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Monday, February 27, 2017

Tips to Survive Online Insanity at the Trade Deadline by @MedinaMarie_PI

12:00:00 PM 0
We have entered into the second-most stressful time of the NHL season. Yes, my dear readers, it is trade deadline time. That wonderful time of the season where social media gets a little crazy.

All of a sudden, everyone becomes a trade expert. Each and every fan of each and every team knows exactly what their team needs, who they want. and how to get them. Overnight, credible sports news outlets and well respected sports reporters seem to clone themselves. All of these clones make their own social media accounts to report breaking NHL trade deals the second they claim to happen.

There is one flaw with these clones however; they don't seem to work on the same brain wave length. Every single account is reporting something different about the same main team, all the while trying to build it's own credibility as being "the truthful one."

In the meantime, Twitter explodes with re-tweets from fans freaking out one way or another about a trade they just saw posted on their news feed. It's on social media so it must be true. There is no need to check the source or validity. The information was re-tweeted 30 times. It must be true.

Even the savviest of sports media followers has fallen victim to "fake news" at the NHL trade deadline. The shock of the moment takes away all ability for reason and *click*, the news is shared in cyberspace without hesitation.

Twenty minutes and 15 or so replies later, it is realized that a mistake was made. This leaves a person looking quite foolish for falling for a clear ruse concocted by someone with too much time on their hands.

It is important to remember to be wary of fake accounts this time of year. They will pop up like weeds in the flower garden and reek just as much havoc. It is also important to keep a clear head and remember that life, and the NHL season, goes on past March 1.

When shuffling through your social media feeds today, keep in mind these few helpful tips in order to get through the next few days.

Tip 1) Look for the blue check mark next to profile name
This is the very first thing that needs to be looked for in regards to accounts claiming to be run by sports reporters. Almost all reputable sports reporters are Twitter verified. They have that lovely blue check mark next to their name. That is how you can tell if you are getting the news from someone truly in the know and not someone trying to make others look silly.

Tip 2) Check the twitter handle name and/or spelling
This is something that can be often overlooked. While the account may have the team logo or a reporter's picture and name, the handle itself may lead the reader to believe otherwise. Most professional outlets will use a professionally-based name for their social media accounts. The use of a nickname or quirky spelling is never used. The exception to this could be if it is regarding a radio station, but even in that instance, the name originality is kept at a minimum.

Also, check for misspellings. If the team or reporter's name is not spelled the correct way, the account is probably fake.

Should something odd like any of these be seen right off the bat, chances are it is not a credible source.

Tip 3) Wait it out
As human beings, it seems almost ingrained in our minds that we have to try and be the first one to re-tweet or share shocking or breaking information. It gives a sense of superiority or importance. However, without taking the time to fact check, sharing information can sometimes lead to disaster.

If a "breaking trade news" tweet is seen, take a little while and let the "news" get around. Check out NHL or sport-centric websites a few times within a given time period and see what, if anything, is being reported. After that, check back into social media and see what other fans and media outlets are saying. By that time, the information will have been verified or debunked by a reputable outlet.

Tip 4) Please don't drive yourself nuts
General Manager's (such as the Pittsburgh Penguins' own, Jim Rutherford) are in their position for a reason. It is their job to make the moves, or in some cases, not make moves, as it pertains to the betterment and success of their team. Overzealous fanatics will spend countless hours analysing player data and working out salary mathematics to see what available players would fit in with their favorite team's dynamic and which players could be leaving.

All of this is done with the hope that by some from of telepathy, their team's GM will make a decision based off of their personal research and information.

Please, do not drive yourself batty. It can be fun to play GM and it can also be a real rush if a person's speculation comes true. Those lucky predictions are few and far between. What will be, will be. Any trade deal, at any given time, may not be what someone thinks is the best idea. However, it is a choice by the team management and therefore must be respected.

Supporting the team is still important, even if a deal means saying goodbye to a favorite player, if it means a better shot at a championship run.

