Foligno eager to return for Blue Jackets - 04-21-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Entering this postseason, Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was one of the few players on this team's roster with any sort of playoff experience. Furthermore, he was one of even fewer members of Columbus' squad with any sort of postseason experience against the Penguins. As a member of the Senators, he fell to the Penguins in the 2008 and 2010 postseasons.

Foligno missed the first two games of this first round series with the Penguins series in Pittsburgh due to a "lower-body" injury. Even though the Blue Jackets were able to split those games, Foligno's experience as well as his style of agitating, physical play were missed. He is expected to return to the lineup tonight. At today's morning skate at Nationwide Arena, he worked on the team's third line with Artem Anisimov and R.J. Umberger.

After the skate, Foligno talked about being out the lineup, how to play against Sidney Crosby and his experiences against the Penguins.

What have the last two games been like watching from the press box?

"It’s funny when you watch from up top. The open ice that you see and the way the systems work. So maybe I had a little bit of head start on that scenario. Things happen so quick in the game. I’m just looking forward to getting out there and really just playing a physical style of game we’re playing and chip in wherever possible."

Do you think the team has been able to disrupt the Penguins game a little?

"I think so. I think with the way we play, it’s kind of our style. It’s tough. We play a grinding style of game. They’re a team that’s such a skilled, dynamic team, sometimes when you get that momentum going in your favor, it can be tough on the opponent. We know we have to play that way and to continue to play that way to have a chance in this series. They’re such a great team and they so many good things that if we don’t play that style, that physical grinding style, our game doesn’t come to the forefront and our opportunities don’t happen and that’s when Pittsburgh takes over."

Will it be challenging to come back to engage in some physical play after missing some time?

"No, not at all. I love that kind of stuff. I’m looking forward to the physicality part of it. That’s kind of where my game kind of starts to come out. I’m looking forward to that. I think it will help me get into the game even more knowing you’ve got to be ready every shift to be hit or get hit."

You've had some run-ins with Sidney Crosby over the years. Is it part of the game plan to agitate him and the other team's stars?

"I don’t know if it’s a key of ours but it’s the way we play. We want to be hard on those guys. I don’t if it’s to agitate them. It’s just to take away their time and space. I think with that, it becomes the agitation. I know how dynamic those guys are. I’ve played them in two series already [with Ottawa]. You need to make sure you’re taking away their space because they can do some crazy, magical things with the puck and make you look pretty silly. That’s definitely been one of our focuses is just to take away their time and space. It’s worked so far but we know we can let our foot off the pedal in that sense."

Is there pride in being able to make the Penguins' stars play defense for an entire shift when you have the puck in their zone?

I think that says you’re doing a lot of good things as a team. Obviously, it’s a sense of pride because you’re playing the right way and making those guys play defense. Even for our [skilled] guys, it’s no fun playing defense. I think were just looking to make sure we’re doing the right things and when we do, we’re playing in the offensive zone. We’re creating cycles, creating chances and making it real difficult. Anytime you can keep the puck out of their hands, it’s going to be a good thing for us.

You mention the two previous series you played against them. Obviously you want to win this series in general but would it be satisfying to you personally to finally win against the Penguins in the postseason?

"Yeah, I’ve played against these guys twice and haven’t done well. It would definitely be nice to get a series win. Obviously, that’s you’re goal. You want to win a Stanley Cup and you’ve got to get by everyone to do so."

(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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Niskanen: 'This time of year, those fancy plays just aren’t there' - 04-21-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


With a handful of Art Ross Trophy titles, it's not surprising the Penguins' power play was the NHL's best during the regular season at 23.4 percent.

While the power play has operated at a healthy clip of 27.3 percent all of two games this preseason, it has failed to score key goals at key moments, primarily in the latter stages of Saturday's Game 2, a 4-3 loss in two overtimes to the Blue Jackets. Even worse, the Penguins have surrendered two shorthanded goals to the Blue Jackets, including one by forward Matt Calvert which shifted momentum early in the second period of Saturday's loss.

The team's inconsistency and penchant for allowing short-handed scores prompted Dan Bylsma to shift to a unit during Saturday's game which featured two defensemen and three forwards. Throughout the regular season, when injuries didn't have an overwhelming impact on personnel, the team primarily used four forwards and one defensemen.

Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin were the two blue liners used with the three forward/two defenseman setup the team displayed at today's morning skate (above, with a camera man working the halfwall) at Nationwide Arena. In addition to leading the team in scoring with four points, he has led all Penguins defensemen in power-play time on ice with 5:54 per game.

Following today's morning skate, he talked about what the team needs to do different with the man advantage.

Given Columbus' success with scoring short-handed, how necessary is it to use two defensemen on the power play?

"The way things have gone, it might be a smart move. They’ve obviously have shown they’re looking for offense. They intercept passes, pressure. Even their defensemen are looking for opportunities. The way the last two games have gone, it might be better to have two defensemen."

What is key for you and Martin?

Just be responsible. You want to create momentum. You want to be aggressive. You want to do the things that make our power play good but you just got to be responsible. If there’s a breakdown - it’s going to happen, they’re going to deflect a puck, they’re going to look to go look for on opportunity – we have to be in a position where we’re able to go back and everybody has to go back. Have that mentality that we’re not going to give up momentum.

What's key for this team to have success?

