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Big Ben display

Written by Dan Gigler on .

image003

Though he has three games left in 2014 in which to possibly outdo his performances from earlier this season, the Heinz History Center now has on display Ben Roethlisberger's game jerseys and a game ball from his historic back-to-back performances against Indianapolis and Baltimore (above). 

Per a release from the Center: 

The Senator John Heinz History Center and Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum today unveiled a special Steelers display featuring items from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL and team record-setting passing performances this season.

The new display includes Big Ben’s game-worn 1934-style throwback jersey from the Oct. 26 contest vs. Indianapolis and his game-worn jersey and game-used football from the Nov. 2 contest vs. Baltimore.

Against Indianapolis and Baltimore, Roethlisberger had back-to-back six touchdown performances at Heinz Field, setting an NFL record with 12 passing touchdowns over the two-game stretch.  Roethlisberger also passed for nearly 900 yards during the two Steelers victories.

The new display will be featured in the History Center’s first floor Great Hall beginning today through Wednesday, Dec. 31 and is included with regular museum admission.

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-10-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Steve Downie (above) is getting a look at the first line.

-Welcome back Kris Letang to practice.

-Patric Hornqvist is expected to resume practicing Thursday.

-Size is a big part of Rob Klinkhammer's game.

-While he is officially on the Penguins' NHL roster on injured reserve, Scott Wilson is physically in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Kris Letang speaks:

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assigned defenseman Clark Seymour to the Wheeling Nailers.

-Happy 32nd birthday to former Penguins defenseman Nathan Guenin. A native of Hopewell, Guenin came to the Penguins as a free agent in the 2009 offseason. After two games and no points, Guenin was traded midway through the 2009-10 season in exchange for Steve Wagner. He is currently a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins forward Chris Kontos. Acquired midway through the 1986-87 season in a deal which sent Ron Duguay to the Rangers, Kontos spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 1986-87 by appearing in 31 games for the Penguins and scoring 17 points. After 36 games and eight points in 1987-88, Kontos was traded to the Kings along with a draft pick in exchange for Bryan Erickson. In 67 games with the Penguins, Kontos scored 25 points.

-After the Jump: An emotional night in Montreal and Bryz is back.

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Andy Toole discusses Duquesne, defense

Written by Craig Meyer on .

Toole practice

As his team prepares for its annual game against Duquesne, Robert Morris coach Andy Toole spoke with a few members of the media about the matchup with the Dukes, what the rivalry (if there is one) means, how the Dukes are progressing and how the team's offensive struggles have hurt it defensively.

Below is a full transcript of that conversation, with questions in bold preceding Toole's answers. As always, if you have any questions about this post or the team in general, feel free to email me or hit me up on Twitter at the addresses italicized at the end of this post.

Do you all view this game as a rivalry?

“We look at it as a rivalry. I know our guys get excited about it. From an alumni interest or fan interest vantage point, I think I get more emails or commentary about how we do against Duquesne than how we do against a lot of our other opponents. It is a rivalry. We take every game seriously, but I think our guys get excited to play against Duquesne. Some of it’s because of familiarity because they know each other from the summer league and things like that. We view that as a rivalry and hopefully they do the same.”

Does it kind of give you all a boost of energy you’ve been looking for?

“I hope. I think the last couple of years, we’ve played really hard against them and hopefully we’ll do the same this year. We’re looking for an energy source anywhere and if it can be our opponent, then great.”

What challenges does Duquesne bring?

“Obviously, they’re shooting the ball really, really well from 3. Micah Mason and Derrick Colter are a terrific backcourt. Last year, Mason didn’t play against us, which I think kind of helped us a little bit. Each year that coach Ferry’s been there, they’re bringing in bigger, stronger and more physical athletes and they’re bringing in a lot of bodies that fit the A-10 mold. When he first got there, that wasn’t necessarily the case, but each and every year, he’s added pieces. Those are things that will definitely pose challenges for us considering we’re not rebounding great and not really defending the rim well. All of those things will be things we discuss and prepare for and hopefully, we can execute on Saturday.”