This last tip is very important in regards to the latter statement.

Tip 5) "Don't get attached to players. They will get traded and then you will die"
Everyone has their favorite player(s). Be they from the hometown team or from multiple teams. While wearing their merchandise proudly, it has to be remembered that only a select few could possibly remain with one franchise for their entire career.

Trades happen. Who will be dealt, where they will go, and what will be given for them is a matter better left up to professionals (see tip number four).

There is nothing wrong with supporting that beloved player on their new team. There is nothing wrong with wearing that players old team jersey after they have been traded. There is also nothing wrong with bidding them a good luck message and moving on. Do whatever feels right.

The next few days could be very interesting around the league. Take a deep breath, sit back, use your head, and watch the fun.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Disorderly, Dumb, and Deluded; or, Why I Hate the Flyers and Their Fans (Vol. 1975) by @DXTraeger

3:27:00 PM 1
Captain Claude "I Just Wanted His Police Baton" Giroux
 Sometimes, my genuine hatred of all things Philadelphia is transcended by my humanity, and for a moment- albeit only for a moment- I worry about the fans in Philadelphia.

Oh, I'm well aware that more than a third of the Flyers' fan base has stopped watching the team on television, and I know that the attendance at the Wells Fargo Center has been below capacity since the 2014-2015 season.

Alas, this active tuning-out gives me hope– hope that all Philadelphia fans may not exist in perpetual denial, believing that every year is 1975, and thinking that their Flyers are the envy of hockey fans everywhere:

"Hello Google.  What is the definition of a 'delusional fan'?"
Yikes.  On one level, it's forgivable, considering that a teenage fan in the Flyers' last Cup winning season, 1975, is probably on the wrong side of 50 and has a significantly better chance of developing dementia and forgetting about 1975 than reliving the glory days of disco and Bobby Clarke...but I digress.

My point is this: I hate the Philadelphia Flyers because their fans are miserable, clueless, and deluded beyond rational disbelief.  

For example- when someone is faced with bad or conflicting news, cognitive dissonance help shield the human brain from the devastating effects of painful reality.  In the case of Flyers' fans, it's not just that it's been 41 years and counting since the franchise's last Stanley Cup, it's the sobering prospect that nobody considers Philly's best players to be on par with the superstars in Pittsburgh...ha...haha...hahahaha...HAHAHAHAHAHA...

OH YEAH!  How could we ever possibly forget about THIS guy?!
Ah yes, so Sam Carchidi, clearly identified as "#notahomer" for the Flyers' team, claimed that for one week of universally panned games of playoff hockey in 2012, the Philadephia Captain had usurped the "Best in the World Crown" from Lord Sidney.

Carchidi has been mocked– relentlessly– for his molten lava take, but he's FARRRRR from the only culprit of exaggerating a Philly player.  In a fun game of "Just How Deluded Can One Fanbase Be?," I took to the Twittersphere, and the Flyers' fans did not disappoint:

To be fair, Mike Richards IS a better Beer League player than Crosby

Wait.  WAIT.  Giroux, Voracek, Backes, Larkin Nash, & GALLAGHER?

The tweet above deserves its own psychological case study.  I'm so confused by his criteria of what constitutes "better than Crosby" that I assume he's randomly naming movie characters, musicians, comedians, and so on.

For instance, "Larkin" has to be a reference to either Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin or John Cusack's loquacious character Vince Larkin from 1997's "Con Air," right?   

He has a corpse with his name written all over it.
 The confusion doesn't end there, as "Nash" MUST refer to folk singer Graham Nash or former NBA great Steve Nash, because Rick Nash abandoned any and all rights to appearing in the same sentence as the word "great" unless "disappointment" immediately followed.  

Finally, our noted hockey analyst, @Girouxsalem, proclaims that "Gallagher" is better than Crosby, and for that, I really had to pull out the old Wikipedia.   At first, I thought "Gallagher" was a sly reference to the bad boys of rock & roll, Liam and Noel Gallagher (they of "Oasis"), but then I thought of another Gallagher...

