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Rangers at Penguins - Game 4 chat - 04-22-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

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-A few random notes from today's morning skates.

-Ben Lovejoy's steadiest defensive partner since joining the Penguins has been Paul Martin. He was asked about playing with Martin:

“When I first started playing with Paul, I felt like I was a little all over the place. I was deferring too much trying to read off what he was doing rather than playing my game. I feel like we've complimented each other well as of late. He's a very smart player. I like to pretend I am too. I think that we can play good defense and try and eat up minutes. I think we've done a good job of that but like everybody, we need to be better.”

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-Scott Wilson played his first complete and first postseason NHL game Monday. He joked that he was happy to "finish" a game. Taylor Chorney, who has seen his fair share of NHL prospects, was asked about Wilson's season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

What has his season been like?

"[Wilson's] just a complete player. You can play him in any role. He's been playing a lot of different spots down there. I think he's just such a solid player. He can score. He wins board battles. He hits. He not afraid to fight if he has to. I think [Wilson] is just kind of a 'hockey player.' He does everything well.”

So he's kind of a "Swiss Army Knife" type of player?

"The coaches probably like having [Wilson] around a lot because they can trust him in any situation. If you need to score a goal, you can put him out there. If you're trying to protect a lead, you can put him out thre. He's just a good all-around player."

Mike Johnston lauded him for going to high traffic areas despite not being all that big.

"[Wilson's] a competitor. He's not afraid to get his nose dirty. He can get in there and compete hard. I'm sure he's probably played like that his whole life. You can say he's probably a little undersized but he's not afraid to go to those tough areas to score goals."

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-Johnston said Derrick Pouliot was "real close" to returning. Well Pouliot was on the ice late following his team's optional morning skate today along with Scott Harrington, Beau Bennett, Craig Adams and Thomas Greiss. We're not sure how close he truly is.

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Rangers left winger Carl Hagelin had a nice one-liner when asked about the importance of scoring the first goal in all three games of this series thus far:

Well it's been important in two games of the three I guess.”

-Hagelin and Hornqvist butted heads quite a bit in Game 3. The contest ended with a scrum behind the Rangers net which featured Hornqvist tackling him to the ice in a headlock. Hagelin was asked if he knew Hornqvist, a fellow Swede at all:

Yeah, I know him back from Stockholm. It doesn't matter who you know. In the playoffs, you just play hockey. We're two competitive guys. We just go out there and do what we can for the team. It doesn't matter who is on the other side.”

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-A lot was made from the Pittsburgh perspective of Evgeni Malkin's meek production during the postseason. Ex-Penguins left winger Tanner Glass was asked about the Rangers' perspective:

He's an elite player. It's well known. As a team, their centermen in general drive a lot of what their offense does. So we've been trying to keep the puck out of his hands with speed. Maybe that can frustrate him. He's a good player. He's going to get his looks. We've just got to limit where they come from and how many he gets.”

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-Rangers defneseman Keith Yandle skipped today's morning skate again due to an illness but will play. He did the same thing Friday.

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-We'll be chatting tonight's game. Feel free to participate down below:

Live Blog Penguins - Rangers Game 4 chat
 

-We'll have postgame blog following.

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Steel Casting: Episode 2 -- Draft talk with Jerry Micco & Ray Fittipaldo

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Sports editor Jerry Micco & Steelers beat writer Ray Fittipaldo discuss Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver and sleeper pick prospects in this week's Steel Castings podcast:

 

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Narduzzi wraps up spring on ACC teleconference

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi celebrated his 49th birthday today by making his first appearance on the ACC coaches teleconference. And, really, what better way is there to celebrate? This was largely just a chance to wrap up his first spring practice as Pitt's head coach, but here are a couple of notes from his 10 minutes with the ACC media...

- Injured offensive lineman Artie Rowell is expected to be "full go" by the time Pitt starts its summer conditioning workouts May 10. Rowell was limited this spring as he recovers from ACL surgery last fall. Rowell suffered his injury early in the season (Sept. 5 at Boston College), so it's going to be a full eight months in May from his surgery, which is plenty of time for recovery. There's no reason to expect Rowell won't be 100 percent by then.
The other interesting note from Narduzzi is that Rowell will be competing for playing time at both center and guard. He obviously began last year as Pitt's starting center, but Alex Officer stepped in pretty admirably the rest of the way. As a much bigger lineman than Rowell, I don't think it's unfair to say that Officer probably has a higher ceiling, and if he can get the mental side of the position down (one area where Rowell is extremely valuable) he may hold on to that starting job through fall camp. That would push Rowell out to guard, where he'd be competing against junior Dorian Johnson and redshirt freshman Alex Bookser, the two starting guards this spring. I think it'd be a tall task to push Johnson, a former five-star recruit who started every game last year, out of the lineup, so that leaves Bookser. He hasn't played a snap of college football yet, but I know the staff is pretty high on his potential.
"We're going to find a way to get [Rowell] in there," Narduzzi said. "I think Artie, one way or another, competition‑wise is going to find himself somewhere in that guard/center position."
All in all, this is definitely a good problem for Pitt to have. You can never have too many good offensive linemen, but it will be interesting to see if this staff wants to find an "iron five" for the starting line, or if they're willing to work a rotation (maybe Rowell and Bookser at right guard), like Paul Chryst and Jim Hueber did last year.

- One interesting note that Narduzzi brought up when asked about what he learned from Mark Dantonio at Michigan State was the importance of situational football when it comes to winning games.
"And the other thing I'd say is really the way we practiced up at Michigan State, and we'll do the same thing here at University of Pittsburgh, is just setting up situational defense, situational offense, and really working those situations, practicing those situations in a practice setting," Narduzzi said.
I say this because it meshes with something
Pitt offensive coordinator Jim Chaney told me a few weeks back. He was happy to run the "basketball on grass" spread at Purdue, but his time in the NFL taught him the value of situational football and, in turn, physical football.

