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About the Flyers - 04-12-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Flyers.

When and where: 3 p.m. EDT. Consol Energy Center.

TV: NBC.

Record: 41-30-9, 91 points. The Flyers are in third place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: Claude Giroux, 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists).

Last Game: 4-2 road loss to the Lightning, Thursday. Ray Emery made 26 saves for the Flyers.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 road win, March 16. Wayne Simmonds had two goals and an assist for the Flyers.

Flyers Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Simmonds. He has six points in four games against the Penguins this season.

Ex-Penguins on the Flyers: Adam Hall, RW; Hal Gill, D; Joe Mullen, assistant coach; Kjell Samuelsson, player development.

Ex-Flyers on the Penguins: Harry Zolnierczyk, LW.

Useless Flyers Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Flyers right winger Matt Read (21 goals) has the fifth-most goals by an undrafted player in the NHL this season. Only Penguins left winger Chris Kunitz (35), Rangers right winger Martin St. Louis (30), Lightning center Tyler Johnson (24) and Capitals right winger Joel Ward (24) have more.

Best Flyers Video We Could Find: Former Flyers captain/center Dave Poulin scoring a nifty short-handed breakaway goal against the Flames in 1984-85:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (39-18-4, 2.35 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Penguins. Steve Mason (33-18-7, 2.51 GAA, .917 SV%) for the Flyers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, centers Marcel Goc (left foot/ankle), Evgeni Malkin (foot) and Joe Vitale ("upper body") are out. Right wingers Chris Conner (foot), Pascal Dupuis (knee) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Flyers, defenseman Chris Pronger (head) is on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate today. Consider this a guess based on yesterday's practice:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 19 Beau Bennett
49 Brian Gibbons - 36 Jussi Jokinen - 18 James Neal
15 Tanner Glass - 16 Brandon Sutter - 22 Lee Stempniak
17 Taylor Pyatt - 27 Craig Adams - 59 Jayson Megna

44 Brook Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
2 Matt Niskanen - 3 Olli Maatta
58 Kris Letang - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Flyers did not hold a morning skate or a practice yesterday. Their primary lines and defensive pairings against the Lightning Thursday were:

19 Scott Hartnell - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
12 Michael Raffl - 10 Brayden Schenn - 17 Wayne Simmonds
24 Matt Read - 14 Sean Couturier - 9 Steve Downie
15 Tye McGinn - 40 Vincent Lecavalier - 18 Adam Hall

 44 Kimmo Timonen - 5 Braydon Coburn
47 Andrew MacDonald - 32 Mark Streit
26 Erik Gustafsson - 22 Luke Schenn

Notes:

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

-Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has appeared in 399 career games.

-Adams has 99 career assists.

-Flyers center Zac Rinaldo is suspended.

-Our live blog begins at approximately 2 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 04-12-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-"I expect it to be a Philly-Pittsburgh game regardless of the circumstances of the schedule, the game it is, and what position we're both in or not in in the playoff picture." - Dan Bylsma on facing the Flyers today.

-When will Evgeni Malkin (above) return?

-The Penguins recalled forward Harry Zolnierczyk from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In 11 NHL games this season, Zolnierczyk has scored two goals.

-Who has drawn the most penalties for the Penguins this season?

-Beau Bennett and Robert paid a visit to some victims of Wednesday's stabbing attack at Franklin Regional High School:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Matt Niskanen speaks:

-Tomas Vokoun made 23 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 3-2 shootout win against the Syracuse Crunch. Anton Zlobin and Spencer Machacek scored in the shootout for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Chuck Kobasew scored each of the Penguins' regulation goals while teammate Brian Dumoulin recorded two assists.

-Highlights:

-“Physically, I feel good. Hopefully, all those (health) issues have been addressed and resolved. I didn’t feel great playing-wise, but that’s a whole-other story. You’re not as confident as you would normally be. As the game went on, I felt a little bit better.’’ - Vokoun on playing his first game of consequence since June.

-Dumoulin left the game in the third period due to an "upper-body" injury.

-Eric Hartzell made 33 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 6-3 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones. Tom Kuhnhackl, Denver Manderson and Derek Army each had a goal and an assist for Wheeling.

-Penguins defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot, currently a member of the WHL's Portland Winterhawks, injured Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts with a punch during a line brawl during a playoff game Thursday:

(+1 to EN reader Rob Luther for the heads up.)

