Penguins at Sharks - 03-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Greetings from the dawn of the Goc/Stempniak era. It's a bright new world in which Marcel Goc and Lee Stempniak are Pittsburgh Penguins!

-Okay, it's not quite the same as adding Jarome Iginla or Brenden Morrow but the Penguins are a better team right now than they were 48 hours. There were significant holes on the third line and Ray Shero filled them without dealing away anything significant.

-In years past, Shero has been willing to deal away former first-round picks such as Angelo Esposito or Joe Morrow or even the actual first-round picks such as in 2008 and 2013 away to improve his team. Additionally, several second-round picks have been traded away for the likes of Jordan Leopold or Douglas Murray.

-When you combine that with an inability to develop many forward prospects of the players they have been able to draft, that has led in part to the predicament the Penguins were in prior to adding Goc and Stempniak. The true price of adding the likes of Marian Hossa and Hal Gill was felt in this season's roster which was crunched by the salary cap taking a drop.

-Goc will be the third German-born Pittsburgh Penguin. He joins center Randy Gilhen and defenseman Sven Butenschon.

-Stempniak will be the eighth New York-born Pittsburgh Penguin. He joins Chris & Peter Ferraro, Joe Mullen, Matt Murley, Andre Roy, Rob Scuderi & Brandon Sutter.

-EN Reader Will Rohrer is in San Jose:

-According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' lines in warm-ups were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen -71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
17 Taylor Pyatt - 16 Brandon Sutter - 22 Lee Stempniak
15 Tanner Glass - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

44 Brooks Orpik - 3 Olli Maatta
4 Rob Scuderi - 2 Matt Niskanen
47 Simon Despres - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Brian Gibbons, Chris Kunitz, Olli Maatta, Brooks Orpik and Jeff Zatkoff.

-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland and the great Joe Vitale.

-It looks like Paul Martin is officially listed as being on injured reserve.

-The Sharks' starters are Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Justin Braun, Scott Hannan and Antti Niemi.

-Their scratches are Mike Brown, Martin Havlat and Matt Tennyson.


19:14: Neal races up the right wing and has a wrister rejected by Niemi.

18:56: A one-timer from the center point by Niskanen is blocked

17:54: Raffi Tores gets a chance down the slot. As he speeds by Bortuzzo, he shuffles a backhander on net. Zatkoff kicks it out.

17:33: Scott Hannan pops a one-timer from the left point which hits a body wearing black in the slot.

16:26: Kunitz races down the slot, goes backhand to forehand and shoots a wrister. Niemi kicks it out.

15:19: Torres centers a pass from the right wing corner to the slot for Jason Demers. Malkin reads it all the way and intercepts the puck.

14:51: A big slapper by Marc-Edouard Vlassic from the right point is

14:57: Tommy Wingels snaps off a wrister from the right circle which Orpik blocks.

13:42: Off a turnover by Glass in his own zone, Joe Thornton lifts a wrister from the left circle. Zatkoff steals it.

13:17: Kunitz makes contact with Niemi after he smothers a puck. Hannan gives Kunitz some grief afterwards.

12:41: Jokinen loads up with a wrister from above the right circle and rips it on net. Niemi fights it off and deflects it out of play.

12:36: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Despres pounds a shot from the left point. Niemi fights it off.

12:21: Braun flings a wrister from the right half wall as Despres smacks him into the boards. Zatkoff eats it up.

11:53: A slapper by Dan Boyle from above the right circle is kicked out by Zatkoff.

10:49: The Sharks will get the first power play as Jokinen is called for tripping up against Jason Demers behind the Sharks' net. Crosby, Orpik, Scuderi and xx take the ice. take the ice.

10:43: Boyle pounds a big slapper from the right point. Zatkoff kicks it out.

10:08: Patrick Marleau snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Zatkoff kicks it out. There's a big rebound to the left circle where Joe Pavelski misses the open net and chops it wide.

