The Penguins host Atlantic Division rival New Jersey Devils Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Mellon Arena in the second of back-to-back contests. On Friday night, Pittsburgh defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2, in a shootout at the “Igloo.”
While playing on consecutive nights can be a challenge to players, no matter how peak their physical condition, it also presents problems for coaches in their game preparation.
“As a coach I typically like to prepare in practice the day before the particular team we’re playing, if there are some tendencies that we have to adjust to,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We haven’t prepared in practice with drills or system-wise for New Jersey.”
Since the Penguins played Florida Friday and held an optional morning skate Saturday – to keep the players rested and fresh – Pittsburgh did not have time to implement any strategies for the game against the Devils.
But with the teams being division opponents, the Penguins coaching staff already has a strong familiarity with New Jersey’s players and system.
“In this case, I think we’re more comfortable with what New Jersey is going to do,” Bylsma said. “We’ve played them a lot and their in our division (as opposed to) Florida. I wouldn’t have over-prepared for Jersey to start off with.”
The Penguins’ focus has been solely on the Panthers. Even Saturday morning, the team went over the game film against Florida. But following their morning skate, the focus will shift to New Jersey.
“(This afternoon’s) meeting and tonight’s meeting, and the video we watch will prepare us for what New Jersey is going to bring,” Bylsma said.
The coaching staff split their assignments on Friday. While Bylsma was putting together the team’s game preparations against New Jersey, assistant coach Tony Granato handled the duties for Pittsburgh’s contest that evening against Florida.
“The coaching staff prepared differently,” Bylsma said. “Tony was preparing for Florida and (Friday) I was preparing for New Jersey. This morning I was focused on New Jersey and they were wrapping up last night’s game. With the staff that we have we split the duties with back-to-back games, which makes it a little more comfortable.”
With Pittsburgh’s victory over Florida, Granato did his job. Now it’s Bylsma’s turn.