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It's A Great Day for Hockey - June 12

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
It's a Great Day for Playoff Hockey will be tracking the Penguins' Stanley Cup quest with constant updates throughout the postseason.

7:34 PM:
The Penguins and Red Wings have just taken the ice for pregame warmups.

5:14 PM:
After practice and the media availability, the team ate lunch at the team hotel and then headed to their rooms for the afternoon. The first bus just arrived at Joe Louis Arena as the countdown to Game 7 begins. We are about three hours away from the biggest game of the entire season.

1:30 PM:
Here are a few remarks from captain Sidney Crosby and head coach Dan Bylsma.

Dan Bylsma
On playing physical against the Red Wings
“Almost every time we've been able to do that it's been because we've executed with the puck, execution, puck management. If you turn the puck over the D face up ice, this gets them going in transition, and you don't get after their team as much. If you have speed in the neutral zone, force D to go back for pucks and now you have to turn and go back. Now they go D-to-D, and now you have another chance to pressure defensemen. If you stay in the offensive zone now on a loose puck, you know, a rebound goes in the corner, you have a chance to go leave a mark when you do that. So a lot of it has to do with how well you can execute. How well you can support the puck, and how well you can be with getting it behind the D with good puck management to give yourself that opportunity. When we've had success, that's something we've done well. Something we'll definitely look to replicate early on.”

On if he’s settled on a pre-game speech yet:
“I've been forced to think about it by questions over the last couple of days (smiling). But typically I reserve those thoughts for what I'm going to say for the afternoon when I'm resting a little bit. I'm pondering what I think the right message is, and what I think our team needs and what I'm going to say.

“I don't have anything written down or prepared. I don't think it's going to be a Herb Brooks or a Vince Lombardi type of speech. Typically the meeting that I will talk is about 8 to 10 minutes. Now as the series wears on they get hopefully shorter to 4 to 6 minutes, really brief time. We know what to expect from this team. There will be some minor adjustments and things we need to remind the guys about.”

On Game 7:
“This one is going out and playing the game. We know how we need to play and it's about playing that way and not getting caught up and putting your toe in the water and seeing how hot or cold the water is. This is one you jump off the end of the dock and you dive right in. Play our game, play the way we need to, execute the way we need to execute so we can dictate where the game's played and how it's played.”

Sidney Crosby

On trying not to do too much:
“I think it’s pretty easy to do that at this point. I haven’t put that pressure on myself all playoff long, and I’m not going to start in Game 7 of the Final. So we’ve gotten this far because of the way we’ve played together. If we’re going to pull this one out, it’s going to be because of our team. I don’t see that being an issue as far as personally trying to push and do too much. I know what I have to do. It’s a matter of going out there and contributing. But that’s not really something I’m too worried about.”

On if this game if fun or all business:
“It’s a little bit of mixed emotions, I think. You’re excited and at the same time you have to make sure you remind yourself that you have to focus on the same things and keep it as much as routine as you can. Even though, it’s a different situation. I’m excited and I don’t think whole lot needs to be said at this point. We all realize what we have to do as individuals out there. We know what makes our team successful, and we know what it takes. So it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”


12:35 PM:
Here are some quick quotes from the open locker room session:

Maxime Talbot
On dreaming about playing in a Stanley Cup Game 7 as a kid:
"All the time. In my head I always score the game-winning goal. It's fun but now it's going to be for real. Obviously you dream about this game, playing for a chance to win the Cup. It comes down to one game. It's obviously really exciting. We're ready for it."

On beating the Red Wings in Detroit:
"If we play the way we played in Game 6, we'll be fine. It's not so much with where we play, it's how we play. We're going to have to be ready as if we're at home and play our game, play the Penguins' game. That's being really aggressive, finishing our checks and putting a lot of pressure on them. We do it at the Mellon. We have to do it here at Joe Louis Arena."

Matt Cooke
On the fact that no team has won a Game 7 for the Cup on the road since 1971:
"That has no bearing on us whatsoever. It's not this group of guys, it's not this team. Those are just statistics."

On if Crosby or Malkin will take their game to another level in Game 7:
"They're trying to do that every game. I don't know what makes this one any different. They're trying to prove themselves and make sure they're the world class of the NHL. They've done an unbelievable job of that.Who knows who will be the guy tonight. It's been a different guy every night throughout these playoffs."

Hal Gill
On trying to win at Joe Louis Arena:
"I think it's a little different now with a Game 7. Home ice is a big thing but when it's winner-take-all it's a different story. You can look at a lot of different things that go on during the game. But it's going to be whoever plays their game better."

On the Game 7
"You separate the men from the boys when you have a winner-take-all like this."

Will post some notable quotes from Crosby and Bylsma after their press conferences.

12:22 PM:
The Penguins finished their morning skate (or game preperation as head coach Dan Bylsma called it) and are conducting a media session with an open locker room. Sidney Crosby and Bylsma will be going to the podium to address the media.

11:21 AM:
Here is an interesting note on Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux. Lemieux has been named to the National Order of Quebec, it was announced by Jean Charest, the Prime Minister of Quebec.

The National Order of Quebec is the most prestigious honor in Quebec province. Lemieux will receive the rank of Knight.

The Prime Minister will honor Lemieux and 33 others at a ceremony at Parliament on June 17. All honorees are officially recognized by government decree.

So I guess now, it is Sir Lemieux.

11:01 AM:
The Red Wings are filtering off of the ice at Joe Louis Arena. After a quick cleaning of the rink, the Penguins will hold their final morning skate of the season (there are a lot of "last times" these past few days).

10:28 AM:
The bus arrives at Joe Louis Arena, where the Penguins will hold their morning skate session at 11:30 a.m. in preparation for their dramatic Game 7 showdown with the Detroit Red Wings.

Here are some interesting factoids to think of for tonight, courtesy of FSN anchor/reporter Dan Potash:

**The last team in the MLB, NBA or NHL to win a Game 7 on the road for a championship was in 1979 when the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Oriels. Since then, home teams are a combined 18-0 in the three leagues.

NHL, home teams: 6-0
MLB, home teams: 8-0
NBA, home teams: 4-0

(How about the Penguins buck this trend?)

**The last NHL team to win a Game 7 on the road was the Montreal Canadiens in 1971 when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks. That series was also the last time that the home team won the every game except the decisive Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final. Pittsburgh is looking for a repeat of that series, which has many other similarities.

**The Pirates also won the 1971 World Series on the road in Game 7, giving the city of Pittsburgh a 2-0 mark when its on the road and when a championship is on the line.

**Friday’s Game 7 will be the 87th game of the 2009 NHL playoffs. Maybe it’s a sign that Pittsburgh’s No. 87 will step up.

**Badger Bob Johnson, who led Pittsburgh to its first-ever Stanly Cup championship in 1991, was hired by the Penguins on June 12, 1990.

The Penguins forced the decisive Game 7 with a 2-1 victory in Game 6 on June 9. Just 25 years ago on that same date in 1984, the Penguins drafted Mario Lemieux with the first-overall pick in the NHL draft.

Author: Sam Kasan

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