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Bylsma: Crosby's absence no excuse

Sunday, 01.09.2011 / 3:10 PM / Features

NHL.com

With Pittsburgh getting a day off Sunday following Saturday night's 4-0 loss at home to Minnesota, Dan Bylsma took some time following practice to speak with the media about the Penguins' preparation for its next game against Boston Monday.

Bylsma also talked about how the team will continue to play without captain and MVP frontrunner Sidney Crosby, who is currently out after suffering a concussion.

"We don’t try to change a lot," Bylsma said. "The lines are somewhat reconfigured. We have kept Jordan with Malkin to this point anticipating that will be the case when Crosby returns to the team. The power play is a little bit of an adjustment. We haven’t looked as sharp there. Guys are in different spots. It looks like we’re disjointed there. That needs to be addressed and worked out."

The Penguins' loss to Minnesota Saturday was their fourth in the last five game, drawing some concerns that without Crosby in the lineup Pittsburgh cannot maintain its offensive effectiveness. While there was a wide consensus among the players that the loss to the Wild was in the words of defenseman Alex Goligoski, "pretty terrible all around", Bylsma dismissed concerns that a dramatic change in playing style would be necessary without, arguably, the greatest player in the world.

As well, Bylsma was not concerned that a grittier, more blue-collar effort was required with Crosby on the sidelines. In the coach's mind the Penguins' need to dig for pucks and fight position regardless of Crosby's absence.

"We play that way with Sid in the lineup too," Bylsma said. "The importance of playing that way should be a little higher. It should be a playoff importance, we have to grind it out and force teams to break by the way we play and getting there. In the Montreal game we did in two of the periods -- got away from it a little bit. Last night (against Minnesota), we didn’t have that ability execution-wise, mentality-wise to have that grind-out type of game against a team that was playing pretty well."

Despite the loss Sunday and the fact that Pittsburgh currently trails Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division, the Penguins are in a comfortable position at the midpoint of the season and should not suffer too much in the standings if Crosby is not out long, though he is expected to miss at least one week.

But as Bylsma reaffirmed Monday, Saturday's loss is expected to be an exception, not a rule, for Pittsburgh.

"I’d like to say that out of 82 that was one of those games that happened," Bylsma said. "But we have to bring a little different mentality, execution level and focus to our game. We’ll start with Boston Monday."

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery