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Penguins-Canadiens Game Day (Game 7)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

1:20 PM:
Sounds from the Montreal Canadiens locker room:

Jacques Martin 

On who will play on defense:
With this time in the series, those decisions are made at game time. We hope to have some people back. We’ll have to wait and see after the warmup.
On the fear in a Game 7:
I don’t think you should fear Game 7. That’s what you work all year for. We’re excited to be in Game 7. We’re looking forward to the challenge. You look at the team that we’re playing, the Stanley Cup champions, their personnel, people like Crosby and Malkin, two of the best players in the world, it’s an interesting challenge. It’s been a close series. We’re excited about being here and having an opportunity to compete in this game.
On possibly dressing eight defensemen:
I don’t think that we need eight defensemen. If we have healthy bodies we’ll dress the lineup that’s going to help us win the hockey game.
On the atmosphere in Pittsburgh:
It’s a great atmosphere. They’re the Stanley Cup champions. The fans have been outstanding. When you look at this franchise, there’s lots of excitement. When it comes to playing a Game 7 we have to face a noisy crowd in Washington. It’s probably going to be the same thing here. You just have to focus on the things that you control. We know how we have to play and how we have to go about our business and do the job. We know it’s a big challenge but we’ll be prepared for it.
On Markov playing:
He was skating with us this morning. It was really the first time that he skated with us. We’ll see.

Jaroslav Spacek

On working hard to get back:
It’s the playoffs. You do anything you need to do. The first period my timing was a little off but as the game went on, I felt better and better. At the end I felt like I didn’t miss anything.
On Game 7 experience:
We’re playing a great opponent. They played a Game 7 to win the Cup. I think they have more experience than us. Recently we won a Game 7 and that’s important for your mind but in this game anything can happen. It’s a battle of inches and whoever executes better will win the game.
On Cammalleri’s success:
He’s a sneaky guy. He’s not that big. He tries to lose the opponent. He’s doing great. He’s really hungry to score the goals and pay the price for them. He’s skinny and a step faster than everybody else (without the playoff beard).

Josh Georges

On getting healthier on defense:
It’s good to see all the guys out there skating with us. I don’t know what their status is for tonight but it’s good to have them.
On Game 7:
This is where we wanted to be. We’re excited to be here. We’re playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions in a Game 7 situation. We’re excited about it, to start playing. Most guys were feeling good in here. We’re feeling good about where our game is and now it’s just a matter of showing up and playing.
On Gill returning:
If he is out there that’s a huge lift for our team, especially for me. We’ve worked really well together this year. If he’s out there beside me for a game like this, it will be a lot of fun.
On proving something tonight:
I don’t think we have to prove anything to anybody but ourselves. We know what we expect of ourselves. Coming into the playoffs we weren’t supposed to be here. No one gave us a shot. I don’t think we’re out there trying to prove a point to anybody. The guys in this room, this organization to show we know what we’re capable of and what we’re able to do. Tonight you throw the Xs and Os out the window. Throw anything that’s come up to this point out the window. It’s a battle of who wants it more. Who’s going to do the little things. That’s what Game 7 is, that’s why it’s going to be a lot of fun tonight.

Mike Cammalleri
On being the hero in Game 7:
I don’t think you set up for a game thinking about who the hero will be. I think we just want to go play a good game and if we do well as a group then nobody needs to be a hero.
On being the guy who wants to score in Game 7:
That is the dream when you are a little kid. Should the situation present itself, everybody wants to score. But you don’t even want it to get there. There is so much on the line that you would like to just go and play a good game. You would like to have a two-goal lead in the last five minutes so you don’t have to worry about that.
On what they learned from Game 7 against Washington:
You learn a lot as you go. I think that game taught us a lot. I think as individuals we were prepared for the game and as a group I thought that we just went out and played and allowed them to have the pressure. We have to do the same tonight.
On the Penguins having the experience factor:
I guess they are right, right? So they should win.
On things not changing no matter who is in the lineup:
It took us a while as a team to find an identity but we created one over the course of the season. We have come to a point right now where we have developed that identity and the way we play. I think it has become a tighter group where you either buy in and play or you don’t. It doesn’t really matter who the names are on the jersey.
On not having a playoff beard:
I tried not to this year. I tried to take superstition out of the equation. I tried to not have it this year and just go regular. It’s going OK.

