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Pregame thoughts - Canucks at Penguins - 01-23-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

-Head coach Mike Sullivan said left winger Chris Kunitz (right) will play today. He left Thursday's game with 8:01 left in play after he fell on his lower back or backside. One player described his ailment as a "stinger."

-Sullivan said right winger Beau Bennett will be a game-time decision. He has been sidelined since suffering a right shoulder injury Dec. 14. With Kunitz absent from practice Friday, Bennett skated on the left wing of the first line with center Sidney Crosby and right winger Patric Hornqvist

-Sullivan said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is starting. Sullivan would not get into whether or not tomorrow's postponed game impacted his plans with his goaltending rotation on back-to-back days. 

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-As mentioned before, tomorrow's Penguins-Capitals game in Washington has been postponed indefinitely with the Washington area a mess due to the snow. With the Capitals already postponing a game Friday against the Ducks, their schedule is messy. Additionally, the NBA's Washington Wizards have also posted a game. If you look at the Verizon Center's schedule, there aren't many open dates.

-It was messy getting into town today too:

-Sullivan was asked if there were any precautions taken for the players and staffers to get to the arena today.

"Drive safe. That's what I did."

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-The Canucks had some minor issues getting to the arena today:

-Fittingly enough, Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog is on scene:

-Days like today really make us miss the Civic Arena. The snow would make it look like its nickname, The Igloo:

 

A photo posted by Seth Rorabaugh (@emptynetters) on

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UPDATE: The Penguins' lines and pairings at today's warm-up were:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl - Eric Fehr - Bryan Rust
Kevin Porter - Matt Cullen - Beau Bennett

Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin - Trevor Daley
Derrick Pouliot - Ben Lovejoy

-Defenseman Ian Cole and Conor Sheary are scratched. Cole has not played well as of late (or all season really). 

-Pouliot is making his season debut.

-The breakup of the Dumoulin-Lovejoy defensive pairing is interesting. Former head coach Mike Johnston liked to used them as a shut-down pairing. Sullivan doesn't seem to be big on match-ups.

-Daley gets a well-deserved promotion.

UPDATE TWO: Kunitz is scratched. Sheary is back in.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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About the Canucks - 01-23-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Canucks.

When and where: 12:30 p.m., EST, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, Sportsnet.

Record: 20-17-11, 51 points. The Canucks are in third place in the Pacific Division.

Leading Scorer: Left winger Daniel Sedin, 43 points (21 goals, 22 assists).

Last Game: 4-2 road win against the Bruins Thursday. Sedin scored two for the Canucks.

Last Game against the Penguins: 3-2 home loss Nov. 4. Goaltender Ryan Miller (right) made 20 saves for the Canucks.

Canucks Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Center Jared McCann. He has one goal in one career game against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Canucks: Center Nick Bonino.

Ex-Canucks on the Penguins: Center Brandon Sutter.

Useless Canucks Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Sedin is the Canucks' all-time leading goal-scorer with 348 career goals. Former Penguins left winger Markus Naslund is second with 346.

The last time the Penguins played the Canucks, this happened:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (17-11-5, 2.30 GAA, .924 SV%) for the Penguins. Ryan Miller (11-12-7, 2.69 GAA, .915 SV%) for the Canucks.

Injuries: For the Penguins, Left winger Chris Kunitz ("lower body") is in. Defenseman Kris Letang (right hand or arm) is probable. Right winger Beau Bennett ("upper body") is a game-time decision. Defenseman David Warsofsky (concussion) is out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) and Bonino (hand) are on injured reserve. For the Canucks, center Henrik Sedin (undisclosed) is doubtful. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis (face) and Sutter (hernia) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: Neither team had a morning skate. Consider this a guess based on Bennett not being available: 

14 Chris Kunitz 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
61 Carl Hagelin - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 81 Phil Kessel
34 Tom Kuhnhackl - 16 Eric Fehr - 17 Bryan Rust
 11 Kevin Porter - 7 Matt Cullen - 43 Conor Sheary

58 Kris Letang - 3 Olli Maatta
8
 Brian Dumoulin - 12 Ben Lovejoy
6 Trevor Daley - 28 Ian Cole

-The Canucks' lines and pairings at practice yesterday were:

22 Daniel Sedin - 91 Jared McCann - 36 Jannik Hansen
47 Sven Baertschi - 53 Bo Horvat - 17 Radim Vrbata
14 Alexandre Burrows - 7 Linden Vey - 26 Emerson Etem
15 Derek Dorsett - 40 Michael Zalewski - 18 Jake Virtanen

23 Alexander Edler - 8 Christopher Tanev
27 Ben Hutton - 5 Luca Sbisa
44 Matt Bartkowski - 55 Alex Biega

Notes:

-Center Sidney Crosby has a five-game scoring streak.

-Kunitz has 197 career assists.

-The referees are (No. 27) Eric Furlatt and (No. 22) Ghislain Hebert. The linesmen are (No. 87) Devin Berg and (No. 75) Derek Amell.

(Photo: Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

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Duquesne spent 22 hours on an idle bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

Written by Craig Meyer on .

The bus carrying the Duquesne men's basketball team was stuck in the same spot on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for 22 hours, from 9:15 p.m. Friday until 7:29 p.m. Saturday, caught in the snowstorm that has engulfed much of the northeast and mid-Atlantic.

The Dukes were heading home after an 86-75 victory at George Mason, a game that had to be moved up one day because of the impending blizzard. They left Fairfax, Va., at 4:30 p.m. and nearly five hours into their journey, their bus was caught in standstill traffic about halfway between Bedford and Somerset. They were caught in that spot until officials were able to remove a portion of a concrete barrier separating the eastbound and westbound lanes of the turnpike, allowing vehicles to turn around and head the other direction back to Bedford and, for the Dukes, back to Pittsburgh.