- Narduzzi was asked about the possibility of resurrecting the Backyard Brawl, a topic broached by new West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons a couple of weeks ago. Narduzzi was very diplomatic about it, ultimately deferring to the yet-to-be-hired athletic director.
"Obviously, you love to have those rivalries, and West Virginia is a great team in a great conference," Narduzzi said. "We want to play the best.  So we're always going to schedule some of the best opponents we can and really embrace future and past rivalries."
Lyons suggested 2022 is the first year the rivalry could be resumed, looking at Pitt and West Virginia's future schedules. Pitt does have a few openings before that (WVU is a bit more crowded), but it will be interesting to see the overall scheduling philosophy of the new athletic director. Former AD Steve Pederson was reluctant to schedule two big-time non-conference games in one season (i.e. both Penn State and Notre Dame), but that could change.
For reference, here's a chart of Pitt's future non-conference (and rotating ACC crossover) opponents:

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 3.49.20 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Narduzzi admitted that there's "so much to learn" for this Pitt defense before the season opener Sept. 5, but did like the attitude they took towards the spring. He said that as he was watching film of the spring game today, he was texting back and forth with a middle linebacker (he didn't say which one, but logic would suggest Matt Galambos, Quintin Wirginis or maybe Mike Caprara) about what that player did right and wrong in the spring game.
"So there's so many little things," Narduzzi said. "Our kids are anxious to continue to learn. I don't know if I can pinpoint one thing, but the one thing I did like is their attitude and their engagement in spring ball. They're willing to learn."

- Finally, one potentially key player for Pitt who wasn't on campus this spring is incoming transfer quarterback Nathan Peterman, who will join Pitt once he graduates from Tennessee. Peterman is eligible to play right away, and I know Chaney and Narduzzi are both hopeful that he'll push Chad Voytik a little bit this summer and fall.
"I think it's always good when you can look in that rearview mirror and see that someone's there on you," Narduzzi said. "I don't know that Chad had that throughout the spring, to be honest with you."

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About the Rangers - Game 4 - 04-22-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Rangers.

When and where: 7:08 p.m., EDT. Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), MSG (New York market), NBC Sports (rest of the United States), Sportsnet 360, TVA2.

Leading postseason scorer: Left winger Rick Nash, 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists).

Last Game: 2-1 road win in Game 3 Monday. Defenseman Dan Girardi (right) had two assists for the Rangers.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (1-2-0, 2.36 GAA, .922 SV%) for the Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist (2-1-0, 2.01 GAA, .915 SV%) for the Rangers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right winger Beau Bennett ("upper body") is doubtful. Defensemen Derrick Pouliot ("upper body"), Christian Ehrhoff (suspected concussion) and Kris Letang (concussion) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (right shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Rangers, defenseman Keith Yandle (illness) is probable. Defenseman Kevin Klein (forearm) is out.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins had an optional morning skate. Consider this a guess based on their practice yesterday:

14 Chris Kunitz  - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
17 Blake Comeau - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 39 David Perron
13 Nick Spaling - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
43 Scott Wilson - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 26 Daniel Winnik

7 Paul Martin - 12 Ben Lovejoy
4 Rob Scuderi - 27 Ian Cole
8 Brian Dumoulin - 44 Taylor Chorney

-The Rangers' lines and pairs at their morning skate were:

61 Rick Nash - 16 Derick Brassard - 36 Mats Zuccarello
20 Chris Kreider - 21 Derek Stepan - 10 J.T. Miller
62 Carl Hagelin - 13 Kevin Hayes - 26 Martin St. Louis
15 Tanner Glass - 28 Dominic Moore - 19 Jesper Fast

27 Ryan McDonagh - 5 Dan Girardi
18 Marc Staal - 22 Dan Boyle
93 Keith Yandle - 44 Matt Hunwick

Notes:

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

-Center Evgeni Malkin has played in 99 career playoff games.

-Since 2012, the Rangers are 1-12 in games after they have taken a lead.

-Klein participated in the morning skate but will not play. Defenseman Keith Yandle did not participate but head coach Alain Vigneault said he will play.

-The referees are Francois St. Laurent (No. 38) and Wes McCauley (No. 4). The linesmen are Shane Heyer (No. 55) and Kiel Murchison (No. 79).

-Our live chat begins at approximately 7 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

 

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Empty Netter Assists - Crosby, Malkin ready for Game 4 - 04-22-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Rangers

-“The way we finished is really going to help. The desperation and the way we competed in the second half of that game, we got a good idea of the level it’s going to take to win the next one. They definitely raised their level, and it’s time for us to respond.” - Sidney Crosby.

-“I know I’m not happy with my game right now, but I am focused [for the] next game. [The] series is not over, you know. We can [come] back, and I can change my game a little bit better. I’m staying positive. We have lots of games.” - Evgeni Malkin.

-Welcome back Chris Kunitz ... to the varsity power play unit?

-Why can't the Penguins get many shots on net during the first period of games in this series?

-Taylor Chorney is comfortable with Brian Dumoulin.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-“If anybody thinks that we can totally shut that team down from start to finish, that makes no sense." - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.

-"We're in a tough fight right now. We've got a really good Pittsburgh team that's giving us all we can handle. It's a good opportunity for us to come out and play a Game 4 that could be huge for us." - Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

-“I’m trying to learn the banjo. That got a little messed up when I went down with my injury. True story.” - Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein on his broken left forearm.

-After the Jump: Triple overtime in Chicago.

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