Rangers at Penguins - 01-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Greeting on the dawn of the Taylor Pyatt era. We like the addition. As we wrote yesterday, Pyatt offers two things the Penguins don't have on the third line - size and health. The fact that the Penguins are picking up his considerable salary cap hit of $1.55 million is a subject of concern but given the circumstances surrounding the Penguins' roster, Pyatt is a viable candidate to fill a void.

-After being limited on offense by the Devils New Year's Eave, the Penguins shuffled their lines at today's morning skate. They've loaded up their first line with James Neal on Sidney Crosby's wing along with Chris Kunitz. Additionally, they're giving Brandon Sutter a crack as the No. 2 center. His wingers will be Jussi Jokinen, who has struggled at center in the absence of Evgeni Malkin and Brian Gibbons who had a solid game Tuesday.

-Pyatt worked on the third line left wing with with the great Joe Vitale at center and Craig Adams on the right wing. Vitale has shown an ability to offer limited contributions throughout the lineup.

-We would expect to see Deryk Engelland return as a forward in place of Chuck Kobasew tonight. He got some work on the fourth line and has offered a surprising amount of good play in that role this season. Kobasew has been a dud after a strong start to the season.

-We'll be interested to see how the ice is tonight. A Penguins player recently complained about the ice being sloppy during a stretch of warm, humid weather prior to Christmas. He felt those responsible for maintaining the ice didn't make the proper adjustments to account for the humidity. With the weather outside hovering in the teens, we wonder how the ice will react.

-We informally talked with a number of Penguins players who expressed a lot of satisfaction of having three days off for Christmas. As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL must give players three days off for the holiday. It provided a mental break from the season. The old CBA only permitted two days. We can also tell you several coaches, support staff (trainers, equipment guys, etc.) and media didn't mind a few days off in this marathon of a season.

-As usual, we would fully expect to see Crosby's line face the Rangers defensive pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi quite a bit. The Rangers will get those two on the ice against the Penguins' top line as much as possible as the road team

-The Rangers will get a boost from the return of captain Ryan Callahan. He's a heart and soul player for this team who offers quite a bit as a defensive player.

-The barn:

-The ice:

-This is the first we've seen of the Penguins' outdoor jerseys being worn by fans. The design on the shoulders, especially in between with the big corporate logo, is too busy for us. Chris Kunitz:

-Marc-Andre Fleury:

-Evgeni Malkin:

-Fans entering the barn:

-There is a solid showing of Rangers fans on hand:

-Brad Richards:

-Marian Gaborik:

-Egads! Aleskey Zherdev?!?

-Mats Zuccarello:

-Is this a Warren Peters jersey?

-Mike Bullard:

-Former Penguins/Rangers forward Alexei Kovalev:

-Rangers assistant coach and former Penguins defenseman Ulf Samuelsson with the "Badger" Bob Johnson logo:

-Jersey of the Night: In light of the recent Team USA announcements, we'll have to go with Brian Leetch United States:

-Warm ups:

-The Penguins' starters are Craig Adams, Taylor Pyatt, Brandon Sutter, Simon Despres, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratch is Chuck Kobasew.

-The Rangers' starters are Chris Kreider, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist.

-Their starters are Michael Del Zotto, Justin Falk and J.T. Miller, a native of East Palestine, Ohio.

-No Jimerson. No picture.


19:34: After Neal steals a puck in the right wing corner of the Rangers' zone, he turns and deals a pass to Robet Bortuzzo in the right circle. Lundqvist fights it off

17:55: Benoit Pouliot flings a wrister from deep on the left wing on net. Fleury steers it away.

16:46: Dominic Moore pitchforks a backhander from the right wing on net. Fleury snags it.

16:42: Off an offensive faceoff win in the right circle, Nash whips a quick wrister on net from the top of the circle. Fleury makes the save despite having Kreider crash in.

15:11: Off some strong work by Sutter in the left wing corner, Gibbons gets a chance from a tough angle on the left wing. Lundqvist kicks it out.

13:14: Off a stretch pass from Matt Niskanen, Glass chucks a wrister from the left half wall on net. Lundqvist steers it away.

