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About the Senators - 02-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

When and where: 7 p.m. EST. Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, TSN, RDS.

Record: 24-21-10, 58 points. The Senators is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

Leading Scorer: Erik Karlsson, 51 points (13 goals, 38 assists).

Last Game: 6-3 road loss to the Maple Leafs, Saturday. Chris Neil had two goals and an assist for the Senators.

Last Game against the Penguins: 5-0 home win, Dec. 23. Craig Anderson (right) made 27 saves for the Senators.

Senators Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Bobby Ryan. In six career games against the Penguins, he has six points.

Ex-Penguins on the Senators: None.

Ex-Senators on the Penguins: Jacques Martin, head coach; Ray Shero, general manager.

Useless Senators Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Senators left winger Chris Neil has 2,115 career penalty minutes, most of any player selected in the 1998 draft. Former Penguins/Senators left winger Jarkko Ruutu is second with 1,078.

Best Senators Video We Could Find: This! Is! ... a terrible ripoff of "300:"

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-1, 2.228 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Penguins. Craig Anderson (18-11-7, 3.07 GAA, .906 SV%) for the Senators.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang (illness) is out. Right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), center Joe Vitale ("upper body") and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Senators, defenseman Chris Phillips ("lower body") is out. Right winger Mark Stone ("upper body") is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not have normal line and defensive pairing rushes at today's morning skate. Consider this a guess based on Saturday's game against the Coyotes:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 49 Brian Gibbons
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
15 Tanner Glass - 16 Brandon Sutter - 59 Jayson Megna
17 Taylor Pyatt - 27 Craig Adams - 5 Deryk Engelland

44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
3 Olli Maatta - 2 Matt Niskanen
4 Rob Scuderi - 41 Robert Bortuzzo

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

9 Milan Michalek - 19 Jason Spezza - 93 Mika Zibanejad
16 Clarke MacArthur - 7 Kyle Turris - 6 Bobby Ryan
14 Colin Greening - 15 Zack Smith - 25 Chris Neil
89 Cory Conacher - 24 Stephane Da Costa - 22 Erik Condra

2 Jared Cowen - 65 Erik Karlsson
3 Marc Méthot - 62 Eric Gryba
46 Patrick Wiercioch - 5 Cody Ceci

Notes:

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

-Kunitz has 199 career goals.

-Jokinen has 397 career points.

-Ryan needs three more points to tie former Islanders/Sabres/Maple Leafs/Stars left winger Randy Wood for the most career points by a New Jersey-born NHLer at 334.

-The referees are Chris Lee and Rob Martell. The linesmen are Derek Arnell and Tony Sericolo.

-Our live blog begins at approximately 6 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Counting down to signing day 2014: Offensive line/tight ends

Written by Sam Werner on .

Signing day is almost upon us. Pitt just announced today that Paul Chryst will hold a 3 p.m. press conference on Wednesday to discuss the newest Panthers, and I'll of course be in attendance. For now, let's take a look at the big hefties coming in this class...

Verbal commitments:
Alex Bookser (6-6, 295 lbs)
Mt. Lebanon High School (Mt. Lebanon, Pa.)
Rivals: 4*, No. 22 OT
Scout: 4*, No. 13 OT
247: 4*, No. 18 OT

Mike Grimm (6-6, 328 lbs)
Bethel Park High School (Bethel Park, Pa.)
Rivals: 4*, No. 26 OT
Scout: 3*, No. 67 OT
247: 3*, No. 42 OT

Connor Hayes (6-4, 270 lbs)
West High School (Traverse City, Mich.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, No. 67 OG
247: 3*, No. 50 OT

Brian O'Neill (6-6, 230 lbs)
Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.)
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 2*, NR
247: 3*, No. 55 TE

While Pitt certainly missed out on some other important targets this year, landing Grimm and Bookser, probably the two best offensive linemen in the WPIAL, was huge for this class. Bookser is an elite prospect, and I think Grimm might be a bit underrated by recruiting services (and some fans) because he was a very early commitment to Pitt, and that probably deterred some other schools from offering him. He was a fixture at most Pitt home games this season and, I can say from standing next to him, he is a very large human being. At the very least, he has a massive raw physical frame for Chryst and offensive line coach Jim Hueber to work with.
For whatever concerns there may be about Chryst's recruiting ability, he has not had any problems bringing in good offensive linemen. Pitt looks good at offensive for next year, so I would expect that — barring a lot of injuries — all three of the linemen will redshirt in 2014. Chryst has also said that, especially with offensive linemen, it's always better to redshirt than not. Pitt has recruited well enough at the position over the past couple of years, that they now have that luxury with Bookser, Grimm and Hayes.
At tight end, O'Neill is an interesting prospect. He committed to Pitt last summer, and saw some increased interest from other programs after a very good senior season. With his size, he's definitely a true tight end, rather than the hybrid position that Pitt used a lot this year (think JP Holtz vs. Manasseh Garner). He'll probably take a redshirt, but if he can develop a good receiving game, at 6-foot-6, he can be a real weapon as a pass-catcher.