No commentary needed.

...and you know what?  I'll give him that.  Leo Anthony Gallagher is a better comedian than Crosby, and undoubtedly has a higher watermelon smashing rating on NHL 2017, so fair play to @GirouxSalem.

Regardless, here are a few more cases of severe Flyers fan delusion:
Shayne "Healthy Scratch" Gostisbehere?

Ah yes, Danny "No Cups" Briere is Captain Clutch

In conclusion....Saturday's outdoor game at Heinz Field isn't going to mean a damn thing.  Well, maybe it will mean something to the Flyers, if they follow the Capitals' example and raise a banner for winning a regular season game.

At that point, Penguins fans will likely have to listen to Philly fans droll on and on about how the Flyers "own the Pens" and point to regular season games from 30 years ago as "proof."

When and if that happens, just smile and say "1975," and watch the veneer of their jeer slowly melt off of their face, because "1975" ain't no alternative fact: it's ancient history.

--Why do YOU hate the Flyers & their fans?  Post in the comments below, or share with @DXTraeger on Twitter!--

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Penguins Acquire, Lose Defencemen

10:37:00 AM 0

With injuries piling up everyone was waiting for Jim Rutherford to make a move, and he's now done so.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Have Outdoor Games Lost Appeal? by @MedinaMarie_PI

2:12:00 PM 38

Remember when fans looked forward to the first Winter Classic? Hockey was finally going to be played outdoors again in honor of how the sport began. Remember how tickets were sold out months in advance? Remember all the fanfare and excitement the day of in anticipation for the game itself?

It seems so long ago doesn't it?

Fast forward nine years and what was once a heralded event (meant to be held once a season) has become part of an over-exposed marketing scheme. A celebratory event paying homage the roots of professional hockey seems to have lost a lot of its luster.

From 2008-2013 there were a total of seven games played outside in a span of five years. It was kept to one game a year, maybe two.

Since 2013, the number of outdoor games held in the NHL has doubled. There have been 15 outdoor games played in four years (so far) and now boasts three separate events: The Heritage Classic, The Winter Classic and the Stadium Series. In the 2016-2017 season, the Centennial Classic was added to commemorate the NHL's 100 year anniversary.

It is not only the number of games that can wear off the excitement, it is also come stem from the teams involved. To date, the team that has made the most appearances in NHL outdoor games is the Chicago Blackhawks with five. They have played in three Winter Classic games and two Stadium Series games. The second most appearances are by the Detroit Red Wings (four), followed by a three-way tie for third between the Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadians and New York Rangers (three).

One could argue that the NHL is just using it's most popular teams. This is a valid point to some degree. Why wouldn't a  commissioner want the teams with the biggest fan bases taking center stage? On paper it is a good idea and, in theory, it's a game that would bring in a lot of revenue for the league.

There is, however, such a thing as "too much of a good thing."

When you have a large fan base and (now) 31 teams in one league, a little variety can go a long way. Seeing the same teams over and over, no matter where the game is played, can get very dull. It brings viewership down overall and calls into question whether or not the league is favoring one team over another.

The NHL has not had a problem filling seats for the outdoor games since it's inception. Most games have sold out or come close to selling out, but it is taking longer to do so. In 2011, tickets for the Winter Classic were sold out months in advance. Resale had tickets starting at over $450 for the "cheap seats". Now, in 2017, tickets are still available or a relatively agreeable price with the Battle of Pennsylvania game just days away. However, the pricing of tickets has skyrocketed, adding yet another possible reason for the lack of appeal. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette interviewed a local professor that gave some insight as to why tickets aren't flying from the box office.

"The novelty has worn off," said John Clark, who is a professor of sports management at Robert Morris University. "Even if they constrict the number of games going forward, the novelty has still worn off."

