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Orpik: 'I know when I’m doing well and not doing well' - 04-07-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

After an underwhelming effort in a 4-1 home loss to the Coyotes March 26, the Penguins held a players-only meeting. When asked about the purpose of the meeting, Brooks Orpik said, "There was a lot of negativity outside the locker room. We just trying to make sure it didn't creep in."

Despite being in first place in the Metropolitan Division by a wide margin since the early stages of the season, the Penguins have been the subject of scorn for a variety of reasons including:

-A combination of four consecutive playoff runs without a Stanley Cup win.
-A fourth-place finish by a United States team with a handful of Penguins personnel including Orpik.
-A rout at the hands of the Blackhawks in a snowy outdoor game on national television which included Orpik being beaten one-on-one by Chicago star Jonathan Toews for a goal.
-A lukewarm 10-9-2 record since the Olympic break.

Individually, Orpik has been target of much of that criticism. Whether it's been in regards to high-profile hits which have injured opponents or for his level of play this season, Orpik has been a lightning rod.

Recently, Orpik talked about that criticism directed at the team as well as him and his play this season.

You talked about the negativity directed at the team. You are aware of it but how much do you pay attention to it?

"I think guys are aware of it. I think a lot of they younger guys are big Twitter guys so they’re caught up in it more than older guys. I think you learn as you get older, you’re focus has to be on stuff you control. I know at home, we’ve been struggling. We heard some boos at the end of the Phoenix game, the [Los Angles] game. That’s never fun at home. We talked about it. We talked about staying positive. Guys are working hard. Guys are really committed here. Everybody wants to win. It’s not like we didn’t have guys on board. Things just weren’t going our way. If you look at Chicago, Chicago’s one of the best teams in the league and they’re really struggling right now. Whether it’s injuries or fatigue, there’s ups and downs. You’ve got to learn to deal with that stuff. I think we just wanted to make sure stuff wasn’t creeping into the room. I’ll be honest, nobody [outside the team] knows what goes on our room. You can try to guess what’s going on in our room, try to guess what’s going on with our team. But nobody really knows. It’s all speculation. You just try to avoid that stuff, come in and work hard. We know if we work hard, we have enough talent here that we will turn things around."

(Note: This interview was held before Chicago's current three-game winning streak.)

Is it strange to be in first place in the Metropolitan Division by a considerable margin but to still have so much criticism directed at the team?

"It’s good and bad. It keeps you motivated. Whether or not some of that’s justified or not, you can’t really worry about it. Every year, we have that meeting with [general manager Ray Shero] the first day of training camp where he says the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. There’s always a lot of pressure on you as a player. Some guys deal with it better than other guys. Ultimately every year, you’re judged by how you do in the postseason. I don’t even remember what our record was or how many points we had when we won the Stanley Cup. Nor did it matter. People remember how you play in the postseason."

A great deal of that criticism has been directed at you individually. How much attention do you pay to it?

"I haven’t heard any criticism directed my way. I don’t know. You just try to do the best you can. There’s ups and downs every season whether it be injury-related or confidence-related. It happens every season. We’re in first place. There’s always got to be something to complain about. Maybe it’s not sunny enough in Pittsburgh. (Laughs.) You've got to be negative. I think we’ve got a group that gets along really well. Some guys, I think when you realize when a teammate is going through a rough patch, guys do a good job of helping those guys out and getting them through it. Everybody in the room goes through it. Maybe some guys more than other people. As long as your bosses are happy, that’s all that matters."

How do you assess your season?

"That’s probably better answered by coaches or management. I can only comment on where my work ethic is and commitment level. I think that’s always the same. You’re going to have some slumps, some ups and downs. In terms of evaluation, I don’t know. I don’t think I necessary evaluate myself. I know when I’m playing well, not playing well. I think defensemen and goalies get scrutinized a bit more, especially goalies. I know the last couple of years, people were all over [Marc-Andre Fleury]. If you look at the chances we were giving up on him versus the chances Tuukka Rask would see in Boston, [Rask] would see ones of those chances every five games. [Fleury] might see fives of those in one game. I don’t know how to answer that question to be honest. There’s a lot of so-called experts that do that for a living. I don’t pay too much attention to it. But I know when my game is going well and it’s not going well. I don’t need other people to tell me that. The coaches know that I know when I’m doing well and not doing well."