These are both perimeter-oriented teams that don’t get much offense down low. Do you view this as a matchup of similarly-constructed teams?

“Yes and no. Yes, both teams get a lot of their scoring from the perimeter. Ours isn’t necessarily by choice that we’re getting it from the perimeter. We’d like to get it from other places than that. I think in that aspect, you look and say that guards are some of the strengths of this game. But we need other guys, front-court guys, to play better and for everybody to play better. There’s not one group of our team where we can say ‘Okay, you guys just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll have the rest come along.’ I think everybody’s got to play better and everyone’s got to understand what they’re doing out there better. We have a lot of improvement to do.”

Does this Duquesne team more closely resemble some of Ferry’s old LIU teams as opposed to how it was when he first took over at Duquesne?

“I think so. They’re getting some of their guys in and, again, recruiting more size than they did with some of his LIU teams. I think he has some versatile guys who can play inside and out, guys who can make plays off the bounce, guys who are attacking and playing at a similar pace to the way they played at LIU. I think he’s close to getting the last few pieces that he needs to compete. He does a very, very good job. Twenty-nine or thirty times a year we root for them and one night a year, we try to compete as hard as we can against them.”

Seeing difference in energy between games and practices?

“I think there are some guys that are bringing it in practice that aren’t bringing it as much in games. I don’t know if that’s a comfort level [thing], where they’re comfortable in practice and practice is more favorable for them. We’ve talked to those guys about that and we’ve said to them ‘Hey guys, we can’t change our roster. We do good things in practice because you bring energy or you’re making a hustle play or you’re doing something and we get in the game and you don’t do any of those things.’ It hurts the flow of your team and when you’re 2-6, you can’t really be worried about losing anymore. You have to figure out ways you can make positive plays to help your team win. Some of that’s going to come with risk. Some of that’s going to come with putting yourself out there, whether it’s by creating an offensive play for a teammate, whether it’s by scrapping or fighting defensively or hustling down a loose ball. Those are things we have to do more consistently in order to win games. The last two games here at home – Youngstown State and Buffalo – the number of loose balls we got beat to, for me as a coach, is embarrassing. We’re still trying to figure out how to explain that you really can’t have success unless you’re willing to do some of those things. That’s why all I’ve been saying for the last week is ‘It’s worth what you’re willing to pay for it.’ We’re not willing to pay the price it takes to win the game, whether it’s with blood, sweat and tears or great detail or great execution or toughness or whatever. That makes it hard to survive in Division I basketball if you’re not willing to do those things.”

What’s your overall defensive assessment of the team so far?

“From a defensive standpoint, we’ve had some good performances. I think our offense has been more of an issue than our defense. Obviously, our field goal percentage defense is not very good. But in the games where we’ve been competitive and in the games we’ve won, our defense has been good. Even if you look at Carolina and Georgetown, our positioning was much, much better than it had been. Against Lafayette, our defensive effort was terrible. But if you went from the Georgetown game until Youngstown State, we were giving up less than one point per possession in that stretch. That’s with a lot of new faces and new bodies learning how to play. One of the things we’re not doing from a defensive standpoint is finishing possessions very well. The longer it gets in a possession, like it is with most teams, the better the chance that it will break down. And in the past, the longer we would get in a possession, the tougher we would become. We’re just an ordinary team when it comes to late shot clock situations and really having to strap up late in a possession and say ‘Hey, we have to get a stop.’ That’s something that’s hurt us a lot.”

How much does the offense missing a lot of shots affect the defense?

