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Empty Netter Assists - 09-10-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

 

-The Penguins and local politicians reached an agreement to develop the Civic Arena site.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Chris Joseph. A first-round pick in 1987 (No. 5 overall), Joseph spent parts of three seasons over two different stints with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1987-88, Joseph appeared in 17 games and recorded four assists before being traded along with Craig Simpson, Dave Hannan and Moe Mantha to the Oilers in exchange for Paul Coffey, Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp. After stints with the Oilers and Lightning, Joseph returned to the Penguins when he was claimed off waivers from the Lightning early in the 1994-95 season. In 33 games with the Penguins that season, Joseph scored 15 points. In that spring's playoffs, saw action in 10 games and netted two points. Joseph played in 70 games in 1995-96 and contributed 19 points. In that season's playoffs, Joseph appeared in 15 games and scored one goal. In the 1997 offseason, Joseph signed with the Flyers as a free agent. In 120 regular season games with the Penguins, Joseph scored 38 points. In 25 playoff games with the Penguins, he scored three points.

-Happy 26th birthday to former Penguins forward Jordan Staal (right). A first-round pick in 2006 (No. 2 overall), Staal spent six seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2006-07, Staal appeared in 81 games, set an NHL rookie record with seven shorthanded goals, scored 29 overall goals, 42 points and was selected as a finalist for the Calder Trophy. In the 2007 postseason, Staal appeared in five games and scored three goals. Despite playing in all 82 games in 2007-08, Staal's offensive numbers regressed as he only scored 28 points. In the postseason, he saw action in 20 games, scored seven points and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years. Staal's production rebounded in 2008-09 as he once again played in all 82 games and scored 22 goals and 49 points. In that spring's playoffs, Staal, playing primarily on a line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy, saw action in 24 games and scored nine points, including a key shorthanded goal against the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final (see below). Staal helped the team claim the series, 4-3, and got his name on the Cup. During 2009-10, Staal, one of the Penguins' top penalty killers, once again appeared in all 82 games, scored 21 goals, 49 assists and was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy. In the playoffs, Staal played in 11 games and scored five points. Injuries limited Staal to 42 games and 30 points in 2010-11. In seven postseason games that spring, he scored three points. Staal rebounded this past season by appearing in 62 games and scoring a career-best 25 points. Appearing in six postseason games, he led the team in goals (six) and points (nine). In 431 regular season games with the Penguins, Staal scored 248 points, 31st-most in franchise history. In 73 postseason games, "Gronk" scored 36 points. From midway through his rookie season until the end of the 2009-10 campaign, Staal appeared in 302 consecutive games, second-most in franchise history. During the 2012 offseason, Staal was traded to the Hurricanes in exchange for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and a draft pick. He is still a member of the Hurricanes.

-Happy 57th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Rob Holland. Acquired in the 1979 offseason along with Pat Hughes in a deal with sent Denis Herron and a draft pick to the Canadiens, Holland spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. In 1979-80, Holland appeared in 34 games and had a 10-17-6 record with a 3.83 goals against average and one shutout. He saw action in 10 games in 1980-81 and went 1-5-3 with a 5.01 goals against average. In the 1981 offseason, Holland was traded to the Islanders for future considerations. In 44 games with the Penguins, Holland went 11-22-9 with a 4.08 goals against average and one shutout.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Former captain/defenseman Scott Stevens stepped down as an assistant coach with the Devils. He will be replaced by former defenseman Tommy Abelin.

-The Capitals re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Cameron Schilling to a one-year two-way contract.

Atlantic Division

-The Maple Leafs re-signed restricted free agent forward Spencer Abbott to a one-year contract. Terms were not reported.

-Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Sabres, submitted a bid of $1.4 billion to purchase the NFL's Buffalo Bills. The NFL is expected to approve the sale which will keep the franchise in Western New York.

-The Lightning has invited former Flames goaltender Leland Irving to training camp.

