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Coach Bylsma Media Transcript: 4/21/11

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma met with the media at CONSOL Energy Center Thursday afternoon. Here’s what the coach had to say:

On Crosby’s status:
There is no timetable. If you were under the impression that he was moving closer, he’s got to pass the next stage of what he can do. That has not happened yet. Again, that’s his contact with the doctors and what is prescribed on and off ice activities. Some days those are on the ice. Sometimes they’re off. Sometimes it’s both. He’s been on the ice the prior two days. He’s not on the ice today. He continues to keep going. We need to see him progress further down the road before any kind of timetable is talked about.

On Neal’s OT goal:
It was a hard-fought game for us and we threw a lot of pucks at the net. You look up and see 50 shots on net and wonder what it will take to get one by (Dwayne) Roloson and beat Tampa Bay in overtime. James Neal has had lots of opportunities. We’ve seen him in spots and how he’s going to get 34, 35 goals for our team next season. But he hasn’t been able to really put those in the net for us. He’s had some opportunities in the series. He had them yesterday. He had one right before he scored the game-winner. He gets that one right back near the wall. I didn’t see the shot and play was too far to the right. All I saw was the puck hit the back of the net, the laser that it was. It was a bad angle, but that was the mentality we needed. (Roloson) made a lot of big saves. We knew we needed to keep getting pucks there. We thought it was going to be a rebound goal, but it turns out that puck gets on the net. To see James get rewarded, the game-winner for us, I didn’t get to see the celebration, but in the dressing the smile on his face was one of relief and one of getting a big goal for his team and the game-winner.

On Kennedy’s goal production:
Tyler Kennedy was put into certain situations and knew that he would be more without Crosby and Malkin in our lineup, power play-wise, more minutes four-on-four, different scenarios, using his speed and shot, score some goals. Where we were going to get goals we didn’t anticipate. But Tyler was given those opportunities and some of the goals that he’s scored for us, in Colorado he got the game-winner four-on-three. That’s probably not a situation he would have been in if Sid and Geno were here. He’s been on the top line with Jordan (Staal) for a lot of that time, giving him an opportunity to score, which he has. The power play last night, he got a big goal for us. It’s not a situation he would have found himself in two years ago. He has the ability. He’s got a shot. He likes to shoot pucks. He likes to get in the scoring area and shoot to score. He’s been given that opportunity to come up big for us numerous times and started off last night with our first power-play goal.

On how the lineup changes with Kunitz’s return:
Chris Kunitz will go back in the lineup. We’ll leave the rest of the lineup for game-time.

On what is goalie interference:
My understanding, there is no whistle or stoppage of play for standing in the blue paint. If you’re there you have to allow the goalie the ability to make the save. That goes into what the referee sees. There are calls for interfering with the goalie that aren’t a penalty and calls that are a penalty, which we received two of in the last two games. It’s an extremely tough call for the referee’s standpoint. The one against Kovalev two games ago, he’s there and gets pushed from behind. I can disagree or not disagree with the call. Kovalev has no desire to run into the goalie. He gets pushed. That’s not the only time that call has happened this year against us and for other teams where a guy gets pushed. It’s almost like he’s on the edge of a diving board. He gets pushed and is going to fall in. He’s trying not to, but falls on the goalie and it looks like he may have intentionally done it. The referee has called that way in the past. I didn’t think that was a great call. But it’s tough for the referees to see on the ice and they’ve made that call in the past. I didn’t like the call, but it’s not one I haven’t seen from a referee before. James Neal last night was another tough one. He’s going to the net to score a goal. He’s going to be in a really good position to score if he doesn’t get pushed. But the referee is on the other side of the net and cannot see him get pushed. He sees him knock over the goalie and makes the call. I don’t know why James Neal would give up a really good scoring opportunity to hit the goalie, but the referee in the position he was only sees the goalie go down in that situation. It’s a tough call. Those are some of the things the referee has the ability to call. I know they call no goal a lot of times in a game. They’ll say to the players, to the goalie, to the bench if the puck had gone in there would be a no goal. That happens maybe once or twice a game when the referee is watching the play and sees a guy in the blue paint. A shot happens and he’s making the decision on the ice that if the puck goes in it would be no goal, but no penalty. It happens quite a bit in the game. Given the circumstances with the referees it’s an extremely difficult one to make. Last night the James Neal penalty, I don’t like the call, but I can’t fault the referee. He just doesn’t see the guy who pushes James into the net. That’s what happens when you go out there and get near that goal and try to score goals. That’s what we’re trying to do. Both teams are doing that well.

On what it’s meant to his team to stay consistent through the Lightning’s strategy chances this playoff series and even through the end of the regular season:
I probably, in the first half of the season, changed lines more like Tampa Bay is doing right now. I see there are some difficulties that it presents for our team in matchups when they are rolling their lines like that and giving us different combinations. They’ve done a good job of that. They get Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier out and double-shifting sometimes, and that does present difficulty in matchups, especially on the road. For our team right now and for the last 25-30 games, we’ve been in a situation where we’ve got guys in lines and certain roles, and I think on a night-to-night and game-to-game basis, they’ve gone out and played in those roles and it’s suited our team well. Jordan Staal and a couple of other guys have been intermixed in different lines on occasion, but you probably saw a lot more of that from our team in previous years when Sid and Geno were out there. So they’re presenting some issues and problems for us with the way they do that and the way they've played their players. St. Louis played a ton of minutes in that game, and I didn't see him show any signs of any effects of those minutes. He was a force, and when he gets back out there on a double shift, it’s something we have to deal with. But as far as our lines, Max (Talbot)’s line is doing a great job at a secondary checking role and we’re depending on them to do that. Jordan Staal’s line, last night with James Neal and TK, has been a primary line for us in that regard. So we’re kind of sticking with those individuals in those lines and those roles, and it’s something we’re rolling with right now.