9:54: Couture snaps of a wrister from above the left circle. Glass slides down to block it.

9:31: Another block by Glass. Marleau pounds a slapper from the left circle. Glass gets a stick on the puck.

9:02: Torres gets a little space against Bortuzzo off the left wing and flings a backhander wide of the cage. Zatkoff smothers the rebound of the end boards.

8:49: Jokinen's minor is killed. The Sharks had a few decent chances.

5:19: A wrister by Braun from the right wing is blocked by Orpik.

4:51: Finn-on-Finn violence. Off a nice little pass by Goc, Glass whacks a puck at the right point on net. Niemi kicks it out. Maatta is in deep and crashes the net. He cleans up the rebound and sweeps it by the glove hand of a sprawling Niemi. That was odd how that play developed. Glass and and Goc get assists. Penguins 1-0.

4:20: The Penguins get a power lay as Burns is called for roughing Scuderi in the Penguins' right wing corner. They were battling for a puck in a fairly routine scrum then Burns went a little overboard and starting punching Scuderi in the head. Malkin, Crosby, Niskanen, Neal and Kunitz tak the ice.

4:15: Malkin fires a one-timer from the right point. Marleau blocks it and clears the rebound down ice.

3:55: Taking a pass from niskanen, Malkin fires a one-timer from center point wide of the cage.

3:39: The penguins cash in. Hannan chases a puck in the right wing corner of his own zone but has it stolen by Malkin in pursuit. Malkin is able to turn around and tap a little feed to Kunitz in the slot. Kunitz leans downa and snaps off a wrister by the blocker of Niemi. That was nothing but hustle by  Malkin and Neal who was also chasing Hannan. Malkin gets the only assist. Penguins 2-0.

2:38: Vlasic whacks a one-timer from the left point. Zatkoff snags it.

0:30: Wingels chucks a wrister from the left point. Zatkoff steers it away.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Sharks 0.


-For a player who hasn't played in nearly five weeks, Jeff Zatkoff looks fairly sharp. He steered away several clean rebounds.

-Overall, there was a good amount of energy to this period. Both teams were skating pretty well. The Penguins just did a better job of cashing in on opportunities.

-What a nice little play by Goch to set up Glass' shots which led to Maatta's goal. Ther was just enough touch on the pass to allow Glass to get a clean shot on net.

-Goc has five shifts, 3:24 ot ice time and is one for one on faceoffs.

We're not sure we notices Stempniak that much. He has 5:10 of ice time on seven shifts and one blocked shots.

-The Sharks have a 13-10 lead in shots on net.

-Thornton leads the game with three shots.

-Kunitz and Maatta each lead the Penguins with two shots.

-Orpik leads the Penguins with 7:44 of ice time.

-Hannan leads the Sharks with 6:49.

-The Sharks have a 10-8 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).

-Couture is 4 for 5 (80 percent).

-Crosby is 4 for 7 (57 percent).

-Glass, Bortuzzo, Marleau and Vlasic each lead the game with two blocked shots.


19:01: Niskanen gets a little cute with the puck behind his net and turns it over to a forechecking Couture. Couture deals a pass to Matt Nieto who whistles a wrister wide of the cage.

18:30: Neal jabs a hard wrister from the slot. Niemi knocks it dead and covers.

18:05: Another power play for the Penguins. Matt Irwin is called for hooking up Pyatt who is barging down the slot. That's two minutes for hooking. Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Niskane take the ice.

17:51: Taking a pass in the right circle, Malkin coasts in and whips a wrister to the far side. Niemi's right leg kicks it out.

16:05: As Irwin's minor expires, Despres takes a pass at center point and chops a slapper. It hits a body in font.

15:49: Burns floats a wrister from the slot wide to the right of the net.

15:45: As Zatkoff freezes a losoe puck, Torres mixes it up with a few Penguins. Nothing comes of it.

15:30: James Sheppard takes a pass in the slot and is hooked up by Glass. He loses the puck and barges into Zatkoff. Glass is called for hooking. Goc, Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.

15:27: Off an offensive faceoff win, Marleau pounds a slapper from the right point. Zatkoff kicks it out. Orpik clears the rebound.

15:02: Couture lofts a wrister from the right point through traffic. Zatkoff snags it.

14:46: Pavelski loads up a one-timer from the center point. It hits a stick and deflects away.

14:20: Short-handed, Kunitz lifts a wrister from the slot. Niemi gloves it.

13:52: Irwin fires a slapper from the right point which is blocked.

13:46: Irwin chucks  wrister from the left half wall which clangs off the near post.

13:30: The Glass minor is killed.

13:23: Burns leans down and rips a wrister from above the left circle. Zatkoff snags it.

13:16: The Penguins get a little sloppy with their defensive zone cover. Pavelski has a chance in the slot but loses the puck.

13:05: A wrister by Despres from the right point is blocked in front.

12:47: Burns moves around Orpik in tight and has a wrister denied by Zatkoff.

11:36: Sutter lines up for a shift with Malkin and Pytat. Sutter wing a draw in the right circle. Despres hammers a slapper from the right point. Niemi smothers.

11:13: Crosby lines up with neal and Kunitz. Off an offensive zone faceoff win by Crosby, Maatta fires a shot from the right point. Niemi snags it.

10:52: Off a feed by Thornton, Vlasic booms a slapper from the right point. Zatkoff challenges and snags the puck.

10:40: Goc hustles up the right wing after a dump-in and is dropped by Hannan. Officials call Hannan for interference while Goc is nabbed for embellishment. We're not sure we saw Goc's infraction. We'll have four-on-four for two minutes.

9:30: Bortuzzo has not recorded a shift since there was 2:41 remaining in the first period.

8:41: Off a feed by Neal, Malkin cuts in from the left circle and is denied by Niemi's right footl.

8:19: Nieto lifts a wrister from the slot over the cage.

7:22: After icing the puck, the Penguins call a timeout to get a breather.

6:31: On a forecheck, Glass rattles Boyle in the right wing corne rwith a solid forehceck. he's skating with Sutter and Adams.

5:47: Crosby rips a wrister off the left wing. Niemi gets a piece of it and deflects it away.

5:24: Kunitz battles for a puck with Demers on the left wing boards of the Penguins zone and smashes into the boards facefirst. He's in some discomfort and heads to the bench.

5:20: Off a rush, Marleau lifts a slapper from the left wing which Zatkoff fights off with his glove hand.

4:25: Neal lifts a sneaky wrister from the left wing. Niemi kicks it away.

3:55: Stempniak is out with Malkin and Sutter.

2:41: A wrister by Andrew Desjardins from the slot is deflected away.

2:17: The Sharks go to the net and get on the scoreboads. Desjardins whips a wrister from the right half wall. Zatkoff tries to cover the puck but Wingels crashes in and knocks it loos. He then deals a pass to Braun at the right half wall. Braun lifts a wrister. Zatkoff tries to fight the puck off as he jostles with Adam Burish. The puck rattles around and slides into the net. Burish is credited with the goal. Braun and Wingels get assists. Give Wingels credit for keeping the play alive. Kunitz heads down the ramp way to the dressing room. Penguins 2-1.

1:06: Demers snaps off a wrister from the slot. Zatkoff kicks it out.

0:58: Orpik is nabbed for slashing Demers.

0:38: Marleau booms a slapper from center point. Zatkoff kicks it out despite traffic.

0:08: Couture hammers a slapper from the right wing. Zatkoff eats it up despite a nice screen by Marleau.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 2-1.



-The Sharks slowly took back control of the game in the latter half of the period. They starting initiating some contact and taking the physical play to the Penguins. As a result, the got a goal on the scoreboard.

-With Bortuzzo out, Despres has stepped up a bit with his physical play. He hasn't been afraid to hit back.