-Happy 41st birthday to former Penguins forward Krzysztof Oliwa. Acquired midway through the 2000-01 season in a deal which sent a draft pick to the Blue Jackets, "The Polish Hammer" spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2000-01 by appearing in 26 games for the Penguins and scoring three points while accumulating a massive 131 penalty minutes. In five postseason games that spring, he failed to record a poitn and netted 16 penalty minutes. During 2001-02, he played in 58 games, recorded two assists and accumulated a team-leading 150 penalty minutes. During the 2002 offseason, he was traded to the Rangers in exchange for a draft pick. One of eight natives of Poland to play in the NHL, Oliwa appeared in 83 games for the Penguins, scored five points and recorded 281 penalty minutes.

-Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins forward Kent Manderville. Acquired at the 2002 trade deadline in a deal which sent Billy Tibbetts to the Flyers, Manderville spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2001-02 by playing in four games for the Penguins and scoring one goal. In 2002-03, Manderville played in all 82 game and scored seven points. He retired following the season. In 86 games for the Penguins, Manderville scored eight points.

-After the Jump: The NHL gets a new discipline czar.

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Drawing power - 04-11-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

For a team with the league's best power play at 23.7 percent, drawing penalties is important to the Penguins.

Who has been the best at drawing penalties for the Penguins this season? Not surprising, a few all-stars are the top of the list. Somewhat surprisingly, a few journeymen are among their peers on a per-game basis.

Here's a look at every skater who has appeared in a least one game for the Penguins this season and how many penalties they have drawn:

Player, position Games
Played
Penalties
Drawn
Penalties Drawn
Per Game
Harry Zolniercyzk, LW 11 8 0.77
Evgeni Malkin, C 60 36 0.60
Sidney Crosby, C 79 32 0.41
James Neal, LW 57 22 0.39
Tanner Glass, RW 65 22 0.34
Brian Gibbons, C 39 13 0.33
Robert Bortuzzo, D 53 17 0.32
Kris Letang, D 35 10 0.29
Chris Kunitz, LW 77 20 0.26
Joe Vitale, C 53 13 0.25
Brandon Sutter, C 80 18 0.23
Deryk Engelland, D 55 12 0.22
Lee Stempniak, RW 19 4 0.21
Simon Despres, D 33 7 0.21
Jayson Megna, C 34 7 0.21
Chuck Kobasew, W 32 6 0.19
Pascal Dupuis, RW 39 7 0.18
Brian Dumoulin 6 1 0.17
Marcel Goc, C 12 2 0.17
Beau Bennett, RW 19 3 0.16
Olli Maatta 76 11 0.14
Brooks Orpik, D 71 10 0.14
Jussi Jokinen, LW 79 11 0.14
Craig Adams, RW 80 11 0.14
Matt D’Agostini, RW 8 1 0.13
Andrew Ebbett, C 9 1 0.11
Chris Conner, RW 19 2 0.11
Paul Martin, D 37 4 0.11
Zach Sill, C 20 2 0.10
Matt Niskanen, D 80 8 0.10
Rob Scuderi 51 4 0.08
Taylor Pyatt, C 33 2 0.06
Nick Drazenovic, C 1 0 0.00
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond 1 0 0.00
Adam Payerl, C 2 0 0.00
Philip Samuelsson, D 5 0 0.00
Dustin Jeffrey, C 10 0 0.00

Note: The total number of penalties drawn are via the Extra Skater Web site.

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Arizona recruit Matijevic off to blazing start ..... Roundball tomorrow ..... other notes

Written by Mike White on .

Norwin baseball player J.J Matijevic had a pretty lofty reputation entering the season. That comes when you sign with the University of Arizona.

But Matijevic has only enhanced that reputation this season.

The kid with two initials for his first name has become synonymous with two other letters. It's J.J. for HR.

Matijevic has hit a home run in five consecutive games. Norwin has played only six games. He did not hit a home run in the season opener against Penn Hills. But he hit one against Valley, two against North Allegheny, one against Albert Gallatin and one against Connellsville. Matijevic, a 6-foot, 190-pound senior shortstop, has six home runs and 20 RBIs.

"We've had some good hitters here, but hands down he is the best one we've ever had," said Norwin coach Mike Liebdzinski. "Our single-season record at Norwin for home runs is seven. He's one behind in the first six games."