“It shouldn’t, but it does. If you have mentally-tough individuals, missing shots should strengthen your defense because you’re supposed to say ‘We’ve got to get some stops. We’re not scoring the ball so we’ve got to figure out a way to get stops.’ It’s had a negative effect at times, where guys say ‘Oh man, we missed, so we’re not going to give the same energy.’ We’ve shown guys film where after we make a basket, our activity defensively is noticeably different than it was previously. That’s a problem. I think one of the things that’s really hurt our defense, especially in these last two games, is we give our opponents 10-12 points per game on uncontested layups off turnovers. We turn the ball over at the top of the key or out front and they go and they take uncontested layups. So we give up 89 points to Youngstown State and obviously they deserved to win the game, but if you look at some of the self-inflicted wounds and say ‘Man, if we wouldn’t have given out those 12 points where they ran out and had uncontested layups, it’d be a different game.’ Against Buffalo, it was the same thing, with eight to 12 points just on us turning it over and falling down, them picking it up and racing down and making a layup. We don’t get those on the other end. Again, our offense missing shots is definitely an issue, but also just taking care of the basketball is an issue. We don’t really value the ball and some of our decision-making I think comes from a lack of knowledge. I think some of it also comes from a lack of understanding defenses and it’s something that we’re trying to remedy as quickly as we possibly can.”

 

Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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Size a big part of Klinkhammer's game - 12-09-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Maintaining an existence as an NHLer hasn't been easy for new Penguins' center Rob Klinkhammer. Going undrafted coming out of junior hockey, Klinkhammer's AHL career of 396 games has dwarfed his time in the NHL (131 games).

During the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13, "The Colonel," (as in Colonel Klink - Get it?) found work as a full-time NHLer by appearing in 22 games and scoring 11 points. Last season was easily Klinkhammer's best season as an NHLer as he played in 72 games and scored 11 goals and 20 points.

Last week, the Penguins acquired the 28-year-old Klinkhammer (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) as well as a conditional draft pick from the Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Philip Samuelsson. Earlier today, the Lethbridge, Alberta native discussed his journey to the NHL and his attributes as a player.

What is it like trying to get to the NHL undrafted?

"It was tough. It was a long road. Sometimes, you feel like you're overlooked. Guys are getting a shot before you. Understandably so. People want their draft picks to work out and stuff like that. A lot of trying to stay positive, working hard and just battling."

Your first taste of the NHL came with the Blackhawks in 2010-11. What was the process of getting connected with them?

"I think it started in Nolkolk (the Lightning's AHL affiliate at the time], my first year pro. I played in the AHL there [in 2007-08]. Mark Bernard, I think he was the assistant [general manager] maybe in Norfolk. Then he went and got the [general manager] job in Rockford [the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate] and he liked the way I played in Norfolk. Brought me over to Rockford. I had a full year there and I signed my first NHL deal after that year. He helped me along the way with that."

Your next stop was with the Senators in 2011-12 where you played 15 games.

"It was quick, but it was good. I got traded from Rockford to Binghamton [the Senators' AHL affiliate]. I think the last month and and a half, I got called up to Ottawa and then I stayed up there for the playoffs and stuff. It was my kind first extended stay in the NHL and it was kind of an eye opener. You get to see what things are like and how it's run with the big club. So, that was a big step for me."

Your best success in the NHL came with the Coyotes over the past three seasons.

"Their style of play really fit in into my game. Just nice and simple. Hard working. Up and down. I went in there in the [lockout-shortened 2012-13 season] and I had a great start. Put up some points. I was clicking with some guys I was playing with. Then I got to sign my first two-year, one-way [contract] with Phoenix."

That first one-way contract means so much to many players in your position. What was it like for you when you signed it in the 2013 offseason?

"Oh, it definitely means a lot. It's huge. It's a little financial security obviously and everyone's looking for that in this world. But it's … it's kind of … you feel like you've earned something. The hard work has finally paid off. It's a gratifying feeling. It feels good. It was nice I remember the day I signed it and I'll never forget that one."

You're the biggest forward on the Penguins' roster. What's key for you using your size?

"Just trying to get in on the forecheck and stuff like that. Trying to disrupt things. Play hard against the walls. Pin guys in there. Try and win some puck battles down there. If you've got size, you've got to use it and keep yourself moving."

