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About the Blues - 01-18-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Blues.

When and where: 8 p.m., CST, Kiel Center Savvis Center Scottrade Center.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), NBC Sports (Rest of the United States), Sportsnet (East, Ontario, Pacific), TVA.

Record: 26-15-7, 59 points. The Blues are in third place in the Central Division.

Leading Scorer: Right winger Vladimir Tarasenko (right), 45 points (24 goals, 21 assists).

Last Game: 4-3 overtime home win against the Canadiens. Centers Robby Fabbri and Jori Lehtera each had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 road loss Nov. 25. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Paul Statsny each had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

Blues Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Lehtera. He has a four-game scoring streak.

Ex-Penguins on the Blues: Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, goalie development coach Ty Conklin.

Ex-Blues on the Penguins: Defenseman Ian Cole, assistant general manager Bill Guerin, assistant coach Jacques Martin.

Useless Blues Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Defenseman Ian Cole (2007) is one of six former first-round picks of the Blues who have played for the Penguins. The others are centers Gene Carr (1971), Jeff Taffe (2000), right winger Wayne Babych (1978), goaltender Gary Edwards (1968) and left winger David Perron (2007).

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

Probable goaltenders: Jeff Zatkoff (3-4-1, 2.60 GAA, .926 SV%) for the Penguins. Brian Elliott (8-5-4, 2.41 GAA, .919 SV%) for the Blues.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang (right hand or arm) is questionable. Defenseman David Warsofsky (concussion) is out. Right wingers Beau Bennett ("upper body"), Pascal Dupuis (blood clots) and center Nick Bonino (hand) are on injured reserve. For the Blues, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (concussion) is in. Defensemen Carl Gunnarsson ("upper body") and Bortuzzo ("lower body") are out. Goaltender Jake Allen (knee), center Steve Ott (hamstrings) and left winger Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins did not hold a morning skate. Consider this a guess based on Letang 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 Blues lines and pairings at today's morning skate were:

20 Alexander Steen - 26 Paul Stastny - 36 Troy Brouwer
15 Robby Fabbri - 12 Jori Lehtera - 91 Vladimir Tarasenko
21 Patrik Berglund - 42 David Backes - 18 Ty Rattie
23 Dmitrij Jaskin/10 Scottie Upshall - 28 Kyle Brodziak - 75 Ryan Reaves

19 Jay Bouwmeester - 27 Alex Pietrangelo
55 Colton Parayko - 22 Kevin Shattenkirk
6 Joel Edmundson - 61 Andre Benoit

Notes:

-Defenseman Derrick Pouliot was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-The Penguins are 19-9-6 when Letang is in the lineup this season and 2-7-1 without him.

-Bouwmeester will return to the lineup after missing four games.

-Defenseman Andre Benoit was recalled from Chicago of the AHL.

-Center David Backes has 197 career goals.

-Right winger Scottie Upshall has 496 career penalty minutes.

-The referees are (No. 29) Ian Walsh and (No. 4) Wes McCauley. The linesmen are (No. 75 ) Derek Amell and (No. 79) Kiel Murchison.

(Photo: Billy Hurst/Associated Press)

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Empty Netter Assists - Recapping Penguins-Hurricanes - 01-18-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Post-Gazette's recap from last night's game. “I think the players deserve a lot of credit for the way we’re playing right now. They’re playing hard. They’re playing with emotion. And I think this game is about emotion. It’s about passion, it’s about energy. And it’s about being more determined." - Head coach Mike Sullivan.

-The Associated Press' recap. "I just didn't think we were very good overall. We were on our heels a little bit and we didn't execute like we normally do." - Captain/center Eric Staal

-Highlights:

-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Carl Hagelin. Pittsburgh Penguin:

-Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was all over this puck:

-Captain/center Sidney Crosby surveyed the ice:

-Center Evgeni Malkin seems to be jealous of Hagelin's hair:

-Crosby didn't seem to be buying what right winger Phil Kessel was selling:

-Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack had issues with this puck:

-A good look at left winger Conor Sheary's goal:

-A good look at Lack's lid:

-Sullivan speaks:

-Fleury speaks:

-Hagelins speaks:

-The Penguins recalled defenseman Derrick Pouliot from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-Pouliot's recall was was prompted by undisclosed injuries to defensemen Kris Letang and David Warsofsky.

