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Orpik: 'I know when I’m doing well and not doing well' - 04-07-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

After an underwhelming effort in a 4-1 home loss to the Coyotes March 26, the Penguins held a players-only meeting. When asked about the purpose of the meeting, Brooks Orpik said, "There was a lot of negativity outside the locker room. We just trying to make sure it didn't creep in."

Despite being in first place in the Metropolitan Division by a wide margin since the early stages of the season, the Penguins have been the subject of scorn for a variety of reasons including:

-A combination of four consecutive playoff runs without a Stanley Cup win.
-A fourth-place finish by a United States team with a handful of Penguins personnel including Orpik.
-A rout at the hands of the Blackhawks in a snowy outdoor game on national television which included Orpik being beaten one-on-one by Chicago star Jonathan Toews for a goal.
-A lukewarm 10-9-2 record since the Olympic break.

Individually, Orpik has been target of much of that criticism. Whether it's been in regards to high-profile hits which have injured opponents or for his level of play this season, Orpik has been a lightning rod.

Recently, Orpik talked about that criticism directed at the team as well as him and his play this season.

You talked about the negativity directed at the team. You are aware of it but how much do you pay attention to it?

"I think guys are aware of it. I think a lot of they younger guys are big Twitter guys so they’re caught up in it more than older guys. I think you learn as you get older, you’re focus has to be on stuff you control. I know at home, we’ve been struggling. We heard some boos at the end of the Phoenix game, the [Los Angles] game. That’s never fun at home. We talked about it. We talked about staying positive. Guys are working hard. Guys are really committed here. Everybody wants to win. It’s not like we didn’t have guys on board. Things just weren’t going our way. If you look at Chicago, Chicago’s one of the best teams in the league and they’re really struggling right now. Whether it’s injuries or fatigue, there’s ups and downs. You’ve got to learn to deal with that stuff. I think we just wanted to make sure stuff wasn’t creeping into the room. I’ll be honest, nobody [outside the team] knows what goes on our room. You can try to guess what’s going on in our room, try to guess what’s going on with our team. But nobody really knows. It’s all speculation. You just try to avoid that stuff, come in and work hard. We know if we work hard, we have enough talent here that we will turn things around."

(Note: This interview was held before Chicago's current three-game winning streak.)

Is it strange to be in first place in the Metropolitan Division by a considerable margin but to still have so much criticism directed at the team?

"It’s good and bad. It keeps you motivated. Whether or not some of that’s justified or not, you can’t really worry about it. Every year, we have that meeting with [general manager Ray Shero] the first day of training camp where he says the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. There’s always a lot of pressure on you as a player. Some guys deal with it better than other guys. Ultimately every year, you’re judged by how you do in the postseason. I don’t even remember what our record was or how many points we had when we won the Stanley Cup. Nor did it matter. People remember how you play in the postseason."

A great deal of that criticism has been directed at you individually. How much attention do you pay to it?

"I haven’t heard any criticism directed my way. I don’t know. You just try to do the best you can. There’s ups and downs every season whether it be injury-related or confidence-related. It happens every season. We’re in first place. There’s always got to be something to complain about. Maybe it’s not sunny enough in Pittsburgh. (Laughs.) You've got to be negative. I think we’ve got a group that gets along really well. Some guys, I think when you realize when a teammate is going through a rough patch, guys do a good job of helping those guys out and getting them through it. Everybody in the room goes through it. Maybe some guys more than other people. As long as your bosses are happy, that’s all that matters."

How do you assess your season?

"That’s probably better answered by coaches or management. I can only comment on where my work ethic is and commitment level. I think that’s always the same. You’re going to have some slumps, some ups and downs. In terms of evaluation, I don’t know. I don’t think I necessary evaluate myself. I know when I’m playing well, not playing well. I think defensemen and goalies get scrutinized a bit more, especially goalies. I know the last couple of years, people were all over [Marc-Andre Fleury]. If you look at the chances we were giving up on him versus the chances Tuukka Rask would see in Boston, [Rask] would see ones of those chances every five games. [Fleury] might see fives of those in one game. I don’t know how to answer that question to be honest. There’s a lot of so-called experts that do that for a living. I don’t pay too much attention to it. But I know when my game is going well and it’s not going well. I don’t need other people to tell me that. The coaches know that I know when I’m doing well and not doing well."