Ryan O’Byrne
On Game 7 against Washington:
We didn’t try to change it up too much. I think what we had been doing was working and our chemistry was working. We had the ‘no one expected us to be here’ kind of attitude where we just went out and played. It’s been working for us in all elimination games so far during the playoffs. I think that is kind of what we need to do tonight – just go out there with the same mentality and just have fun and enjoy the moment. We have a lot of guys here with a lot of pride. We don’t want to go home yet. This is what it is all about.
On when the Canadiens say ‘there is a lot to gain:
I think that mentality has just served us well. No one really expected us to be here and it is fun being the underdog sometimes. It’s Game 7 of the second round and we have a chance to do something special. Teams aren’t really underestimating us as much as they were before. Tonight is a big game. We want to win it and move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
On blocking out the thoughts about having the chance to do something special:
I think you do. You want to think about the future but none of that happens without a win tonight obviously. You have to focus on the game tonight. It is going to b an exciting game. There are going to be some nerves. We have been through it two weeks ago and had a lot of fun. We will be ready tonight.

Assist Jason Seidling

1:17 PM:

Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec (left) chat on the ice

1:14 PM:
More sounds heard around the locker room:

Chris Kunitz
On Game 7:
I think we all have that little kid mentality that you have to go out and have your best game. To win means you move on. That is what it is all about.
On the pressure on the home team:
Each game has its own identity. You can’t go off statistics and things like that. We know we have to play a better game than we did last game. We need to have a better start and do things that make us successful. That is going to dictate who is going to win the game. It is not going to be some statistic.
On how much sleep you get before a game like this:
You try to take it as just another game. The thoughts creep in that you need to win this one more than any other game but you try to take it the same. You try to keep everything as normal as possible.
On embracing the role as the favorite:
I think so. With our home crowd they bring a lot of spirit and emotion into the building. It’s something we feed off.

Marc-Andre Fleury
On playing in Game 7:
I am pretty excited. I think it will be fun game. They have been tough games against them and things have been tight.
On the feeling going in:
Maybe there was a little more thinking going into the game than usual. We have been there as a group before – last year twice. It was good experience we gained from it.
On being aware of Cammalleri:
We have to keep an eye on him. He is definitely a really good player. He has a good shot and is dangerous around the net.
On thriving on pressure:
You just go and play – that is all that I think you think about. I don’t mind it. It has been fun and challenging for yourself. When you can win those challenges it’s exciting.

Mark Eaton

On containing Mike Cammalleri:
Our style of play doesn’t change or revolve around one guy on the opposition. Our focus is on managing the puck well, playing in their defensive zone, trying to dominate time of possession. We feel if we do that we’ll tilt things in our favor and hopefully get the outcome we want.
On being loose for Game 7:
It is loose. Everybody in here has been in this situation. It’s a fun situation. We would have liked to end things by now but that’s not the case. It comes down to one game and we’re looking forward to it. We’re excited.

Matt Cooke

On preparing for a Game 7:
Mentally there is a different preparation. If for no other reason you’re playoff lives are on the line. It brings the ultimate desperate hockey. Not that it hasn’t been there but you’ll see it tonight for sure.
On being the Game 7 hero:
I would like to think. Last year in Game 7 against Washington it was everybody, Flower, Sid, Craig Adams, everybody got in on the mix. In Game 7 against Detroit it was Max. It’s going to be out there and it’s up to us to go out there and do it.

12:49 PM:
As expected, the media was out in full force for tonight's highly anticipated Game 7. It has the coverage feel of the Stanley Cup Final, which made it difficult to manuever in the over crowded locker room.


