Pittsburgh Penguins: 2017 College Prospects In NCAA Tournament

By Larry Snyder

Four arenas across this country are coming to life with the sound of college sports. However, it is not the squeaking of sneakers on the hardwood court. The other sounds of March Madness come from sticks, pucks, and skates.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have six players on six different teams spread across the 16-team tournament. We start with Cornell Big Red sophomore Anthony Angello, a forward selected by the Pens in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-5, 206-pound center contributed 12 goals and eight assists for 20 points over 34 contests in 2016-2017.

Dane Birks, who came to the Penguins in 2013 in the sixth round, is a sophomore defenseman for Michigan Tech. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound member of the blue line crew recorded two goals and seven assists for nine points in 41 meetings this season for the Huskies.

Nikita Pavlychev is a freshman forward for the Penn State Nittany Lions, taken in the seventh round by Pittsburgh in 2015. The 6-foot-7, 212-pound center from Yaroslavl, Russia put up four goals and seven assists for a total of 11 points in 34 games of his first college season.

Another freshman, Kasper Björkqvist, plays for the Providence College Friars. Pittsburgh chose the 6-foot-1, 198-pound forward from Espoo, Finland in 2016’s second round of the draft. Over the course of 29 contests, he added three goals and six assists for nine points to box score.

Jeff Taylor is a senior defenseman for the Union College Dutchmen. The Pens claimed the 6-foot, 185-pound blue line crew member in the seventh round in 2014. He played in 36 matchups in his last campaign and had 32 points on nine goals and 23 assists.

We wrap up with junior Frederik Tiffels of the Western Michigan University Broncos. The Black and Gold tabbed the 6-foot-1, 206-pound left wing in 2015’s sixth round. The native of Cologne, Germany saw action in 36 games in 2016-2017 and provided seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points.

Joining the Black and Gold with half a dozen players in the tournament are the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. The only team with more are the Chicago Black Hawks with seven players in the field.

Here is how all four regions of the hockey Sweet 16 roll out this weekend (All Times EDT):

West Regional – Fri. March 24 and Sat. March 25 at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota

(1) Minnesota-Duluth (25-6-7) Vs. (4) Ohio State (21-11-6) at 3:00 p.m.

(2) Boston University (23-11-3) Vs. (3) North Dakota (21-15-3) at 6:30 p.m.

East Regional – Fri. March 24 and Sat. March 25 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island

(1) Harvard (26-5-2) Vs. (4) Providence (22-11-5) at 4:00 p.m.

(2) Western Michigan (22-12-5) Vs. (3) Air Force (26-9-5) at 7:30 p.m.

Midwest Regional – Sat. March 25 and Sun. March 26 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio

(1) Denver (29-7-4) Vs. (4) Michigan Tech (23-14-7) at 1:00 p.m.

(2) Union (N.Y.) (25-9-3) Vs. (3) Penn State (24-11-2) at 4:30 p.m.

Northeast Regional – Sat. March 25 and Sun. March 26 at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire

(2) UMass-Lowell (26-10-3) Vs. (3) Cornell (21-8-5) at Noon

(1) Minnesota (23-11-3) Vs. (4) Notre Dame (21-11-5) at 3:30 p.m.

From The Clipboard: The 2017 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four achieves a milestone as the 70th annual NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Championship. The event visits the United Center in Chicago, Illinois for the first time. Fans can check out the National Semifinals Thursday, April 6 at 6 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET The National Championship is Saturday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET.

The University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks is the defending National Champion with their 5-1 victory Saturday, April 9, 2016, against the Quinnipiac University Bobcats. Last season’s Frozen Four was at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Quotes And Comments In Win Over Sabres

By Larry Snyder

The Pittsburgh Penguins (40-16-8, 88 points) turned to Marc-Andre Fleury in relief of Matt Murray between the pipes to help turn the tide and claim a 4-3 comeback Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres (27-27-12, 66 points) at PPG Paints Arena. Here are quotes about the victory from various members of the Black and Gold.

Phil Kessel talked to Jonathan Bombulie from the Tribune-Review about Fleury’s performance in net, “He’s phenomenal. He made so many big saves for us tonight. He shut the door, and he gave us a chance.”

In a conversation with the AP’s Will Graves, Fleury said, “I’ve seen this team do it (come back) many times. I was just thinking to try to keep the team in the game and I was confident we could come back.”

Fleury chatted with Wes Crosby at NHL.com about his appearance and contribution, “It’s about the team, not me. It was fun. The team played a lot better in the second and the third, so that helped me out, definitely. Just the support when I came back on the ice for the beginning of second from the fans. … They’re good to me.”

The Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey had this comment from Mike Sullivan about blue line newcomers Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit, “I think Mark and Ron bring a lot to the table. They’re different players in their own right. Mark’s a little bit more on the offensive side. He’s got great instincts. He can really pass the puck. He’s got good puck poise on the offensive blue line. He’s good on the power play. Ron makes a great outlet pass as well. I think Ron’s more of a stay-at-home guy. He’s a god defender. He’s a mobile guy. He has a long reach. He’s hard to play against. He takes up space out there.”

Josh Yohe at dkpittsburghsports.com (subscription service) has this from Justin Schultz about the defenseman’s game coming back around from injury, “That was the first head injury of any kind that I’ve ever had. It was a new experience from me. It’s not an easy thing to recover from. My first couple of games, I probably wasn’t quite myself. I really feel good out there again,” he said. “It took me a little bit of time to get going, but it’s a good thing now.”

Conor Sheary spoke with Sam Werner of the Post-Gazette about coming back from injury and being on the line again with Sidney Crosby, “I think we’re finding [our chemistry] again a little bit. I think the first game maybe here and there we were a little bit off. When you don’t play together for that long, that happens. I think we’re finding it again.”

One last thought – It look’s good to me…

NEXT UP: The Pens visit the Winnipeg Jets (30-30-6, 66 points) Wednesday at the MTS Centre as part of a five-game road trip. You can observe every face-off on ROOT Sports, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Nashville Predators Game Day 01-31-2017

By Larry Snyder

Will the Pittsburgh Penguins (30-13-5, 65 points) come out of the All-Star break ready to snap their two-game losing streak with a victory this evening against the Nashville Predators (24-17-8, 56 points)? The two combatants gather at 7:00 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena. Check out every drop of the puck on ROOT Sports.

Defenseman Justin Schultz keeps getting better as he has put up eight goals and 22 assists in his last 26 contests for a total of 30 points. The 26-year-old member of the blue line crew owns a career-high 35 points this season.

From The Penguins Twitter Account…

Nashville visits the City of Bridges coming off a 4-3 win at home over the Columbus Blue Jackets just before the All-Star break. Right wing Craig Smith contributed a pair of goals for the victory.

The skate sharpeners at LeftWingLock.com confirmed Matt Murray (2.42 GAA) in goal for the Pens and projected Pekka Rinne (2.36 GAA) in the net for the Preds.

Meanwhile, the center ice watchers at the Bovada and 5-Dimes online sportsbooks put Pittsburgh -1.5 for tonight’s meeting with Nashville and the over/under at 5.5. I see a 3-2 victory for Mike Sullivan’s squad.

PiTTSBURGH PENGUINS 2016-2017 RUNDOWN:

Home Record: 20-3-2

Away Record: 10-10-3

Last 10 Games: 5-5-0

Pens Vs. Central Division: 1-4-1

Bleacher Report Power Ranking This Week: 6th

Goals For/Against: 172/141 (+31)

Power Play: 22.8% (5th)

Penalty Kill: 78.9% (24th)

Game Winning Goals Leaders: Evgeni Malkin and Conor Sheary with 4 each

Power Play Goals Leader: Sidney Crosby with 10

Short Handed Goals Leaders: Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen with 1 each

Faceoff Leader: Sidney Crosby 47.5%

Hits Leader: Patric Hornqvist with 137

Blocks Leader: Ian Cole with 114

NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2016-2017 RUNDOWN:

Home Record: 13-5-6

Away Record: 11-12-2

Last 10 Games: 7-2-1

Predators Vs. Metropolitan Division: 4-1-3

Bleacher Report Power Ranking This Week: 10th

Goals For/Against: 138/130 (+8)

Power Play: 18.0% (15th)

Penalty Kill: 83.1% (10th)

Game Winning Goals Leader: Ryan Johansen with 3

Power Play Goals Leader: Mike Fisher with 6

Short Handed Goals Leader: Viktor Arvidsson with 2

Faceoff Leader: Mike Fisher 54.9%

Hits Leader: Austin Watson with 91

Blocks Leader: Ryan Ellis with 78

Looking back at Sidney Crosby to Alex Ovechkin for the goal at NHL All-Star Game from SAP Highlights on YouTube.com…

Pittsburgh Penguins: Week 15 NHL Power Rankings

By Larry Snyder

The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-11-5, 61 points) wrap up their road trip seeking their third win in a row when they battle Metropolitan Division opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes (21-16-7, 49 points) Friday at 7:00 p.m. at PNC Arena.

Here is a reminder from Twitter about Sunday’s meeting with the Boston Bruins at PPG Paints Arena…

Let’s set sail around cyber-space and see how the experts are rating Pittsburgh this week.

Bleacher Report – This Week: #5 / Last Week: #1 – Adrian Dater was prophetic when he wrote the Pens would reverse their losing streak as they are 7-3-0 in their last 10 matchups and have won two in a row.

CSNNE.com – This Week: #6 / Last Week: #3 – Joe Haggerty thinks the injury to defenseman Kris Letang could prove costly in the long run but was among the many hockey fans who enjoyed the 8-7 victory by the Pens over the Caps this week.

ESPN – This Week: #6 / Last Week: #2 – Scott Burnside adds his concern about the Letang injury to the blue line crew and how it is a rough start for the Black and Gold in 2017.

The Hockey News – This Week #3 / Last Week: #1 – Ken Campbell has this City of Bridges reminder, Pittsburgh has not been beaten in regulation at home since Nov. 21, a span of 13 contests.

OddsShark.com – This Week #6 / Last Week: #2 – The puck watchers gather 12 sets of NHL stats and spread the data across the league. Then they run their specialized formula against those numbers. Pittsburgh’s drop was from their Monday calculations.

Sportsnet.com – This Week #4 / Last Week: #3 – Luke Fox goes with a five-word description this week in his power ranking analysis. For the Pens, it is “Kris Letang on injured reserve.” Chorus try-outs are stage left, Luke.

Toronto Sun – This Week #3 / Last Week: #2 – Mike Zeisberger was bullish on Letang’s recent scoring before the injury.

TSN – This Week #5 / Last Week: #3 – Scott Cullen likes the fact the Black and Gold has the team speed to continue to play run-and-gun despite their recent injuries.

Do you think Mike Sullivan’s squad should still own a spot in the Top Three in the NHL? Please tell everyone your thoughts in the comments area at the bottom of this page.

From SportsNet Canada on YouTube.com – Looking back at all 15 goals from the Capitals and Penguins game in 87 seconds…

Pittsburgh Penguins Vs. Montreal Canadiens Game Day 01-18-2017

By Larry Snyder

Can the Pittsburgh Penguins (27-11-5, 29 points) build a new winning streak after their high-scoring defeat of the Washington Capitals Monday when they skate against the Canadiens (27-12-6, 60 points) in Montreal this evening? The battle between Eastern Conference rivals begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Centre in Quebec, and every puck drop at center ice is on ROOT Sports.

The Black and Gold’s offense remains robust this season. Sidney Crosby with 27 goals and Evgeni Malkin with 21 goals join the Winnipeg Jets twosome of Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele, who have 21 and 20 goals respectively, as the only duos to own 20 goals or more in the National Hockey League.

From The Penguins Twitter Account…

Montreal hits the ice tonight after being shutout 1-0 Monday by the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Habs put up just 18 shots in the loss against Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau. Montreal is 10th in the NHL, averaging 30.4 shots per contest.

This evening is the third and last regular-season matchup between these two combatants. The first meeting was Tuesday, Oct. 18th in Montreal and the Canadiens blanked the Pens 4-0. The rematch favored the Pens Saturday, Dec. 31st at PPG Paints Arena as they edged the Habs 4-3 in overtime.

The zamboni mechanics at LeftWingLock.com have confirmed Matt Murray (2.53 GAA) for Pittsburgh and Carey Price (2.30 GAA) for Montreal as the starting goaltenders.

The puck experts at the Bovada and My Bookie online sportsbooks put the Black and Gold +1.5 for this evenings’ get-together with the over/under set at 5.5. I think a 4-3 win is in the cards for the Pens.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2016-2017 Rundown:

Home Record: 19-2-2

Away Record: 8-9-3

Last 10 Games: 6-4-0

Pens Vs. Atlantic Division: 9-3-2

Bleacher Report Power Ranking This Week: 5th

Goals For/Against: 153/131 (+22)

Power Play: 23.3% (3rd)

Penalty Kill: 78.1% (25th)

Game Winning Goals Leader: Evgeni Malkin with 4

Power Play Goals Leader: Sidney Crosby with 9

Short Handed Goals Leaders: Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen with 1 each

Faceoff Leader: Nick Bonino 49.1%

Hits Leader: Patric Hornqvist with 123

Blocks Leader: Ian Cole with 97

Injured: Matt Cullen, Kris Letang, and Brian Dumoulin

Montreal Canadiens 2016-2017 Rundown:

Home Record: 16-4-2

Away Record: 11-8-4

Last 10 Games: 6-3-1

Canadiens Vs. Metropolitan Division: 8-4-1

Bleacher Report Power Ranking This Week: 4th

Goals For/Against: 138/113 (+25)

Power Play: 21.7% (9th)

Penalty Kill: 78.9% (23rd)

Game Winning Goals Leader: Max Pacioretty with 6

Power Play Goals Leader: Shea Weber with 8

Short Handed Goals Leaders: Max Pacioretty, Paul Byron, and Tomas Plekanec with 1 each

Faceoff Leader: Torrey Mitchell 53.1%

Hits Leader: Alexei Emelin with 144

Blocks Leader: Shea Weber with 96

Injured: Andrei Markov, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher, and Greg Pateryn

Looking back at a game recap on YouTube.com of Penguins Vs. Canadiens from 12/31/2016…