Another (growing) concern for the outdoor games is the weather. Unseasonably warm winters have lead to games being postponed by hours. It could be no different for this next game. The weather in Pittsburgh calls for a temperature of close to 50 and rain. While the temperature can be dealt with, the rain would make the ice surface too poor to skate on. While the NHL says that the game will be played regardless of the weather, player safety should be a concern. If the rain would remain all day, the thought of rescheduling could become a real option.

Speaking of the players, what is their take? Have they had their fill of the outdoor games? The consensus is about 50/50. While some find it to still be exciting, fun, and look forward to the event, others feel that it has lead to oversaturation.

Take our own Pittsburgh Penguins. Matt Cullen is like a kid in a candy store about the game. He just can't wait.
"I've always wanted to play in ones," Cullen said. "The look so fun. I was really excited when I found out we had one this year. I'm really looking forward to it." (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury loves the different feel of the game.
"Before, I wanted to see the same, I wanted to watch it. Now I've seen enough. That's me though. I'm sure it's exciting for sand to show up and go watch it live. It's different than going to the rink. To play, I like it a lot." (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Forward Eric Fehr, however, looks at the game differently. He played in the 2011 Winter Classic as a member of the Washington Capitals and had this to say in the same article:
"I feel like at times it can be overdone," Mr. Fehr said. "I understand it's a bit od a draw for the league to make some extra money or whatever, bring some more popularity to the game in the United States. I like it with one per year. Just make it extra special."

Should there be less games overall? Is one a year enough to make the teams, fans, and players happy? Should there be 2-3 games held outdoors but all on the same, special day? There is definitely brainstorming that could be done to bring the energy back to a slouching event. Whether the commissioner of the league would even think to ponder these ideas is anyone's guess. The fact remains that the outdoor games will remain as they are until a drastic change in attendance (and television ratings) is seen.

How do you feel about the outdoor games? Would love to hear your thoughts. Check out the Twitter poll pinned to the top of the personal account and let me know. The results and comments could be used for a later article.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

.@JonRudder on Youngstown Sports Live

10:28:00 AM 0
 Jon Rudder joins Marc Means on Youngstown Sports Live to talk about Crosby's 1,000th career point and what the Penguins may do at the trade deadline.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Making History: Crosby Notches Point Number 1,000

7:21:00 PM 0
Oh how sweet it is to be the Best in the World
Sidney Crosby has, once again, etched his name into the NHL history books.

With a stellar team effort versus the Winnipeg Jets on February 16, Crosby notched point number 1,000.

Midway threw the first period, Crosby got a hold of a bouncing puck in front of the Jets net minder, Connor Hellebuyck.  He then threw a pass to Chris Kunitz, who buried it behind the goalie putting the Penguins up 2-0 at the time. That assist brought the crowd to its feet with the announcement of the 1000th point.
Crosby came into the game just one point shy of the momentous milestone after tallying an assist versus the Vancouver Canucks two days prior. His performance versus the Jets (finally) put him over the top. This makes Crosby the second player this season to reach point number 1000. Alexander Ovechkin hit the magic number on January 11, however, Crosby's achievement comes playing in 140 less games.

This milestone in Crosby's already illustrious career puts him in a very elite club. This club boasts some of the most notable names in the NHL's 100 year history. Players such as Jaromir Jagr, Jean Beliveau, Pat LaFontaine, as well as the great Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

His journey to 1,000 points began October 5, 2005 in his first regular season game as a Penguin playing against the New Jersey Devils. Crosby would register an assist on a March Recchi goal giving him point number one in his NHL career. He would go on to score his first NHL goal three days later on *Saturday March 8, 2005 in a loss versus the Boston Bruins.

In his rookie year alone Crosby would break Mario Lemieux's rookie assist record and rookie points record. He would also become the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points (April 16, 2005).