-The Penguins mixed and matched their lines up quite a bit that period. We're not sure if it really accomplished anything.

-Marcel Goc continues to stand out more than Stempniak. Goc has 8:09 of ice time on 12 shifts and is 6 for 10 on faceoffs (60 percent).

-Stempniak has 9:32 of ice time on 13 shifts, one blocked shot and is 0 for 1 on faceoffs.

-The Sharks have a 31-18 lead in shots on net.

-The Sharks have a 55-34 lead in attempted shots.

-Burns and Marleau each lead the game with four shots.

-Maatta, Neal and Kunitz each lead the Penguins with nine shots.

-The Penguins control faceoffs, 25-17 (60 percent).

-Crosby is 11 for 15 (73 percent).

-Couture is 6 for 9 (67 percent).

-Boyle leads the game with three blocked shots.

-Bortuzzo, Orpik and Glass each lead the Penguins with two blocked shots.


20:00: The Sharks will begin the period with 1:03 of power-play time on fresh ice. Orpik, Niskanen, Sutter and Glass take the ice.

19:15: A Couture lifts a wrister from the left wing. Zatkoff steers it away.

19:08: Pavelski centers a pass from the right ahlf wall which Zatkoff kicks out.

18:57: Orpik turens to the ice. The Sharks had a few chances there.

18:33: Sutter lifts a wrister from the right circle. Niemi kicks it out.

18:16: Braun zips a wrister from the right point. Zatkoff is able to reach around a screen and snag it. Kunitz is back on the ice.

18:10: Tyler Kennedy motors out of the right wing corner and has a backhander fought off by Zatkoff.

17:50: Maatta chops a slapper from the right point. Niemi gloves it.

17:34: Battling for a puck in the neutral zone, Nieto knocks off Despres' lid and draws blood out of his forehead. That's a double minor. The Penguins can ice this game here. Niskanen, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz and Crosby take the ice.

17:09: Niskanen whiacks a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.

16:18: Jokinen snaps off a little wrister from in tight to the right of the cage. Niemi fights it off.

15:34: Marleau pushes the puck up ice short-handed. He tries to cut in side Malkin in the Penguins' slot but Malkin knocks the puck away with a nice puck check.

15:01: Kunitz whacks a slapper form the high tslot.

14:54: Despres chops a slapper from the right point which is blocked.

14:42: Marleau beats Malkin this time. After Crosby has a cross-ice pass stolen by Demers, Demers taps the puck up to Marleau in the neutral zone. Marleau pushes it up ice one-on-one against Malkin again, gains the offensive zone. He twists Malkin inside out, goes to his backhand and sneaks a shot under Zatkoff's blocker what an effort by Marleau. Crosby sort of chased the play but didn't exactly bust his butt to catch up to Marleau. What a turn of events. Demers gets the only assists. Penguins 2, Sharks 2.


14:21: The Penguins get it right back. Sutter controls the puck in the right circle, fakes a shot and identifies Maatta trailing in the left circle. Maatta takes the puck and whips it by Niemi's blocker on the near side. What a calm little pass by Sutter. Niemi didn't have a chance. Sutter and Jokinen get assists. Penguins 3-2.

13:08: This game has blown wide open. Tie game. After a turnover by Gibbons in his own zone, Thornton draws in Scuderi and Crosby and taps a pass to Pavelski in the right wing corner. Pavelski is able to center the puck to the slot where Burns swipes it by a hapless Zatkoff. It looked like Gibbons failed to cover Burns on that shot as well. What a rough shift for him. Pavelski and Thornton get assists. Penguins 3, Sharks 3.


12:26: The Sharks get a power play as Jokinen is called for holding Vlasic in the Shark's right wing corner. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Scuderi take the ice.

12:22: Off an offensive zone faceoff wing, Pavelski whacks a slapper from the right point. Zatkoff holds it out. There's a mad scrmable for the rebound but the Sharks can't clean it up.