Rob Scuderi said it took him some time to fully recover from his ankle injury. Did it take you any time to fully recover from your concussion you suffered Dec. 7?

"I think in hindsight, I probably came back way too quick from it. I felt a lot of pressure because of the Olympics coming up. Looking back on it, it was probably not the smartest thing with a brain injury. It’s something you go through and you learn from it. In terms of reaction, you can pass all those baseline tests and stuff like that. I know for a while, it just kind of seemed like the play was going too quick. A step behind. That’s something you’ve got to be smart about. I probably didn’t take the smartest approach to it but you learn from it."

You and the other Olympians on the roster have had several days off from practice since returning from Sochi. How have you managed yourself physically after this season compared to 2010?

"Well in 2010, I had a sports hernia. I was really managing that. I didn’t practice at all trying to manage that. That happened like in November of that [season] so I was really struggling with that. This year, it’s more managing injuries and just managing energy levels. I think sleep and diet is the biggest thing. I think sometimes if you’re younger, you don’t know how to handle that as well. I think I’ve gotten more educated about diet and sleep habits as well. I’m better off for it now. The coaches have asked me how I feel energy-wise. It’s different for different guys. Energy-wise, I’ve felt great. It’s been more managing injuries for me. It hasn’t been fatigue."

(Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 04-07-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. “It means a lot to us to go out there and play like we did. That’s a gutsy win after a tough one [in Minnesota].” - Brandon Sutter.

-The Denver Post's recap. "I probably would have done the same." - Avalanche coach Patrick Roy on the Penguins resting some of their players.

-The Associated Press' recap. “It’s a credit to our team to be able to battle without a lot of key guys.” - Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Highlights:


-A good look at Colorado's Semyon Varlamov allowing Jussi Jokinen's shootout goal:

-Dan Byslma speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Jokinen speaks:

-Sutter speaks:

-"If you look at Brooks Orpik in this particular case, he's playing with an injury and it's not prudent to struggle through every game with the injury. Getting the opportunity to rest, not play in this game, is better for Brooks at this point in time." -  Dan Bylsma on giving Brooks Orpik a rest last night.

-Spencer Machacek scored each of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins' goals in a 6-2 loss to the Binghamton Senators. Nick Drazenovic recorded two assists for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while teammate Eric Hartzell made 21 saves.

-Highlights:

-Happy 47th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jim Paek. The first Korean-born player in NHL history, Paek was a ninth-round pick of the Penguins in 1985 and spent parts of four seasons with the club. After appearing in three regular season games and failing to score a point in 1990-91, Paek saw action in eight postseason contests that spring and scored one goal while helping the franchise win the Stanley Cup for the first time. He followed that up in 1991-92 by playing in 49 games and collecting eight points. He would play in 19 playoff games that spring and collected four assists while also earning his second Stanley Cup ring. During 1992-93, Paek set career highs in games (77) and points (18) while helping the Penguins claim the only Presidents Trophy in franchise history. After 41 games and four points in 1993-94, Paek and Marty McSorely were traded to the Kings in exchange for Tomas Sandstrom and Shawn McEachern. In 170 regular season games with the Penguins, Paek scored 30 points. In 27 postseason games, he scored five points. He is currently an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL.

-Happy 56th birthday to former Penguins forward Ted Nolan. Acquired in the 1985 offseason from the Sabres in exchange for cash, Nolan appeared in 18 games for the 1985-86 Penguins and recorded two points. He was released in the 1986 offseason. A former coach with the Sabres and Islanders, Nolan is currently the coach of the Sabres.