Over the next 12 seasons, Crosby's resume would grow exponentially. Youngest Captain to win a Stanley Cup, two time Hart Memorial trophy wins for league MVP, two Stanley Cup Championships, Olympic Gold Metals, 2016 World Cup of Hockey Champion just to name a few.  The list of honors and awards for Sidney Crosby grew year after year (click here for a full rundown of accomplishments). They are all well earned and deserved.

It was under much fanfare that Sidney Crosby entered the league in 2005 and by pure luck that he became a Pittsburgh Penguin. By now, the story is well known and his legacy as one of the best to ever play the game continues 12 years later.

There is a reason Wayne Gretzky calls him the "greatest player in the world". The stats and the eye do not lie.

Congratulations Sidney Crosby! You may wear number 87 but today you are Mr. 1,000!

Note: Sidney Crosby would also score the game winner in overtime. 
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

2017 Penguins Wives and Girlfriends by @evil_shero

3:00:00 PM 7
Did you never notice that when you google an NHL player, the second or third result is wife/girlfriend? I've always wondered what kind of real interest is there in that kind of information. I went to digging and there is an entire underground world of people obsessing over NHL players. I've seen people write Penguin fan-fiction where they are all banging each other. I've seen message boards sharing ugly details of player's nights out. It's insane. I had no idea this kind of focus player's partners existed.

So in order to get ~ 1,000,000,000,000 views to this site, I am posting all the player's significant others for no other reason that to get those sweet, sweet clicks. Enjoy.

Olli Maatta -Single

Justin Schultz -Single

Trevor Daley / Kristy (West) Daley

Matt Cullen / Bridget Cullen

Brian Dumoulin / Kayla Ermold

Nick Bonino / Lauren Bonino

Chris Kunitz / Maureen Kunitz

Eric Fehr / Rachel Fehr

Bryan Rust / Kelsey Burton

Scott Wilson / Brooke Markle

Ian Cole / Jordan Cole

Marc-Andre Fleury / Veronique Larosee

Matt Murray / Christina Sirigano

Tom Kuhnhackl / Alexis Fetherston

Oskar Sundqvist / Klara Norman

Derrick Pouliot / Amanda Kuhl

Kris Letang / Catherine LaFlamme

Carl Hagelin / Erica Uebel

Evgeni Malkin / Anna Kasterova

Patric Hornqvist / Malin Hornqvist

Phil Kessel / Sandra Pereira

Sidney Crosby / Kathy Leutner

Steve Oleksy / Jackie Shewmaker

Conor Sheary / Jordan Sullivan

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Penguin Candy Hearts

12:00:00 PM 0
It's Valentine's Day, which means that all over the country millions of people are getting personalized antacids candy-hearts. And while the candy hearts typically say things like "Be Mine", Necco has been known to customize their messages. What might a Pittsburgh Penguins-themed box look like? Check out below:
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It's Valentine's Day....by@MedinaMarie_PI

9:32:00 AM 3
Valentine's Day is upon us Penguins' fans. Many couples are making plans for romantic dinners, floral shops are running sales on roses and candy companies stock values are about to spike.

It is a day to remind that someone special in your life how much they mean to you. When your Significant Other is a hockey fan, however, things can be a little tricky. This Valentine's Day why not surprise your sweetheart with gifts and goodies all themed around their favorite hockey team...the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Let's start out with a card. Even if your budget is tight, a hand made card shows that you still took the time to make your darling feel special. Try printing out one of these fun valentines and creating something that can be saved in a scrapbook for years and years.

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. A great idea is to surprise your SO with  breakfast in bed, perhaps with a box of Fleury Flakes. For the culinary inclined, serve them a warm breakfast sandwich on toast with the Penguin's logo baked onto it (don't forget the Dupuis Dijon for an added kick).

After breakfast, a couple could take some time and unwind together and re-watch the glory of the 2016 Stanley Cup Championship season on DVD. To make the experience better, I suggest getting beneath a fuzzy "Let's Cuddle and Watch Hockey" blanket.