-Happy 37th birthday to former Penguins left winger Ruslan Fedotenko. A free agent signing in the 2008 offseason, Fedotenko spent two seasons with the Penguins. In his first season with the Penguins in 2008-09, Fedotenko appeared in 65 games and scored 39 points. During the postseason, he saw action in 24 games and scored 14 points, fourth-best on the team, while helping the franchise win its third Stanley Cup title. He followed that up in 2009-10 by playing in 80 games and scoring 30 points. He was limited to six games in the 2010 postseason and failed to record a point. During the 2010 offseason, he joined the Rangers as a free agent. In 145 regular season games with the Penguins, he scored 69 points. In 30 postseason games, he scored 14 points. Fedotenko, is currently a member of the AHL's Iowa Wild.

-Happy 59th birthday to former Penguins right winger Jim Hamilton. A second-round pick in 1977, Hamilton spent his entire eight-year NHL career with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1977-78, he appeared in 25 games and scored six points. After being limited to two points and and no points in 1978-79, he played in five postseason games that spring and scored three goals. Hamilton played in 10 games in 1979-80 and scored two goals. During 1980-81, he appeared in 20 games and scored seven points. In one postseason game that season, he failed to record a point. The 1981-82 season saw Hamilton play in 11 games and score eight points. He followed that up in 1982-83 by playing in five games and recording two points. In 1983-84, he played in 11 games while netting four points. His final NHL season was 1984-85. After 11 games and three points, he was released midway through the season. In 95 regular season games, Hamilton scored 32 points. In six postseason games, he scored three goals.

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins right winger Andrew McBain. Acqurired in the 1989 offseason along with defenseman Jim Kyte and center Randy Gilhen in a deal which sent left winger Randy Cunneyworth, goaltender Rick Tabaracci and center Dave McLlwain to the Winnipeg Jets, McBain's Penguins career amounted to 41 games and 14 points in 1989-90. Midway through that season, he was traded to the Canucks along with left winger Dave Capuano and center Dan Quinn in exchange for defenseman Rod Buskas, center Barry Pederson and right winger Tony Tanti.

-Today would have been the 66th birthday of former Penguins center Pete Laframboise (right). Acquired midway through 1974-75 in a deal which sent defenseman Ron Jones to the Capitals. His Penguins career amounted to 35 games and 18 games that season. During the 1975 postseason, he appeared in nine games and scored one goal. In the 1975 offseason, he joined the WHA's Edmonton Oilers as a free agent. Laframboise died March 19, 2011 at the age of 61.

-Happy 56th birthday to former Penguins forward Mike Blaisdell. Claimed off waivers prior to the 1985-86 season, Blaisdell spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. During 1985-86, he appeared in 66 games and scored 29 points. In 1986-87, he was limited to 10 games and scored two points. In the 1987 offseason, he joined the Maple Leafs as a free agent.

-After the Jump: The David Perron era starts in Anaheim.

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Duquesne basketball mailbag: Jan. 18

Written by Craig Meyer on .

 http://a2.fssta.com/content/dam/fsdigital/fscom/NCAA-BK/images/2015/03/31/033115-CBK-Cornhuskers-Tarin-Smith-pi-ssm.vadapt.620.high.28.jpg

(Photo: USA Today)

I was worried for a little while, but, against all odds, we garnered enough interest for another Duquesne mailbag. These questions were asked early last week, so some may seem out of date. I had a hectic week with a ton of stories to finish (some Dukes-related, some not), but I’ve got the time for them now.

Let’s kick things off in a thoughtful and constructive manner with the first question…

 

 

Oh, look. It’s that guy.

 

Since it took me a little while to get to these, this becomes a perfect moment for everyone’s favorite superhero, Captain Hindsight. I’m not sure how much a win against Saint Louis proves, but following that up with a victory against St. Bonaventure shows that this is a team that is increasingly comfortable with a set of offensive parts that, for a few games, was still getting accustomed to playing so many minutes with each other.

I don’t know how much of it was related to confidence. Losing games is never fun, especially when your supposed strength is suddenly flailing, but Division I college basketball players are generally pretty confident people. Talent certainly has something to do with it, though. The simplest, and perhaps most accurate, explanation for the four-game skid was that, in wake of injuries to Jeremiah Jones and Micah Mason, the Dukes had to revamp their offensive identity and that adjustment just so happened to coincide with their most difficult four-game stretch of the season.

A loss against VCU coupled with a setback against one or more of the A-10’s lesser teams – George Mason, La Salle and Saint Louis -- in the three games after that could undo that train of thought. But, for the time being, that seems to be the verdict.

