About the Stars - 01-25-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Stars.

When and where: 8 p.m. EST. American Airlines Arena.

TV: Root Sports, Fox Sports Southwest.

Record: 23-20-8, 54 points. The Stars are in fifth place in the Central Division.

Leading Scorer: Tyler Segin, 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists).

Last Game: 7-1 home win against the Maple Leafs, Thursday. Jamie Benn had a goal and three assists for the Stars.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 home shootout loss, Feb. 29, 2012. Loui Eriksson recorded two assists for the Stars.

Stars Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Ray Whitney. He has 48 points in 44 career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Stars: Alex Goligoski (above), D; Sergei Gonchar, D; Jiri Hrdina, amateur scout; Mark Recchi, advisor to hockey operations.

Ex-Stars/North Stars on the Penguins: Jason Botterill, assistant general manager; Chris Conner, RW; Bill Guerin, player development coach; Jussi Jokinen, LW; Matt Niskanen, D; James Neal, LW; Warren Young, amateur scout.

Useless Stars/North Stars Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Niskanen (2005) is one of six former Stars/North Stars first-round draft picks who have played for the Penguins. The others are defensemen Rick Jackman (1996), Bryan Maxwell (1975), Ron Meighan (1981), right winger Jarome Iginla (1995) and left winger Brenden Morrow (1997). A seventh, Botterill (1994), currently works in the Penguins' front office.

Best Stars/North Stars Video We Could Find: Former Penguins goaltender Gilles Meloche pitching for a local pizza joint while as a member of the North Stars:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (28-11-1, 2.30 GAA, .916 SV%) for the Penguins. Kari Lehtonen (19-14-8, 2.58 GAA, .916 SV%) for the Stars.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), centers Brian Gibbons ("lower body"), Joe Vitale ("upper body") and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Stars, defenseman Stephane Robidas (leg) is on injured reserve.

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

 14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 12 Chuck Kobasew
36 Jussi Jokinen - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
17 Taylor Pyatt - 16 Brandon Sutter - 59 Jayson Megna
15 Tanner Glass - 25 Andrew Ebbett - 27 Craig Adams

  Rob Scuderi - 58 Kris Letang
Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
 3 Olli Maatta - 2 Matt Niskanen

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


14 Jamie Benn - 91 Tyler Seguin - 43 Valeri Nichushkin
21 Antoine Roussel - 20 Cody Eakin - 16 Ryan Garbutt
72 Erik Cole - 38 Vernon Fiddler - 13 Ray Whitney
17 Rich Peverley - 10 Shawn Horcoff - 12 Alex Chiasson

33 Alex Goligoski - 6 Trevor Daley
4 Brenden Dillon - 24 Jordie Benn
27 Aaron Rome - 55 Sergei Gonchar


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

-Kunitz has 197 career goals.

-The Stars assigned former Penguins left winger Dustin Jeffrey to Texas of the AHL.

-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 7:45 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Rob Rang on Aaron Donald's Senior Bowl and draft stock

Written by Sam Werner on .

In today's P-G, I wrote about Aaron Donald's big week down in Mobile, Ala., for the 2014 Senior Bowl (which airs today at 4 p.m. on NFL Network). Donald was named the Most Outstanding Overall Player from the week of practice, and almost certainly improved his positioning for May's NFL Draft.

For more on that subject, I caught up with Rob Rang from and Here's what Rang had to say about Donald just over three months from draft day.

So Aaron Donald was pretty much the star of the show down at Senior Bowl practices, right?
RR: He really was. He was terrific. It's not anything that you guys hadn't seen. He's been unbelievable all year long and he just carried that through into that week of practice.

Was it beneficial for NFL scouts to see him going up against guys like Cyril RichardsonZack Martin and other guys who could be high draft picks?
RR: I believe it was. I think even against top competition that he faced this year, to have that many scouts in the stands and to see it snap after snap after snap, it's pretty hard to argue that he was a product of the defense or that his play doesn't translate into the NFL.

What was most impressive about Donald that scouts saw this week?
RR: Physically speaking, his quickness, his use of hands. He has, in my opinion, underrated strength at the point of attack. Even going back to Monday during the weigh-in, 6-1, 288 pounds, I think that he came in just a little bit bigger than people were thinking that he might. A lot of people have been kind of fusing he and Will Sutton from Arizona State, ranking them as 1A and 1B as far as the so-called undersized defensive tackles. To see Will Sutton come in a little out of shape, with kind of a belly and all that, then Aaron Donald, on the other hand, about as trim as a 288-pound man is going to look. But looking good, looking like that's the weight he should be at to play in the NFL, I think all those things.
The physical things are certainly impressive, but then just the relentlessness, I think, also definitely struck a chord with me.

How does he project onto an NFL defense? Does it have to be as a three-technique in a 4-3 scheme?
RR: That's where I believe he fits in best. I think you're trying to put a square peg in a round hole if you're going to use him in a 3-4. He has such great quickness and such relentlessness, that I believe that he could be successful in a 3-4, perhaps on the nose in pass-rushing situations, not necessarily as a full-down guy because he's just going to, I would think, get blown off the ball as the game wore on. But, as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense, an interior pass-rusher, in my opinion, there is not a better pass-rushing defensive tackle in this year's draft class.

Do you see him as a first-round pick?
RR: I absolutely believe it's a possibility. I've been putting him in that top 40-45 mix essentially since late October, early November. So I think that he just improved his status this week. That would be the one thing I want to make sure people realize is that this week just confirmed what we saw. The idea that he was a third- or fourth-round pick before and suddenly has sky-rocketed into the first round, that's a little bit of an exaggeration. He's had a phenomenal year and, again, this was kind of the exclamation point. He's proven his play all year long.