You drew two penalties against the Senators Saturday in the offensive zone, one for holding and the other for hooking. How much did your speed play a role into those penalties?

"I think it's about catching guys at the right time. I wouldn't say I'm the fastest guy in the world. I can get around. I don't think I'm going to catch too many guys by surprise with some breakaway speed or something. I don't think I really have that. It takes a while for me to get going. It's just about trying to catch guys maybe sleeping or pivoting the wrong way or something. Stuff like that. So you've just got to try and read that kind of stuff."

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - 12-09-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. "We got back in it. You get to overtime, and it’s a 50-50 game. It just didn’t go our way.” - Brandon Sutter.

-The (New York) Daily News' recap. Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein, who scored in overtime, needed 13 stitches to re-attach part of his left ear after being high sticked by Zach Sill in the first period.

-The Bergen (N.J.) Record's recap. "Pain is only temporary.” - Klein.

-Newsday's recap. "We needed it [a win] for a couple reasons, obviously for confidence. but we need the points to get back in the race. Right now, you're a little upset the way we allowed them to come back in the game that late." - Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

-The Associated Press' recap. "Good for him. He lost a piece of his ear, and they sewed it back. Say what you want about hockey players, but they are tough." - Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Klein.

-Highlights:

-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Paul Martin and Sidney Crosby had a chat:

-Evgeni Malkin was pumped:

-If you're wondering what Jamie Leach Rob Klinkhammer looks like in a Penguins jersey, here you go:

-Klein was pretty excited:

-Happy times for the Penguins. Not so much for Lundqvist:

-Crosby was focused:

-Crosby tried to give a fisherman's suplex to New York's Carl Hagelin:

-We think.

-Mark Recchi Brian Dumoulin showed off some good stride here:

-Marc-Andre Fleury was thirsty:

-Fleury had a moment alone before the game:

-Mike Johnston speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Crosby speaks:

-Add Olli Maatta to the list of injuries.

-Happy 79th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Noel Price. Claimed from the Canadiens in the 1967 expansion draft, Price spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. During the Penguins inaugural season of 1967-68, Price appeared in 70 games and scored 33 points. In 1968-69, Price saw action in 73 games and scored 20 points. During the 1969 offseason, the Kings claimed him in a reverse draft. In 143 regular seasons games for the Penguins, Price scored 53 points.

-Happy 68th birthday to former Penguins forward Nick Libett. Acquired in the 1979 offseason, Libett spent parts off two seasons with the Penguins. In 1979-80, Libett saw action in 78 games and scored 26 points. During the 1980 postseason, he appeared in five games and scored two points. He followed that up in 1980-81 by playing in 43 games and scoring 12 points. He was released in the 1981 offseason. In 121 regular season games with the Penguins, Libett scored 38 points.

-Happy 43rd birthday to former Penguins forward Petr Nedved (right). Acquired in the 1995 offseason along with Sergei Zubov in a deal which sent Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson to the Rangers, Nedved spent two seasons with the Penguins. In 1995-96, Nedved saw action in 80 games and scored 99 points, good enough only fourth place on the team. The 1996 postseason saw Nedved appear in 18 games and score 20 points, including one of the most memorable postseason goals in franchise's history, a game-winner in the fourth overtime of a 3-2 win against the Capitals in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series (below). He followed that up in 1996-97 by playing in 74 games and scoring 71 points. He played in five postseason games that spring and scored three points. After missing all of 1997-98 and part of 1998-99 due to a contract dispute, Nedved was traded back to the Rangers along with Chris Tamer and Sean Pronger in exchange for Alex Kovalev and Harry York. In 154 regular season games for the Penguins, Nedved scored 170 points, 45th-most in franchise history. In 23 postseason games, Nedved scored 23 points.

-After the Jump: Jaromir Jagr becomes the NHL's fifth all-time leading scorer and the Senators fire Paul MacLean.

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