12:12: From the right wing, Nash rips a wrister to the far side. Fleury boots it out with his right leg.

11:11: After the great Joe Vitale steal a puck in the slot, Adams has a chance all alone to the right of the cage. He gets Lundqvist to commit to a glove save and has him beat but puts it off the outside of the left post. Argh.

9:24: Engelland deals a cross-ice pass from the right point to Jokinen moving up on the left wing. Chris Kreider hustles back and dives to break up the pass.

8:49: The Penguins will get the first power play of the game as Nash is called for hooking Jokinen at the Rangers' blue line. Jokinen, Niskanen, Crosby, Kunitz and Neal take the ice.

8:28: Jokinen carries the puck up the left wing and lofts a wrister on net. Lundqvist rejects it.

8:12: From center point, Jokinen deals a pass to Crosby in the right circle. Crosby leans down and puts a one-timer on net. Lundqvist boots it out.

8:09: Crosby taps his rebound to Niskanen on the left half wall. Niskanen rockets a one-timer which Lundqvist eats up.

7:17: Maatta chops a one-timer from above the right circle. Derek Dorsett blocks it and is hobbled.

6:51: Niskanen takes a pass from Neal at center point. He holds, hesitates and looks at the cage. He chucks a wrister into a cluster of bodies. The puck hits a body or two, rattles around and come to the forehand of Kunitz to the left o fthe blue paint. he battles off Stralman and taps it into the open cage. That was ugly but it counts. Dorsett hobbles to the bench. Crosby and Niskanen get assists. The "Hey Song" is never ugly. Penguins 1-0.

5:29: Staal rips a wrister from the left circle which is blocked by the great Joe Vitale.

4:45: Sill is nabbed for high sticking Conor Allen while battling for a puck in front of Lundqvist.  Adams, Orpik, Sutter and Engelland take the ice.

4:18: Huge save. Zuccarello moves up the  left wing, draws in Egnelland and chips a puck to Brassard in the left circle. Brassard races in on a mini breakaway and puts a little forehand shot which Fleury kicks out. What a save. Engelland owes Fleury a beer.

3:46: Brassard fires a spinning slapper from the high slot over the cage.

3:08: Nash lofts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off.

2:45: Sill's minor is killed with minimal threat from the Rangers.

2:03: Kunitz races in on the right wing and smacks Girardi behind the Rangers cage with a reverse hit. Giradi is hobbled a bit.

1:20: Jussi Jokinen left winger. After a give and goes behind the Rangers' cage with the great Joe Vitale, Gibbons creates a little room on Staal with a nifty "pass" to himself and taps a feed to Jokinen floating to the right of the cage. Jokinen leans down and taps a wrister by the glove hand of Lundqvist. Gibbons and the great Joe Vitale get assists. The "Hey Song" is always nifty. Penguins 2-0.

0:20: Kunitz dries a slapper from the left wing. Lundqvist fights it off.

0:03: Girardi chops a loose puck from the right circle. Orpik blocks it.

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


-Unlike Tuesday against the Devils, the Penguins buried most of their chances in that period. They were pretty opportunistic. With the exception of Adams post shot, they made the Rangers pay for their mistakes.

-So far so good for Taylor Pyatt. Just prior to the Adams post shot, he had a little chip and chase play in the left wing corner where he just scrummed for the puck and used his size to keep the defenseman away. He looked a little like another big No. 17 - Mike Rupp.

-Marc-Andre Fleury is a big reason this is a 2-0 game. He stole a goal from Brassard early.

-The Penguins have a 9-8 lead in shots.

-The Rangers have a 19-17 lead in attempted shots.

-Nash leads the game with four shots.

-Kunitz leads the Penguins with two shots.

-Girardi leads the game with 7:52 of ice time.

-Crosby leads the Penguins with 7:43.

-The Rangers control faceoffs, 16-8 (67 percent).

-Derek Stepan is 7 for 9 (78 percent).

-The great Joe Vitale is 3 for 3 (100 percent).

-Pouliot and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.