Chocolates are almost always on the list of gifts for this special day. Instead of the boring box of the same old crèmes and nougats, why not make up a small basket of hockey themed candies from Sarris'? Choose their preferred chocolate flavor and fill up a decorative basket with pucks, sticks (aka chocolate covered pretzel rods), Stanley Cups, even hockey players. Don't forget the newly released Kris Letang candy bars.

All that food and candy can make anyone thirsty. For the over 21 fans, serve your sugar a tall, frosty mug of their favorite beer in a Stanley Cup beer stein. Not into beer? That's alright because you can always pop a bottle of Pittsburgh Penguins special edition spiced rum; straight up or mixed in a fancy cocktail.  For those not of age or just not into anything alcoholic, throw a bow on a six pack of Bryan Rust's Old Fashioned Root Beer, grab some vanilla ice cream and double straw a root beer float like the good old days.

Do you like taking road trips? You could take your honey up to Slippery Rock, PA and pull up a chair at North Country Brewing Company. Their menu is full of delicious bites and house crafted beers such as the "Thanks Daaannn" (a Belgian-style wheat ale) and the "Ol' Two-Niner" Double IPA.

Finally, if a more traditional approach is more your style, new team apparel, an autographed picture or puck or some jewellery can always be counted upon to bring a smile. What Penguins fan would be displeased with a Stanley Cup replica ring or Pandora-style bracelet accompanied by a new jersey or original t-shirt?

Perhaps you are ready for the next step in your relationship. A customized jersey could be used to pop that important question. Just put Mrs. "Last Name" on the back of the jersey and get down on one knee while the love of your life unravels it.  Another fun idea would be to plan a fun engagement photo shoot and announce your wedding date with pucks and jersey numbers.

Valentines Day, to some, is a silly day. Some people chose not to celebrate it and that is okay. For those that do, I hope that some of the things mentioned here come in handy if looking for that last-minute idea.

If all else fails, you can buy tickets to a game of your significant other's choosing right here.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Fleury Stays with the Penguins and Here's Why by @msteiner90

1:07:00 PM 0
Marc Andre Fleury stopping a puck at the line.

All over the internet, Twitter and blogs you have most likely seen the hypothetical places the Marc Andre Fleury could land before the trade deadline on March 1, 2017.  While any article that hints at the future home of Marc Andre Fleury helps boost ad revenue for those websites, nothing could be further from the truth.  Marc Andre Fleury will stay in Pittsburgh until the end of the 2016-2017 season and here's why:

Goals Saved Above Expectation Chart
The Fleury versus Murray debate amongst fans has been more heated than a political debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump - but just like the political candidates, both goaltenders have left much to be desired compared to their peers.

The Penguins are not a team built around goaltending, but Jim Rutherford understands that goaltending depth is a strength not many other teams can boast.  Many playoff contenders have goaltenders who score better in Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAE) than the Penguins do, but none have two goaltenders on this list as high at the Penguins 1A and 1B starters are.  The Penguins goaltending situation might not be optimal, but it's just where Jim Rutherford wants it.

Additionally, the trade market for goaltending is tepid at best - and unless the St. Louis Blues decide that Marc Andre Fleury is worth trading Kevin Shattenkirk for, there are not many pieces out there available that would add as much value to the Penguins as having two Stanley Cup goaltenders.  

If the Penguins trade Marc Andre Fleury and a Tom Wilson (or Brandon Dubinsky, for the sake of discussion) type character falls into Matt Murray and blows out his ACL, the Penguins will need to ride Tristan Jarry into the playoffs.  As odd as the situation sounds, the Penguins started Jeff Zatkoff in two playoff games last year.  Goaltending depth is a luxury that not many NHL teams can afford, and the Penguins currently do.  They also have plenty of forward depth, and even the defense core (a noted weakness for years) has been exceptionally strong thanks to the growth of players like Justin Schultz.

Fleury might not be on the Penguins next season, but don't plan on seeing him move before June.  And stop reading articles where we send him to Dallas, because he simply isn't going to Dallas.

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