Print

Penguins at Rangers - Game 1 Postgame - 04-16-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

POSTGAME

 

"You know they're going to have a push back for the next game and we're going to need to be ready. That's why we always enjoy this game. When you wake up the next day, it's already behind us. We have to look forward to the practice tomorrow and those little things we can do better. We're going to be really well prepared for Game 2, that's for sure." - Rangers center Derrick Brassard.

---

-All things considered, this could have gone worse. Much worse. After giving up a goal all of 28 seconds into the game and being outplayed in every conceivable fashion in the first period, the Penguins settled down and played a pretty thorough, honest game in the final 40 minutes and as a result, they lost a close 2-1 game to the NHL's best regular season team, the Rangers.

-If the Penguins clean up a lot of errors in this game, they at least get this to overtime with a 1-1 score. At the same time, if the Rangers took better advantage of the Penguins' errors, they probably win 4-1.

---

-The first period was a mess for the Penguins. They were outshot 13-5 and they took four penalties which led to four Rangers power plays. The Rangers kept the play in the Penguins' zone most of the period. The Penguins' penalty killers logged a lot of ice time that period and were chasing the puck around a bunch. Frankly, the Rangers were probably a bit underwhelming considering they only scored two goals.

-It seemed like the game was going to be a rout from the get go as the Rangers scored 28 seconds in. Left winger Rick Nash boomed a slapper off the left wing. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out a rebound with his left skate to the slot. Center Derick Brassard blew right by Paul Martin and swept the rebound by Fleury's glove hand:

-While that goal is simply inexcusable for the Penguins - particularly Fleury and Martin - to allow, it was something of a designed play by the Rangers. Brassard explained after the game.

On the goal:

"It's all a credit to Rick [Nash] there. He didn't shoot to score there. He did that on purpose. I was just driving the net and got the lucky bounce."

Do you practice that play?

 

"Yeah. Not every practice but we have a drill we do. We want to be a drive-drive team. You want to always have a guy always in the middle there. If you look at our practices, you're going to find that play quite often."

Did you catch Martin napping on the play?

"Honestly, I'm going to have to look at the replay. I don't know what happened. Usually when you drive in the middle like that, the defenseman is going to take you. I think we got them spread out in the neutral zone. Rick got it on the wide side there and I was wide open by myself."

-Basically, it's a pass-off-pads play which the Penguins used a bunch under Dan Bylsma. The Penguins don't seem to emphasize it nearly as much under Mike Johnston unless you count the countless shots right into countless chest protectors.

---

-After that goal, there was a march to the penalty box for the Penguins. At 6:02 Chris Kunitz drove to the net and was kind of tangled up with defenseman Marc Staal then made contract with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. It was hardly an earth-shattering collision but it was enough to land Kunitz in the penalty box.

-At 8:54, left winger Tanner Glass chased after the puck on the Penguins' end boards and was planted onto the ice by Taylor Chorney. By the letter of the law, it was interference. Chorney hit him without the puck. But by the standard the NHL has allowed its officiating to slip to, it was a borderline call.  To make matters worse, right winger Kevin Hayes appeared to interfere with Chris Kunitz in front of the Penguins' bench. He escaped a penalty.

-At 14:33, Blake Comeau was hounding center Dominic Moore for a puck in the Rangers' left wing corner. Comeau sort of got his hands up on Comeau and they exchanged some shoves. Comeau ended up being the only one going to the penalty box. We're still trying to figure out what exactly Comeau did. We could see a holding minor perhaps but not roughing. Either way, it was another borderline call.

-At 15:16, the Rangers cashed in when captain/defenseman Ryan McDonagh pounded a slapper from center point which beat Fleury on the blocker side. There was quite a bit of traffic on the play.

-Finally at, 16:43, Perron was called for slashing left winger Carl Hagelin in the Penguins' zone. Out of all the first period penalties, that one was the most legitimate.

-The Penguins' ice time totals in the first period were very reflective of the penalties. Penalty killing forwards like Brandon Sutter (6:56) and Daniel Winnik (5:28) led the team in ice time while Sidney Crosby only got (3:42).

-Rob Scuderi sounded pretty ticked off after the game when talking about all the penalty killing time.

"It's not that it's necessarily hard. It's not good for your team. We don't generate any momentum because half the guys are sitting on the bench and not playing and keeping their legs warm. By the time we pull our self out of those penalties, the period is pretty much over. It's certainly something we don't want to repeat."