11:57: Thornton fires a slapper from above the right circle. Zatkoff eats it up.

11:52: Off another faceoff wing, Marleau lifts a wrister from the right circle. Zatkoff fights it off.

11:35: Pavelski cranks a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.

10:26: The Jokinen minor is killed. The Sharks really had some quality chances there.

9:25: Crosby is out with Jokinen and Stempniak. he deals a pass from deep on the left wing to Niskanen moving down the slot. Niskanen lifts a wrister which Niemi fights off.

9:16: Thornton settles a puck in his own zone, looks up and snap off a breakout pass which springs Burns on a breakaay. Burns walks in from the blue line and lifts a wrister which rings off the left post. Argh.

8:26: Goc has a wrister from the left wing blocked by Boyle.

7:09: Despres knocks over Burns with a solid hit in the Penguins' left wing corner.

6:58: Off a drop pass by Kunitz, Crosby booms a slapper which sails over the net.

6:48: Marleau puesh the puck up the ice, spins off a check from Scuderi in the right circle and deals a pass to Torres trailing in the left circle. Torres lifts a wrister which Zatkoff fights off.

5:39: Oof. The Sharks take a lead with a fluky shot. Thornton pushes a wrister though a Stempniak check in the neutral zone on the left wing, gains the blue line a and chucks a knuckler at the cage which sinks under Zatkoff's glove. That's ugly. Inexcusable for Zatkoff. He looks dejected. The Sharks get their first lead. Pavelski gets the only assist. Sharks 4-3.


3:34: Neal deals a pass from the right wing to Niskanen above the right circle. Niskanen rips a wrister which Niemi fights off.

2:39: Pavelski lifts a wrister fro the right circle. Zatkoff gets a piece of it with his blocker.

1:54: Sutter deals a pass from the rght corner to Niskanen charging into the right circle. Niskanen's wrister is denied.

1:46: Niskanen cranks a slapper from the right point. it hits a body in front.

1:26: Zatkoff is pulled for an extra attacker.

0:43: Maatta c hops a slapper from the right  half wall which is blocked.

0:02: Chasing down a loose puck on the right wing, Burns chops it at an empty cage for one of us:

-Pavelski and Vlasic get assists. Sharks, 5-3.

0:00: End of game. Sharks, 5, Penguins 3.


-First things first, Robert Bortuzzo suffered an "upper-body" ailment according to Dan Bylsma during the post-game show on Root Sports. He will be evaluated further.

-This loss was very disappointing but it didn't come across as surprising. Considering the Penguins' awful  history in San Jose and their recent run of spotty play, you could sense a Sharks' comeback brewing as this game wore on.

-The turning point was the double minor penalty by Matt Nieto against Simon Despres in the third period. The Penguins had a one-goal lead and a four-minute power-play to work with. While the Penguins did score a goal, they allowed a short-handed goal to Patrick Marleau which helped the Sharks generate momentum in the third period. Instead of icing the game and putting out of reach, the Penguins allowed the Sharks to spark their comeback.

-Jeff Zatkoff had a marvelous night until he was beaten by that knuckle-puck by Joe Thornton. It might have been a bizarre shot, but Zatkoff needed to stop that goal. The only way to describe that score was that it was a killer.

-Sidney Crosby had a pretty rotten game. We're not big fans of the plus-minus statistic, but he was a minus-five. He had a pass intercepted which which led to Marleau's short-handed goal and he made a pretty weak backcheck on the play.

-As the invaluable Web site illustrated, Crosby saw plenty of shifts against the Shark's top line:

-If Crosby was clamped down that much, that's where the team's second line, specifically it's second center needed to come through. Malkin didn't hurt the Penguins the way Crosby did tonight, but he was pretty ineffective. Ditto James Neal.

-In summary, the Penguins' three big offensive stars weren't very good tonight.