What NFL teams do you think make sense for Donald at this point?
RR: The Chicago Bears are a team that, at least, the belief is they're looking for a pass-rushing defensive tackle. Just given the quarterbacks in that division, that makes some sense. You've got to get some interior pressure on those quarterbacks. I would say the Chicago Bears. I would say, as you start to get to about the midpoint of the first round, anywhere past there, I think he makes sense for virtually all the 4-3 teams. To me, a good fit would actually be the two teams that are playing in the Super Bowl, just because they're both predicated on pressure on their defense, and they both have some needs on the interior defensive line for pressure. I think that he's one of those guys that, because he doesn't have great size, perhaps he slips into the late portion of the first round and then he goes to a team that's just stacked, and it helps him be that much more successful early in his career.

Thanks a ton to Rob for his insight. You can follow him on Twitter @RobRang and see his Big Board here.

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Empty Netter Assists - 01-25-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-James Neal (above) has fared fairly well since being traded from the Stars.

-Ditto Matt Niskanen.

-How much do the Penguins miss Pascal Dupuis?

-Long Island native Rob Scuderi has good memories of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

-“Looking back, I’m kind of glad we didn’t get to fight. Something could have happened to either of us, something unfortunate. It was a good job by the officials that it didn’t happen. It was nothing personal against Marc-André. I’ve only heard good things about him, that he’s a good guy. It all happened only because I was frustrated the way we were playing and the way things were going. Losing 5-1 on the road was tough to swallow.” - Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj on his near-fight with Marc-Andre Fleury Wednesday. Budaj also snuffed out the bogus reports he had martial arts training.

-Zach Sill scored the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' only goal in a 4-1 loss to the Norfolk Admirals. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made six saves in and was credited with the loss.


-Drouin-Deslauriers was given a game misconduct for attempting to fight Norfolk goaltender John Gibson, a native of Whitehall:

-Cody Sylvester scored two goals for the Wheeling Nailers in a 4-1 win against the Toledo Walleye. Jack MacLellan recorded two assists for Wheeling while teammate Mike Condon made 26 saves.

-After the Jump: Eric Nystrom scores four goals and loses while Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton get paid.

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Robert Morris suspends Worthem, three others indefinitely

Written by Craig Meyer on .


The Robert Morris men's basketball program has suspended forward Jeremiah Worthem, guard Britton Lee, guard Evan Grey and guard Shaire Tolson-Ford indefinitely, the university announced Friday.

The exact transgressions that prompted the suspensions were not specified beyond that the athletes violated university policy.

"Student-athletes at Robert Morris University are held to the highest standards and, unfortunately, these four individuals have violated university policy," Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman said in a statement. "We trust that these young men have learned from their mistake and will bounce back as better individuals as a result of this action."


As opposed to the other three who were suspended, two of whom are walk-ons, Worthem became a key contributor to the Colonials as just a freshman, averaging 8.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in his first season of college basketball. He is the reigning Northeast Conference rookie of the week after scoring a career-high 21 points in a Jan. 18 victory at Mount St. Mary's.

All four missed Robert Morris' victory against Sacred Heart Thursday, a game in which the Colonials dressed only eight players.



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Long Island native Scuderi has good memories of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - 01-24-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


The Penguins played the Islanders last night in the type of wild, end-to-end, high-scoring game which has become customary in recent years with this rivalry.

The contest was held at the aging Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., the only home the Islanders have known in their entire history.

The Islanders are scheduled to play their final full campaign in the building next season and move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi (above, center) is a native of Syosset, N.Y. and grew up a fan of the Islanders. Recently, he talked about the arena.

What do you remember from going to game there as a fan?

"I caught my first NHL hockey game there. It was against St. Louis and Brett Hull was playing. The building has a lot of different memories for me just because I was from the area. Even though the Stanley Cup teams were too [old] for me to remember, the Islanders teams were still huge news in the area, especially in the mid-1980s and the late 1980s. They still had competitive teams that went into the playoffs."

What was it like playing an NHL game there for the first time?

"It was in [2004]. It was a lot of fun. A lot of family and friends got to see me play for the first time at the NHL level. At the time, I didn’t know how long I’d be around [in the NHL] so you certainly want to take advantage of it when the time comes. I think I had just enough time to shake everybody’s hand and give everyone a hug and kiss before I had to get on the bus. I probably took up a full 15-20 minutes but it was definitely a fun experience and something I’ll remember."

Are there any similarities to Mellon Arena in its final years?

"Having played in both buildings, I really enjoyed playing in the Mellon Arena. Even guys I’ve talked to since then that I’ve been teammates with, always loved playing there. It was always a good times. We had some dark times here around the full-season lockout, before and after. People still came out in droves. Whether it just be to see [Sidney Crosby] or see a team improve, whatever it was, it was a great atmosphere to play in. I don’t think the Islanders quite had that. Maybe it’s different me for me, I thought the Mellon Arena was a nicer place to play."

What will you miss the most once the Islanders leave that building?

"I think just the fact that I know I saw my first NHL game there. That I played my first NHL game there in front of all my family. Memories like that are a little different to me because I grew up in the area but that’s something I’ll definitely miss.

Is there anything you won't miss whatsoever?

"The bathroom gave off a slight faint scent of sewage. It’s not because someone was in there taking care of business. It was just there all the time. So I don’t think I’ll miss that."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


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