-Despite that cave-in of a first period, the Penguins were only down 2-0. We're not sure if it was anything the Penguins did or anything the Rangers didn't do, but the Penguins were lucky things weren't uglier.

---

-Things leveled off a bit in the second period. The Rangers still had a few extended offensive zone shifts but it wasn't nearly as one-sided. Perhaps the fact that the Penguins stayed out of the penalty box was a major factor for that.

-Each team exchanged a few decent scoring chances. After Comeau and Maxim Lapierre were denied in tight on a few chances, Ben Lovejoy boomed a slapper from the right point. Lundqvist made the save but appeared to get tangled up with Lapierre a bit after Lapierre was tangling with Dan Boyle. Comeau snuck in and cleaned up the garabage:

-We wonder if the volume of penalties the Penguins took in the first period maybe played a role in officials not waving off the goal due to Lapierre making contact with Lundqvist. Either way, it was a much needed break for the Penguins.

---

-The rest of the game was pretty even-keeled. Both teams had their chances. Both goaltenders had quality saves. The Penguins had strong push in the third period but really couldn't get much of in the way of quality chances on net. The Rangers fended off a late push by the Penguins with Fleury pulled and held on for a win.

---

-One of the true positive developments for the Penguins in this game was Comeau's return to form. He looked like the Comeau who was shooting and scoring at a rapid pace in the early stages of the season. He was very aggressive with his shot and didn't have any hesitation. His play eventually earned him a promotion to the right wing on Evgeni Malkin's line.

-The fourth line - as it was constructed with Comeau, Lapierre and Nick Spaling was really the Penguins' best line most of the night. They were just a pain in the butt in the Rangers' zone and kept the puck in the offensive zone quite a bit.

-Crosby had another quiet performance. He had one shot and.. that's about it. The McDonagh-Girardi and and Marc Staal-Dan Boyle defensive pairings each drew their fair share of defensive shifts against Crosby's line and really limited him.

-Staal talked about how they defended him:

 

"When he's on the ice, him or Malkin, it's five guys being aware where he is and making sure one guy is at least within a stick length of him. Because if you give him some time, he's going to make some plays. I thought we did a pretty good job of staying tight to him and not letting him breathe out there."

-Either way, Crosby needs to offer more.

-Malkin did what he could. He created some rushes up ice and fired some wild slappers at the cage. But he still looks like he's laboring with something. Additionally, his linemates for most of the night, Kunitz and Perron, don't seem to have any chemistry with him.

-It was almost foreign to see the Penguins operate with six healthy defensemen for most of the night. That said, all the penalty killing time in the first period seemed to throw their ice times off. Either way, their looked a lot more organized and a lot less distressed on defense.

-We were curious how the Chorney-Brian Dumoulin pairing would look. They were fine. They had a few hiccups. The chemistry they have at the AHL level was evident at this level.

-Scuderi was shaken up in the third period when Hayes struck him in the face on a follow-through of a shot. He missed a handful of shifts before returning with a ... different  ... look to his nose:

-Girardi left the game for good in the third period after a shot by Kunitz hit his stick and hopped up into his mouth. Rangers coach Alaign Vigneault said he needed some dental work did not offer any other updates.

-Steve Downie took a bad penalty in the third period when he slammed center Mats Zuccarello into the Penguins' bench then jabbed him in the back of the head with a cross check.

-The only Rangers' penalty came in the second period when Nash slammed Scuderi from behind into the Penguins' right corner while chasing a puck. He was called for boarding.

-Kunitz was reunited on Crosby's line along with Patric Hornqvist in the third period. That change seemed to spark little.

-Daniel Winnik was moved to the third line with Beau Bennett and Brandon Sutter. That line offered little.

---

-The Rangers led in shots on net, 38-25.

-The Rangers led in attempted shots, 55-51.

-Derek Stepan led the game with six shots.

-Lovejoy and Perron each led the Penguins with three shots.

-Ian Cole led the game with 26:06 of ice time.

-McDonagh led the Rangers with 25:36 of ice time.

-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 38-28 (58 percent).

-Crosby was 15 for 20 (75 percent).

-Brassard was 12 for 25 (48 percent).

-Girardi led the game with six blocked shots.

-Cole led the Penguins with three blocked shots.