-Jeff Zatkoff is on the cover of Icetime:


19:40: Off a feed by Crosby, Neal booms a powerful one-timer from the right circle wide of the cage.

18:51: Jussi Jokinen. Left winger. Gibbons hustles up the left wing and centers a pass to the slot. Girardi actually gets a stick on the puck but it still slides to Jokinen. Positioned for a forehand shot, Jokinen adjusts and flips a backhander which glances off the face of McDonagh and bets Lundqvist on the blocker side. It wasn't pretty but it counts. Gibbons and Sutter get assists. The "Hey Song" is always pretty. Penguins 3-0.

17:36: Sing-song "Hennnn....Riiiiikkkk" chants begin for Lundqvist.

15:00: An update on Dorsett:

14:38: Pyatt releases a wrister from the right wing which hits a glove and is fought off by Lundqvist.

14:23: Adams collects a loose puck and chips a wrister on net from the right circle. Lundqvist eats it up.

13:53: Girardi chops a slapper from the right point which hits Brian Boyle.

13:37: Nash cuts across the slot and floats a wrister on net. Fleury fights it off.

12:43: Battling for a puck in the Penguins' right wing corner, Sill drops Girardi with a big hit into the boards.

12:25: Girardi floats a wrister from the right circle which Rob Scuderi blocks.

11:34: Sutter rips a wrister from the right half wall. Lundqvist fights it off.

11:16: A wrister by Jokinen from the righ twing is steers away by Lundqvist.

9:33: Off a neutral zone steal, Nash lifts a wrister from the right circle which is blocked partially by Scuderi.

8:40: Girardi floats a wrister from the right point which Pyatt blocks.

8:28: McDonagh cranks a loose puck on net from the right point which glances off the cross bar.

8:11: Brad Richards decides to make an appearance and whips a shot/pass at the cage from the right wing corner. Fleury fights it off despite traffic.

7:52: Richards booms a one-timer from the right half wall wide to the far side.

7:39: Sill slams McDonagh into the right wing of the Penguins' zone.

7:33: Off a cross-ice feed, McDonagh cranks a one-timer from the right half wall which Fleury eats up. That freezes play. The Penguins needed a stoppage badly. The Rangers dominated puck possession on that shift.

7:21: Callaghan whips a wrister from ab adl angle on the left wing. Fleury eats it up. Brassard tries to crash in on Fleury. Niskanen and Crosby each give him the business for his troubles.

6:32: Sutter tries to jam in a forehand shot from the right of the cage. Lundqvist pokes it away.

4:47: McDonagh chops a loose pcuk from the right half wall. It hits Orpik's stick and hops up on net where Fleury is able to adjust and fight it off.

3:58: Off an offensive zone faceoff wing, Anton Stralman puts a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.

3:39: Battling for a puck behind the Penguins' net, Brassard is tripped up by Jokinen. That's two minutes.  Adams, Sutter, Engelland and Orpik take the ice.

3:22: Taking a pass above the blue pain. Kreider has a chance but can't controls the puck enough to get a clean shot off.

3:07: Off a cross-ice pass from Stepan, Kreider tries a more long-distance approach and whacks a slapper to the far side which Fleury stretches out and gloves. Fans offer "Flerrr...eeeee!" chances in appreciation.

2:27: Richards whacks a slapper from center point which Bortuzzo blocks.

2:00: Brassard force a pass from above the right circle. Vitale slides down to block it. Bortuzzo whacks the rebound down ice to kill off the res of Jokinen's minor.

1:49: Attendance is announced as 18,668. It is the team's 307th consecutive sellout.

1:32: Kunitz-Crosby for Sochi 2014. Kunitz steals a puck off Marc Staal in the left circle of the Rangers' zone. He then taps  a forehand pass to Crosby int hes lto. Crosby gets a step on Stepan and floats a wobbly backhander off the right post and behind Lundqvist's glove. What a display of chemistry on that play between Kunitz and Crosby. The "Hey Song" always has chemistry. Kunitz and Orpik get assist. No clue how Orpik got an assist on that goal. Penguins 4-0.