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Pitt recruit Rowan on torrid free-throw streak

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptop.

Lincoln Park sophomore Maverick Rowan is an excellent shooter. But what he has done lately from the free-throw line goes beyond excellence. 

It is perfection.

Rowan, who accepted a scholarship from Pitt last summer before his sophomore year, has made 41 free throws in a row. He has gone eight games without missing a free throw. His last miss came in a Jan. 10 game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. 

Rowan, a 6-foot-6 guard, also has made 55 of his past 56 free throws. For the season, he is 83 of 94 (88 percent). (Rowan is pictured below).

Maverick Rowan 400x365

It is not known what the WPIAL record is for consecutive free throws made. I did find a few streaks longer than Rowan's. Rob Kezmarsky made 52 free throws in a row in the 1989-90 season when he played for Laurel Highlands. Kezmarsky is now Uniontown's coach.

Also, I found Latrobe's Tom Mueseler of Latrobe made 48 in a row in the 1967-68 season. Mueseler signed with Clemson. I also found an old athlete of the week story I did on Sean Miller when he played at Blackhawk. He made 44 of 45 free throws at one point. I still remember him telling me his routine, "one, two, three, elbow to knee." In other words, three dribbles, bend until his elbow touched his knee and then straight up.

Rowan has a ways to go for the national record on consecutive free throws. Darryl Moreau of New Orleans De La Salle made 126 in a row from 1978-79.

Incidentally, Rowan leads Lincoln Park in scoring at 23.4 points a game. All five starters average in double figures for the Leopards.

Another title for Uniontown

Speaking of Kezmarsky, he has guided Uniontown to a 10-0 record in WPIAL Class AAA Section 3 play and the Raiders play Mount Pleasant tomorrow night. Mount Pleasant is 9-1. If Uniontown beats Mount Pleasant or if Uniontown wins its final game against Laurel Highlands, Uniontown will win its 47th section title, the most in WPIAL history.

Section 2 battle

Isn't the race in WPIAL Class AAA Section 2 interesting? Plum is in first place with a 10-2 record, but four teams are tied for second at 8-4 - Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway and Central Catholic. Depending on what happens this week, there could be a pretty decent team not making the playoffs. Or there could also be a tie for the fourth and final spot and all five teams could go.

Remember the name

I have yet to see him play, but I trust some coaches and others who have, and here is a name to remember in WPIAL basketball for the future. Phil Jurkovec.

Jurkovec is only in eighth grade at Pine-Richland but is gaining quite the reputation as a stud player. He plays for Pine-Richland's ninth-grade team and it's not uncommon to see him score 30 or even 40 in a game. He's about 6-3 and already throws down dunks in games.

From all indications, look for him to have an impact on Pine-Richland's varsity next year.

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Empty Netter Assists - 02-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-How many teams still use the "bag skate?"

-The Penguins held a mom's trip.

-Zach Sill's (right) hometown newspaper is reporting his injury involves his wrist and includes some tendon damage. He is expected to take eight to 10 weeks to recover.

-Happy 46th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Frantisek Kucera. Kucera came to the Penguins at the 2001 trade deadline in a deal that sent a sixth-round pick to the Blue Jackets. He appeared in seven games for the Penguins that season and recorded two assists. In the 2001 offseason, he was traded to the Capitals along with some other guy in exchange for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk.

-After the Jump: An embarrassing display by referee Wes McAuley and Henrik Lundqvist's Olympic lid.

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Empty Netter Assists - 02-02-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Shelly Anderson's recap from last night's game. “We didn’t make it tough enough on them. We didn’t do a good enough job of creating. We could have done more there.” - Sidney Crosby on the Coyotes.

-The Arizona Republic' recap. “It definitely felt good, and hopefully I don’t have to wait that long for the next goal." - Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek on getting a goal against his former team. He scored his first goal since March 5, 2012, as a member of the Penguins against the Coyotes. Fire Ray Shero.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Tonight was a tough-fought game. There wasn't a lot out there. That's the kind of games we expect. We have to be able to play a patient game, not be taking chances with the way we play or the way we play with the puck." - Dan Bylsma.

-Highlights:

-Phoenix captain Shane Doan tried to wrap up Jussi Jokinen:

-Crosby speaks:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Matt Niskanen speaks:

-How will the health of Beau Bennett and Pascal Dupuis impact how the Penguins approach the trade deadline?

-Olli Maatta is racking up the points.

-The Los Angeles Times had a thoroughly sourced piece on professional athletes who have filed workers compensation claims in California against teams in all four of the major North American sports league. Since 1990, 16 NHLers have filed claims against the Penguins.

-Eric Hartzell stopped only three out of the five shots he faced and was credited with a loss for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who fell at to the Rochester Americans, 4-0.

-Highlights (so to speak):

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin is considered week-to-week due to a leg injury.

-Peter Mannino made 28 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 3-1 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings.

-After the Jump: The Kings keep losing.

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