-Happy 35th birthday to current Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis (right). Acquired at the 2008 trade deadline along with Marian Hossa in a deal which sent Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a draft pick to the Thrashers, Dupuis has spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2007-08 by appearing 16 games and scoring 12 points for the Penguins. During the 2008 postseason, he appeared in 20 games, contributed seven points and helped the team reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time in 16 years. In 2008-09, Dupuis saw action in 71 games and recorded 28 points. He would appear in 16 postseason games that spring and had a point in helping the franchise claim its third Stanley Cup championship. During 2009-10, Dupuis played in 81 games and contributed 38 points. He would play in 13 games during the 2010 postseason and scored eight point, including the series clinching overtime goal of a 4-3 win against the Senators in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series (below). In 2010-11, Dupuis has appeared in 81 games and scored 37 points. He saw action in seven postseason games last spring and scored one goal. During 2011-12, Dupuis appeared in all 81 games and has set career highs in goals (24) and points (58). That season's playoffs, he played in six games and scored six points. last season, Dupuis has played in all 48 games and scored 38 points. Last spring, he appeared in 15 postseason games and scored 11 points. This season, a knee injury limited Dupuis to 39 games and 20 points. In 418 regular season games with the Penguins, "Duper" has scored 232 points, 34th-most in franchise history. In 77 postseason games, he has scored 33 points.

-After the Jump: A dangerous hit by Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo.

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Penguins at Avalanche - 04-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-If you thought last night's lineup was similar to a preseason lineup, whoooo boy are you in for a treat tonight. Officially, the Penguins will rest Sidney Crosby ("upper body"), Chris Kunitz ("lower body"), Brooks Orpik ("lower body") and Olli Maatta ("upper body") tonight. Jussi Jokinen, who was scratched for an "upper body" ailment yesterday, will return to the lineup.

-Unofficially, the Penguins are resting these players, each of whom participated in the Olympics, because this game means nothing to the Penguins in the standings. Also, Crosby has an 18-point lead in the scoring race. This is the right move by the coaching staff.

-The last time Crosby played in Colorado was a 5-3 win by the Avalanche, Jan. 10, 2009. That was roughly a month before Dan Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien.

-This will give Adam Payerl a chance to make his NHL debut after being recalled earlier today from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Payerl is a big body (6-foot-3 218 pounds) who isn't afraid to hit. If he could ever figure things out at the NHL level, he could be a Jordan Nolan or Dwight King type of player for the Penguins.

-Payerl will be the seventh player in franchise history to wear No. 45. His predecessors are Mike Needham, Glen Mulvenna, Peter Ferraro, Martin Sonnenberg, Rob Scuderi and Arron Asham.

-We would give Asham the nod for the best No. 45 in Penguins history. Scuderi wore it briefly as a rookie.

-According to the team's Web site, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings tonight will be:

Beau Bennett - Jussi Jokinen - James Neal
Tanner Glass - Brandon Sutter - Lee Stempniak
Taylor Pyatt - Andrew Ebbett - Brian Gibbons
Jayson Megna - Craig Adams - Adam Payerl

Paul Martin - Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Deryk Engelland

-The Avalanche have few bodies missing from the lineup but it has plenty of motivation. With the Blackhawks still battling for the No. 2 seed in the Central Division, the Avalanche will be playing for home ice advantage in the first round tonight. Expect a full effort from the home team tonight.

-The Penguins' starters are Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak, Brandon Sutter, Robert Bortuzzo, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Sidney Crosby, Marcel Goc, Chris Kunitz, Olli Maatta, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik.

-The Avalanche's starters are Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie McGinn, Ryan O'Reilly, Nick Holden, Andre Benoit and Semyon Varlamov.

-Its scratches are Reto Berra, Matt Duchene, Cody McLeod, P.A. Parenteau and Cory Sarich.

FIRST PERIOD

18:58: A wrister by Niskanen from the right point is wide on the near side.

16:55: Bortuzzo chucks a wrister from the right point  at the cage. It gets blocked.

16:41: Off a feed by Jamie McGinn, MacKinnon lifts a wrister from the right circle. Fleury boots it out.

15:38: Scuderi chops a slapper from the right point. It hits something in front. Stempniak has a chance on the rebound but can't get a handle on it.

15:20: Gibbons snaps off a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by Nate Guenin.

14:52: Ebbett rips a wrister from the right half wall. Varlamov boots it out with his right leg.

14:09: A slapper by Megna from the right wing is blocked out of play by Nick Holden.

13:24: McGinn lifts a wrister from the high slot. Fleury traps it against his body.

13:03: Guenin chucks a wrister from the left point. Ryan O'Reilly deflects it down on net fro the slot. Fleury kicks it out.

12:11: Bortuzzo strokes a slapper from above the right circle on net. Varlamov boots it out.

11:08: Maxime Talbot dekes around Engelland in the Penguins' left circle and attacks the net. His wrister is denied by Fleury.

10:13: The Avalanche will get the first power play as Megna is called for kneeing Paul Carey at the Colorado blue line. Sutter, Glass, Martin and Scuderi take the ice.

9:58: A one-timer by Landeskog in the left circle is fought off by Fleury.

9:50: MacKinnon tries to jam in a forehand shot from the left of the cage. Fleury boots it out. Sutter clears the rebound.

8:13: The Megna minor is killed with relatively little threat from the Avalanche.

7:49: Guenin chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury fights it off then swat away the rebound while falling.

7:39: A slapper by Mitchell from the high slot is kicked out by Fleury.

3:58: After a few stagnant minutes, Niskanen plays a puck out of the Penguins' left wing corner. He is dropped to the ice by a forechecking Patrick Bordeleau.

3:24: MacKinnon rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury squares up and fights it off.

1:54: Engelland plays a puck out of play from his own zone. That's a delay of game minor. Sutter Martin, Adams and Bortuzzo take the ice.

1:29: Adams steals a puck on the right wing wall of the attacking zone and slides a cross-ice pass to Sutter in the left circle. Short-handed, Sutter, lifts a wrister which Varlamov fights off.

0:07: Landeskog and Tyson Barrie each have chances in tight but are robbed by Fleury each time. Wow!

0:00: End of period. Avalanche 0, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

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-That period saw a much more honest and thorough effort from Penguins than last night.

-In terms of five-on-five play, it was a fairly even game. Each team exchange a fair amount of scoring chances.

-Special teams are a bit one-sided as the Avalanche have two power play while the Penguins have none.

-Each goaltender has looked sharp.

-The Avalanche has a 15-8 lead in shots on net.

-The Avalanche has a 20-14 lead in attempted shots.

-MacKinnon lead the game with four shots.

-Engelland leads the Penguins with two shots.

-Martin leads the game with 7:54 of ice time.

-Barrie is right behind him with 7:53.

-The Avalanche leads in faceoffs, 10-4.

-Paul Stastny is 4 for 5 (80 percent).

-Jokinen is 1 for 3 (33 percent).

-Holden leads the game with two blocked shots.

SECOND PERIOD

19:54: The Engelland minor expires. The Avalanche had a few chances with that power play.

18:56: Neal rips a wrister from the right left circle which is

18:14: Talbot chops a slapper from the right wing

17:42: Gibbons spins off the left wing and deals a pass to Despres in the slot. Despres sneaks in on net and puts a wrister off the near post.

16:14: Sutter sneaks up right wing on a partial two-on-one with Stempniak against Andre Benoit. Sutter elects to shoot and rips a wrister by the blocker of Varlamov on the far side. What a shot. It's a big goal for Sutter who needed that badly. Glass and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 1-0.

15:01: Erik Johnson chucks a wrister from the right point which Fleury stops.

13:16: The Penguins will get their first power play as Neal is high sticked by Benoit in the Colorado slot. Neal, Jokinen, Sutter, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.

12:52: Sutter again! Neal and Jokinen play hot potato with the puck near the right wing corner. Jokinen snaps off a wrister from the right half wall towards the cage. Sutter is in front of the blue paint and re-directs it behind Varlamov. Another important goal for Sutter. Jokinen and Neal get assists. Penguins 2-0.

12:36: MacKinnon streaks up the left wing with the puck on his backhand and flings a shot on net.

11:05: The Avalanche go back on the power play as Gibbons is called for hooking Landeskog. Sutter, Adams, Niskanen and Martin take the ice.

9:48: O'Reilly whacks a one-timer from the right circle. Fleury snags it.

9:31: Johnson chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury kicks it out.

9:05: The Gibbons minor is killed. The Penguins were solid with that penalty kill.

8:52: Talbot chucks a wrister from the right point. Fleury eats it up.

8:33: Hejda lifts a wrister from the left point. Fleury traps it against his chest.

7:00: Martin chops a one-timer from the right point.

6:14: Ebbett taps a puck on net from the left circle over the cage.

5:24: Payerl rips a wrister from the left circle. Varlamov eats it up.

5:08: Talbot snaps off a wrister from the slot. Fleury boots it out with his left skate.

4:44: Bennett used Jan Hejda as a screen uncorks a big wrister from the slot.

4:14: A wrister by O'Reilly from the left wing is fought off by Fleury.

3:36: Pyatt rips a wrister from the right point. Varlamov fights it off. Pyatt races to the rebound and chops a backhander on net. Varlamov denies it.

2:48: After a turnover by Fleury from behind his own net, MacKinnon has a chance in right but a backcheck by Adams denies him of a clean shot.

3:08: A wrister by Landeskog from the right wing is fought off by Fleury.

1:46: Jokinen and Neal each have chances in tight but can't beat Varlamov.

1:14: Sutter jumps on a loose puck in the right circle and rips it over the cage.

1:07: Glass chucks a wrister from above the left circle on net. Varlamov eats it up.

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

SECOND INTERMISSION

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-This is a surprise to put it mildly. The Avalanche should be running away with this game. Instead, the Penguins' patchwork lineup has outworked them most of this game. As a result, they have a two-goal lead.

-This might have been Brandon Sutter's best period of the season. Each of his goals were pretty sharp.

-Fleury faux pas behind the net aside, he continues to look pretty sharp. The Avalanche have been putting a lot of shots on net from the perimeter and he has kicked out some safe rebounds.

-The Avalanche has a 27-22 lead in shots on net.

-The Avalanche has a 40-34 lead in attempted shots.

-Martin leads the game with 16:53 of ice time.

-Barrie leads the Avalanche with 15:47 of ice time.

-The Avalanche has a 21-12 lead in faceoffs (64 percent).

-Stastny is 8 for 11 (73 percent).

-Ebbett is 4 for 6 (67 percent).

-Holden and Ebbett each lead the game with three blocked shots.

THIRD PERIOD

19:42: McGinnn controls a puck down low behind the Penguins' net. He feeds a puck to O'Reilly above the blue pain. O'Reilly is able to snap off a shot by Varlamov. Bortuzzo didn't tie down O'Reilly's stick on that play. McGinn and Mitchell get assists. Penguins 2-1.

18:33: Ebbett rips a wrister from the right circle which gets deflected out of play by a stick check from Barrie.

18:28: Payerl and Hejda get tangled up in the Avalanche's right wing corner. Payerl's stick gets him in the face. Sutter, Adams, Bortuzzo and Martin.

18:02: Benoit rips a wrister from the slot which deflects wide of the cage.

16:37: McGinn snaps off a wrister from the left circle on the near side.

16:21: Escaping the penalty box, Payerl races up the right wing and rips a heavy wrister on net. Varlamov kick its out.

14:46: Pyatt tries to jam in a forehand wraparound attempt from the right of the cage. Varlamov holds it out.

16:06: Neal uncorks a heavy wrister from the left circle.  Varlamov punches it away.

14:51: A slapper by Stastny is blocked by Ebbett.

11:20: Johnson has a slapper from the right point blocked by Bennett.

10:32: After icing the puck, the Penguins call a timeout to get organized.

9:23: Brad Malone chucks a wrister from the right point. Fleury kicks it out. Despres skates the rebound out of danger.

8:06: Hejda lifts a wrister from the slot. Fleury fight it off. Stastny chops the rebound wide.

7:45: A couple of the players from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton help draw a penalty. After Payerl blocks a shot by Johnson. Megna pushes the puck up ice one-on-one against Landeskog. Landeskog resorts to tripping him to prevent a scoring chance. Sutter, Neal, Jokinen, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.

5:45: Two minutes later, the Penguins did little with that chance.

5:34: Landeskog rips a wrister from the right wing over the cage.

5:23: Payerl a wrister from the left wing wide of the cage.

4:55: Argh! Sutter rips a wrister from the right circle to the far side and which hits off the far post. So close to a hat trick.

4:20: O'Reilly lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights it off then smothers the rebund after a few Avalanche players swarm the crease.

3:13: The Avalanche finally break through. Barrie rips a wrister from the right point into a mass of bodies in the slot. It appears to glance off the stick of Bordeleau and behind Fleury. Barrie and Holden get assists. Avalanche 2, Penguins 2.

2:17: Neal rips a slapper from the left circle. Varlamov stops it but allows it to squirts through his gear and trickles wide of the cage.

1:11: Ebbett whips a wrister from the right circle on net. Varlamov eats it up.

0:00: End of game. Avalanche 2, Penguins 2.

THIRD INTERMISSION

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The Avalanche has a 38-32 lead in shots on net.

OVERTIME

4:48: Off a turnover by Bortuzzo at the Penguins' blue line, O'Reilly rips a wrister wide of the cage.

3:52: Niskanen cranks a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.

3:15: Jamie McGinn booms a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury stretches out to snag it.

2:10: Neal steals a puck at the Penguins' blue line and pushes it up ice. He usues a defender a ss creen and rips a wrister wide of the cage.

0:58: Stempniak rips a wrister from the right circle wide of the cage.

0:51: The Avalanche call a timeout to get organized.

0:38: Martin chips a puck out of play. That's a delay of game minor. The Avalanche will finish the period with a four-on-three power play.

0:15: Barrie booms a slapper from the right point.

0:02: MacKinnon whacks a slapper from left circle. Adams slides down to block it.

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

FOURTH INTERMISSION

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-The Avalanche has a 41-32 lead in shots on net.

SHOOTOUT

-Barrie, a defenseman is up first. He comes in on net down the slow, slows down and flips a forehand shot wide of the cage.

-Neal races in on net down the slot and shoots five hole. Varlamov steers it away.

-O'Reilly wings wide to the right, levels out and attacks the net. he tries to tuck in a forehand shot through the five hole but Fleury kicks it out.

-Jokinen goes wide to the right levels out and attacks the net. He waits for Varlamov to slide down to the iceand lifts a wrister by his blocker and into the cage. Penguins 1-0.

-Landeksog must score. He veers slightly to the right, levels out and lifts a wrister which Fleury punches away. End of shootout. Penguins 1, Avalanche 0. End of game. Penguins 3, Avalanche 2

POSTGAME

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-This is an odd game to figure out. Part of us wants to say the Penguins stole two points. Part of us wants to say the Avalanche were due for a letdown after an emotional game against the Blues last night. Another part of us wants to laud a depleted Penguins lineup for giving an honest effort and winning on the road against a tough opponent.

-That last point is ultimately the most important aspect. A win on the road against a good team is always a positive regardless of the circumstances.

-The biggest reason for the result was Marc-Andre Fleury. He saw plenty of shots from the perimeter most of the night and kicked out a lot of safe rebounds.

-Brandon Sutter finally stepped up. With the Penguins missing so many star players throughout the season, Sutter has not been all that strong when it came to replacing some of that missing offense. He accounted for all of the Penguins' offense in regulation today with some pretty impressive scores. Brandon Sutter might not score that often, but more often than not, the scores important goals.

-Sutter seemed to have some chemistry with the Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak. That could very well be the team's third line int he postseason.

-The call-ups all seemed to offer something. Brian Gibbons, Jayson Megna, Adam Payerl, Andrew Ebbett each stayed within the team's structure and provided something in this game.

-At the very least, Payerl seemed like he belonged at this level. He wasn't hesitant to mix it up physically. He had 9:33 of ice time on 16 shifts, three shots and one blocked shot.

-The Penguins claimed the special team's battle. They scrapped out one goal with a barebones power-play unit and blanked a talented opponent on four penalty kills.

-That shootout goal for Jusi Jokinen was huge for him individually. One of the best shootout specialists in NHL history, Jokinen had been 0 for 6 this season before tonight. That slump had been eating at him.