0:49: The Penguins keep attacking. Off a feed from the slot by Simon Despres, Neal rips a wrister which Lundqvist fights off. Jokinen crashes in and tries to jams the puck but no dice.

0:13: Another penalty for the Penguins Pyatt shoved Allen from behind while forechecking him in the right wing corner. Allen crashes into the boards. Pyatt is given a cross-checking minor. That was a little ticky tack. Adams, the great Joe Vitale, Engeland and Orpik take the ice.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Rangers 0.


-Henrik Lundqvist, who won a gold medal in 2006, is a virtual lock to make Sweden's roster in upcoming games in Sochi. And Marc-Andre Fleury is outplaying him by a wide margin tonight.

-After Jokinen's second goal, the Rangers actually dominated puck possession in the Penguins' zone for several shifts. The difference was Fleury. He kicked out a lot of quality chances by the Rangers.

-We're starting to think Jokinen likes life as a winger a lot better than as a center.

-Gibbons has been a nifty little playmaker tonight. He has set up each of Jokinen's goals.

-The Rangers' big money forwards - Richard and Nash - have been nearly invisible tonight.

-It seems like Girardi and McDonagh never leave the ice.

-The Rangers lead the game in shots on net, 22-17.

-The Rangers lead in attempted shots, 44-29.

-Nash leads the game with six shots.

-Neal and Jokinen each lead the Penguins with three shots.

-Girardi leads the game with 15:15 of ice time.

-Scuderi is right behind him with 15:14.

-Faceoffs are tied, 22-22 (50 percent).

-Stepan is 9 for 15 (60 percent).

-Crosby is 10 for 18 (56 percent).

-Orpik and Vitake each lead the game with three blocked shots.

-None of the Rangers has more than one blocked shots


20:00: The Rangers will start the period with 1:47 of power-play time on fresh ice. Sutter, Adams, Orpik and Engelland take the ice.

19:38: Richard rips a wrister from the left circle which Fleury swats down with a glove hand.

19:17: Zuccarello lifts a tricky little shot from the left circle which Fleury fights off.

18:47: Stepan lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury snags it despite a partial screen by Kreider.

18:09: As the Pyatt minor expires, Nash floats a wrister from the left half wall which its a body in front.

17:23: Niskanen whacks a slapper from the right point over the cage.

17:00: Staal hobbles down the run way in some discomfort. He quickly returns. He appears to have been kicked between the legs by Neal - by accident - while battling for a puck.

16:02: Girardi rips a wrister on net from the right circle.

15:55: Engelland pushes the puck up the left wing and chips it in deep at the Ranger's blue line. John Moore tries to stand him up with a hip check an his slammed into the left wing boards for his troubles. Moore is stunned for a moment but collects himself and heads to the bench with a bloody nose.

14:48: McDonagh is hobbling after being struck with a puck in the neutral zone.

13:03: Pouliot floats a wrister from the right wing. Fleury snags it.

12:20: The Rangers finally get on the scoreboard. The Penguins get a little careless in their offensive zone and pay. Pyatt loses a puck battle with Brassard in the Penguins right wing corner. Pouliot takes it on the right wall and deals a pass to Brassard all alone in the right circle. Brassard rips a wrister behind Fleury to eliminate the goose egg on the scoreboard. The Penguins had Engelland, Sill and Pyatt on the ice and they didn't seem to be on the same page. Pouliot and Brassard get assists. Penguins 4-1.

11:56: The Penguins get another power play. Zuccarello is called for high sticking Crosby near the Penguins' bench. He brought is stick up to protect himself for a shoulder check by Crosby and caught Crosby's face. Neal, Kunitz, Niskanen, Jokinen and Crosby take the ice.

11:15: Jokinen whacks a shot/pass from the right point which hits a body in front.

9:56: The Zuccarello minor is killed. The Penguins didn't offer much of a threat there.

9:17: Pyatt pushes the puck up the right wing and taps a backhanded feed to the slot.

8:47: Girardi crnks a slapper from above the right circle. Fleury fights it off.

