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Penguins-Canadiens Game Day (Game 3)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

2:05 PM:

Here is the least you need to know from the semifinals Game 3 morning skate at Bell Centre:
- Jordan Staal skated for the first time since having surgery on his foot, he will not play tonight
- Bill Guerin missed practice with a maintanence day and is a game-time decision
- With Guerin missing practice, Mark Letestu centered the third line and could make his NHL postseason debut
- Andrei Markov did not skate for Montreal, his status has not changed
- Jaroslav Spacek did skate and was listed as day-to-day by coach Martin

1:53 PM:
Penguins forward Jordan Staal skated for the first time today since undergoing a procedure to repair a lacerated tendon in his foot. Below are pictures of Staal. For more details please see the 11:51 AM entry.


1:37 PM:
Here are sound bites from the Penguins locker room earlier this afternoon:

Sidney Crosby

On his memories from the Montreal Forum and the significance of four Original Six team remaining in the postseason:
I think that is good for hockey if that is the case. I remember the Forum for sure. I remember when they made the switch here to the Bell Centre. This is a lot of history with the building. They have continued the trend here. If you look at the crowd and see how they play here, it is a special place. There are the types of games here that hockey players should be able to get up for.
On ever going to the Forum:
No, I wasn’t. This is the only one I’ve been in.
On liking the Canadiens as a kid:
It doesn’t change anything for me.
On what he remembers from his first time in Montreal:
I just remember coming out onto the ice and my first goal. I remember it was a two-on-one on (Jose) Theodore. It was pretty special. I was just happy to be here. Obviously I wanted to score. To get my first goal was a dream come true.
On playing at Bell Centre:
When you are on the road you are in an environment that is pretty hostile as far as being a road team. It’s loud and it’s a challenge. I think you focus according to that.

Mark Letestu

On playing in Montreal:
Again, much like the last game here, if I get the opportunity then it is something I am going to be pretty proud of. Hopefully I’ll bring something to the lineup. The fact that it is in Montreal – that is a pretty crazy building – hopefully I will keep the emotions in check.
On what he needs to do:
I will mostly keep it simple. I want to be solid in all the areas they expect me to be solid in – faceoffs and in the D-zone. I don’t want to hurt the team tonight. If I get that opportunity hopefully I put my best foot forward.
On what he can bring to the table:
I want to be good in the right faceoff circle and try to win more than 50 percent of my draws. I might even get a chance on the power play at some point so I hope to bring some fresh blood to that and keep it going like we had it in Game 1.

Matt Cooke

On Jordan Staal skating on his own already:
We had no idea the extent or what to expect so just to see him skate on it is exciting for us.
On wearing protection around the skate laces:
Jordan Leopold wears them. There is a guy in Montreal who cuts them and molds them into your skates. There are some other companies that seem to do some generic ones but they don’t seem to fit as well. Obviously on the penalty kill it protects your foot from a shot like (Philadelphia’s Simon) Gagne and (Jeff) Carter went through. It’s something that I would look into for sure.
On the crowd at Bell Centre firing up the road team:
I think it is how you use it. Energy is energy – it is just how you harness it. I think when you are getting energy at home from the crowd sometimes your emotions get the best of you and you can’t harness it in the right ways. It is something we will definitely have to try to deal with and take advantage of.
On the Penguins being prepared for a hostile building after the last two years:
I think that we know what to expect. I think that we understand what it can do and what its effects are and how to combat it. I think that is based off of experience.

1:23 PM:

Sounds from head coach Dan Bylsma's media conference after the team's morning skate:

On roster updates:
Jordan Staal, there were a few chuckles when I said he was day-to-day. But he is day-to-day. He is progressing. He was on the ice for a short time without his gear on testing out his foot and his skate. He’ll remain day-to-day and doing well. Being the playoffs, Bill Guerin is just a maintenance (day) and will be game-time (decision). Mark Letestu was on one of the four lines today. He’s a guy we would insert into the center position if need be.
On the risks of playing Staal:
We would not be risking anything in terms of his health. You’d have to talk to a doctor about the procedure. There is no risk right now. He has to heal from the surgical wound and get back in his boot and be comfortable playing. It’s not a risk in terms of weighing if he should play.
On getting in front of Jaroslav Halak:
We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and did a good job of that. There are areas where I think we can do better. Hopefully we’ve made that adjustment and hopefully we’ll see that tonight when we play in the offensive zone. Our plan is not going to change. We want to play there. We want to get action in and around the net. We want to do a few different things to get more space there and more chances around the net. We are there a lot.


1:04 PM:
The Canadiens appear to be a very confident group returning home to the Bell Centre. Below are some of their comments in the locker room today following the morning skate:

Head Coach Jacques Martin

On Hal Gill’s play:
I think you have to give credit to (Montreal general manager) Bob Gainey and his staff. They signed Hal last summer. It was apparent to me after training camp that Hal Gill was one of our leaders in addition to being a great defenseman. He has excelled in a shutdown role and has been great on the penalty kill. But more than that, his enthusiasm in the dressing room, his voice has been very important. He is one individual who has brought a lot of leadership in addition to (Brian) Gionta, (Scott) Gomez, (Travis) Moen and the people who have won like (Mike) Cammalleri. Those are players who have made a big impact. I thought that in the Washington series after Game 4 I think that their leadership was a big factor in us winning that series.
On Andrei Kostitsyn’s decline in ice time:
I really believe that Andrei is going to be a player that is going to help us. He is no different than any other player, whether it was in the first round or at some point during the regular season, who at times struggled. I’ll give you an example. Maxim Lapierre was a player who was very frustrated, especially after the season he had last year. Now, he is playing great hockey for us. It might not show on the stats that he is having good games, but the way he is contributing with his energy and by finishing checks has been a big factor. Andrei has had some ups and downs but I am confident that he is going to bounce back and help us.
On what the Canadiens learned after losing Games 3 and 4 to Washington:
I think to come back to our great fans is a plus. The energy, enthusiasm and passion that they show is something that is a big factor. It is interesting when you look at the playoffs this year, out of the eight teams that remain, four our Original Six teams. That is great for hockey and the NHL. We look at one game at a time. We know that tonight is going to be a tough game because our opponent has played tough on the road. They are the Stanley Cup champions and they have great personnel. It is a big challenge that we have to be prepared for. We have to be as good as we were on Sunday on special teams and five-on-five we have to be better. We know what the challenge is but the fact that we are at home and that we have the fans behind us is a big plus for us.
On how the Canadiens are responding to his coaching:
I think it is not about me but about our team. I think our team responded well in the first round. I think we have a team that was difficult to assess during the year because of key injuries. Number-two it was almost a complete overhaul of the team because of all the free agents we brought in. To assemble a group like that takes time. I really believe that we have developed really good chemistry. We have shown that we have great character the way we responded. I think our team has grown and understood how to win in the playoffs. They have shown the sacrifice that is required.

Mike Cammalleri

On the Bell Centre crowd:
I would take it any day of the week. Our energy in this building is the best that I have ever seen.
On needing opportunistic scoring with so limited chances:
It seems a bit like the Italian National Soccer Team back in the day. They defend, defend and defend and when they get their one chance then they score the goal. I think we would like to have some more offense and develop some more scoring chances. We are working on it and we will get there. I don’t think we feel the pressure that if we get that one chance, it has to go in. We just try to make the best play we can and hopefully it goes in.
On what the Canadiens learned winning Game 6 against Washington after losing Games 3 and 4 at Bell Centre:
We learned not to stay in the hotel when we are at home. That wasn’t a good omen for us. It was disappointing to come back home and lose those two games. You’re right sitting here now, we have that one series under our belt where we had that feeling. We would really like to take advantage of these two games. We are happy to be at home and we understand the importance of not falling behind 3-1 again that is for sure.
On Crosby not scoring at Bell Centre since his rookie season:
I bet he is pretty excited. I know he was a boyhood Habs fan. To come here and play in this building I would expect he is going to be at the top of his game. I wouldn’t expect anything but the best out of Sid tonight.
On how the crowd can help the Canadiens:
The fans in Calgary were great as well. I got to experience that playing in my home market last year. This year (in Montreal) has just been an elevation of that I guess. The crowd here just brings so much energy and enthusiasm. It can help. At the same time we talked last series about how we have to be careful in our room not to get too excited. You try to get your excitement level and keep it all game long. Sometimes you get too excited to start. We had some good 10-minute starts and then kind of tailed off from there. I think it is important for us to enjoy the crowd and realize that we need to play a full hockey game. The crowd will be even happier if we win at the end of the night.

Josh Gorges

On what the Canadiens learned after losing Games 3 and 4 at home to the Capitals but recovering to win Game 6:
I think what we learned not only from Game 6, but also from the two games that we lost, is that we can’t change our game. We can’t start being fancy. We have to play the way that has been successful and works for us.
On what has worked for him and Hal Gill shutting down the Penguins’ top players:
The biggest thing is that we have been up in our gap. The forwards have done a great job of coming back and helping out. You can’t keep a gap and you can’t be up in their face if you don’t have back pressure. Not only that, when the forwards are coming back they are pushing (the Penguins) into us. They don’t have any room to do their curl-backs. When they force them into us we can use our sticks to make a play. It’s not just me and Hal but the forwards doing a great job of coming back.
On Crosby’s frustrations in Game 2:
That is one game. We slowed him down for one game. You know he is going to bounce back. That is why he is as good as he is. He is not going to give up and stop working so we have to make sure we have that same mentality. We can’t let up for a second. We have to be just as good if not better tonight because we know he is going to come ready to play.
On Crosby not scoring at Bell Centre since his rookie season of ’05-06:
Those are stats that you can throw out the window when the playoffs start. Every game is different and every game something strange could happen. It is really not strange to see him score. The same things apply. We can’t let off the gas pedal.

12:05 PM:

Mark Letestu may make his NHL postseason debut in Game 3 tonight

11:51 AM:
Penguins center Jordan Staal, who was missed his first career game due to injury in Game 2 after having a procedure to repair a lacerated tendon in his foot, skated briefly prior to the team's morning skate. Staal skated on the ice for about five minutes, an amazing idea considering the nature of his injury.

11:36 AM:
Forward Bill Guerin was not at the Penguins Game 3 morning skate. With the adjustments, here were the team's line combinations:


10:52 AM:

Brian Gionta

Hal Gill (left); Ben Maxwell (right)

10:41 AM:
The Canadiens are on the ice for their Game 3 morning skate at Bell Centre. Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, who has been out with chest congestion, was on the ice for Montreal. He hasn't played since Game 3 of the quarterfinals against Washington.

That's a good sign for Montreal as blueliner Andrei Markov has been out since Game 1 after colliding with Matt Cooke. He was absent from the Canadiens skate.
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