Matijevic has helped Norwin to a 5-1 record.

"He has a ton of power, and the home run he hit against Valley was the farthest home run I've seen hit live on any level," Liebdzinski said. "I don't get down to many Pirate games, but that would've been way out in any ballpark in the country. He has power that most people his age don't have."

Matijevic might be a first baseman at the University of Arizona.

"That's if he gets there," Liebdzinski said. "We've had anywhere from three to seven [major-league] scouts at our games."

McKay's impressive stats

Blackhawk pitcher Brendan McKay is putting together statistics that are unheard of in the WPIAL.

McKay, a senior left-hander, now has a 37-inning scoreless streak going back to last year. No one has WPIAL records for the longest scoreless streak. But I've been covering WPIAL sports for more than three decades and there certainly haven't been many - if any - Brendan McKayto put together such a streak.

But what's hard to believe is that McKay had a similar streak as a sophomore. He went 35 consecutive innings without giving up a run as a 10th grader. In case you didn't realize a 37-inning scoreless streak is more than five high school games.

A few more scoreless games and McKay will be approaching national marks. According to the National Federation of High School Associations, a 52-inning scoreless streak will put McKay in the top 10 all time.

But McKay has a ways to go to reach the national record. In 1973, Joey Porter of South Natchez-Adams High in Natchez, Miss., had an 80-inning scoreless streak.

About 20 major-league scouts were on hand when McKay pitched a no-hitter Wednesday against West Allegheny.

"I hate to say it, but he really wasn't even at his best," said Blackhawk coach Bob Amalia. "He hadn't pitched in 10 days. He was only hitting 86 or 87 and he just wasn't at his best. It was still pretty good, though."

Amalia said the attention from major-league scouts is getting "crazy."

In case you are interested in seeing McKay pitch, Amalia said he is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday at home against Ambridge. Check back here on the "Varsity Blog" Monday morning and I will give an update on whether McKay is going to pitch.

Son of Fedko shines

There is now a Fedko zone at Vincentian baseball games.

It's at shortstop. That's where Christian Fedko resides.

Christian Fedko, son of the sportscaster, is starting at shortstop for Vincentian. Although Christian is only a freshman, he is one of the team's top hitters with a .455 average. Vincentian is 6-0.

I wonder if we'll see a chopper over Vincentian games now. 

Rounball Classic tomorrow

The stars will come out tomorrow at Geneva College. That's when the Roundball Classic will be played.

The Roundball is an annual all-star basketball event run by Allen Deep. It is now four games with the top seniors in the WPIAL, City League and a few surrounding districts. 

Deep is touting this as possibly the most talent he has assembled for the boys and girls games. A total of 20 all-state players from Western Pennsylvania will be included. The two girls games are at 2 and 4, and the two boys games at 6 and 8. Tickets are available at the door.

All of the seniors on the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 teams will play. That includes New Castle's Malik Hooker, Hampton's Ryan Luther and Obama's D.J. Porter on the boys side, and Fox Chapel's Erin Mathias and Seton-LaSalle's Yacine Diop on the girls side.

I've been to the Roundball. The games, at least on the boys side, are usually high scoring. It's a little like the NBA All-Star game. Defense is foreign to a lot of the guys. But if you like offense, then check out the games.

Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie is one of the players in the game. He is visiting Robert Morris.

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Empty Netter Assists - 04-11-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Penguins' third and fourth lines are still a work in progress.

-James Neal is getting a look at the right wing on Sidney Crosby's line.

-"If I didn't take it seriously, I wouldn't be here. I'm going to be as focused on the game as if I was playing in Pittsburgh or in playoffs in the NHL. Playing this long and being around, I've played on different levels. Every game I play, I don't care if it's today four-on-four after practice, you're trying hard. That never changes." - Tomas Vokoun (right) on being in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a conditioning assignment.

-Former Penguins forward Dan Lacouture is one of nine former NHL players who filed a lawsuit against the NHL in regards to concussions they suffered during their careers.

-Happy 63rd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Ron Jones. Claimed from the Bruins in the 1973 intra-league draft, Jones appeared in 25 games for the 1973-74 Penguins and recorded three assists. Midway through the 1974-75 season, he was traded to the Capitals in exchange for Pete Laframboise.

-After the Jump: Mike Rupp injuries T.J. Oshie and a frantic finish in the Frozen Four.

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