-Not to be a killjoy, but we wonder if the Avalanche weren't completely ready for this game from an emotional standpoint after an emotional game against the rival Blues yesterday. That game against arguably the best team in the NHL got ugly with a lot of post-whistle activities. It's hard to imagine the Avalanche being as amped for today's game against a lineup full of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

-The Avalanche had a 41-32 lead in shots on net.

-The Avalanche had a 61-53 lead in attempted shots.

-Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly each led the game with six shots.

-Ebbett led the Penguins with four shots.

-Martin led the game with 27:36 of ice time.

-Barrie led the Avalanche with 26:18.

-The Avalanche led in faceoffs, 36-22 (62 percent).

-Paul Stastny was 14 for 19 (74 percent).

-Jokinen was 7 for 15 (47 percent).

-Ebbett led the game with four blocked shots.

-Nick Holden led the Avalanche with three blocked shots.

-Neal moved past Rick Tocchet for 42nd place on the franchise's career scoring list. Both players have 179 points but Neal (86 goals) has more goals than Tocchet (76).

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

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About the Avalanche - 04-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Avalanche.

When and where: 8 p.m. EDT. Pepsi Center.

TV: Root Sports, Altitude Sports, RDS2.

Record: 50-21-6, 106 points. The Avalanche is in second place in the Central Division.

Leading Scorer: Matt Duchene, 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists).

Last Game: 4-0 road win against the Blues, yesterday. Semyon Varlamov (right) made 31 saves for the Avalanche.

Last Game against the Penguins: 1-0 road win, Oct. 21, 2013. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 34 saves for the Avalanche.

Avalanche Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Paul Stastny. He has a six-game scoring streak.

Ex-Penguins on the Avalanche: Nate Guenin, D; Maxime Talbot, C.

Ex-Avalanche/Nordiques on the Penguins: Tony Granato, assistant coach; Jacques Martin, assistant coach; Andre Savard, professional scout.

Useless Avalanche Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Talbot (2009 - Penguins) is one of two players on the Avalanche's roster who have scored a Stanley Cup-clinching goal. The other is left winger Alex Tanguay (2001 - Avalanche).

Best Avalanche/Nordiques Video We Could Find: Avalanche center Peter Forsberg scoring a dazzling goal against the Flames in 2002-03:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (37-18-4, 2.35 GAA, .916 SV%) for the Penguins. Semyon Varlamov (40-14-5, 2.42 GAA, .927 SV%) for the Avalanche.

Injuries: For the Penguins, left winger Jussi Jokinen ("upper body") and defenseman Olli Maatta ("upper body") are questionable. Centers Marcel Goc ("lower body"), Evgeni Malkin (foot) and Joe Vitale ("upper body") are out. Right wingers Chris Conner (foot), Pascal Dupuis (knee), defenseman Kris Letang (stroke) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Avalanche, left winger Cody McLeod (ankle) and defenseman Cory Sarich (back) are day to day. Center Matt Duchene (knee) and right winger  P.A. Parenteau (knee) are out. Left winger Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not have morning skate. Their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Wild last night wee:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 19 Beau Bennett
49 Brian Gibbons - 16 Brandon Sutter - 18 James Neal
59 Jayson Megna  - 25 Andrew Ebbett - 22 Lee Stempniak
15 Tanner Glass - 27 Craig Adams - 17 Taylor Pyatt

47 Simon Despres - 2 Matt Niskanen
44 Brook Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
41 Robert Bortuzzo - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Avalanche's expected lines and defensive pairings are:

90 Ryan O’Reilly – 29 Nathan MacKinnon – 11 Jamie McGinn
92 Gabriel Landeskog – 26 Paul Stastny – 7 John Mitchell
58 Patrick Bordeleau – 24 Marc-Andre Cliche – 25 Maxime Talbot
44 Ryan Wilson – 42 Brad Malone – 28 Paul Carey

8 Jan Hejda – 6 Erik Johnson
61 Andre Benoit – 2 Nick Holden
5 Nate Guenin – 4 Tyson Barrie

Notes:

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

-The Penguins recalled forward Adam Payerl from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. A free-agent signing in 2012, Payerl, 23, has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Penguins organization. In 38 games this season, Payerl (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) has nine points (three goals, six assists) and 30 penalty minutes. He could make his NHL debut tonight. He is listed as No. 45.