-“I’m capable and deserving and I want that responsibility." - Senators defenseman Chris Phillips (right) on potentially becoming the team's next captain.

-The Senators extended their affiliation agreement with the AHL's Binghamton Senators through 2018-19.

Central Division

-The Blues reached an affiliation agreement with the ECHL's Alaska Aces.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes will invite former Lightning defenseman Matt Smaby, former Wild/Senators forward Matt Kassian and former Hurricanes/Sabres defenseman Jamie McBain to training camp.

Patrick Division

-Two men were indicted on charges related to the 2011 death of former Rangers/Wild forward/enforcer Derek Boogaard from an overdose of pain medication. Jordan Hart, son of former NHLer Gary Hart, and Oscar Johnson, a physician’s assistant who worked for the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies, are accused of illegal distribution of a controlled substance.

-Bob Suter, a defenseman on the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team which won the gold medal, died due to a heart attack. The father of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and brother of former Flames/Blackhawks/Sharks defenseman Gary Suter, Bob Suter was 57.

-Former Bruins forward Petr Kalus has joined Herning of Denmark's Metal Ligaen.

(Photos: Bob Donaldson/Post-Gazette, Jim McIsaac/Getty Images and Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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The Breakdown - Boston College

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt opened up ACC play with a 30-20 victory against Boston College Friday night. The Panthers showed that their rushing performance in the season opener against Delaware might not have been a fluke, piling up 302 yards on the ground against the Eagles. Running back James Conner was the star, with 213 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries. The Panthers faltered a bit in closing out the win, but they'll still take a 2-0 record into Miami when they play Florida International this Saturday. Now, a look at the positions...

Quarterback: Once again, Chad Voytik only had to keep it simple as Pitt ran over an overmatched opponent. He finished 10 of 20 for 111 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. As I wrote after the game, I think there are still some questions about Voytik's viability as a true game-changing quarterback. He's fine when Pitt is running the ball well, but he has yet to show that he can pick apart a defense through the air. His deep ball accuracy has always been a bit of a concern, and that showed again Friday night as he missed a few long passes to open receivers. On the interception, he simply stared down Tyler Boyd the entire route on a 3rd-and-5, and didn't see the linebacker dropping into zone coverage. It makes sense that Voytik wants to get the ball to Boyd, but that's a young quarterback mistake that he needs to try and avoid in the future.
Now, Voytik should also get some credit for the way he bounced back after the pick. Pitt pounded the ball down the field, but then facing 3rd-and-10 from the Boston College 15-yard line, he floated up a touchdown pass to Boyd.
The most impressive part of Voytik's performance Friday was probably the two-minute drill at the end of the first half. With less than a minute left, Voytik completed three consecutive passes to move the Panthers from the Boston College 36-yard line into the end zone. The second of those three was a beautiful 22-yard pass to Manasseh Garner down the left sideline, which may have been Voytik's best throw of the season. He even made a smart play on the touchdown, when it looked like he wanted to play it safe and hit the swing pass out of the backfield. Given the situation (no timeouts, 24 seconds left) that could have been disastrous. Instead, he held on a second longer and found Boyd in the end zone.

Running backs: James Conner. Rise, lather, repeat. As I mentioned earlier, Conner had 35 carries against the Eagles for 213 yards and a touchdown. Just like in the Delaware game, he ran tough and physical, so that even when there wasn't a ton of space open up front, he was able to gain five yards just from plowing ahead into the pile. Conner said that he could tell as the game wore on, Boston College's linebackers and safeties seemed a little less eager to line him up and hit him after they had been run over a few times. That's really when Conner is at his best, pounding run after run to wear defenses down.
Now, there's the other side of that, too. It's certainly not a sustainable model for Conner to get 35 carries a game. Chryst said he wasn't concerned about the high workload, but I can't imagine Conner will get this many carries per game moving forward. Conner admitted after the game that he started wearing down a bit towards the end of the game, and you could see it in his yardage totals. He stopped churning out eight yards a carry and started going for one to three. Still, in a game that was still relatively close, it's hard to fault the coaches for getting him the ball as they did.
Since Conner got so much work, it's hard to judge too much about the other running backs. Chris James had five carries for 20 yards, and looks to be the clear No. 2 first/second-down back.