---

-Some sights. The ice:

-We didn't see a single Penguins fan here. Lots of blue though. Brendan Shanahan:

-A Rod Gilbert/Mike Richter duo:

-Jeff Beukeboom:

-A Mark Messier/Adam Graves combination:

-Tie Domi:

-This is sharp. Hayes Boston College:

-This is really sharp. Zuccarello Norway:

-Some Penguins/Rangers. Dominic Moore:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-Alexei Kovalev:

-Jersey of the Night: Ron Duguay:

-The national anthem:

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

-Highlights:

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Penguins at Rangers - Game 1 - 04-16-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

-We can't figure out the 2014-15 Pittsburgh Penguins as the playoffs begin.

-The team's level of success is pretty easy to figure out. They're just not very good as it pertains to winning and losing games. It had to beat a rotten Sabres team on the last day of the regular season to get into the postseason. The Rangers should win this series with relative ease.

-We're talking about the humans and not so much the players on this team. THey're a mystery. After looking like they were going to a funeral the last month of the regular season and nearly falling out of the playoffs, they have been as loose and carefree of a group as we have ever encountered. There's a lot of smiles, jokes and laughs. Sidney Crosby has held court with the media at his locker stall and has answered every inane, thoughtless cliched question with a smile or a smirk. Patric Hornqvist was playing with a soccer ball in the dressing room and deking through reporters like he was Mario Gotze. Steve Downie and Nick Spaling were joking about about practicing their "center drive" technique on reporters in the crowded and cramped visiting dressing room at Madison Square Garden.

-No one is slacking off or approaching this with a flippant attitude by any means. They're serious about trying to win this series. But they just have a fun way about them. In contrast, the Penguins seemed like they were on the verge of attending a funeral before their first-round series with the Blue Jackets started last season.

-Maybe the role of being an underdog for the first time in a long time has loosened them up. Maybe going through several weeks of [heck] with their roster has changed their perspective. But the Penguins have approached the start of their postseason in a completely different fashion than they have in years past.

-We fully believe the Rangers will win this series with relatively ease. But the Penguins seem like they're having fun for once.

-The Rangers have a really, really slick pregame presentation in order for this game. They have distributed these glow stick which are coordinated to the various music for all their videos and music. Here's how it sounds to "Baba O'Riley" by "The Who:"

-We'll be covering the live games a little differently for the time being. We'll give the live chat a go instead of the live blogs. We will have a postgame blog post.

-The chat will be open at 7 p.m. Feel free to participate below:

Live Blog Penguins - Rangers Game 1 chat
 

-

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Duquesne searching for guards, transfers in 2015 class

Written by Craig Meyer on .

7254621

The college basketball season officially ended nearly two weeks ago, but for programs around the country like Duquesne, the process of building toward the future doesn’t end with the confetti falling at the Final Four as ‘One Shining Moment’ plays on the jumbotron.

Wednesday marked the start of the regular signing period, a month-long stretch (ending on May 20) in which recruits can sign a national letter of intent with a school of their choosing.

With the departures of Jordan Stevens and Desmond Ridenour (transferring), as well as Dominique McKoy (graduating), coupled with the addition of 6-foot-7 freshman Nakye Sanders, Duquesne has two remaining open scholarships for the 2015 class.

The Dukes find themselves in a curious position. They’re coming off a disappointing 12-19 season in which they were one of the worst defensive teams in the Atlantic 10, but they’re also bringing back a large majority of that team, so it’s not like they’re building from scratch. And they're doing so with a coach entering his fourth season, typically a point where signs of progress are expected, regardless of how big of a rebuild they faced.

While it’s hard to predict the decisions made by 18 and 19 year olds – especially ones that don’t receive the same level of coverage as some of the nation’s high-end prospects – it’s not nearly as hard to identify Duquesne’s areas of need as it pieces together its class. (Side note: If you do want to see who the program has offers out to, Verbal Commits is an excellent resource that’s worth bookmarking, especially at this time of year).

So who’s going to fill these scholarships? A good place to start in that search is at guard.

At first glance, the backcourt isn’t an area of need with two rising seniors, Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, coming off strong junior seasons. If anything, the frontcourt seems to be a more alarming weakness, even with Sanders already signed and on board.

But the concern is what becomes of that backcourt once Mason and Colter, as well as guard/forward Jeremiah Jones, graduate after next season. That’s what the Duquesne coaching staff is prioritizing in this recruiting class.