-We're not sure how much of a direct correlation there was, but it seemed like the Sharks started to play more physical and started to crash the net more once Bortuzzo left the game. Again, were' not sure how much the absence of a No. 6 defenseman had to do with that change, but the timing sure was peculiar.

-Give the Sharks credit. They played their game and pulled out a comeback win. For all their skill, it was a pretty simple approach. The just threw the body around, threw pucks on net and make life difficult for Jeff Zatkoff.

-How dominant did Brent Burns look at times tonight? He looked like Rick Nash in his prime the way he could control the puck in tight spaces.

-Patrick Marleau had a pretty effective game. It seemed like anytime he had the puck, the Penguins were on their heels trying to defend him.

-The shame of this loss was that Antti Niemi looked shaky at times. The Penguins could have done more to take full advantage of his play.

-As far as the "new" guys went, Marcel Goc appeared to have a stronger game than Lee Stempniak. Goc got some time on the penalty kill and was pretty effective in that part of the game. And as we pointed out earlier, he had a subtle, little pass to set up a shot by Tanner Glass which led to Olli Maatta's first goal. He had 11:06 of ice time on 16 shifts, one assist and was 7 for 13 in faceoffs (54 percent).

-Stempniak looked a bit lost at times as he played with several different linemates. He had 15:08 of ice time on 21 shifts, twho shots and was 5 for 12 on faceoffs (42 percent).

-Sutter had a pretty solid game. He seemed to be energized by playing with new linemates. The play he made to set up Maatta's second goal was pretty composed.

-Speaking of Maatta, he was one of the few Penguins who had nothing to be ashamed of tonight.

-Despres had a pretty strong game. He was one of the few Penguins who matched the Shark's physical play and he even drew a double minor.

-Brian Gibbons had been doing just enough to stay on the top line with Crosby and Kunitz. Tonight, he did quite a bit to get kicked off that line. He had an ugly turnover and a poor back check which led to San Jose's first goal.

-The Sharks dominated shots on net, 47-22.

-The Sharks led in attempted shots, 78-54.

-Marleau led in shots on net with seven.

-Maatta led the Penguins with four shots.

-Niskanen led the Penguins with 25:16 of ice time.

-Joe Pavelski led the Sharks with 23:46.

-The Sharks had a 30-29 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).

-Couture was 9 for 13 (69 percent).

-Crosby was 12 for 20 (60 percent).

-Tanner Glass, Dan Boyle and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each led the game with four blocked shots.

-The Penguins extended their losing streak in San Jose to 11 games (0-9-2). They have not won there since Oct. 22, 1997.

-How long ago was Oct. 22, 1997? Olli Maatta was four years old. Also, this movie had been theaters for five days by that date:

-Goc scored his first point with the Penguins.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.



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About the Sharks - 03-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Sharks.

When and where: 10:30 p.m. EST. SAP Center.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), CSN California (San Jose market), NBC Sports Network (rest of the United States).

Record: 39-17-7, 85 points. The Sharks are in second place in the Pacific Division.

Leading Scorer: Joe Pavelski, 59 points (32 goals, 27 assists).

Last Game: 3-2 home overtime loss to the Hurricanes, Tuesday. Alex Stalock made 32 saves for the Sharks.

Last Game against the Penguins: 5-1 road loss, Dec. 5, 2013. Antti Niemi (right) made 23 saves for the Sharks.

Sharks Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Raffi Torres. He has points in three consecutive games.

Ex-Penguins on the Sharks: Jim Johnson, assistant coach; Tyler Kennedy, RW.

Ex-Sharks on the Penguins: Marcel Goc, C; Tony Granato, assistant coach.

Useless Sharks Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Goc (2000) will become the second former Sharks first-round pick to play for the Penguins. The first was right winger Pat Falloon (1992).