Wide receivers: Tyler Boyd put up better numbers this week than he did in his injury-shortened opener, with five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed twice for 23 yards, including one end-around to kick-start the Panthers' scoring drive at the end of the first half. Of course, Boyd's most impressive catch of the day was his first touchdown grab. On that play, he was lined up in the slot to Voytik's right, and ran pretty much a simple fade to the corner of the end zone with a Boston College safety draped all over him. The safety never turned around on the throw, though, and Boyd did an excellent job of high-pointing the football and going up over the defender. He also showed some good concentration to come down with it even as it juggled around in his hands a bit. The thing that struck me about this catch was the amount of body control it took for Boyd to go up, get the ball and come down with possession while a defender was draped all over him. There are a lot of reasons he's as good as he is, but superb body control and strong hards are certainly two of them.
Beyond Boyd, the only other catch by a receiver came on Voytik's pass to Garner down the sideline at the end of the first half. It looked like Boston College's defenders were playing relatively physical with the receivers, so that may have played a role in slowing down the passing game. Put it simply, beyond Boyd, the passing game wasn't really working for Pitt Friday night. The good news is that Boyd is good enough to make up for that.

Tight ends: We did see a couple more throws to the tight ends this week than we did against Delaware. J.P. Holtz finished with three catches for 17 yards, which isn't too remarkable, but let's remember that the passing game as a whole wasn't exactly on point Friday night. On the Panthers' second drive of the game, they tried to run a tight end middle screen to Holtz on 3rd-and-20, but I could see it developing pretty slowly from the press box, and Boston College appeared to be able to do the same from the field and they shut it down for just two yards. I didn't particularly care for that play call there, because that's a play that has been successful for Pitt in the past (and can be in the future) but they used it there in a situation with a low probability for success and, basically, tip their hand on it for the rest of the game. Third-and-long like that is a situation where the defense is likely expecting something like a screen pass or draw, so they're not fooled when it sets up that way. The tight end middle screen is usually more effective on first or second down, when the defense is playing more aggressively. It's also a little bit of a gadget play so that, when Pitt runs it once, it's hard to imagine them pulling it out again now that Boston College has seen it. I get that you want to do something low-risk, high-reward in that scenario, but I think a more conventional screen pass or draw would've been the better call.

Offensive line: OK, raise your hand if you thought Pitt would have the ACC offensive lineman of the week for each of the first two weeks this season? Put your hand down, Coach Chryst.
The offensive line looked solid, though probably not spectacular, Friday night. In many ways, though it wasn't as dominant, I came away more impressed with the performance against Boston College than the one against Delaware.
First and foremost, of course, is that Boston College is a much better team than Delaware. They Eagles have some legitimate guys on the defensive line and Pitt was able, for the most part, to create running lanes and give Voytik some time to throw.
Pitt had some pass protection issues early on that Voytik was able to help mitigate with his mobility, but those seemed to get better as the game wore on. The Panthers started the game with Adam Bisnowaty at left tackle and Dorian Johnson at left guard, but switched to Jaryd Jones-Smith at left tackle, with Bisnowaty moving inside, after two series. From then on, it seemed like a pretty regular rotation every two series.
I don't think it's a coincidence that the pass protection seemed to get better when Jones-Smith came onto the field. I know Johnson was the highly-recruited five-star, but right now, Pitt's offensive line just looks better when it's Jones-Smith at left tackle and Bisnowaty at left guard. I think it'll be a rotation again this week, but if things don't change, I would start to wonder if or when Jones-Smith will get the starting left tackle job.
Finally, we should touch on Artie Rowell's season-ending ACL injury. He got hurt midway through the second quarter on a play where he was pulling to the right on a run for Chris James. There didn't appear to be any significant contact, and it just looks like Rowell's left leg buckled underneath him on the turf. Gabe Roberts came in to play center the rest of the game, and will likely start Saturday. Even though center is an extremely difficult position to replace, I think Pitt might actually be OK here. Roberts played well Friday and, if you remember, was the front-runner to win the job in 2013 before Rowell took it in training camp. The coaches are certainly high on his talent, but he's battled injuries for most of his career. I think the hope is that, like Bisnowaty, the new strength and conditioning program has ameliorated Roberts' injury issues and he can stay healthy the rest of the way. If not, Pitt will have to turn to redshirt freshman Alex Officer, who certainly has potential, but doesn't appear to be quite ready for a starting role yet.

