-The Penguins assigned defenseman Derrick Pouliot, center Jean-Sebastien Dea and right winger Bryan Rust to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Additionally, center Kevin Porter and David Warsofsky were placed on waivers with the intention of being assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while defenseman Sergei Gonchar (right) was released from his professional tryout agreement.
-Gonchar has been offered an off-ice position with the Penguins.
-“Guys who really, every night, you know you’re going to have to be at your best to beat them, as a player or as a team, that’s always a great feeling when you’re beating an individual or a team that has that mentality.” - Penguins captain/center Sidney Crosby.
-Goaltender Matt Murray made 20 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 5-3 preseason win against the Hershey Bears.
-Former Penguins defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski has joined MODO of Sweden's SHL.
-Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins forward Rusty Fitzgerald. A second-round pick in 1991, Fitzgerald spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1994-95, Fitzgerald appeared in four games and scored one goal. He played in five playoff games that spring and failed to record a point. His only other NHL season was 1995-96. He saw action in 21 games and scored three points. After missing all of 1996-97 and much of 1997-98 due to a knee injury, Fitzgerald joined the Quad City Mallards of the UHL in the 1998 offseason. In 25 regular season games with the Penguins, Fitzgerald scored four points.
-Happy 75th birthday to former Penguins forward Vic Hadfield (right). Acquired from the Rangers in the 1974 offseason in a deal which sent Nick Beverly to New York, Hadfield spent parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1974-75, Hadfield played in 78 games and was third on the team in goals (31) and fourth in points (78). In that spring's postseason, he saw action in nine games and contributed six goals. Hadfield appeared in 76 games in 1975-76 and scored 31 goals as well as 65 points. In the 1976 postseason, he scored one goal in three games. Hadfield's final NHL season was 1976-77. He was limited to nine games and two assists. He retired in the 1977 offseason. In 163 regular season games with the Penguins, Hadfield, one of three former Penguins who captained the Rangers (Andy Bathgate and Jaromir Jagr are the others), scored 140 points, 61st-most in franchise history. In 12 postseason games, he scored seven points. He currently owns a golfing center which bears his name in Oakville, Ont.
-Happy 25th birthday to former Penguins forward Zach Boychuk. Claimed off waivers from the Hurricanes early in the 2012-13 season, Boychuk's Penguins' career amounted to seven games and no points that campaign. Midway through the season, he was claimed off waivers by the Predators. He is currently a member of the Charlotte Checkers, the Hurricanes' AHL affiliate.
-After the Jump: Raffi Torres is up to his old tricks.
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BLACKSBURG, Va. — Pitt moved to 3-1 this afternoon with a 17-13 win against Virginia Tech. It wasn't always pretty, but there really is no such thing as an ugly road win. Here's a link to my game story, and you can view Pat Narduzzi's press conference above. Here are a couple of thoughts to end the day...
1. Pitt's defense is starting to look really good
No one is going to confuse Virginia Tech's offense with Baylor's any time soon, but that was still one heck of a defensive performance by Pitt. They sacked Hokies quarterback Brenden Motley seven times and had three interceptions. That's what a good defense is supposed to do against an offense like Virginia Tech's. One of the aspects that Narduzzi praised afterwards was the defense's increased knowledge and understanding of the defensive schemes this week as compared to the Iowa game two weeks ago. For instance, one of the Panthers' sacks came on a four-man rush with a delayed blitz. The defenders have to know to wait, otherwise the blitz won't be effective. The Panthers brought pressure from so many different places today, that by the end of the game, Motley had no idea where it was coming from. Ejuan Price was the star with 3.5 TFLs and two sacks. If he can stay healthy, he'll be a major factor for the Pitt defense this season. He, and the rest of the Panthers, should get even better as the season goes along, which is a scary thought for opposing ACC offenses.
2. The offense is still a work in progress
That much is pretty clear. Pitt ran the ball effectively early in the game, mostly through quarterback runs with Chad Voytik. Later in the game, they had success going with a super heavy package that utilized three tight ends. Narudzzi admitted after the game that Pitt's offense is still trying to figure out what, exactly, they want to be.
"We're going to run the football," he said. "Little by little, I think we keep finding out what we can do and who can do what. I think weekly we'll find that out."
Narduzzi pointed to the loss of James Conner as a reason the Panthers are still trying to figure out their offensive identity. That's fair, but at a certain point it doesn't really matter any more. The Panthers lost a great player to injury. OK, but that has happened to a lot of teams this season. They need to move on and find some answers, because Conner's not coming back any time soon.
3. 1-0 in the ACC
That's the most important number coming out of today. As usual, the ACC Coastal looks absolutely wide open. Duke is 2-0, and UNC is 1-0, but Georgia Tech lost its second game today, which really puts the Yellow Jackets behind the eight-ball in the division. Right now, I don't think there's any team in the division that Pitt can't beat. Getting a road win in Blacksburg (even against an undermanned Virginia Tech team) puts a nice conference win in the bank for Pitt. There's a long way to go, but right now there's no reason Pitt can't compete for the Coastal divisional title, especially if the defense keeps up this level of play.