Best Sharks Video We Could Find: Speaking of the devil, here's Falloon scoring a short-handed goal against Kings goaltender Robb Stauber in 1992-93:

Probable goaltenders: Jeff Zatkoff (9-2-1, 2.64 GAA, .909 SV%) for the Penguins. Antti Niemi (29-13-6, 2.40 GAA, .911 SV%) for the Sharks.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Paul Martin (hand) are out. Right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), defenseman Kris Letang (stroke) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Sharks, center Tomas Hertl (knee) and defenseman Brad Stuart ("upper body") are on injured reserve

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' did not hold a full morning skate. Consider this a guess at their lines and defensive pairings for tonight:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
57 Marcel Goc - 16 Brandon Sutter - 22 Lee Stempniak
15 Tanner Glass - 27 Craig Adams - 5 Deryk Engelland

4 Rob Scuderi - 2 Matt Niskanen
44 Brooks Orpik - 3 Olli Maatta
47 Simon Despres - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

The Sharks lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

8 Joe Pavelski – 19 Joe Thornton – 88 Brent Burns
12 Patrick Marleau – 39 Logan Couture – 83 Matt Nieto
13 Raffi Torres – 15 James Sheppard – 57 Tommy Wingels
9 Marty Havlat – 10 Andrew Desjardins – 18 Mike Brown

44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic – 5 Jason Demers
27 Scott Hannan – 61 Justin Braun
52 Matt Irwin – 22 Dan Boyle



-The last time the Penguins played the Sharks, this happened:

-This too:

-The Penguins have not won in San Jose since, Oct. 22, 1997. They have gone 0-8-2 since.

-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 10:15 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 03-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-"[The Penguins] are a team that plays an up-tempo pace and really skates. Those are my strong suits." - new Penguins forward Lee Stempniak (above).

-“I think Lee Stempniak is a really good hockey player. If he was 10 pounds heavier, he’d be a dynamite hockey player. His deficiencies aren’t from hockey skill. They’re not from hockey IQ. They’re not from effort. They’re from physical limitations.” - Flames general manager Brian Burke on Stempniak.

-"I sit here right now and say, ‘Am I glad I didn’t trade our first-round pick?’ Absolutely." - Ray Shero on not dealing away a high-end draft pick yesterday.

-The Penguins have lost their last 10 games in San Jose.

-What does Chuck Kobasew's assignment mean to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

-Shero speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Tanner Glass speaks:

-How did Peter Mannino become the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' top goaltender?

-After the Jump: Martin St. Louis, Thomas Vanek and Tim Thomas all change teams.

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Spring preview: Quarterbacks

Written by Sam Werner on .

Doesn't it feel like the 2013 season just ended and just yesterday we were enjoying the beauty of Detroit in December? Well, it's already time to start looking forward. Pitt starts its 2014 spring practices March 16 and, in the 10 days leading up to that date, let's go through and take a look at where each position stands heading into Paul Chryst's third spring session at the helm. First, let's take a look at the guys who will be under center this spring (spoiler alert: there aren't many of them)...

Projected depth chart (returning starters in italics)

1) Chad Voytik, RS So., 6-1, 210 lbs
2) Trey Anderson, Sr., 6-0, 195 lbs

And that's it. Pitt will go through spring practice with just two quarterbacks on the roster. Both guys will obviously don their usual red jerseys, and it wouldn't surprise me if Chryst used up Pitt's entire supply of bubble wrap on Anderson and (especially) Voytik during the spring. While they obviously won't receive any contact, the dearth of options is a unique opportunity to get plenty of worked. I spoke to Voytik earlier this offseason and he said that, despite two years in the system, he's still learning the finer points of the system. As the presumed starter heading into the season, he's going to need all the practice reps he can get. He showed some flashes in the bowl game, but one half of good football is a far cry from being able to start and be successful for an entire season.
The biggest benefit of all these reps in the spring could actually just be Voytik's ability to develop some chemistry with his receivers. Most of Pitt's receiver options are younger guys, who Voytik could already have a rapport with. He has probably thrown plenty of passes to Zach Challingsworth (and other young guys like that) in second-team drills this year, so it'll be interesting to watch which guys he seems to target in the spring.
At this point, Anderson is really more of an emergency option than competitor for the starting job. Barring injury, it'll be Voytik under center (or in the shotgun) for the Delaware game in August. Anderson doesn't really have a big enough body of work to make any judgements on how effective he could be, but a spring with plenty of reps couldn't hurt him either.
The other aspect to watch this spring is the coaching situation. Chryst is now the quarterbacks coach, along with new graduate assistant Jon Budmayr. Voytik had some good things to say about Budmayr when I talked to him, and one thing to keep an eye on is how much Chryst is working exclusively with the quarterbacks versus how much of it is Budmayr. Obviously, Chryst won't be able to spend all of practice with one position group, but I think you'll definitely see an uptick in terms of how much time he spends with his passers.

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Colonials defeat Fairleigh Dickinson in first round of NEC tournament

Written by Craig Meyer on .

When Lucky Jones arrived back to Robert Morris after his team’s 59-48 loss to Wagner last weekend, he did so mired in his worst offensive drought of a season, a slump in which he had missed 51 of his past 64 shots.

So, naturally, he did the only thing he knew how to in that situation – take more shots.

“I kind of got my confidence back when we came back from Wagner,” Jones said. “Immediately that night, me and Chuck [Oliver] went into the gym and just started shooting a lot of shots. From that day until yesterday, we just continued to get shots.”

What happened that night in a lonely gym helped pave the way for a bounce-back performance, one that is partly responsible for the Colonials still having NCAA tournament aspirations.

The junior forward made seven of his 13 shots Wednesday night and had team highs in points (19), rebounds (seven) and assists (four) as Robert Morris overcame a scoreless performance from leading scorer Karvel Anderson in a 60-53 victory against Fairleigh Dickinson at the Sewall Center in the first round of the Northeast Conference tournament.

“I knew when I came into the game that I was going to stay confident and just let it fly,” he said.

Not even 48 hours after being named the NEC player of the year, Anderson struggled, but not without reason, as he was battling an undiagnosed illness. Entering the game averaging 19.6 points per game, he attempted a season-low three shots and sat on the bench for the final 8:37 of play.

“He wasn’t feeling well and he wasn’t being very effective out there, so we had to put people out there that were going to be effective,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said.

In the gamut of a conference tournament, one in which a single loss ends a team’s year-long goal, the fact that the Colonials (20-11) were able to win despite an off day from Anderson was encouraging to those on the team.

“I have confidence going into the next game because I know he’s going to have some fire and it’s not going to be pretty for our opponents,” point guard Anthony Myers-Pate said of Anderson.

After taking a 26-24 lead into halftime, the top-seeded Colonials saw their lead grow to eight in the first eight minutes of the second half. For the most part, that advantage held for the remainder of the game, with the eighth-seeded Knights (10-21) getting no closer than five.

It was Robert Morris’ second win against Fairleigh Dickinson in the past six days and in some respects, the games followed a similar script.

“Both games when we had to score, we didn’t score,” Fairleigh Dickinson coach Greg Herenda said. “We were up 15 with 8:48 to go at our place and we scored two points and then tonight, we never got in an offensive groove.

“I think it had to do with their athleticism on the top of the zone. They not only contest shots, but they contest passes. In this day and age, you don’t see that a lot in the half court. They’re really well-schooled.”

The win gave Robert Morris its sixth 20-win season in the past seven years.

The Colonials will play in the semifinals Saturday against Saint Francis, which upset third-seeded Bryant, 55-54.

Robert Morris swept the season series with the Red Flash, notching those two wins by an average of 5.5 points.

But coming off a night in which his team looked uncharacteristically jittery and sloppy at times, Toole knows his team needs to work on some things if it hopes to advance much further.

“They’ve got to relax and play,” he said. “Everything that’s been accomplished previously is now over and now everybody is 0-0. You have to go out and play. We played like a team that was afraid to lose, in all honesty.”


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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