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Notebook: Rupp Scores Again

by Tom Mast / Pittsburgh Penguins
Bruising winger Mike Rupp has scored a goal in consecutive games, with a tally in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night. He said that a newfound confidence and having playmakers like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin around him has lead to his success.

“The puck’s coming, and that’s a shot from 10 feet out,” Rupp said about the feed from Crosby that lead to his goal. “That’s easy hockey there. (Crosby) makes it easy.”

Rupp has been seeing time with both Crosby and Malkin the past several games, and he gives them a lot of credit for his recent goal-scoring spurt.

“Geno sprung us on a 2-on-1 (in the game against Carolina). Sid gave me the puck under 10 feet from the net,” Rupp said. “Those are pretty big plays by them to give me an opportunity, and fortunately it went in.”

But just being surrounded by Malkin and Crosby’s skill isn’t enough. Rupp has had the touch to finish the big plays.

“He is a skilled guy and he has shown that on both goals he has scored this year,” Crosby said. “He is a big body. He is intimidating to play against. He has really fit in well here.”

Rupp, known more for his physicality than skill level, is enjoying lighting the scoring lamp.

“Obviously I’m not really looked to for putting the puck in the net,” Rupp said “It feels good to be able to do that.

“My style needs to stay the same. Obviously I think I’ve got to be a little more ready to shoot the puck or move the puck a little quicker. Usually when I’m on the fourth line I’m looking more to put the puck in safe spots and go and get hits and stuff. I still need to go in the corner and make those hits and get the pucks in those (skill) guys’ hands, but it’s a little bit different. I think you have to be a little more ready for the puck.”

Keeping alert, this readiness that Rupp noted, is the key to scoring while skating with a playmaking center.

“I’ve noticed, even in the few shifts I’ve had with (Crosby), I’m kind of extra ready for the puck,” Rupp said. “Because he seems to give it to you when you least expect it, and usually they’re pretty good crisp passes. So I think playing with him you always have to be ready, because he moves the puck so well.”

Rupp gave his coaches credit for putting his mind at ease and helping him to play with more confidence.

“Dan and the coaching staff has been giving me confidence to make plays,” Rupp said.  “I’m not afraid to try to make a play or to over think anything. I’m allowed just to go out and play hockey and I think that goes a long way”

McKee Puts the Shot Block on Display

Stay-at-home defenseman Jay McKee put some of his art on display against the Lightning: The art of the shot block.

McKee racked up a ridiculous seven blocked shots, but is not fazed by the pain.

“For the most part, most of them hit me in the right spots” McKee said. “There was just one that got me in a little bit of a soft spot. It’ll be fine though. It’s no problem. It’s my job, and I’ll do as much as I can.”

He has a method to his madness, and a big part of it is knowing the other team’s shooting threats.

“Going out there, I try to know who are the shooters and who are the passers,” McKee said.

But he noted that careful research is just part of the equation. The rest comes with good hockey sense.

“I think it’s just anticipation,” McKee said. “For the most part players try to shoot low, so usually it hits you in the right spot.”

McKee now leads the NHL with 28 blocked shots, and hopes the defense’s play will continue to stifle the opposition.

“I hope we’re frustrating them,” McKee said “That’s the game plan, to go out there and play stingy defense, and to get the puck to our skilled and fast forwards.”

Crosby Moves Up the Penguins All-Time Scoring List

Sidney Crosby scored his 403rd and 404th point against Tampa Bay to move into a tie for the No. 10 spot on the Penguins’ all time scoring list.

“It feels good because there are a lot of great players who have played in this organization,” Crosby said. “It’s a compliment to be a part of that list. I want to try to keep going.”

Crosby notched two assists against the Lightning, and pulled even with Ron Schock, joining him in the top ten.

The nine players now ahead of him are: Mario Lemieux (1723), Jaromir Jagr (1079), Rick Kehoe (636), Ron Francis (613), Jean Pronovost (603), Kevin Stevens (555), Syl Apps (500), Martin Straka (442) and Paul Coffey (440).

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