Defensive line: Pitt's defense as a whole played pretty well Friday night, notwithstanding the sloppiness at the end of the game, and the defensive line is no exception. Darryl Render and K.K. Mosley-Smith were solid in the middle, racking up 3.5 tackles apiece (Render had one tackle for loss), and limiting the Eagles to 4.2 yards per carry. When you factor in the fact that Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy had a 51-yard run on the second play from scrimmage, that's pretty impressive. The Panthers limited Murphy on the ground for the most part, which is indicative of good, disciplined play from the defensive line. Even on plays (especially early in the game) where Murphy was able to get some yards, Pitt had guys in the right spots, they just didn't make tackles. On the 51-yard run, for instance, Render took the running back and cornerback Reggie Mitchell just whiffed on a tackle that set Murphy free.
There were also some encouraging signs at the defensive end spot Friday. Shakir Soto had 2.5 tackles, including one for a loss. Freshman Rori Blair also had a nice game Friday night, playing a good number of snaps (mostly in pass-rushing situations) and picking up a key sack on a third down early in the fourth quarter. Blair's emergence — even just as a pass-rushing option — is a positive development at a thin position for the Panthers.
Finally, another game without James Conner getting any work on defense. Obviously, his huge workload on the offensive side of the ball had a lot to do with this, but I also think Blair's performance did as well. If Blair can show that he's effective as a third-down pass rusher, that could allow the coaches to dial back what they expect from Conner on defense.

Linebackers: This another unit that did a good job in shutting down Murphy as a rushing threat Friday night. Redshirt senior Anthony Gonzalez led the Panthers with 6.5 tackles, including a sack early in the third quarter that helped stifle a Boston College drive (Murphy was intercepted on the next play). Gonzalez was blitzing from essentially a stand-up defensive end spot on that play, and just used a nice power move to get past his man and get to Murphy.
We didn't see as much Bam Bradley Friday night as we did against Boston College, but he continued to do some good things when he was on the field. He sacked Murphy in the first quarter to get a key third-down stop and force a punt. On the play, he came from the middle and did a nice job waiting and picking a hole through the line of scrimmage to get to the quarterback and make the sack.

Secondary: This was a pretty interesting game to watch from a secondary perspective. Obviously, the unit as a whole didn't have a whole lot to do since Murphy was so ineffective as a passer, but there are a couple of points worth touching on.
The first would be the increased number of interceptions we've seen so far this season. Pitt has five interceptions so far this year after just eight all of last season. The biggest thing I can point to (and defensive coordinator Matt House alluded to it today) is just a better awareness of the ball in coverage. I don't think this is a case of Pitt playing tighter man-to-man coverage, or anything like that. The defenders are just more constantly aware of the ball, as you saw Friday on Ray Vinopal's interception off a tip from Gonzalez.
The second thing I wanted to discuss from this unit is the play of cornerback Lafayette Pitts. First of all, on Boston College's long touchdown pass, Pitts was not really at fault there because there was supposed to be safety help coming in from over the top that, quite simply, wasn't there. Pitts was playing trail coverage, so he was definitely expecting someone to be there. It didn't look like anyone bit on the playaction, just a busted coverage.
Now, with that being said, I do think it's fair to question whether or not Pitts has improved from last year's admittedly disappointing season. He did get beat a couple of times Friday, and still has yet to flash the potential that we saw from his debut season two years ago. Of course, the only problem there is that Pitt really has no other options. Reggie Mitchell and Avonte Maddox are already playing a ton, so it's not like Pitts is in any real danger of losing his job (even if Maddox takes over that role, Pitts would still have to play extensively at nickel). There's really nothing the Panthers can do but hope he returns to 2012 form.

