Penguins interim head coach Dan Bylsma conducted his first morning skate Thursday before the team’s 7 p.m. showdown with the Montreal Canadiens at Mellon Arena.
Much like their first practice under Bylsma, the morning skate was longer and more up-tempo than the Penguins are accustomed to.
“It was a pretty good one,” Sidney Crosby
said. “I like skating in the morning. It’s good for me. You want to get that tempo, even if it’s the morning skate. You can still get something out of it and that’s what we try to do.”
For Bylsma, the morning skate is one component of a game-preparation sequence that begins the day before a game.
“The preparation for a game starts in practice the day before,” Bylsma said. “It starts in the morning and possibly prior to going on the ice. Going on the ice, I don’t call it a morning skate. It’s game preparation. What we do in the morning skate are things that will help us get prepared for the game. That’s how I approach it.”
The Penguins skated with the same line combinations that were assembled in their game at Long Island on Monday afternoon. Bylsma wouldn’t reveal if there would be any lineup changes.
“We’re going into the game tonight with the possibility of going into different directions,” he said. “So we’ll see at game time.”>
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar will make his Mellon Arena debut against the Canadiens. The Russian defender missed the first 56 games of the season with a separated left shoulder. He returned to the lineup Saturday in Toronto but will play in Pittsburgh for the first time this regular season.
“Playing in front of your own fans is another thing that really gets you going,” Gonchar said. “We have great fans. They support us and I’m sure it’s going to be a special night tonight. I’ll try not to disappoint them tonight.”>
He said it: Crosby on the Canadiens asking Alex Kovalev to take some time off:
“I haven’t been in that situation yet. There are definitely tough times that come along with playing. I’m sure he in particular is a guy who’s felt a lot. That’s between the team and the player. I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure. I’m sure mentally it’s not easy. I don’t try to put myself in anyone else’s shoes but I think that would definitely be difficult.”