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It's A Great Day for Hockey - May 8

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.

12:36 PM:
Here is a youth band named the Pop Rocks that do a song about the Penguins based on Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." Actually, not too bad. That one kid really rocks the guitar. They're more creative than I was at 12 years old. When I was 12 all I did was...well, nevermind. Enjoy.


12:33 PM:

Here are a few notes from head coach Dan Bylsma's post-practice press conference:

On defending Alex Ovechkin
"For the most part Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill have been matched up against No. 8 as much as we can. To have to match Alex Ovechkin’s speed and ability to get open and get a shot off is a difficult thing to do. Those guys have done a good job in terms of maintaining a good gap and having a good stick against him. If you let up for one second he is going to get one off. If you are out of position he is going to step to the middle and get a shot off. It’s a tall order but they know what their task is and they know what their role is and they have done a good job of that gap and it’s going to be a key going forward with how this series unfolds."

On having good gap control:
"In order for your defense to maintain a good gap you need to have the forwards back a high of three, meaning a responsible player is coming back so you have the ability to maintain that gap. If it’s two-on-one your defense has to back off, so the forwards play a big role in that. In the last game we were much better at coming back and allowing our defense to have that gap and then taking away the wide guys and the late guys - it’s a challenge. It’s one of the strengths of their team and if we make one mistake, like we did in Game 2, it ends up in the back of your net and that can be the difference. It’s a challenge to have that three, and it’s a challenge to make sure we are sorting it out on the way back and then you have to have the confidence to step up and maintain that gap. Rob and Hal have done a good job against those guys but that’s still going to be a big key going forward here."

On Jordan Staal:
"The focus and the thoughts that go into your brain are a really big thing based on your specialty. Players talk about confidence and different things of that nature and (Staal) needs to be focused on playing a good solid game, a puck possession game in the offensive zone and limiting the opportunities for the other team by the way he manages the puck and the way he can play down low. I thought his Game 3 was his best game of the series by far. He was great offensively and he was responsible coming back. He worked his tail off and his line was much better in the offensive zone. You always have to control your thoughts, you have to know what your foundations is. He will get the points and goals playing the right way and doing the right things and he did a lot of those things in the last game."

12:25 PM:
Here's another great quote from Talbot that was too good not to mention. Talbot was asked by ESPN's Scott Burnside when he adapted his style from a high-scoring Junior player into a defensive, energy players.

"In Junior my coach was Benoit Groulx," Talbot said. "I used to be an offensive player, scoring a lot of points. One game I had a tough game and I tried to cheat a little bit so he came to me in his office and said, 'Max, you won’t make it in the NHL with your skill. You have no skills whatsoever.' He put it right in my face. He said, 'This is not how you’re going to play in the NHL. It works in Junior because you’re always on the ice but it won’t work at the NHL level.' He was definitely right. Then at the World Juniors for Canada I had a defensive role on the third line. That’s when I realized I can do this."

12:20 PM:
The Capitals recalled forward Jay Beagle from Hershey. The word around the media circles is that he may play tonight in place of Michael Nylander. Nylander is a natural center but has played wing because of Washington's depth at center. Beagle is a natural winger.

When asked about his motives for the recall, head coach Bruce Boudreau replied: "I have my reasons. I can't divulge them."

Also, Boudreau, who was critical about the officiating after Game 3, was asked about how the refs would respond tonight. Boudreau said: "I'm usually not a whiner. I think I've exhausted my bad officiating comments. Let's let it go from what it was and move on. Let's just hope the better team is the better team."

12:10 PM:
The quote of the afternoon came from Max Talbot. When asked what he brings to the second line, he replied: "Looks."

He then elaborated, "The media needs to relax a little bit. I played one game that went well. I like playing there. I can bring energy and defensive awareness. Hopefully, we have another good game tonight."

12:05 PM:
Some quick locker room roundup quotes:

-Sidney Crosby-
On the back-to-back games Friday and Saturday
"We're just focusing on this one. We saw the schdule. That's the way it is but we have to focus on tonight."

-Rob Scuderi-
On defending Alex Ovechkin
"It's a pick your poision. You can stay up and risk getting beat one-on-one or you can stay back and risk him shooting a goal from the top of the circles. There's really no great way to play him. He's going to get something. You just try to make it the least possible for him to get a goal."

-Marc-Andre Fleury-
On the Capitals crashing the crease
"You see that a lot in the playoffs. We've done pretty good so far against Washington. Philly was a little more crazy. I don't mind it. It's always a little interesting. I'll just try to stop the puck and don't worry about it."

-Brooks Orpik-
On possibly evening the series at 2-2
"They still have home ice. We knew going into this series that we were going to have to win one game at Washington. That's getting ahead of ourselves. That's what we're looking for going back there."

-Max Talbot-
On the back-to-back games
"I'm pretty used to it from back in Junior. You have to play those games. I don't think it's that big of a deal. Whatever team wins tonight will have momentum going into Game 5, which is good. I like it."
On momentum carrying over
"They are all different games. It's 0-0 when you start a new game but if you play better than the other team in a game then maybe you'll start with an edge and extra confidence."

10:22 PM:
A pretty typical morning skate at Mellon Arena on Friday. The team maintained the same line combinations from the 3-2 overtime win in Game 3. Nothing really exciting occurred, although I missed a portion of it because Capitals head coach Bruce Beadreu spoke to the media during a part of it. But the Penguins didn't seem to change much, and why would they after a win?

The combos were:

Author: Sam Kasan

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