12:43 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Dan Bylsma

On how much experience means going into Game 7 tonight:
Last year, I didn’t feel like Game 7 in the Washington series helped us in Game 7 in Detroit. Certainly the experience is probably a good thing, but it is about this game tonight. These two teams have battled six games to get to this one. Both teams know what is at stake and will approach the game with the idea that the winner of this one is moving on, and the loser is going home for the summer. If experience helps, my stomach doesn’t feel it right now.
On under-the-radar players having big games in the playoffs:
A lot of times I think that it is just the quality of the team that allows individuals to stand up and be heroes when you might expect your headliners to get that status for Game 7. We want to play a way that will give just about anybody in our lineup a chance to be the hero tonight. When you continue to play a certain way, it might be Mike Rupp, and it could very well be Sidney Crosby. It’s not dependent on just Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby going out and winning the game for us, and then we can all move on. It’s the way that our team is going to play, and if good teams play that well, then it gives just about anybody a chance to be that hero on any given night. You’ve seen that from good teams in the past.
On Marc-Andre Fleury being 15 and 5 after losing games in the playoffs:
I think that focus for Marc is a big thing. Coming back after a loss, he seems to be able to bring his game and bring his mindset into focus. That can be a hard thing after a loss or a bad game. He has shown time and time again that he is able to do that and has been able to do that on a big stage in the playoffs. That’s part of our success and why that he is a big time goalie – that focus and being on his game for the next game. We’re playing that next game tonight.
On stopping Montreal’s Michael Cammalleri and his line in tonight’s game:
We have certainly addressed their strengths and that line. His play has been a big strength for their team. We have at times deployed different lines against him and were cognizant of which lines went out against his line. Tonight, we will be again, as well. Not exclusively, but Jordan Staal will get some time against that line.
On if he has a lucky suit or tie that he will wear to the game tonight:
My wife will probably shake her head now and say yes. I’m occasionally prone to wear the lucky suit or a suit that has won a lot of games. It may be a tie. It may be a suit. I let all of the suits dry out in the regular season, and the winning ones get a lot of wear in the postseason.
On if the fear of losing can be a useful emotion for players to have in big games like the one tonight:
It’s a great question. I am a big fan of paying attention to your emotions. I think that to ignore some of them is to not get yourself or your team in the right spot to play the game. I think that every person, if they were honest, would say that fear has entered their mind or their anticipation of what might happen tonight in a one-game scenario. I don’t think that fear is an emotion that I’m going to stir up to get you to try to play your best game. We’re going to go out and try to set our mind on playing our way. We’re very clear about what that is and will dictate the pace and the tempo. We will play this game where we want it to be played. Mark Messier I think has been quoted many times as saying that the fear of losing is what motivated him. Everyone fears not moving on, but playing with fear in your mind as you handle the puck is not where I’d like our players to be tonight. We know what is at stake. We know the gravity of the situation. We know where we’d like to go. It’s about our team playing our game and dictating and getting to our game for as long as possible tonight. We will play this game where we want to play it.
On the team being loose during today’s morning skate:
Our team practiced really well this morning. They were a focused group and an energetic group. I also didn’t think that we were too tight out there. We had a great morning skate. Trying to set the mindset for the team and the players is really important in enabling them to get to their game and focus. We’re going to deal with a team that is trying to do the same thing. We’re going to deal with a team that has battled just as hard for every inch. Their players have played well, and their goalie has played well. There is going to be some resistance to how we feel, not us trying to get to our game. That give-and-take in a game and that composure in a game like this involve moments where you might get a bad bounce or a bad break or a call or you have to kill a penalty. Those things are all going to come out at us tonight. Our team will focus on our game and play how we need to play. Having a clear understanding of that is really important. I think that our guys are there and focused on that.

Sidney Crosby

On playing on the same line as Evgeni Malkin:

You have to be ready to get the puck if Geno has it. That’s it. If anything, that’s the direct result of getting space and things like that. That has something to do with it, and (Montreal) has to deal with us both. Hopefully that opens things up for somebody. You just have to make sure that you support the puck and are aware of where he is. I don’t think that too much of my game changes.
On playing a Game 7 in this series:
I think that everybody else is surprised, but when you play in the playoffs, you expect it to be tough. I think that you always prepare for the toughest way to get there and the toughest route. You hope that you win four all the time. You hope that you win every game, but that’s not the way that it works. If you want to have success, you have to find ways to win, especially in tougher scenarios like this. I did not expect to go in four games. I expect this to be tough, and that’s exactly what it has been.  

Maxime Talbot

On having the chance to score the game-winning goal tonight like he did in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year:
I woke up this morning and was not thinking about that question. It’s obviously something that you take with you. In a situation like that – it doesn’t mean that I’m going to score two more goals tonight. It means that I have played well before in that situation, and I’m going to try to do my best again tonight.
On everyone wanting to play the role of the hero in tonight’s game:
I think that, in this dressing room, a lot of guys want to be the one who will win the game. A lot of guys have been in that situation. You look at Sid (Sidney Crosby) and what he did in the Olympics. They say that I was the hero in Game 7 last year, but Flower (Marc-Andre Fleury) was pretty good, too. These are things where people want to step up and do well and help the team to move on.
On the experience of scoring the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Finals last year:
A little bit of experience means something obviously, but you look at Montreal and what they did against Washington. They went out there, and they had really no experience in a Game 7 on the road, and they went in and won against the best team in the league. You can’t just say, “Hey, we have experience, and we’re going to win this.” It’s something that, when the puck drops, anybody can be the hero again.
On tensions running high since it is the team’s first elimination match thus far in the playoffs:
We knew coming into this playoff series that it wasn’t going to be easy. It’s not like people say, “Hey, here you go. Here’s a trophy.” You have to battle all throughout the playoffs. Now we’re in front of a big challenge. Like Montreal, we’re going to do everything that we can do to win.
On what he learned from last year’s Game 7 that he can use in the game tonight:
You can use some previous experiences, but in the end it’s a new game. It’s a new team. There are so many new things. When the puck drops, anything can happen. Obviously you have experience with staying calm no matter what happens and staying with it and playing the best that you can.
On the difference maker in tonight’s game:
You look at the system that we have been playing and the way that we have been playing in Montreal. We can still be better than how we’ve played, and that is something that is encouraging. You look at it, and you think that you can play better. If we just play our game for 60 minutes, then we can do it.