8:07: Not so fast folks. ThE Rangers get back into it. As Brssard lays in the crease in pain, Zuccarello floats a shot/pass from above the right circle towards McDonagh. The puck hits something and deflects behidn Fleury. We're not sure what that hit exactly. Either way, the Rangers will take it. Girardi and Brassard get assists. Penguins 4-2.

7:06: Chris Kunitz has had enough of this comeback by the Rangers. After Crosby wins a battle for puck possession  behind the Rangers' cage, he whacks a shot from the right to the crease. Lundqvist kicks it out. Neal and Crosby battle for the rebound which slides to Kunitz all alone on the left of the net. Kuntiz taps it into an open cage by a diving Lundqvist. Lundqvist looks up in frustration. The Penguins reclaim momentum. Crosby and Neal get assists. The "Hey Song" always has momentum. Penguins 5-2.

6:38: More sing-song "Hennn...riiiiiikkkk...." chants.

5:11: Sutter lifts a wrister which Lundqvist snags.

3:43: Play is halted as Crosby and McDonagh get into it. Crosby shoved him to the ice and they wrestled. Both players get minors for roughing. They chirp each other from the penalty boxes quite a bit. We'll have four-on-four play for two minutes.

3:20: Jokinen nearly completes the hat trick as he taps a feed by the great Joe Vitale wide of the net.

2:15: A "Go-Home Ran-Gers!" chant begins.

1:35: As McDonagh and Crosby leave the box, Bortuzzo gives McDonagh a whack to the back of the legs.

1:28: Glass lifts a wrister from the right circle. Lundqvist snags it.

1:01: A slapper by Despres from the left point is fought off by Lundqvist.

0:00: End of game. Penguins 5, Rangers 2.


-There has been a lot of debate over whether or not Team Canada should take Chris Kunitz and pair him with Sidney Crosby in the upcoming games. The two of them offered a pretty good argument in their case tonight. In a game against Henrik Lundqvist, the presumed starting goaltender for Sweden, they combined for three goals. They also did this while facing plenty of icetime against Ryan McDonagh, defenseman who was chosen to the United States Olympic team a few days ago.

-If you don't think Crosby and Kunitz are worthy of being teamed together in Sochi, here's what Lundqvist said about them:

"They’re probably the top line in the league. The tough part about Crosby… yeah he had a chance to shoot a couple of times. Instead he just threw it back into the side and it’s an open net. That’s what he does. That’s tough to defend. You have to play him hard. He’s one of the best players. You have to give it to him. He made some great player right in front of the net and set guys up for an open net a couple time. We’ve beat them a couple times in here but you have to play a pretty strong game all over the ice to beat them. If not, it’s going to be a tough night."
-We just have a hard time seeing seemingly intelligent hockey people dismissing the chemistry these two players have on a smaller North American rink and what they could do on an bigger international rink.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was the other story of this game. A player with faint Olympic hopes, he outplayed Lundqvist. He stole a few goals and made most of his save seem routine. The Rangers outplayed the Penguins for stretches tonight in terms of five-on-five play and Fleury kept them at bay. He was a big factor this game.
-Stop us if this sounds familiar. Special teams made a were key for the Penguins. They went 1 for 2 on the power play and blanked all three of the Rangers' power plays. These units have fought though injuries to key players and excelled.
-We're not sure where Jussi Jokinen and Brian Gibbons developed chemistry in such a short amount of time, but they looked like they have played together for years. Gibbons set up each of Jokinen's goals. Each time, they had a different center, either the great Joe Vitale and Brandon Sutter. They were a force tonight as well.
-Gibbons has played well in two consecutive games. He's created a few plays by using the boards and being crafty.
-We're not sure how much Jokinen's move from center to winger helped him tonight, but he definitely contributed more than he has in recent weeks.
-Olli Maatta rebounded after a healthy scratch. Teamed with Matt Niskanen, he wasn't out of position and didn't lose any one-on-one battles. He may have just needed a game off to reset.
-Deryk Engelland once again showed some versatility. He played a responsible game up front and along with Brooks Orpik, was part of the first defensive pairing over the boards for each of the Penguins' penalty kills.
-Taylor Pyatt was hardly perfect. He lost a one-on-one battle with a smaller Derick Brassard which allowed the Rangers to get their first goal. Also, he took a penalty on a bit of ticky tack call But he offered a large presence up front and seemed to keep up with the pace the Penguins play at. If nothing else it was nice to see a large body up front for once. He had 11:33 of ice time on 18 shifts, two shots and one blocked shot.
-The Rangers' big money star players up front were invisible. Rick Nash and Brad Richards had a few shots here and there but they didn't offer much of a threat. All due respect to Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard, but when they are a team's most dangerous offensive weapons, that's bad news.
-Marc Staal had a pretty rough game. He had a turnover which led to Crosby's goal. Additionally, after the game, he took blame for not tying up Neal's stick on the second goal by Kunitz.
-We have a hard time placing much blame on Lundqvist. He was left out to dry on occasion but it's not outrageous to expect him to have stolen one or two goals tonight.
-The Rangers led in shots on net, 35-28.
-The Rangers led in attempted shots, 63-45.
-Nash led the game with six shots.
-Jokinen led the Penguins with five shots.
-McDonagh led the game with 24:03 of ice time.
-Orpik led the Penguins with 21:16.
-The Penguins did a great job of "leveling" their time on ice totals for the defensemen. In other words, there wasn't a huge difference in ice time total between the top guy and the "caboose:"
Player Time
On Ice
Brooks Oprik 21:16
Robert Bortuzzo 20:56
Rob Scuderi 19:46
Matt Niskanen 19:42
Simon Despres 17:42
Olli Maatta 16:32
-We're guessing Engelland's shifts as a defenseman on the penalty kill helped the Penguins "level" those numbers.
-Derek Dorsett left the game in the first period after blocking a shot. He was diagnosed with a broken fibula and will be sidelined six weeks.
-Brassard now has 11 points in nine career games against the Penguins.
-The Penguins won their 11th consecutive home win, one short of the franchise record.
-The Penguins are 10-2-0 in their past 12 games against the Rangers.
-Dan Bylsma now has 231 career wins, one short of the franchise record held by Eddie Johnston.
-Crosby (261) passed Kevin Stevens (260) for fifth most goals in franchise history.
-Neal moved past Bob "Battleship" Kelly for 54th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Both players have 154 points but Neal (76) has more goals than Kelly (69).


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Keystone Oaks hires Perry

Written by Mike White on .

It's now official. Greg Perry is the new football coach at Keystone Oaks.

Keystone Oaks announced today that it has hired Perry. He resigned only a few weeks ago as Seton-LaSalle's coach after nine seasons. He will only have to go across the street for his next job. Seton-LaSalle is literally across the street from Keystone Oaks.

Perry is quite familiar with Keystone Oaks football. He played at Keystone Oaks under John Durham and graduated in 1979.

Perry was very successful in his career at Seton-LaSalle, going 73-24 in his nine seasons. He takes over a team that was 2-7 last season.

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About the Rangers - 01-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Rangers.

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

TV: Root Sports, MSG 2, RDS.

Record: 20-19-2, 42 points. The Rangers are in fifth place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Mats Zuccarello (right), 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists).

Last Game: 2-1 road shootout loss to the Panthers, Tuesday. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 for the Rangers.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 home shootout loss, Dec. 18. Zuccarello had a regulation goal and an assist for the Rangers.

Rangers Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Derick Brassard. He has nine points in eight career games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Rangers: Dominic Moore, C;  Rick Kehoe, professional scout; Ulf Samuelsson, associate coach; Glen Sather, general manager.

Ex-Rangers on the Penguins: Pascal Dupuis, RW; Tony Granato, assistant coach; Taylor Pyatt, LW.

Useless Rangers Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Pyatt (1999) will become one of four former Islanders first round draft picks who have played for the Rangers and Penguins. The others are center Mike Rupp (1998), defensemen Darius Kasparaitis (1992) and Pat Price (1975).