 

I don’t know if this is a strength or more of a personal preference of mine, but he’s not a guy who panics. He knows his players and personnel incredibly well and he has a system in which he knows how those parts fit. I wasn’t there to cover Ferry’s first few years – only watching from a distance – so I didn’t witness some of the growing pains in detail. But in the year I’ve written about the team, that’s always stood out.

One other thing: I’ve always been impressed with how his teams have been able to impose their tempo on a game. As most anyone reading this knows, Ferry’s scheme is a fast one intended to wear down opponents and get his players out in transition and space. Some faster teams struggle to maintain that pace when they’re not forcing turnovers (this is particularly common with teams who press), but Duquesne has just one game this season (at George Washington) in which it had fewer than 70 possessions, which is just above the national average of 69.6. That counts for something.

 

Some people (not me) hate these kind of questions because a lot of guesswork is involved, but, hey, that’s part of the fun of this. Sports are supposed to be fun, right?

One major disclaimer for the lineup I’m going to present is that it doesn’t include any of the team’s three incoming freshmen for next season. I’ve seen Michael Lewis play once, and was impressed by him, but aside from highlight reels and scouting reports, I don’t know a whole lot about this class, at least not enough to try to peg them into certain roles while they’re still finishing up their senior year of high school. One or two or perhaps even all three of those guys will contribute in some kind of way next season, but I’m just not ready to go in-depth on it yet.

With all of that said, here’s my best guess at it now, followed by a few notes below it.

PG: Tarin Smith

SG: Josh Steel

SF: Eric James

PF: L.G. Gill

C: Darius Lewis

First guys off the bench: TySean Powell, Nakye Sanders, Rene Castro, Mar’Qywell Jackson

** It’s fair to be skeptical of hype surrounding a little-seen transfer given Rene Castro’s underwhelming results so far this season, but Tarin Smith is really, really good. On a team with two stellar seniors at guard, he’s often the backcourt player that stands out the most at practice (or at least the ones that I’ve been to). He’s a strong ball-handler who’s routinely able to blow by defenders. He also has a great touch around the rim and is a pretty solid outside shooter, too. It’s easy to see why he was a Big Ten recruit coming out of high school.

** Shooting guard was by far my most difficult call. The options are effectively Josh Steel, Castro and Mar’Qywell Jackson. Coming into the season, the thought was that Castro and Smith were the team’s backcourt of the future, but, as was mentioned earlier in this post, that plan has gone a little awry, or at least it appears that way right now. The thought of the 6-5 Jackson at the two is pretty tantalizing for what has been a shorter team the past few years, but I gave Steel the edge because he’s a slightly better outside shooter and dribbler. But the gap between any of those three players isn’t huge.

** James at the three doesn’t require much of an explanation. He’s taken a huge step his sophomore season and for Dukes fans, it has to be pretty exciting to wonder how much more he might develop as the season continues.

** There’s a very reasonable argument to be made for starting TySean Powell over L.G. Gill, but Ferry has been starting Gill all season, even as he’s struggled at times offensively. The starting designation in this instance doesn’t mean quite as much. Both of those guys are going to see the floor quite a bit.

** Darius Lewis started at center as a clumsy sophomore who had trouble holding on to the ball most any time he received it. Given his progress this season, it’s hard to imagine a senior Lewis not getting the starting nod.

 

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

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Postgame thoughts - Penguins 5, Hurricanes 0 - 01-17-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Observations from the Penguins' 5-0 win against the Hurricanes.

First things first. There was no update on defenseman David Warsofsky who appeared to suffer a potential head injury late in the third period.

With 6:58 left in regulation, as Warsofsky was skating backwards defending an offensive rush by the Hurricanes, referee Tim Peel lost an edge and slid into the back of Warsofsky. Appearing to be totally oblivious to Peel, Warsofsky collided with him and flipped backwards landing partially on his head. 

Warsofsky, who was inserted into the lineup in placed of injured defenseman Kris Letang, laid on the ice for several moments holding his head. After athletic trainer Chris Stewart attended to him, Warsofsky skated to the dressing room with some assistance and did not return.

Head coach Mike Sullivan said Warsofsky was still being evaluated during his postgame press conference. With Letang described as a "game-time" decision for Monday's game in St. Louis, Sullivan said defensive prospect Derrick Pouliot is a candidate to be recalled.

As far as the game goes, that was pretty much the only blemish on what was a pretty good afternoon for the Penguins.

They got off to a fast start, took an early lead, controlled the special teams battle and picked Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack to pieces. Most importantly, they took two clean points against a divisional rival they are battling for playoff position.