Unassisted goal Caitlin Kasunich

12:37 PM:
Judging by the lines this morning, Alexei Ponikarovsky will be back in the lineup for Game 7.

"There's always pressure but right now I'm not thinking about that," he said. "I will just do what I have to do on the ice to help the team to win. I'll just do that. I'm pretty sure everybody else will do the same."

12:21 PM:
Coach Martin wouldn't reveal his lineup or his plans on whether Hal Gill or Andrei Markov would return in Game 7. He said the decisions will be made following warmups.

11:53 AM:
Montreal's Hal Gill, who missed Game 6 at Bell Centre with a cut on the back of his leg, participated in the Canadiens morning skate. Gill looked fluid in his strides and didn't appear to be slowed (a relative term) or show any effects from his injury. He cut, stopped, started, crossed over and changed direction with ease.

We'll await word from head coach Jacques Martin on his status, but judging from what I saw at the skate, Gill looks ready to rejoin the lineup.


10:49 AM:

Marc-Andre Fleury (right) is 2-0 in Game 7s in his career, surrendering only three goals

Evgeni Malkin (left) has been playing his best hockey in the past few games; as has Kris Letang (right), who set a new postseason high with five goals - four of which were on the power play.

Bill Guerin (left) looks loose and ready for Game 7; the last time Pittsburgh played a Game 7, Maxime Talbot (right) was the hero with two goals in a 2-1 win at Detroit to claim the Stanley Cup championship last season.

10:39 AM:
Judging by the Penguins' morning skate, there appears to be a lineup change for Pittsburgh. If the lines are accurate for tonight's Game 7, look for Alexei Ponikarovsky to rejoin the club in place of Mark Letestu. Although head coach Dan Bylsma has played a little poker before with his morning skate lines in the playoffs. Let's see what the ol' coach has up his sleeve this evening.

The morning combos were:

10:02 AM:
The Penguins and Canadiens are nine hours away from dropping the puck for Game 7 of their semifinals series. The winner will be catapulted into the Eastern Conference Finals while the loser will have played their last game. Just to build some hype, let's take a look back at the Penguins' two Game 7s from last year's Stanley Cup championship run. 

Penguins 6, Capitals 2
"The most hyped and highly anticipated series in recent memory came to an end Wednesday night in Washington as the Pittsburgh Penguins landed an overpowering knockout punch, ending the Washington Capitals season for the seventh time in playoff history, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second consecutive season.

"The Penguins saved their best performance of the postseason for the decisive Game 7. Pittsburgh completely dominated the play and ran out to a 5-0 lead halfway through the game. The Penguins were in cruise control for the remainder of the contest and Washington still couldn’t muster a sustained attack.

"In the battle of the superstars, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin got the better of Alex Ovechkin and co. Crosby put on an outstanding performance with two power-play goals and an assist for a three-point night in his first-ever Game 7.

"Even though this series didn’t need any more storylines, Sergei Gonchar put together a gutsy performance for Pittsburgh just five days after suffering a painful, and some thought season-ending, injury.

"The circus has come and gone and the Penguins are still standing."

Penguins 2, Red Wings 1
"After a scoreless first period, the Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to two goals from Maxime Talbot. Pittsburgh played in a defensive posture in the third period, content to chip the puck out of its zone and make the safe play.

"Detroit made it interesting when it buried a goal late in the third period. However, Marc-Andre Fleury shut the door the rest of the way – thanks in part to a lot of help and blocked shots from his teammates – and the team battled with their captain, Sidney Crosby, limited in his ice time because of an injury.

"In the end, the Penguins held on and were victorious in the rematch with the Detroit Red Wings. Pittsburgh got its revenge from last season by hoisting the Stanley Cup on Detroit’s home ice and ended a remarkable season as world champions."

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