-Adams has 99 career assists.

-"Pittsburgh's a team with a lot of pride. They lost last night 4-0 and nobody likes to lose. And when you lose a game, you expect them to bounce back. Every game means something to any players, and they don't like to lose a game." - Avalanche coach Patrick Roy on the Penguins.

-The Avalanche have won six consecutive games.

-A win would give Varlamov the single-season franchise record for goaltending wins. He currently shares the mark with his head coach.

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

(Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 04-06-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. "There is a challenge for us to find motivation to play well right now." - Matt Niskanen.

-The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's recap. “Regardless whether they had something to play for or not, we did. We did our job.” - Wild forward Zach Parise.

-The St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. "With every game, it's more closer to the playoff hockey and everybody has to be sharp. Everyone understands, just work hard and we believed each other and helped each other. That's I think the formula to success."  - Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

-The Associated Press' recap. "It's just a matter of making sure we find that urgency here for the last couple." - Sidney Crosby (above).

-Highlights (so to speak):

-Paul Martin and former teammate Matt Cooke battled for this puck:

-Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu and Brian Gibbons raced for this puck:

-A good look at the lid of Bryzgalov:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-Niskanen speaks:

-Olli Maatta missed the game due to an "upper-body" injury.

-Jussi Jokinen ("upper-body" injury) missed his first game of the season.

-How would the Penguins match up against the Red Wings or the Blue Jackets in a playoff series?

-An overtime goal by Nick Drazenovic gave the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins a 1-0 win against the Albany Devils. Peter Mannino made 25 saves in the shutout win.

-Highlights:

-The win moved the Penguins into first place in the East Division.

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin doesn't make many trips to the penalty box.

-Kieran Millan made 22 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 3-1 loss to the Orlando Solar Bears.

-Happy 39th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Hal Gill. Acquired at the 2008 trade deadeline in exchange for drafts picks. Gill spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins, both of which, ended in the Stanley Cup Final. He finished 2007-08 by appearing in 18 games for the Penguins and scoring four points. In the 2009 postseason, Gill saw action in 20 games and recorded one assist. He followed that up in 2008-09 by playing in 62 games and scoring 10 points. He appeared in all 24 postseason games that spring, recorded two points and helped the franchise claim its third Stanley Cup championship. During the 2009 offseason, he joined the Canadiens as a free agent. In 80 regular season games with the Penguins, Gill scored 14 points. In 44 posteason games, he recorded three assists. He is currently a member of the Flyers.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins forward Ville Nieminen. Acquired along with Rick Berry at the 2002 trade deadeline in a deal which sent Darius Kasparaitis to Colorado,  Nieminen spent parts of two season with the Penguins. He finished 2001-02 by playing in 13 games for the Penguins and scoring three points. In 2002-03, Nieminem saw action in 75 games and scored 21 points. During the 2003 offseason, he joined the Blackhawks as a free agent. In 88 games with the Penguins, he scored 24 points. He is currently a the captain of Tappara of Finland's Liiga.

-Happy 41st birthday to former Penguins forward Tyler Wright. Acquired in the 1996 offseason in a a deal which sent a draft pick to the Oilers, Wright spent four seasons with the Penguins. In 1996-97, he saw action in 45 games and scored four points. During 1997-98, Wright played in all 82 games and scored seven points. He would play in six postseason games that spring and recorded one assist. He followed that up in 1998-99 by seeing action in 61 games and somehow failed to record a point. He continued that scoring pace in that seasons' playoffs by playing in in 13 games and failed to record a single point. In 1999-2000, played in 50 games and netted 22 points. He played in 11 postseason games that spring and contributed four points. During the 2000 offseason, he was claimed by Blue Jackets in the expansion draft. In 238 regular season games with the Penguins, he scored 33 points. In 30 postseason games, he scored five points. He currently is the director of amateur scouting of the Red Wings.

-After the Jump: The Devils get back into the playoff race while the Bruins clinch first place in the Eastern Conference.

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