Best Rangers Video We Could Find: The original Flower, Guy Lafleur, making his return to the Montreal Forum, getting a standing ovation from his former fans after scoring a goal against the Canadiens in 1988-89:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (22-10-1, 2.15 GAA, .920 SV%) for the Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist (12-15-2, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%) for the Rangers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defensemen Kris Letang ("upper body"), Paul Martin (leg), right winger Beau Bennett (hand/wrist), Chris Conner (hand), Pascal Dupuis (knee), centers Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Evgeni Malkin ("lower body"), Jayson Megna ("lower body"), and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Rangers, they are reporting no injuries.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: Based off today's morning skate, consider this a guess at the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings:

 14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 18 James Neal
36 Jussi Jokinen - 16 Brandon Sutter - 49 Brian Gibbons
17 Taylor Pyatt - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams
15 Tanner Glass - 36 Zach Sill - 5 Deryk Engelland

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

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

62 Carl Hagelin - 19 Brad Richards - 36 Mats Zuccarello
20 Chris Kreider - 21 Derek Stepan - 61 Rick Nash
67 Benoit Pouliot - 16 Derick Brassard - 24 Ryan Callahan
22 Brian Boyle - 28 Dominic Moore - 15 Derek Dorsett

27 Ryan McDonagh - 5 Dan Girardi
18 Marc Staal - 37 Conor Allen
17 John Moore - 6 Anton Stralman


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

-"It’s definitely going to be a little weird facing the old team right off the bat, but I’m excited about this new opportunity. It’s a fresh start." - Pyatt on facing the Rangers after being claimed off waivers by the Penguins yesterday.

-Callahan will return to the lineup after missing nine games due to a knee injury.

(Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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New Year's Resolution: Start your martial-arts training for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

West Virginia will have its hands full with Alabama at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff in nine months. The Crimson Tide is coming off consecutive losses for the first time since dinosaurs roamed this land, and head coach Nick Saban will have Alabama ready for this season-opening showdown in Atlanta.

But the real question is ... will you, the fan, be prepared? This video of an Alabama mom going berserk on an Oklahoma fan (:30 second mark) at the Sugar Bowl last night should give you an idea of what you might be up against. Please add 'learn martial arts' to your long list of New Year's resolutions. And, please oh please, if you see something, say something. By that, I mean take a video and send it straight to me (after alerting the proper authorities).

Happy New Year!

Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Empty Netter Assists - 01-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The great Joe Vitale. Right winger and DJ.

-The Penguins claimed Taylor Pyatt off waivers from the Rangers.

-Chris Conner (above) will be sidelined sixt to eight weeks due to hand surgery.

-Welcome back Paul Martin... by the end of the month?

-What's different about coaching young defensemen versus older defenemen?

-Martin speaks:

-Brooks Orpik speaks:

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Drake Berehowsky. Acquired at the 1995 trade deadline, Berehowsky appeared in four games in 1994-95 for the Penguins and failed to record a point. He played in one postseason game that spring and again failed to net a point. He was limited to one game and no points in 1995-96. He was released in the 1996 offseason. Berehowsky returned to the Penguins as a free agent in the 2003 offseason. After 47 games and 21 points in 2003-04, Berehowsky was traded to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Ric Jackman. In 52 regular season games with the Penguins, Berehowski scored 21 points.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Steve Poapst. A free agent in the 2005 offseason, Poapst's Penguins career amounted to 21 games and four assists. Midway through the season, he was traded to the Blues in exchange for Eric Boguniecki.

-Happy 64rd birthday to former Penguins forward Rick MacLeish (right). Acquired midway through the 1981-82 season in a deal which sent Russ Anderson and a draft pick to the Whalers, MacLeish spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished that 1980-81 by appearing in 40 games for the Penguins and scored 25 points. In five playoff games that spring, he scored two points. Injuries limited him to six games and five assists in 1982-83. In the 1983 offseason, he joined the Flyers as a free agent. In 46 regular season games with the Penguins, MacLeish scored 31 points.

-Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Cory Cross. Acquired midway though the 2005-06 season along with Jani Rita in a deal which sent Dick Tarnstrom to the Oilers, Cross' Penguins career amounted to six games and one assist that season. At the trade deadline, he was dealt to the Red Wings in exchange for a draft pick.

-After the Jump: Nathan Horton makes his debut for the Blue Jackets.

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