"It should look a lot like our first period the other night. We were really good. That was about the best we played in a long time. We managed the puck really, really well. When we had space, when we had a play to make, we made it. We moved the puck up the ice. We had pressure. We had guys around the net a lot. Our guys backtracked a lot. Our [defensemen] had good gaps and we didn’t give them any space. Those are the things we try to do and we need to do it with more consistency."

Have the Blue Jackets done unique with their penalty kill?

"They’re not doing anything different than what most teams do. If you look at what I’d say 90 percent of the penalty kills in the league do, they’re not doing anything different. I’d say some of [their] chances are self inflicted. We’re looking to make a pretty play they’re almost sitting on it waiting for it. Just a little simpler mindset when we have the puck. A little bit more of shoot-and-recover pucks, a little more of that mentality. That takes away from their mentality."

How much of a balance is there with being selective with a shot versus just firing it at the net hoping for a goal, a tip or a rebound?

"You don’t want to just shoot everything for the sake of shooting. You don’t want to shoot from bad areas on the ice. We all know the areas we want to shoot out but they might not like to get there. I think the best way to describe it is you want to support the puck first, get everybody with a little bit of motion and then we have people going to the net at the same time the puck is going there. Really, you try to create an organized chaos situation around the net where we’re outnumbering them. Even early in a power play, if you just pound one, it might not be the best shot. You might not score on that one but it set things up and gets their box moving. This time of year, those fancy plays just aren’t there. Once in a while they are but it’s usually after a shot and their box has move and they’re in scramble mode. A little bit of a simpler mentality."

(Photo: Seth Rorabaugh/Post-Gazette)

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Producers returning for '15 Oscars

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will be back as producers of the Oscars. 
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs made the announcement today, months in advance of the Feb. 22, 2015, telecast on ABC. 
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Craig and Neil back to produce the Oscars again in 2015,” said Boone Isaacs. “Their showmanship has elevated the show to new heights and we are excited to keep the momentum going with this creative partnership.”
Academy CEO Dawn Hudson added:   “This year’s show reached viewers of all ages and set social media records, proving that Craig and Neil are masters at tapping into the zeitgeist and capturing the hearts of movie fans around the world,”
The 86th Oscars on March 2, marked the return of host Ellen DeGeneres, and featured musical performances by artists including Pharrell Williams and U2, a tribute to “The Wizard of Oz” by Pink, and a star-studded, record-breaking selfie seen around the world.
It’s too early for an announcement about who will host the 87th annual awards. 
In a statement issued by the Academy, the producers said:   “We are delighted to work with Cheryl, Dawn and the Academy to produce the Oscars for a third time. We’re proud of the show’s success over the last two years and are eager to embark on another entertaining show to honor this year’s motion pictures.”
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Photos: Richard Harbaugh / A.M.P.A.S. and Michael Yada / A.M.P.A.S.


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Grocer's special: Music + Food

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

musicatmartysfeb14 Marty’s Market in the Strip has a partner in the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council for its 2014 spring “Music at Marty’s” events, which create ensemble evenings of music and food (and grocery discounts).

Twenty-five bucks gets you in to hear an interview with and performance by a local musical act and dinner based on a menu designed by the musician(s). Visit this site for tickets and more information about this Friday’s featured artist, jazz singer Phat Man Dee (in photograph below by Adam Blai). Photo above was taken by Lawrence Capozzolo at February's concert featuring Judith Avers and Daniel Marcus, with Andy Mulkerin at right.) fat man d
The event starts at 6 p.m. Marty’s Market is at 2301 Smallman St.
The menu, to be prepared by Chef Ariel Alexander is as follows: curried pierogies, tomato stewed green beans, spicy house kielbasa and braised house kraut, with a cheese board. The cheese board has cheese on it, too.
Andy Mulkerin, the City Paper's music critic, conducts interviews and attendees are encouraged to interact. Attendees also get  a voucher for a discount on groceries at Marty’s.
If you bring your own wine, there will be a per-table corkage fee. If you take your own beer, you might be able to pop it on your own.
On May 16, the next event features members of the Boilermaker Jazz Band.


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Easter plants can last for years, don't trash them

Written by Doug Oster on .

Easter LilyEaster lilies can be planted and enjoyed outdoors for many years. Photo by Doug Oster

Lilies are just one of the plants used as traditional Easter gifts, but certainly the most popular.

Hydrangeas, daffodils and other spring bulbs also fit the bill. But there’s no reason to toss them after the holiday, all these plants will be happy in the garden and return season after season.

The hydrangeas need the most thought when planting. Hopefully the plant you received is hardy, many are. There's really no choice when trying to save the plant. It needs to go outside, only time will tell if it lasts the winter. Improve the soil with compost and find a site with morning sun and afternoon shade if it’s available. When winter comes, surround the plant with burlap supported by wooden stakes. The covering protects the buds from freezing.

The lilies can be planted as soon as the flowers fade. They need good soil, improved with organic matter. Easter lilies are forced to bloom early for the holiday, but when planted outside, they will bloom the next summer.

The spring bulbs are easier to plant, when choosing the site be sure to find a place that will dry out in the summer. Even though fall is the best time to plant bulbs, these plants should go in the ground as soon as they are done blooming. One cool thing I found at nurseries around the area were daffodils planted from bulbs that weren’t sold last year. There are some really cool varieties and I love seeing them bloom before I plant them. They'll bloom next spring with all the other daffodils.

Don't let cool plants go to waste, use them in the garden.



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