In that long, sometimes grueling period, Duquesne players and staff played charades, watched Invincible, hung out with some adoring middle schoolers and made a rescue mission to restock a hungry team with some food (no, the pizza order was not successful). Below is an account of that ordeal, detailed by the team and school's various Twitter accounts.

 

  

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Empty Netter Assists - Snow day - 01-23-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Will Sunday's Penguins-Capitals game in Washington D.C. be postponed due to snow?

-“I would say D.C. is one of the worst cities for handling snow. If you get about an inch or even a threat of snow coming, the city shuts down." - Center Eric Fehr on his former city, Washington D.C.

-Have the Penguins found an identity?

-Head coach Mike Sullivan speaks:

-Right winger Beau Bennett speaks:

-Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was a yinzer?

-Goaltender Matt Murray made 27 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 2-1 loss to the Portland Pirates.

-Goaltender Casey DeSmith made 27 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 2-1 overtime win against the Kalamazoo Wings.

-Highlights:

-Happy 54th birthday to former Penguins defenseman and picnic jug enthusiast (below) Randy Boyd. A third-round pick in 1980, Boyd spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1981-82, Boyd appeared in 23 games and recorded two assists. He played in three playoff games that spring and failed to record a point. In 1982-83, Boyd saw action in 56 games and scored 18 points. After five ganes and one assist in 1983-84, Boyd was traded to the Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Greg Fox. In 84 regular season games, Randy Boyd scored 21 points.

-Happy 38th birthday to former Penguins left winger Martin Sonnenberg. A free agent signing prior to 1998-99, Sonnenberg spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1998-99, he appeared in 44 games and scored two points. He followed that up in 1999-2000 by playing in 14 games and netting three points. After spending the next two seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, he joined the Flames as a free agent in the 2002 offseason. In 58 games with the Penguins, he scored five points.

-Happy 42nd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Joel Bouchard. Acquired midway through the 2002-03 season along with right wingers Rico Fata, Mikael Samuelsson and defenseman Richard Lintner in a deal which sent defensemen Mike Wilson, Janne Laukkanen, right winger Alex Kovalev and left winger Dan LaCouture to the Rangers, Bouchard's Penguins' career amounted to seven games and one assist that campaign. During the 2003 offseason, he joined the Sabres as a free agent.

-After the Jump: Even John Tortorella is getting injured.

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Fehr: 'D.C. is one of the worst cities for handling snow' - 01-22-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins center Eric Fehr spent nearly a decade living in Washington D.C. as a member of the Capitals. It's a place he has warm memories of.

Just not when it's cold.

“I would say D.C. is one of the worst cities for handling snow,” said Fehr, a native of Winkler, Manitoba. “If you get about an inch or even a threat of snow coming, the city shuts down."

Washington and much of the Eastern seaboard is expected to get much more than “about an inch” of snow this weekend. Accuweather predicts the nation's capital could see one to three feet of snow.

With much of the city's public transportation already closed down in preparation for the weather, the NHL has postponed today's Ducks-Capitals game in the Verizon Center. The league is expected to announce a decision for Sunday's Penguins' road game against the Capitals Saturday morning.

Mid-Atlantic cities such as Washington and its surrounding community have limited infrastructure in place to deal with routine snowfalls let alone ones of potential historic proportions.

“There's a lot of concerns, not just for us but for the fans that would be trying the game and everybody trying to get to the game, arena [employees]," Fehr said. "Hopefully whatever decision we make will be the right one.”

The Penguins have played a game in Washington despite blizzard conditions before. In 2010, when Washington was hit by a storm dubbed “Snowmageddon,” including by President Barack Obama, the Penguins had to make alternate travel plans in order to even get to the game.

After playing an afternoon game in Montreal Feb. 5, 2010, the Penguins were forced to land their plane in Newark, N.J. From there, they took a five-hour bus ride to Washington. They did not arrive to their hotel until after 2 a.m then played the game which had an early-afternoon start due to the national television audience for NBC.

“I think the only time in my experience where that's come into play is that one game we played in Washington where we ended up getting in pretty late,” said captain/center Sidney Crosby. “We bused there. It was a 12:30 [p.m.] game so it's not like [we had] the day to regroup.”

Like that 2010 contest, Sunday's game is on NBC and the NHL typically adheres to the preferences of the network it signed a $2 billion deal with in 2011.

The last time the Penguins had a game postponed for any reason was in 2013. A mid-April road game against the Bruins was re-scheduled due to a manhunt for suspects who bombed the Boston Marathon. The rescheduling of that game also forced them to postpone a subsequent home game against the Sabres.

Their last weather-related postponement was the 2011 Winter Classic, an outdoor game at Heinz Field which was delayed several hours due to rain on New Year's Day. According to PittsburghHockey.net, the last time snow was responsible for Penguin games being rescheduled was due to a blizzard late in the 1992-93 regular season which postponed four games. 

This is hardly the first time the Penguins' travel arrangements have been altered due to snow.

“I remember as a player, we had to bus from Pittsburgh to Detroit,” said general manager Jim Rutherford, a goaltender in the 1970s. “We bused the day of the game. We just got there in time to play the game.”

For players who typically grow up in colder climates, snowfall, even inordinate amounts, is a way of life.

“I grew up in snow," said center Matt Cullen, a native of Moorhead, Minn. “I remember pulling to this small town for a high school game and a couple of their guys pulled up on snowmobiles to the rink. Park right beside the rink entrance and walked in and played the game.”

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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