On what he does as a coach with a 3-1 lead to make sure his guys are playing the same way they did when the series was 0-0:
We’ll deal with some of that (Friday) with our focus and in practice and what we do in meetings. We certainly have some experience in our room in this situation, and we know how important it is with every opportunity to go out and play your very best. In Game 2, we didn’t have that and lost a little bit of focus. We lost that opportunity to go up 2-0. We learned from that situation a little bit and learned and understood what we didn't do well in Game 2. We’ve talked about that for 3 and 4, and we’ll certainly talk about that again going into Game 5. One of the things we keep talking about is that this is a seven-game series. We want to play a certain way and keep playing that way and keep trying to put pressure on Tampa Bay so that there’s no doubt how those seven games are going to finish. At times, Tampa Bay has been very good. They were very good in Game 2 and put us back on our heels with that 3-0 lead, and they have been able to strike and get goals from their power play and some of their top guys have been able to keep striking. And we anticipate them to keep being able to be that team. There is not a person in our room that thinks that this is over or going to be easy, and I think we have a good understanding of how dangerous that team is over there. To watch their goalie make 50 saves, it’s tough to think it’s going to be easy at any point in time. We’re well aware of that and we will do everything we can to make sure our focus is there for Game 5 like it has been and avoid some of the mistakes we made in Game 2.

On James Neal enduring an injury over the past 48-72 hours:
What was Brooks Orpik’s comment? “You’re not going to find out from me?” (Reporter answers: No, he said you’d have to find out from somebody else). (Laughs) I’m not that someone else.

On if St. Louis is too tough to try and pin down without drawing a penalty:
Certainly, you don’t want to go to the undisciplined part of that that you mentioned. You don’t want to try to get in a situation where we try to play a more physical game and go undisciplined in that direction. But he’s also a guy who, with his speed and agility and his battle level, makes it tough to really go out of your way to be physical because he’ll be right by you in a second. He’s a guy who is extremely hard on the puck and battles extremely hard just the way he’s gotten his goals in the series. Not only his goal last night, which was speed and his ability to drive the net, but the power-play goal when he battles at the net and on one knee and scoring a goal. He’s a competitor and a warrior and he may be small in stature, but it doesn't mean he’s not a physical guy who can grind it out. So playing smart and being aware of him are things we know about, but he’s done a great job and been a force in the series. We can contain him for a certain amount of time, but like he did at the end of the second, he takes one puck into an area and he was dangerous. Again, even on the tying goal, he was in and around the blue paint. So we’re aware. We’re trying to get good matchups and guys who can handle him in certain situations and be aware of where he’s at on the power play, but he’s a guy that it takes every bit of every second to make sure he’s off the scoresheet.

On his team’s battle level last night and the importance of being able to roll all four lines through overtime:
You knew right away in Game 1 and continuing through the series that this is the playoffs. And if you didn't know it after the first three games from our team, you knew it last night. There was some crimson on some of our uniforms after the game. There was some hard hits, there was some blocked shots. That was a playoff battle for well into the night, and you saw it in a lot of different ways with some of the hits. There was some stitches in that game, there was some blood, there was a little bit of everything. And our guys kept going and kept battling and found a way at the end. You chalk it up to another pretty intense, pretty awesome playoff game. You saw it in a lot of different ways. Going into overtime – because at the end of the game, with maybe our bench being shortened a little bit going into the end of the third – we pretty much rolled four lines throughout the first overtime and into the early part of the second. With the way our fourth line has been playing and the way they’ve added, we were pretty comfortable in that scenario. Our guys pretty evenly played the first overtime – about five, five-and-a-half, six minutes for all three lines. I thought our team was fresh (and that) allowed us to keep playing and keep pushing. I thought we could have kept going. I was glad we didn't go any farther into the night; didn’t want to go into that deep into the second or third (overtime). But I like the contributions from all of our lines. It was a big factor in the game; it’s been a big factor in the series and something we’ve been leaning on.

On success on the penalty kill and power play being the difference between success and failure in this series:
I think one of the barometers for playoff success is probably more toward the penalty kill than the power play. It’s tough to have a lot of success in the playoffs without a good penalty kill. In the four games to this point, we’ve allowed zero goals in two of the games. Obviously two in Games 2 and 3, (power-play goals) were big factors for them winning and getting ahead in Game 2. We were fortunate enough to be able to win Game 3 with losing the special teams battle. So our penalty kill knew we had to be better and knew there were areas we could be better in, and had to come up big in last night’s game. We did get a power-play goal; that helped us out as well. We won the special teams battle in Game 4. We tied it in Game 1. Those are always factors. But really, special teams is always about the next one in the playoffs. It’s always about the next game. That’s something we talked about after Game 3. Our power play obviously took some lumps, our penalty kill took some lumps in Games 2 and 3, but we wanted to make sure we stayed focused on what we needed to do and do better in keeping their power play off the board and not worry about what our percentage was at that particular time. It’s always about the next one. It’s always about the next game. And in last night’s game, we won the special teams battle and it was a factor in the game. We know their power play is very dangerous. It has been, and we know it’s going to be a factor going forward in this series. If you can win or tie that special teams battle every night, that’s a big part of success in the playoffs and it will be going forward.

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