Special teams: Good night for Chris Blewitt, who made field goals from 49, 42 and 41 yards. Pitt has been very successful getting touchdowns in the red zone this season, but it's nice to have a kicker who can make those kicks if a drive stalls around the 25- or 30-yard line.
The only other thing I would note here is the onside kick that Boston College recovered at the end of the game can be added to the list of things Pitt didn't necessarily do all that well down the stretch. It was a middle kick that the kicker recovered, and it looked like the two Pitt guys in the middle, Gonzalez and Vinopal, didn't necessarily seem prepared to make a play on the ball. The kicking team obviously has to wait until it goes 10 yards, but those two looked like they were doing the same (which they don't have to) rather than attacking and falling on the football. Of course, it didn't end up having any bearing on this game, but might be something to look out for if Pitt is in a closer game and needs to defend against an onside kick.

Coaching: The two coaching points I'd probably look at from this game are the decision to work Conner so heavily (which we already discussed a bit) and the end-of-game sloppiness. First, on Conner, I do understand the simplicity of don't stop what's working, but I also think there's an argument to be made for getting Chris James in there and maybe giving Conner a bit of a breather. He's never going to take himself out of the game, but if Pitt wants to be legitimately good this season, they're going to need Conner in November, too. I'm sure Chryst has a good feel for how much his backs can handle, but it will be interesting to see if Conner gets such a heavy load moving forward.
Second, on the end of the game, Chryst said he didn't feel like it was a "Oh boy we're good now" type of mentality that led to the sloppy ending, but rather a few missed assignments here and there (and one bad snap). When Conner scored in the third quarter to make it 27-7, I thought there was a chance Pitt could totally run away with it and win by 30 points. That, obviously, would have made a much bigger impression. Pitt had absolutely no trouble stepping on Delaware's throat in the opener, but couldn't do it Friday night. I don't necessarily think it's a case like the Navy game last year where the team lost focus down the stretch, but Pitt still has a little bit to prove in closing out wins against good opponents.

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Gateway faces 0-3 start ..... Dukes after Texas standout

Written by Mike White on .

The Gateway football team is staring an 0-3 start in the face. It has been a while since the Gators were in such rough waters.

Gateway is 0-2 and plays host to Hampton Friday. Hampton is 2-0. A Gateway loss means the Gators will be 0-3 for the first time since 2001. That year, Gateway started 0-5 and finished the season 2-8.

Hampton is 2-0 and has been led by quarterback Nick Grabowski. Gateway's defense has been OK. The Gators have allowed 31 points so far. But the offense has struggled. The Gators have one offensive touchdown in two games.

On to other notes ...

Oh come, oh come Emmanuel

Duquesne basketball coach Jim Ferry is not staying just in the eastern part of the country to recruit players. His recruiting tentacles now reach Texas.

The Lone Star State is where Emmanuel Nzekwesi plays. He is a 6-foot-7, 215-pound power forward at Byron Nelson High School. The school is located in what has to be one of the best names ever for an area. Byron Nelson is in Trophy Club, Texas.

Anyway, Duquesne, Weber State and Tulsa seem to be Nzekwesi's top choices. It would be a very nice get if the Dukes land Nzekwesi. He is rated among the top 25 players in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is a 3-star recruit on Rivals.com.

Nzekwesi would be another piece of the foundation Ferry is trying to build at Duquesne. The Dukes have a number of players back from last year's team. Stay tuned for Nzekwesi's decision in the future.

And while on the subject of Duquesne, how about Derrick Colter, the Duquesne guard? ESPN.com has a wonderful story today by Dana O'Neil on Colter's quiet battle with cancer.  Now that Colter's inspirationals story is out, you can bet he will be become a fan favorite in this city. How do you not root hard for this kid?

Brentwood-Avonworth switch

Brentwood was supposed to have its first home game this Friday against Avonworth, but the game has been switched to Avonworth because of construction at Brentwood's stadium.

The game is one of the biggest in Class A this weekend. Both teams are 2-0.

Irvin's son shines

Former NFL star receiver Michael Irvin is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His son is in the state record books of Texas.

Michael Irvin, a junior at Prestonwood Christian in Plano, Texas, tied a Texas record with 22 catches for 229 yards in his team's 69-36 loss to IMG Academy of Florida.

The younger Irvin is 6 feet 2, 200 pounds and guess who has offered him a scholarship? Miami, the same school where his father played.

Varsity Xtra video

Terry Shields and yours truly talk about the 86-0 Clairton-Wilkinsburg game and give our predictions on this week's top games on Varsity Xtra's "This Week In High School Sports.

State rankings

The state rankings from the Pennsylvania Football News are out for this week.

Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings:

CLASS AAAA

1. Central Catholic 2-0

2. Woodland Hills 2-0

3. St. Joseph's 1-1

4. Pennsbury 2-0

5. Parkland 2-0

CLASS AAA

1. Archbishop Wood 2-0

2. Bishop McDevitt 2-0

3. West Allegheny 2-0

4. Erie Cathedral Prep 2-0

5. Thomas Jefferson 2-0

CLASS AA

1. South Fayette 2-0

2. Aliquippa 2-0

3. Southern Columbia 2-0

4. West Catholic 1-1

5. Seton-LaSalle 2-0

CLASS A

1. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 2-0

2. Clairton 2-0

3. Wellsboro 2-0

4. Jeannette 2-0

5. Sharpsville 2-0

 

 

 

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Dana Holgorsen presser: West Virginia prepares for payback vs. Maryland

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen joined the media corps at noon today for a look back at the Mountaineers’ 54-0 shutout win against Towson and a look ahead to a rematch against Maryland, which blanked West Virginia, 37-0, last September.

MARYLAND REMATCH | Looking forward to this one, and knows fan base is too. Went to Maryland three years ago, and WVU fans traveled well. One of the few remaining regional rivals, and wants to keep that sort of game on the schedule. Important game for recruiting, too.

TERPS PREVIEW | Maryland is “the exact same team I saw last year. I don’t think there’s anything different about them.” A lot of continuity in coaches and players on both sides of the ball. “It’ll be a huge challenge for us. … We did not meet that challenge last year.”

WVU 2013 vs. WVU 2014 | “I think we’re in a much better place.” Mentality is different, even if players and schemes are the same. More experienced, more confident, and playing with more effort and energy. Does he want players keeping last year’s result in the back off their minds? “I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. We’ll talk about it briefly.” Doesn’t need the team to change anything. “I have a ton of confidence in our guys right now.”

MARYLAND WIDEOUTS | “Fortunately every team in the Big 12 has receivers we have to cover,” so it’s not going to be such a shock to face Maryland’s receivers. They bring QB CJ Brown back for a third year, and then you add in a trio of electric WRs in Stefon Diggs, Deon Long and Marcus Leak.

CENTER OF ATTENTION | Offensive line’s progress has been extremely important this year. Center Tyler Orlosky was benched last year in favor of Pat Eger. Was it ultimately good for Orlosky? “If you ask him, he’ll say hell no.”

DEFENSE | “It’s tough” to shut teams out in college football. Especially tough when second- and third-teamers are in the game.

IMPORTANCE | “I know how important this game is.” Maryland game tends to be a lithmus test for West Virginia. “With that said, it’s one game. We talked about it last year. I know what the history says. … After this game we still have nine Big 12 games.” Have to stay “on guard” against making too big a deal of this game.

CREST | Would “like to” use William Crest every week if they can find a way to fit him in. He won’t be able to get away with some of the mistakes he’s bound to make (and has made). He’s listed as the No. 2 quarterback now.

UNIFORMS | Maryland wearing some pretty fancy uniforms this week. WVU players pick what they wear every week. “I like the ones we’ve got. We’ll let them pick the combinations. … I know it affects recruiting. It’s all about recruiting.” … Doesn’t think you’re going to confuse viewers or mess up your brand by wearing a different uniform often.

BIG PLAYS | Have had plenty of “explosive plays,” but they haven’t turned into touchdowns enough. Towson did a good job of keeping things in front of them. “I’m a little concerned about it, but we’re going to work on it.”

KEVIN WHITE | “He’s caught how many balls. 20? And he’s gotten into the end zone one time. … He’s playing great. Night and day compared to where he was last year.” Clearly a different player, but the next step is to get into the end zone.

INJURIES | Wes Tonkery is day-to-day.

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Empty Netter Assists - 09-09-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Sidney Crosby's (above) injured wrist and his non-arrest record are doing just fine.

-Kasperi Kapanen will miss the Penguins' upcoming rookie tournament in London, Ontario due to a finger injury.

-"That's where I score my goals." - Patric Hornqvist on being a net-front presence.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins unveiled their new third jersey (as modeled by Anton Zlobin):

-EN Says: This is basically a re-purposed version of what the NHL Penguins wore in the late 1960s and early 1970s as well as earlier this century. While not overly original, it's still a sharp look even with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton logo.

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins all-star defenseman Kevin Hatcher (right). Acquired in the 1996 offseason in a deal which sent Sergei Zubov to the Stars, Hatcher spent three seasons with the Penguins. In 1996-97, Hatcher he appeared in 80 games, led the team's defensemen with 54 points and was selected to the fifth all-star game of his career. In that spring's postseason,  Hatcher appeared in five games and contributed two points. Hatcher played in 74 games in 1997-98 and once again led the team's blueliners with 48 points. He also tied a team record for power-play goals by a defenseman with 13. He saw action in six postseason games that season and scored one goal. His final season with the Penguins was 1998-99. He played in 66 games and scored again led the team's defensemen with 38 points. In the playoffs, Hatcher appeared in 13 games and netted five points. In the 1999 offseason, Hatcher was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Peter Popovic. In 220 regular season games with the Penguins, Hatcher scored 140 points, 61st-most in franchise history. In 24 postseason contest, Hatcher recorded eight points.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-“Obviously last year was not the way I wanted it to go, especially at the end. So I’m looking for an opportunity to show what type of person I am on and off the ice." - Former Penguins forward Ryan Malone on attending informal workouts with the Rangers in hopes of being offered a professional tryout contract. Malone, a native of Upper St. Clair, had the final year of his contract bought out by the Lightning this offseason after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and cocaine possession in Tampa April 12.

-Former Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is still looking for work.

Atlantic Division

-Maple Leafs defenseman Stephane Robidas is still recovering from a lingering knee injury.

-“Money wasn’t really the issue. I wanted to play where I can win.” - Bruins forward David Krejci on recently signing a six-year contract extension worth $43.5 million.

-Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is still recovering from offseason wrist surgery.

-Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss is trying to rebound from a sports hernia which limited him to 26 games last season.

Central Division

-The Wild is still trying to re-sign restricted free agent goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Pacific Division

-The Coyotes hired former Penguins forward Steve Sullivan (right) as a development coach.

-Sharks forward Raffi Torres is still dealing with a lingering knee ailment.

Adams Division

-The NHL named Stephane Quintal as senior vice-president of player safety. The former Bruins/Blues/Jets/Canadiens defenseman had served in the role on an interim basis since April.

(Photos: Leon Halip/Getty Images, Jamie Sabau/Getty Images and Ken White/Allsport/Getty Images)

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