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Penguins-Canadiens Game Day (Game 6)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

1:24 PM:
Here is a transcription of what Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma had to say when he addressed reporters at Bell Centre earlier today:

On Hal Gill playing:
We anticipated Hal Gill playing tonight prior to his ice time. We expect him tonight.
On the team staying loose:
You want to keep things somewhat normal and do similar things because you have a routine. I think it’s important to keep that mindset. At the same time, the message from our group is that this isn’t just another game. This is not Game 52 of the regular season. We have our routines and go to comfortable spots and try to maintain that sense, but also the importance of this game, Game 6 against the Canadiens.
On the Penguins’ forecheck:
It may not have tangible proof on the score sheet. You may not know how the other team is feeling. Evidence on the ice and the play of the games, this was a message to our team at the start of the series. We knew this would be a series against a team that played a certain way. We have to play a certain way to win four games. You have to earn it. You have to play a certain way. We have a clear vision of how we’re going to play and we believe in playing that way. It’s not just about one game. It’s about a seven-game process. We’re in Game 6 of that process tonight. Sometimes you don’t understand the effect it does have. You just have to keep playing a certain way and it will have an effect.
On if Malkin or Crosby should be the primary puck carrier when paired together:
That doesn’t follow a script. They’re both dynamic in that area of the game, carrying the puck and carrying the puck on their stick in the neutral zone and offensive zone. The key aspect is the guy without the puck is really important. The guy without the puck has to drive and go to areas, go to spaces on the inside. A great exmple of that was Geno’s chance in the game where Sid drives to the net and Geno cuts in behind and has that great scoring chance. Geno has the puck on his stick, and Sid doesn’t go outside, doesn’t try to find space to get the puck from him. He drives to the net and gives Geno an opportunity at a great scoring chance. That’s probably the best thing. If those two are on the ice together, one will have the puck, the other guy has to work away from the puck to add to that.
On if he can tell the opponent’s desperation when facing elimination:
There’s nothing different in terms of how we feel or anticipation. We know what they face. They know what they’re facing. We know that will evident in how it plays out. They have a team that keeps coming regardless of the score or situation. They keep playing, and we expect them to come out with the same kind of fervor they did in the third period of Game 4 when they were down 2-1. That was a pretty big period for them. They came out with a pretty solid, fast, 15-shot third period. That’s what we expect at the start of the game.
On the importance of ending the series:
Game 7s feel like a flip of the coin. We have an opportunity tonight. This is Game 6, part of the process. We have an advantage in games right now. We don’t want to focus on the win or a loss, a goal or talk about those things. We stay on the process. We’re in Game 6 of a seven-game process. We have a chance to start that tonight with our execution, how we play the game and keep going on the process of how we play. That’s the focus of our team. That’s what we’ll be talking about at the start of the game and trying to keep focused in this building on staying on the process. You keep going until the game is over. That’s how we’ll go out for the drop of the puck tonight.
On Letestu on the power play:
I think it’s important to use a guy’s skill asset when he’s in your lineup. To put Mark Letestu in just a checking role or fourth-line energy role, that’s not all he can do for your team. He was on the power play in Game 4 of this building and he had a great scoring chance. We had a shot from the slot and he had a chance at the side of the net as a result of that play. He’s a skilled offensive guy. He can make plays. He’s comfortable with the puck on his stick in those situations. He has a great release as well. We have a power play that stays out for 1:30 most of the time so he won’t get a ton of time out there. But to get him on the halfwall adds some poise and skill to the second group of guys on the power play. He has shown that he can make plays given that opportunity.

1:14 PM:
Sounds heard around the Penguins locker room at Bell Centre as they look to close out the Montreal Canadiens later in Game 6:

Sidney Crosby

On clinching another series on the road:
We understand this is going to be a big test, but we have been in this situation before so that is going to help.
On coming out slow in Game 6 versus Ottawa:
I think our desperation will be there a lot more (against Montreal). It took us a couple periods to get that desperation (against Ottawa), but that won’t be the case (on Monday). We realize the situation we are in and we should be a much more desperate team this time.
On what to expect from the Canadiens:
We expect their best. We have been in that situation before too. You play desperate. It’s pretty simple – you leave it all out there. We have to make sure we do the same.
On getting a strong forecheck against the Canadiens:
That is part of it. There are so many things that influence a game. For us, we want to make sure that we start well and that we start looking at things that we need to key on right away. We want to make sure we get momentum. We know they are going to have a home crowd ready to cheer for them and give them energy.
On Fleury continuing his strong play:
Hopefully we don’t have to give him that many opportunities close to him that often. You don’t win in the playoffs without goaltending. Nobody gets this far without goalies making those big saves. That is the way it is and it will always be like that. We would probably like to do a little bit better job of giving him less work. At the same time there are going to be times when he is going to have to make those saves. We are more than confident that he will do that.

Maxime Talbot

On the Canadiens potentially missing Hal Gill helping the Penguins get to more rebounds:

No, I don’t think so. I am sure they are going to have some guys jumping in there to take his place if he is not playing. We are not sure yet.
On Gill not playing:
It is playoff time so you cannot count him out. I played with him last year and he is a warrior. You never know if he is going to play or not.
On joking with Crosby about not scoring goals:
Obviously he would like to score, but like everyone can see, he is doing other really good things out there. It’s not like if he is not scoring he is not useful to our team. He is our leader out there and he is creating a lot of things out there. We can definitely joke around with him. The good thing for us is that even though he is not scoring, we can still win some games. That is how we have to take it.
On how Crosby takes it when the Penguins harass him:
He takes it great. He is a great guy and a friend. That’s what friends do. If you take it too seriously then sometimes it is definitely going to get to you.
On Malkin improving his play:
He is a force out there. He plays hard every shift. We are lucky as the Pittsburgh Penguins to have two leaders like that. Even though they are not scoring goals sometimes, they are still doing things. If you look at Geno last game, he only ended up with one assist but he controlled the game. He was strong on the puck and helped us gain the momentum for sure.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On players such as Talbot keeping the team loose:
Yeah it does. Max is always messing around and having fun. I think we have a good group of guys that like to be loose and have fun.
On being in the same scenario in Game 6 against Ottawa last series:
I think that the experience that we get from doing that and know that this is a big game and no matter what the score is we have to keep playing our game and working hard.
On the crowd:
I think that is something that you expect coming here. It’s not the first time that I have gotten yelled at so it’s fun.

Chris Kunitz

On the atmosphere in Montreal making it a fun building to play in:

Obviously they have great fans, but throughout the game I don’t think it really plays a part in the game unless they start getting revved up or something happens. The best thing that you can do is score early and keep them off the board, keep them away from your net and keep the crowd out of it.
On having better entries into the zone:
It is in the sense that we haven’t been getting great dumps so that makes it easier for the D-men to turn and move the puck as a result of pucks going to their goalie. That makes it tough to get on a forecheck. When we put pucks behind them and get some pressure on them they are stepping away and we are getting to some pucks first. It’s helping our forecheck, but we have to hold onto that puck when we get it.

Matt Cooke

On how similar this Game 6 is to the one versus Ottawa last round:
We were up early in the Ottawa series. It was a little bit different because Ottawa had won Game 5. It is a little bit different but I think we can definitely draw upon our experience and make sure we are focused on the details and really just keep pushing our game forward from where we have gone throughout the series.
On clinching the last five series on the road:
That is just the way that it has been and the way that the series have gone. In two of those series it had to be in Game 7. We feel comfortable on the road. We feel like we are a little more direct and simple on the road. That is probably a good thing in the playoffs.

12:08 PM:

Evgeni Malkin (left) works on the PP; Kris Letang (right) has four goals this postseason

Chris Kunitz (left) kicks off a full-ice drill; Mark Letestu (right) picked up his first career NHL postseason point in Game 5 with an assist

Pens defensive stalwarts Brooks Orpik (left) and Sergei Gonchar (right)

12:05 PM:
Here are some of the sound bites heard around the Canadiens locker room earlier today at Bell Centre:

Head Coach Jacques Martin

On Hal Gill’s status:
Hal’s status will probably be determined after the warmup. We will see how he feels whether he is capable of playing or not will be determined at that time. It is encouraging and shows a lot of character on his part to get back last evening and get some treatment.
On the status of Spacek and Markov:
(Jaroslav) Spacek will be a game-time decision. There is no change on (Andrei) Markov’s condition. He is still out indefinitely. He is ruled out tonight.
On the Canadiens’ success with their backs to the wall:
I think we are excited about being at home playing in front of our home fans playing the Stanley Cup champions. It has been a great series. It’s a big challenge but I know we have a lot of character in our hockey club. We have faced adversity before through the series and through the first round. We will be prepared to compete tonight.
On the Canadiens needing adversity to thrive:
I don’t don’t know if you need adversity but I do know we have to elevate our game tonight. That is what we are prepared to do.

