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It's A Great Day for Hockey - May 4

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.

5:45 PM:
The Penguins are readying themselves for tonight's matchup. Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik were busily cuting and fastening their sticks. Meanwhile Jordan Staal, Pascal Dupuis, Max Talbot, Sidney Crosby, Bill Guerin, Matt Cooke, Mathieu Garon, Chris Kunitz, Ruslan Fedotenko and Miroslav Satan were playing a little soccer outside the locker room.

Some of the Penguins support staff were practicing their basketball shot with rolls of tape, attempting to burying shots into an ice water bucket. As you can tell, there is a lot of down time before a game begins.

1:50 PM:
Here are some quick quotes from around the locker room following practice:

Head coach Dan Bylsma on swapping Petr Sykora in for Miroslav Satan:
“I wasn’t unhappy with Miro. I thought that Petr could be playing better, more focused at what he does. I thought that against this opponent it would be a good opportunity for Petr to get back in there.”

Bylsma on trailing in the series
“If you’re asking me if I’d like to be (ahead) 1-0, I’d rather have that than 0-1. But it’s a seven-game series. They got the first game. They need three more wins to advance and we have to get four. That puts us behind the 8-ball. You never want to be there. We want to play the right way and when we do, we’re confident that will give us the opportunity to win games.”

Rob Scuderi on defending Alex Ovechkin:
“I’m just trying to take away his time and space. Once he gets the puck with speed then he can be tough to stop. If we can hold their line to nothing then we have a good chance of winning the game. That’s all we’re trying to do. I’m not trying to shadow him but you can’t help but be aware of a player with his type of talent. He’s in the back of my mind and I’m aware of where he is because he can go from zero to dangerous in no time.”

Scuderi on blocking shots:
“The thing I swear by is that if you’re already screening your goalie then you have to block the shot. You can’t screen your goalie and then get out of the way at the last second. If you’re in (Ovechkin’s) shooting lane then you have to try to block it as best you can.”

Chris Kunitz on his chemistry with Sidney Crosby
“It’s something that you work on to figure each other out and things like that. It’s been growing and growing and getting better every step of the way.”

Matt Cooke on goal scoring from the third line
“There’s a lot of pressure on the top two lines to score goals. Any time the third and fourth lines chip in, it helps out. It’s obviously a focus of ours to make sure that we do. We did in the first series and we need to now.”

12:28 PM:
In the Pens’ first-round matchup with the Flyers the fire alarm went off at Mellon Arena during practice. It was the first time all year the alarm had sounded. The postseason took another odd turn when the fire alarm at the Verizon Center went off during Pittsburgh’s morning skate today.

A kind woman’s voice alerted the masses to “exit the building calmly” and to “avoid the elevators.” Of course, everyone ignored the warnings and went about their business. The abundant media packed into the tiny visiting locker room, making it difficult to maneuver around. To which defenseman Hal Gill jokingly shouted, “Everyone there’s a fire! Let’s all gather in this small room!”

Bill Guerin added: "The place is burning down. Take your time boys," as he walked out of the locker room to catch the bus back to the hotel.

11:17 AM:
Larry Brooks of the New York Post is reporting that Rangers forward and former Penguin Markus Naslund is retiring.

11:05 AM:
Another day, another morning skate practice. The Penguins are scheduled to hold their Monday morning skate at Verizon Center at 11:30 a.m. today. The media are all converging in the "media work room" just around the corner from Pittsburgh's locker room. ESPN's Scott Burnside was one of the first reporters here and he wrote a great piece today on the new breed of coaches in the NHL.

Author: Sam Kasan

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