Rob Scuderi said it took him some time to fully recover from his ankle injury. Did it take you any time to fully recover from your concussion you suffered Dec. 7?

"I think in hindsight, I probably came back way too quick from it. I felt a lot of pressure because of the Olympics coming up. Looking back on it, it was probably not the smartest thing with a brain injury. It’s something you go through and you learn from it. In terms of reaction, you can pass all those baseline tests and stuff like that. I know for a while, it just kind of seemed like the play was going too quick. A step behind. That’s something you’ve got to be smart about. I probably didn’t take the smartest approach to it but you learn from it."

You and the other Olympians on the roster have had several days off from practice since returning from Sochi. How have you managed yourself physically after this season compared to 2010?

"Well in 2010, I had a sports hernia. I was really managing that. I didn’t practice at all trying to manage that. That happened like in November of that [season] so I was really struggling with that. This year, it’s more managing injuries and just managing energy levels. I think sleep and diet is the biggest thing. I think sometimes if you’re younger, you don’t know how to handle that as well. I think I’ve gotten more educated about diet and sleep habits as well. I’m better off for it now. The coaches have asked me how I feel energy-wise. It’s different for different guys. Energy-wise, I’ve felt great. It’s been more managing injuries for me. It hasn’t been fatigue."

(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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5 of the ACM winners en route to Pittsburgh this summer

Written by Scott Mervis on .

aldeanpresale fullsize story1Jason AldeanGeorge Strait took Entertainer of the Year (by a fan vote) Sunday night at the 49th ANNUAL ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS in Las Vegas.

Strait doesn’t have a show booked here, but five of the other big winners are on their way to Pittsburgh this summer.

Jason Aldean, who won Male Vocalist of the Year, his second consecutive win in this category, will be at PNC Park on July 26. Florida Georgia Line, winner for Vocal Duo of the Year, is on that Aldean bill, as is Lee Brice (Song of the Year for “I Drive Your Truck”).

Miranda Lambert, who won a record fifth consecutive year as Female Vocalist of the Year, is set to open for Luke Bryan at Heinz Field on June 21.

Tim McGraw, Video of the Year winner for “Highway Don’t Care,” plays the First Niagara Pavilion on June 6.

Here is the list of winners

Entertainer of the Year
George Strait

Male Vocalist of the year
Jason Aldean

Female Vocalist of the year
Miranda Lambert

Vocal Duo of the year
Florida Georgia Line

Vocal Group of the year
The Band Perry

NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY KOHL’S
Justin Moore

ALBUM OF THE YEAR [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves
Producers: Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves
Record Label: Mercury Records

Single Record of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
Producers: Chuck Ainlay, Frank Liddell, Glenn Worf
Record Label: RCA Nashville

Song of the Year [Awarded to Songwriter(s)/Publisher(s)/Artist(s)]
I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice
Songwriters: Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, Jimmy Yeary
Publishers: Beattyville Music (BMI), EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. (BMI), Great Day At This Music (BMI), Happy Tears Music (ASCAP), Vistaville Music (ASCAP), Watch This Girl Publishing (BMI)

Video of the Year [Awarded to Producer(s)/Director(s)/Artist(s)] *(Off Camera Award)
Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw Featuring Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
Producers: Tameron Hedge, Chandra LaPlume
Director: Shane Drake

Vocal Event of the Year [Awarded to Artist(s)/Producer(s)/Record Company–Label(s)]*(Off Camera Award)
We Were Us – Keith Urban And Miranda Lambert
Producers: Nathan Chapman, Keith Urban
Record Labels: Capitol Records Nashville, Hit Red Records, RCA Nashville

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Bike escalators for Pittsburgh hills?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

 

escalator

The Atlantic Cities reports on an innovation that could literally give bicyclists a lift over hilly terrain:

CycloCable works very much like a ski lift. But most of the design structures are placed just below the street surface for a safer and more seamless integration into the road.

To begin, you just push the green button at the “start station” and wait for the first footplate. You then stand up on your bike and put your right foot and all of your weight on the footplate. The launcher at the start station will give you gentle push to accelerate from zero to 1.5 meters per second. The lift can go up to 2 meters per second, handling a maximum of 300 cyclists per hour. It supports inclines of up to 18 percent grade and can extend as long as 1,640 feet.

The first prototype was installed in Trondheim, Norway, in 1993. Since then, it’s become a popular tourist attraction that’s powered more than 200,000 cyclists up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents recorded. The original lift was dismantled in 2012, and replaced a year later with CycloCable, an industrialized version upgraded to meet new safety standards.

Now, POMA Group, the French cableway company behind the CycloCable, wants to sell the idea to other cities around the world.

Pittsburgh has also considered the lift. According to Stephen Patchan, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator at Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, the cycling community sees the steep terrain as an amenity, not a challenge. But Patchan says it would still be nice to have that kind of assistance for people tired at the end of the day, for example.

A Pittsburgh nonprofit even proposed a bike lift modeled after the one in Trondheim several years ago. But the idea generated some initial questions about liability and wasn’t pursued further.

This time around, liability would still be the primary concern, but not one that can’t be overcome.

Patchan is confident that the cost-benefit of implementing something like CycloCable will be more acceptable as U.S. bike infrastructure systems continue to mature.

“It only takes one smart and cavalier community to figure it out and establish a model for operations and maintenance,” he says.

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In another boost for bicyclists, the state Senate has passed legislation to legalize pedal-assist electric bicycles.

Sponsor Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, issued this statement:

“Our goal is to modernize state law and pave the way for innovation. There are already a growing number of small businesses emerging to meet the demand for this transportation option. However, the continued growth of this industry relies on clearly defining and legalizing these bikes in the state code.

“As we encourage multi-modal forms of transportation, these bicycles offer another option for individuals with mobility issues or for the commuter tackling the hills of western Pennsylvania. I think there are more and more people who will reconsider cycling as a transportation option once they learn about pedal-assist electric bicycles.”

The bill, which goes to the House, defines the bicycles as having operable pedals and a motor of 1 horsepower or less, with a maximum 20 mph speed. The bikes are not motor scooters but are designed to assist the rider with pedaling.

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And still more two-wheeler news, this from Friends of the Riverfront:

The 2014 Three Rivers Heritage Trail Map & Guide was released today. The map has been updated to include the one-mile segment of trail that will connect Aspinwall Riverfront Park to O’Hara through the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, currently under development. This map is ideal for trail users interested in exploring the Pittsburgh region on the 24-mile riverfront trail system and features an overview of the trail system and detailed maps of the North Side, Downtown and South Side segments.
 
Areas of interest, including business districts, green space, bike shops, cultural attractions, transportation, trail parking and dog parks can also be found.
 
This project was funded by ProBikes, Clearview Federal Credit Union, Eat’n Park, UPMC Sports Medicine, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, and Friends of the Riverfront members.
 
The Three Rivers Heritage Trail Map is available free. To request a copy, call 412-488-0212 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The map can also be found on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail page at www.friendsoftheriverfront.org.

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roadworksign

This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and Pennsylvania officials are cautioning drivers that they will encounter more construction than usual this year, as the new transportation funding law ramps up spending by $600 million, to a total of $2.1 billion.

“We are asking drivers to use extra caution in work zones so all of us can get home safely,” said Brad Mallory, PennDOT executive deputy secretary. “With crews working right next to moving traffic, it’s especially dangerous and especially important that motorists obey signs and speed limits.”

According to PennDOT data, there were more than 1,800 crashes in Pennsylvania work zones last year, an increase of about 200 from the previous year.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will conduct Operation Orange Squeeze, in which troopers stationed in construction trucks use radar to nab speeders. Fines are doubled in work zones, so offenders can kiss several hundred dollars goodbye.

“The State Police will have zero tolerance for unsafe and aggressive work-zone driving.” said Capt. Gregory M. Bacher, commander of Pennsylvania State Police Troop T, the unit in charge of turnpike patrols.

The turnpike plans 62 roadway and bridge construction projects for 2014 at a $1.3 billion cost.

==========

From the PG’s Liz Navratil, a police training exercise at the ballpark:

Traffic near PNC Park will be restricted Tuesday while Pittsburgh emergency responders and federal officials conduct a training exercise.

Mazeroski Way from General Robinson Street to North Shore Drive will be closed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and parking there will not be allowed, city public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said in a news release. Only local traffic will be allowed on North Shore Drive, at Tony Dorsett Drive, she said.

The city’s Office of Emergency Management, Homeland Security, the Army National Guard, the Ohio State Civil Support Team and PNC Park officials will be training for a hypothetical scenario in which suspicious packages are reported during a World Series game.

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Carnegie Mellon University’s spring carnival will cause road closures and parking restrictions in the area of the campus this weekend. Margaret Morrison Street, Tech Street, Frew Street, Circuit Road and Schenley Drive (Panther Hollow and Schenley bridges included) will be closed from 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will remain open during normal hours. Visitors will need to park on the streets by the Carnegie Library and the surrounding area. Pittsburgh police stationed at barricades will give bus drivers instructions for passenger unloading.

On-campus parking will be limited for those without permits and other visitors all week. Additional parking will be available for $5 (cash only) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the Bob O’Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park, with shuttles running to and from campus. Free parking will be available at East Campus Garage on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday.

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menatworkThe city will pave the section of McArdle Roadway from from the Liberty Bridge to Arlington Avenue starting at 11 p.m Tuesday and ending by 5:30 a.m Wednesday. Traffic from the inbound Liberty Tunnel will be detoured across the Liberty Bridge and traffic from Arlington Avenue will not be able to access the affected section of McArdle Roadway.

Lane closures are possible on outbound Route 51 between Fairhaven Road and Stewart Avenue in Overbrook and Whitehall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Friday. Cable crews will be installing lines in the area.

Overhead sign improvements will cause intermittent lane closures on the Parkway East after 10 p.m. on weeknights in both directions between the Squirrel Hill Tunnels and Second Avenue, through April 19.

A lane closure is possible on the inbound Parkway North in Ross from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Wednesday for emergency repair of a washout.

Bridge construction has changed the traffic pattern on Interstate 79 at Route 422 in Butler County. Southbound traffic now crosses over to the northbound side, with one lane open in both directions. Work and restrictions will continue into the fall.
    
Cleaning in the Liberty Tunnels will close a lane in both directions starting at 10 p.m. today through Thursday. Traffic is restored by 5 a.m. daily.

Center Road in Plum reopened Friday afternoon after being closed since March 25 because of a collapse.

Hunter Road in Penn Hills has been closed between Barger Street and Colorado Street for about four weeks for emergency repairs.

Overnight lane closures have begun on Route 8 in Hampton. Traffic is down to one lane in both directions after 8 p.m. weeknights from the Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange to about 1,000 feet north of Hardies Road. The widening and turn-lane project continues through October.

A section of McKee Road in North Fayette and the Route 22/30 ramps at Oakdale have closed for reconstruction. The closure of McKee Road in the area under the Route 22/30 bridge will continue through April 26.

Alternating one-way traffic is in effect on Snowden Road in South Park between Riggs and Cochran Mill roads from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily through May 17 during utility pole relocation.

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Protecting a baby bunny nestled in garden straw

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog babby bunnyI'm trying to save this baby bunny from my dog. Photo by Doug Oster

When "Max the Wonder Dog" started rooting around in a thick layer of straw laid over a bed of asparagus, I knew something was up.

Even though a fence of chicken wire is attached to the bottom of the pickets which surround my garden, the rabbits have found a way in over the past few seasons.

Max finds their nests annually and usually dispatches the poor babies. I don't want to share my garden with the rabbits, but the thought of these cute, tiny rabbits meeting their maker at the hands of my dog set me into action.

The small rabbits are hidden by the mother in the nest at birth, she returns each night to feed. I talked to Jill Argall, director of the Animal Rescue League's Wildlife Center in Verona for advice.

Even though I've got the garden gate blocked, I wanted a second line of defense to protect the little rabbit. Jill said the baby is less than 10 days old and needs another couple weeks of care by the mother until it's ready to leave the nest.

blog rabbit houseShe recommended putting a laundry basket put in place over the nest during the day and removing it at dusk so the mother can feed the baby. Max would probably tear that basket to shreds, so I've opted for a large, heavy clay flower pot turned upside down with two big rocks on top. I'll replace them with a cinder block when I find one. There's a big enough hole for the mother to get into the nest in case I forget to remove it at the end of the day.