The fact they won without Letang was big too. They are 19-9-6 when he plays and are 2-7-1 when he doesn't. Clearly, they're a better team with him but gaining a little confidence in playing without him was significant.

What happened

The Penguins took a 1-0 lead 3:54 into the game. After gaining the offensive zone on the right wing, center Evgeni Malkin left a pass for defenseman Olli Maatta above the left circle. Maatta weaved by Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner and from the left circle, he lifted a wrister by the blocker of goaltender Eddie Lack on the far side.

They doubled their lead at 10:05 of the first period. Center Matt Cullen forced a turnover at the right point and chopped the puck to the high slot for center Kevin Porter who fed it down the slot for left winger Conor Sheary darting to the net. With Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanafin giving chase, Sheary fired a wrister while falling to his knees by Lack's blocker.

The Penguins tacked on a power-play goal with 36 seconds left in the second period. Defenseman Trevor Daley (above) controlled a puck at center point and dealt it to Malkin on the right wing. Malkin dealt a cross-ice pass to right winger Phil Kessel in the left circle. Kessel snapped off a pass to the crease where center Sidney Crosby directed the puck with the inside of his right skate blade and into the cage. A brief video review confirmed the score. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters challenged the goal on the basis of the Penguins entering the offensive zone offside but that subsequent review failed to overturn the score.

A second goal by Crosby at 6:55 of the third made it a 4-0 game. Right winger Patric Hornqvist settled a puck and chipped it up the right wing from his own zone. Crosby collected the puck, coasted into the right circle and fired a wrister by Lack's blocker on the far side.

The Penguins poured it on when Daley scored with 6:24 left in regulation. Settling a pass from Hornqvist, Daley motored into the right circle and snapped a wrister inside Lack's blocker and into the cage.

The Penguins

With Letang absent, the Penguins' top defensive pairing of Maatta and Daley stepped up. Daley, who took over for Letang on the top pairing as well as the top power-play unit just looked so composed with his promotion. He always seemed to know what to do with the puck and knew when to take some chances. When he controlled the puck at center point on the power play, he made calm decisive choices with it. It was very similar to how former defenseman Paul Martin looked anytime he took over for Letang in the past. Daley was a big part of this win.

Maatta had a pretty similar game in that respect, albeit with a far less prominent role on the power play. He made calm decisions and even took some extra shifts on the penalty kill in place of Letang.

Left winger Carl Hagelin debuted on the team's second line. He had 13:15 of ice time on 21 shifts, recorded four shots and two penalty minutes. He also had 1:56 of penalty kill time. For the most part, he played a simple game. He went to he net, forechecked and just seemed to try to read off Malkin and Kessel.

-The Penguins' power play looked hesitant to shoot sometimes with its early chances but for the most part, it looked like a threat. They controlled the puck and moved it fairly well around the offensive zone. 

-The Penguins were successful on the penalty kill. While they did allow seven shots on four power-play chances, they killed all four of those chances including a five-on-three situation which lasted 43 seconds. After giving up three goals on eight chances their previous two games, today's "no-hitter" was big for the Penguins.

-Hornqvist and Crosby seemed to re-discover some of their old chemistry. They just seemed to read off one another fairly well. 

-Prior to his injury, Warosfky looked fairly sharp for someone who had been a healthy scratch for eight games. Paired with defenseman Ian Cole on the third pairing, he made safe plays and was responsible Injuries always stink, but the timing of this one is especially pungent for Warsofsky's purposes.

-Sheary's goal was big for him. After being benched most of Friday's game in Tampa, he was on the fourth line with Cullen and Porter. Getting a goal, an important goal no less, was a good way to regain the coaching staff's confidence.

-Fleury earned the shutout but he wasn't exactly under fire most of the night. His teammates made it a fairly easy game for him.

The Hurricanes

-Four of the Penguins' five goals were on Lack's blocker side. In informal conversations, Penguins players did not indicate there was any sort of scouting report noting Lack's blocker as a target.

-The Hurricanes just didn't seem like the team which controlled their previous games against the Penguins. They rarely held onto the puck and just seemed to be chasing the Penguins.

Quotable

-Sullivan talked about Daley's impact on the game and the power play specifically:

"I thought Trevor did a nice job. When you're playing with those guys on the first power play, sometimes there's a lot of pressure there because the expectations are high as far as moving the puck and distributing the puck and knowing when to shoot. I thought he did a real good job. The power play, even [our players] had a couple where they didn't score, I thought they had great zone time. They set up some real quality scoring chances and didn't finish and finally they were able to finish. And the goal they scored for us was obviously a big goal for us as far as the timing of the game."