Not only do the coaches want a guard (or multiple guards), but one with some level of Division I experience, meaning a regular transfer or even a fifth-year transfer, the latter of which would be immediately eligible. Programs generally don’t like to have young teams because freshmen and sophomore-laden teams typically struggle, excluding places like Duke and Kentucky that regularly replenish their rosters with McDonald’s all-Americans.

So why a transfer as opposed to, say, a high school senior? The answer comes back to timing.

The Duquesne frontcourt is loaded with relatively young players like Darius Lewis (rising junior), Jordan Robinson (rising sophomore), TySean Powell (rising sophomore) and L.G. Gill (rising junior). By the time those guys are juniors and seniors, the coaching staff wants them to be paired with a set of guards with a similar amount of experience. Rene Castro looks to be a long-term answer at one of the guard positions, but putting him alongside a player who would be a sophomore by that point wouldn’t be ideal. Being able to insert a player in that spot with more college experience would alleviate many of those concerns and maximize the team’s success.

And it isn’t like there’s a dearth of options on the transfer market. ESPN college basketball writer Jeff Goodman’s annual transfer list has nearly 500 names on it. Of those players, 70 of them are fifth-year transfers who would be immediately eligible to play next season.

Right now, such players are the focus of the staff’s search for new talent. From tomorrow through next Wednesday, coaches can conduct home visits with players, a period in which they’ll try to lock down dates for prospects to visit campus before making a final decision.

Circumstances can always change – if a player is talented enough, it’s not like a team will turn down a recruit because he doesn’t fill an area of need – but Duquesne seems to have a pretty concrete plan entering this crucial point in the college basketball calendar.

 

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

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Steel Casting: Ep. 1 -- Draft talk with Jerry Micco & Ray Fittipaldo

Written by Dan Gigler on .

Introducing a new Post-Gazette Steelers podcast -- this week, sports editor Jerry Micco and Steelers beat writer Ray Fittipaldo talk about the NFL Draft and remember the greatness of Troy Polamalu. 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

About the Rangers - Game 1 - 04-16-15

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Rangers.

When and where: 7 p.m., EDT. Madison Square Garden.

TV: Root Sports (Pittsburgh market), MSG (New York) market, NBC Sports (rest of the United States), CBC, TVA.

Leading Regular season scorer: Left winger Rick Nash, 69 points (42 goals, 27 assists).

Last Game: 4-2 road win against the Capitals Saturday. Former Penguins center Dominic Moore and left winger Kevin Hayes each had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (34-20-9, 2.32 GAA, .920 SV% in the regular season) for the Penguins. Henrik Lundqvist (30-13-3, 2.25 GAA, .922  SV% in the regular season) for the Rangers.

Injuries: For the Penguins, defensemen Derrick Pouliot ("upper body"), Christian Ehrhoff (suspected) concussion) and Kris Letang (concussion) are out. Right winger Pascal Dupuis (blood clot) and defenseman Olli Maatta (right shoulder) are on injured reserve. For the Rangers, Defenseman Marc Staal (undisclosed) and Nash (illness) are probable. Defenseman Kevin Klein (forearm) is out.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins held an optional morning skate. Their primary lines and pairings at yesterday's practice were:

26 Daniel Winnik - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
14 Chris Kunitz - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 39 David Perron
19 Beau Bennett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Steve Downie
13 Nick Spaling - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 17 Blake Comeau

7 Paul Martin - 12 Ben Lovejoy
4 Rob Scuderi - 27 Ian Cole
8 Brian Dumoulin - 44 Taylor Chorney

-The Rangers did not hold formal line rushes. Their expected lines and defensive pairings are:

61 Rick Nash - 16 Derick Brassard (above) - 36 Mats Zuccarello
20 Chris Kreider - 21 Derek Stepan - 10 J.T. Miller
62 Carl Hagelin - 13 Kevin Hayes - 26 Martin St. Louis
15 Tanner Glass - 28 Dominic Moore - 19 Jesper Fast

27 Ryan McDonagh - 5 Dan Girardi
18 Marc Staal - 22 Dan Boyle
93 Keith Yandle - 44 Matt Hunwick

Notes:

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

-This too:

-Defensemen Taylor Chorney and Brian Dumoulin are expected to make their NHL postseason debuts.

-The Rangers were 3-0-1 against the Penguins this past regular season.

-The referees are Jean Hebert (No. 15) and Marc Joannette (No. 25). The linesmen are Scott Cherrey (No. 50) and Scott Driscoll (No. 68).

-Our live chat begins at approximately 7 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photos: Elsa/Getty Images)

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.