Mike Cammalleri

On being on the attack:
It’s easy to look back at the shots on goal after the game or the possession time and say we have to be on the attack more. But when you look at the game as a whole, it all has to deal with one another. The better you play defensively, the quicker you get the puck out of your own end, the better you are through the neutral zone with speed and then the more chances you have on offense in their end. The better you are on the forecheck after that, the more time you spend in their end. It’s really all intertwined. When you play a strong game you end up entering the zone a lot with speed – generating chances and creating chances. A lot of people say why don’t you get more shots? It’s not because you don’t want to get more shots it’s because you are not creating enough opportunities to shoot the puck. For us to be better on the attack we have to be better coming out of the neutral zone.
On the Canadiens proving their character again:
For us, we don’t think we are going to surprise or be surprising. Maybe it is to other people but I have been saying it all along that they are supposed to win and we are not so we are going to play the best that we can and see if we can play the best game we’ve played. I think the results will take care of themselves.

Hal Gill

On how he feels:
I feel good.
On Game 6:
It’s Game 6 in Montreal. It’s going to be fun.
On traveling back home:
Traveling is always fun. I had a good companion in the (team) doctor and he took care of me. We had fun.
On the Penguins being cynical at the thought of him missing Game 6:
We are all good friends.
On his availability for Game 6:
I am going to talk to the trainers and then we will see. It’s a team decision with myself included.

Ryan O’Byrne

On his role in Game 6 with injuries along the Montreal defense:
I am probably going to play some more minutes and have some more responsibility. It’s an elimination game. This is what players play for. Tonight will be a good one. You are nervous but you are excited. There are a lot of guys with pride in this locker room – guys that don’t want to go home. You get a chance to play in front of your home crowd. We have been in this situation before last series. Nobody said we were going to be here in the first place so we just have to play loose and enjoy the moment.

11:40 AM:
Here are the combinations used today at the morning skate by head coach Dan Bylsma:


11:29 AM:

Habs coach Jacques Martin just spoke to the media. He said that Markov will not play in Game 6 and that both Spacek and Gill will be game-time decisions.

"Hal's status will be determined after the warmup," Martin said. "We'll see how he feels and whether he's going to be playing or not will be decided at that time. It's encouraging. It shows a lot of character on his part to get back last evening and get some treatment this morning. Then to try (to skate) a little bit this morning."

11:17 AM:
As expected, Gill was not forthcoming with his prospects for playing in Game 6. He said the decision would be made by himself, the trainers and the coaching staff.

11:02 AM:

Head coach Jacques Martin (right)

Asst. coach Kirk Muller goes over a practice drill (right)

Jaroslav Halak (right) made 53 saves against the Capitals in Game 6 last round

10:52 AM:
Markov skated on the ice early but did not participate in Montreal's morning skate, meaning it is unlikely he will be in the lineup for Game 6.

Blueliner Hal Gill was also absent for the morning portion of the skate but did get in some work on the ice in full gear. If Gill can't play then Spacek could be inserted into the game in his place. Gill had suffered an injury in the third period of Game 5 that knocked him out of the game.

Another interesting development was the insertion of Sergei Kostitsyn into the lines for the Canadiens morning skate. The Montreal forwards combinations were:


10:26 AM:
The media is slowly filing into the media room at the Bell Centre so we must be getting close to the start of Montreal's morning skate - which kicks off at 10:30 a.m. We'll keep an eye out on Andrei Markov to see if he attends practice. Markov skated Sunday and it a source for the Ottawa Sun stated that it's possible that Markov may play. Also, Jaroslav Spacek, who has missed the entire series, also appears ready to rejoin the lineup.
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