, four assists). In 10 postseason games, he scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists).

-EN Says: Guentzel was arguably the team's top unsigned prospect to this point. He's been a very creative playmaker at any level of hockey he's played at. 

-Happy 75th birthday to former Penguins center Bryan Hextall, Jr. (right) Acquired in the 1969 offseason in a trade which sent right wingers Paul Andrea, Andy Bathgate and defenseman John Arbour to Vancouver of the WHL, Hextall, a member of one of hockey's great families, spent parts of five seasons with the Penguins. His first full season in Pittsburgh saw him help the Penguins reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history as he appeared in 66 games and recorded 31 points. During those playoffs, he appeared in 10 games and recorded one assist. In 1970-71, Hextall saw action in 76 games and recorded 48 points. Hextall appeared in 78 games during 1971-72 and contributed 20 goals and 44 points while leading the team with five game-winning goals. He appeared in four postseason games that spring and recorded two assists. During 1972-73, Hextall played in 78 games and scored a career-high 54 points. After 37 games and nine points in 1973-74, Hextall was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Flames. The son of Rangers hall-of-fame right winger Bryan Hextall, Sr. and father of a future Penguins rival, Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall, Bryan Hextall, Jr. appeared in 335 games for the Penguins and scored 186 points, 41st-most in franchise history. In 14 postseason games, Hextall recorded three assists.

-Happy 50th birthday to former Penguins left winger Gary Roberts. Acquired at the 2007 trade deadline in a deal which sent Noah Welch to the Panthers, Roberts spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. After scoring 13 points in 19 regular season games to finish the 2006-07 season, Roberts recorded four points in five postseason games. In 2007-08, Roberts appeared in only 38 games and scored 15 points due to various injuries. He recovered in time to appear in 11 postseason games and recorded four points as the Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years. In the 2008 offseason, the rights to Roberts and Ryan Malone were traded to the Lightning in exchange for a draft pick. One of the most popular players in recent team history, Roberts appeared in 57 games for the Penguins and recorded 28 points. In 16 postseason games, Roberts recorded eight points.

Atlantic Division

-The Panthers fired Scott Luce, the organization’s director of player personnel.

Patrick Division

-Former Maple Leafs coach John Brophy, who also briefly coached the Wheeling Nailers, has died. He was 83.

-Former Rangers/Blue Jackets forward Dane Byers has joined Kölner Haie of Germany's DEL.

-Former Capitals/Devils defenseman Alex Urbom has joined Djurgårdens IF of Sweden's SHL.

IIHF World Championship

-Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot made 16 saves for Canada in a 2-0 shutout of Finland in the gold medal game.

-Happy times for Canada:

-Talbot flipped his gloves off in glee:

-Golden times for Canada:

-Canada forward Corey Perry got chummy with Russia president Vladimir Putin:

-Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists for Russia which routed the United States, 7-2, in the bronze medal game.

-United States defenseman Chris Wideman broke his stick in frustration:

(Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images, Peter Diana/Post-Gazette, Matt Freed/Post-Gazette, Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press, Matt Kincaid/Getty Images, Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images, Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press, Andre Ringuette/AFP/Getty Images, Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images and Penguins Hockey Cards)

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