For the next couple of weeks my wife and I will remove the pot when we close up the chickens, I think that's the best way to remember.

Sometimes the garden holds another purpose. For now I'm happy to share it with the rabbits.

The Animal Rescue League's Wildlife Center can be reached online here or call 412-345-7300. 

 

 

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Empty Netter Assists - 04-07-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. “It means a lot to us to go out there and play like we did. That’s a gutsy win after a tough one [in Minnesota].” - Brandon Sutter.

-The Denver Post's recap. "I probably would have done the same." - Avalanche coach Patrick Roy on the Penguins resting some of their players.

-The Associated Press' recap. “It’s a credit to our team to be able to battle without a lot of key guys.” - Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Highlights:


-A good look at Colorado's Semyon Varlamov allowing Jussi Jokinen's shootout goal:

-Dan Byslma speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Jokinen speaks:

-Sutter speaks:

-"If you look at Brooks Orpik in this particular case, he's playing with an injury and it's not prudent to struggle through every game with the injury. Getting the opportunity to rest, not play in this game, is better for Brooks at this point in time." -  Dan Bylsma on giving Brooks Orpik a rest last night.

-Spencer Machacek scored each of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' goals in a 6-2 loss to the Binghamton Senators. Nick Drazenovic recorded two assists for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while teammate Eric Hartzell made 21 saves.

-Highlights:

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jim Paek. The first Korean-born player in NHL history, Paek was a ninth-round pick of the Penguins in 1985 and spent parts of four seasons with the club. After appearing in three regular season games and failing to score a point in 1990-91, Paek saw action in eight postseason contests that spring and scored one goal while helping the franchise win the Stanley Cup for the first time. He followed that up in 1991-92 by playing in 49 games and collecting eight points. He would play in 19 playoff games that spring and collected four assists while also earning his second Stanley Cup ring. During 1992-93, Paek set career highs in games (77) and points (18) while helping the Penguins claim the only Presidents Trophy in franchise history. After 41 games and four points in 1993-94, Paek and Marty McSorely were traded to the Kings in exchange for Tomas Sandstrom and Shawn McEachern. In 170 regular season games with the Penguins, Paek scored 30 points. In 27 postseason games, he scored five points. He is currently an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.

-Happy 56th birthday to former Penguins forward Ted Nolan. Acquired in the 1985 offseason from the Sabres in exchange for cash, Nolan appeared in 18 games for the 1985-86 Penguins and recorded two points. He was released in the 1986 offseason. A former coach with the Sabres and Islanders, Nolan is currently the coach of the Sabres.

-Happy 35th birthday to current Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis (right). Acquired at the 2008 trade deadline along with Marian Hossa in a deal which sent Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a draft pick to the Thrashers, Dupuis has spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2007-08 by appearing 16 games and scoring 12 points for the Penguins. During the 2008 postseason, he appeared in 20 games, contributed seven points and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years. In 2008-09, Dupuis saw action in 71 games and recorded 28 points. He would appear in 16 postseason games that spring and had a point in helping the franchise claim its third Stanley Cup championship. During 2009-10, Dupuis played in 81 games and contributed 38 points. He would play in 13 games during the 2010 postseason and scored eight point, including the series clinching overtime goal of a 4-3 win against the Senators in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series (below). In 2010-11, Dupuis has appeared in 81 games and scored 37 points. He saw action in seven postseason games last spring and scored one goal. During 2011-12, Dupuis appeared in all 81 games and has set career highs in goals (24) and points (58). That season's playoffs, he played in six games and scored six points. last season, Dupuis has played in all 48 games and scored 38 points. Last spring, he appeared in 15 postseason games and scored 11 points. This season, a knee injury limited Dupuis to 39 games and 20 points. In 418 regular season games with the Penguins, "Duper" has scored 232 points, 34th-most in franchise history. In 77 postseason games, he has scored 33 points.

-After the Jump: A dangerous hit by Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo.

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