Hagelin talked about playing with Malkin and Kessel:

"Pretty easy adjustment, you know? They like to play with speed. They're making good plays. I tried to create space for them out there by using my speed."

Hagelin was told by coaches to keep thing simple:

"They told me to just play the way I can and not think too much and I think that's what I did today."

Hagelin's last 48 hours were interesting

"It was crazy. I finished dinner then I got a call at 11:30 [p.m. Pacific time Friday] I think it was. Being told you get traded, it's never a fun thing. You obviously don't expect it. Then all of a sudden, there's a lot of people calling. You start figuring out what's going to happen here and you start looking at a new opportunity and a new chapter in your life. That's the type of guy I am. I try to stay positive at all times. Obviously, ending up here with such a great organization, it's a good opportunity for me."

Hagelin talked about playing with Malkin specificially:

"We didn't' talk much. We just got out there and played. That's the type of player he is. He's creative and he finds a way to find people out there. He can do a lot on his own. There's not too much talking. I think it's just reading off each other and working hard."

Sullivan gave a thumbs-up on Hagelin's debut:

“I thought he was solid. I think his speed is evident. I think the more he gets to play with [Malkin] and Phil or some of the other guys, depending on how we use him moving forward... the more familiar they get with him, I think it will allow him to have an impact moving forward. I think his speed is evident. He's chasing pucks down. He has the ability to chase plays. He has a great chance on [a] two-on-one. And his impact is obviously is big too."

Crosby joked about his first goal going off his skate:

"I had one right on my tape last game but I missed a wide open net. So I'll take them anyway they come."

Porter talked about what Hagelin brings to the penalty kill:

"Speed. Speed and energy. He gets a lot of pressure up ice, creates turnovers, smart player, he's good with his stick. So he's going to help us on the [penalty kill] a lot."

Peters talked about his team's poor play. 

"I thought they were quicker than us today. ... There wasn't an area of the game we were sharp in today. We were very poor with the puck. It led to some continuous [defensive zone play] and icings that never have to happen."

Numbers

-The Penguins controlled shots, 32-22.

-Malkin and Hagelin each led the game with four shots.

-Hanafin and center Andrej Nestrasil each led the Hurricanes with four shots.

-Defenseman Jaccob Slavin led the game with 24:31 of ice time.

-Daley led the Penguins with 24:19 of ice time.

-The Hurricanes led in faceoffs, 40-22 (65 percent).

-Former Penguins center Jordan Staal was 15 for 20 (75 percent).

-Fire Ray Shero.

-Malkin was 5 for 13 (38 percent).

-Maatta, defenseman Ben Lovejoy, Hurricanes defensemen John-Michael Liles, Michal Jordan, Ron Hainsey and Slavin each led the game with two blocked shots.

Historically speaking

-Hagelin made his Penguins debut and became the first player in franchise history to wear No. 62.

-Hagelin is the 12th former Michigan player to play for the Penguins. He joins Porter, centers Mike Comrie, Andrew Ebbett, Andy Hilbert, defenseman Greg Fox, Brian Lundberg, Pat Neaton, Jeff Norton, Chris Tamer, left winger Greg Crozier, and right winger Pat Hughes.

-Fleury's shutout was the 41st of his career.

-The Penguins' last shutout of the Hurricanes was a 3-0 win Oct. 30, 2010. Goaltender Brent Johnson made 33 saves in the victory.

-Daley appeared in his 800th career game.

Potpourri

-Despite overlapping with the Steelers game, the Penguins had an announced sellout of 18,528. It was their 399th consecutive sellout. No. 400 should take place during Thursday's contest against the rival Flyers.

-The Penguins allowed fans to stay after their game and watch the rest of the Steelers game:

Visuals

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Jersey hunt - Hurricanes at Penguins - 01-17-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The best jerseys at today's Penguins-Hurricanes game:

-Rick Tocchet has a fan:

-Speaking of assistant coaches with combative histories, ditto Joey Porter:

-Steve Downie:

-Matthew Barnaby:

-Darius Kasparaitis:

-This David Perron fan may have needed some consoling:

-There are quite a few Hurricanes fans on hand. Justin Faulk:

-Andrej Nestrasil has two fans on hand, including one fro his Grand Rapids Griffins days:

-Cam Ward:

-Bryan Rust's brother, former Wheeling Nailers forward Matt Rust has a fan here:

 

 

-Former Penguins/Hurricanes/Whalers defenseman Paul Coffey:

-Dan Quinn:

-Jersey of the Day: Former Penguins center and current Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis:

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