Big Ben meme; AB's stiff arm

Written by Dan Gigler on .

You might've guessed this was coming ... after Big Ben got popped in the mush Sunday night by Baltimore's Courtney Upshaw, the NBC cameras caught him working out the pain by contorting his jaw into some funny faces.

Needless to say, Bleacher Report compiled them all. Here are a few of the better ones: 



Also, sharing this, just because ...

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Comeau looking for shots - 11-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Blake Comeau likely won't make anyone forget James Neal. Or even Petr Sykora. But for the time being, he's Evgeni Malkin's new right winger and he's been productive in that role.

Teamed with Malkin at center and Pascal Dupuis on the left wing since a 4-3 overtime loss to the Red Wings Oct. 23, Comeau has produced five points (two goals, three assists) in five games.

Recently, Comeau talked about that line and his abilities as a shooter.

What's it like playing on the second line with Malkin as opposed to last season where you primarily had fourth-line role with the Blue Jackets?

"It's exciting. He's obviously one of the most elite players in the NHL. I feel like me, him and [Dupuis] have some really good chemistry together. We compliment each others' games really well I think. Last year was frustrating. I don't think I'm playing any differently than I was last year. Different eyes I guess on me this year that see different things. It seemed like last year, whether I had a few good games, it just seemed like I was stuck there without any role. It's nice to be rewarded for good play."

How do you describe playing with Malkin?

"He wants the puck on his stick. As a guy that’s playing with him, I hear him a lot on the ice calling for the puck which is nice. You always know here he is. There’s going to be times where I’ve got to decide if the best [choice] is to pass or to shoot. So far things have gone well. We’ve generated some good chances and scored some goals five on five. So hopefully, we can keep going."

Is he comparable to anyone you've played with before?

"He’s a pretty happy guy around the room. Pretty funny, goofy guy. On the ice, I think he’s one of the best in the world. You can’t really compare him to anyone because he does have his own style that he plays. Skill-wise, I played with [Islanders captain/forward John] Tavares in Long Island a little bit there. They've both got great vision. Great playmakers. And obviously, two of some of the best players in the world."

And Dupuis?

"He just plays hard. Gets in on the forecheck, creates turnovers. We play a lot of a similar style with getting in on the forecheck. I think we're both responsible defensively and that's going to create some more chances for us. We're taking care of things in our own end."

Can you pinpoint any one thing which has led to your early success thus far?

"The big thing is just confidence. The coaching staff has done a good job of going over video with me. Giving me confidence to make plays with the puck. But like I said, I don't really feel like I'm playing different  this year than I was last year. It's just I'm getting a really good opportunity with some really good players whether it's [Malkin] or other guys, there's a lot of depth up front. It's good to be here."

How conscious are you of the fact that you're scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and making the most out of playing on this line could benefit you next summer?

To be honest, not at all. Ten games into the season, I'm enjoying my time. A great group of guys here. I always I felt I had the skills to produce like I did earlier in my career. I just think I was in different opportunities with different roles on different teams. The coaching staff here has given me a lot of confidence to go out and make plays and obviously, playing with guys like [Malkin and Dupuis], I really can't complain. I think [Dupuis] plays hard. We compliment each other really well. Obviously with [Malkin's] talent and the way he sees the ice, things have been going well so far.

Describe the goal you scored Saturday against the Sabres.

"I passed it out to [Malkin] in the [defensive] zone and he's the kind of guy when he has the puck, he's going to make things happen. I just tried to drive down the middle of the ice. He made a great pull-up play at the blue line and got it to me. I had a little more time than I thought. I just tried to put one over [goaltender Jhonas Enroth's] glove and it went in."

That was a pretty precise shot you scored on. How do you approach shooting the puck?

"For myself, I want to try to get it off as quick as I can. Obviously, that shot I had a little more time than maybe what you're used to. It's still something I want to focus on is getting my shot total up. I feel like I'm getting pretty good shot attempts. I feel like I'm getting a few blocked and a few are missing the net. If I can maybe get a few more on net, a few more might be able to in for me or I might be able to create some scrambles and I can get some goals that way as  well."

Coach Mike Johnston has used the phrase "volume of shots." Is it fair to say you've bought into that mentality?

"Yeah. It is for sure. I remember when I was in New York, I was talking to [former Islanders executive/forward] Bryan Trottier, he said [former Islanders forward] Mike Bossy had a goal of having seven shots a game. Some are going to get blocked, some are going to miss the net but if you have a goal going in of having [seven] shots - maybe that's a little bit to high for myself - but I want to try to get five or six shot attempts a night and hopefully I can get most of them on net. I feel like I look at my shot attempts and if I'm getting chances to put the puck on net, I think I'm involved. That means the puck's on my stick."

A lot of teams hired people to look at analytics this past offseason. Many the primary advanced statistics involved shot attempts for and against a player. Do you pay attention to those numbers at all?

"For me, I'm not. I'm not too aware of my analytics. I look at the stat sheet. I like to look at my shot attempts, my hits. If those numbers are up, that means that I was involved in the game. Obviously, if I come out of a game with no hits, no shots, that's not what kind of game I need to play to contribute to this team. So that's something I take a look at personally."

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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My 2014 AP ballot: Week 10

Written by Sam Werner on .

Each week, I'll go through my AP Top 25 ballot and give a few thoughts on how I voted and how it compares to the overall poll results.

Not a great weekend in Oxford, Miss. Ole Miss was a yard away from a go-ahead touchdown against Auburn, but instead lost the game, their best receiver and any, in all likelihood, any hope at a national championship. Here's a link to this week's full AP Top 25, and here's my ballot...

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Auburn
  4. TCU
  5. Oregon
  6. Alabama
  7. Kansas State
  8. Notre Dame
  9. Michigan State
  10. Baylor
  11. Ole Miss
  12. Arizona State
  13. LSU
  14. Ohio State
  15. Oklahoma
  16. Nebraska
  17. Duke
  18. Georgia
  19. Arizona
  20. UCLA
  21. West Virginia
  22. Marshall
  23. Utah
  24. Clemson
  25. Colorado State

- Ole Miss' loss drops them down to No. 11. Auburn, meanwhile, scores a nice road win in Oxford and slides up to No. 3. The top three were easy, the real question was what to do with that No. 4 spot. I put TCU there, because I was really impressed by the Horned Frogs' win at West Virginia this weekend. Oregon has a strong case, with its win against Michigan State, but the "tiebreaker" for me was the fact that TCU's sole loss came on the road against a really good team (Baylor), while Oregon lost at home to a good-not-great Arizona team.

- I don't subscribe to the notion of an "SEC bias" in these polls, but I do think there may be a bit of an Alabama bias. The Tide came in at No. 4 in the poll despite the fact that their best win is...West Virginia? On a neutral field. TCU, meanwhile, also boasts true road wins at Oklahoma and at West Virginia. Oregon, as I mentioned, also has more impressive wins than Alabama.  I think Alabama's good, no doubt, but I also think people tend to give Saban and company the benefit of the doubt because of their recent history. This year's team, like every top team, has some serious flaws.

- I think Notre Dame is a good team, but at some point the Irish need to play like it against weaker competition. They showed against Florida State that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the country, but part of building a resume of a top-five team is beating up on inferior competition, and Notre Dame didn't do that against Navy this week. The Irish have a chance for a nice road win at Arizona State this week, but even then, they'll likely need some chaos at the top to get into the top four.

- Speaking of those Sun Devils, they're an interesting team to me. Their one loss is a bad one, getting shellacked at home by UCLA, but they have a manageable schedule down the stretch, but also have a couple of chances for good wins. Start this Saturday against Notre Dame, then two winnable games against Oregon State and Washington State, and wrapping things up with a rivalry game at Arizona. If the Sun Devils can get through that stretch, they would set up a Pac-12 championship game against Oregon that could be a play-in game for the College Football Playoff.

- Duke keeps moving on up after a miracle win against Pitt. The Blue Devils still don't have any really good wins, but at this point in the season, keep winning while everyone else loses and you'll move up. Assuming Miami loses to Florida State in two weeks, the Blue Devils are the odds-on favorite to win the ACC Coastal.

- East Carolina falls out of the rankings with a loss at Temple that cost the Pirates their chance at a New Years' Six bowl (is that what we're calling those things?). Marshall holds steady at No. 22. I really like Rakeem Cato and the Thundering Herd, but it's just so hard to justify moving them up with that schedule.

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WPIAL quarterfinal sites released ....... State rankings

Written by Mike White on .

It's onto the "elite eights" in the WPIAL football playoffs.

This morning, the WPIAL released quarterfinal sites. All games will be played Friday at 7:30.

CLASS AAAA - Pine-Richland vs. Altoona at Gateway; Penn-Trafford vs. North Allegheny at Fox Chapel; Central Catholic vs. Woodland Hills at North Allegheny; Plum vs. McKeesport at Norwin.

CLASS AAA - Central Valley vs. Indiana at Butler; Thomas Jefferson vs. Mars at Chartiers Valley; West Allegheny vs. Franklin Regional at North Hills; Hampton vs. Ringgold at West Allegheny.

CLASS AA - South Fayette vs. South Park at Peters Township; Aliquippa vs. Mount Pleasant at Canon-McMillan; Washington vs. Apollo-Ridge at Latrobe; Highlands vs. Seton-LaSalle at Valley.

CLASS A - Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. South Side Beaver at Geneva; Clairton vs. Shenango at Chartiers-Houston; Neshannock vs. Jeannette at Deer Lakes; Riverside vs. Avonworth at Moon.


Here are the Post-Gazette state rankings for this week (Class AAA and AAAA Philadelphia Catholic League teams did not play this week):

CLASS AAAA - 1. St. Joseph's Prep, 5-3; 2. Pine-Richland 10-0; 3. Coatesville 10-0; 4. La Salle College 7-2. 5. Penn-Trafford 10-0.

CLASS AAA - 1. Archbishop Wood 8-1; 2. Bishop McDevitt 8-1; 3. Erie Cathedral Prep 10-0; 4. Central Valley 10-0. 5. Thomas Jefferson 10-0.

CLASS AA - 1. South Fayette 10-0. 2. Aliquippa 10-0. 3. Southern Columbia 10-0. 4. Berks Catholic 10-0. 5. North Schuylkill 10-0.

CLASS A - 1. Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic 10-0. 2. Clairton 10-0. 3. South Williamsport 9-1. 4. Bishop Guilfoyle 10-0. 5. Old Forge 10-0.


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Empty Netter Assists - 11-03-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Penguins assigned Jayson Megna (above) to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He has not appeared in an NHL game this season. He has appeared in nine AHL games this season and has three points (two goals, one assist).

-EN Says: With Olli Maatta scheduled to be sidelined for approximately four weeks and potentially going on long-term injured reserve, moving Megna back and forth between the NHL and AHL appears to be some salary cap maneuvering.

-Happy 45th birthday to former Penguins forward Jim McKenzie. Acquired at the 1994 trade deadline in a move which sent Mike Needham to the Stars, McKenzie spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. He finished 1993-94 by appearing in 11 games and failing to record a point. During the lockout-shorted 1994-95 season, McKenzie played in 39 games scored three points and compiled 63 points. In the 1995 offseason, he joined the Islanders as a free agent. In 50 games with the Penguins, McKenzie recorded three points.

-After the Jump: More suspensions.

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