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Penguins Report: 1/18/12

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Letang chance to play Thur; Asham day-to-day; Malkin maint (12:40 PM).
  • Malkin & Asham miss practice (11:02 AM).
  • The best news team on the planet (11:26 AM).
  • Orpik has been an unsung hero for the Pens (5:15 PM).
  • Who’s the unsung hero? (11:50 AM).
  • Malkin’s pretty goals (10:30 AM).
  • Spotlighting Geno (10:10 AM).
  • Fleury & Neal spit knowledge (1:15 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on MSG, role players and more (12:55 PM).
  • New Pens TV spots (1:16 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:37 AM).
  • “She’s gone, oh I'd better learn how to face it…” (10:00 AM).

5:15 PM:
As noted in my question earlier (see 11:50 AM), my unsung hero for the Pens through the past few weeks is Brooks Orpik. Here's more on how important Brooksie has been to the squad.

1:16 PM:
Check out the new Pens TV spots...

Here's another one pulled from coach Bylsma's pregame speech.

1:15 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On winning without offensive firepower:
It makes things more complicated. I think we’ve got good team, a lot of depth. Guys coming up from the minors that have done a great job.  We believe every night, we have a chance to win.

On holding your head above water with guys out:
We still play the same system, the same way as if everybody is there. On that side of mentality everything stays the same. We’re aware we are missing some key players, but whoever’s playing, whoever’s in the room we’ve got to find ways together as a team to win.

On looking back on past mistakes:
I just put it behind. I have to play the puck in the corner sometimes. It was a mistake and that’s it.

On dealing with bad bounces:
Seems like little things like that. It seems like everything was happening to us. Everything was finding a way back into our net. That’s how it works.

On playing the next three games:
I’m ready to play and that’s the coaches decision to see what he wants to do.

On the pressure on the goaltender to keep the team together during injuries:
I think we are missing some key players. We had some experience last year missing Sid and Geno. If they are there or hurt or not I’m still in goal to stop the puck. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything. 

James Neal

On playing in New York:
It’s fun. MSG with the history. It’s a tough building to play in. Obviously it’s old and the lightings not good and the boards and ice. It’s still fun to play in. It will be a good game tomorrow. The Rangers got us two times in a row here so we need to win the game tomorrow and keep the streak going.

On Rangers being a different team now:
Whenever you add a guy like that Brad (Richards) it’s going to help your team. I know Richie really well from Dallas. We are good friends. He’s a great player and can add a lot to your lineup. We have to worry about ourselves in here and get into our game and do the right things.

On Brad Richards:
He keeps to himself. I know how excited he was to go to New York. And how much he liked it.

On getting out of losing streak:
It’s obviously tough when you are losing like that. It’s not fun. We kept the positive attitude in the room and did the right things to get out of it. That’s the main thing. When you do that it helps yourself get on a winning streak like we’ve got now. We just have to keep that going.

On the rumors:
No, people are going to talk. It shouldn’t happen, but we’re not worried about that stuff. We have ourselves to worry about and our hockey team. We just put that stuff behind us and go and play and let our play do the talking.

Assist: Brittany Goncar

12:55 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On gaining an edge in their game:
We won four in a row around Christmas break. Then one or two losses turned into a streak. I think during that time we played good periods of hockey. We didn’t have the edge and attitude to our game that we need to have. When you look at six losses in a row, maybe you get a little bit of that back. We fought our way out of it. In the Washington game we didn’t get the result, but the attitude that we played with in that game was better than if we’d just cheesed out a point in a shootout or gotten a result we wanted, but not playing the right way. That’s a bit more edge and attitude we play with as a part of our team. You’ve seen that in the last four games.

On playing in MSG:
I love Madison Square Garden. I think it’s a great building. My first time playing there I remember vividly. If we were playing at home tomorrow I would have painted the picture of what it’s like to play in CONSOL against the Rangers or whoever we were playing and what we would be facing. We’re going on the road and playing in that building so we’re getting ready for that atmosphere, that team and those players, which is first in our division and 10 points ahead of us. We always paint that picture in the last drill we do before we get on the plane. I don’t think there is anyone that doesn’t like playing in that building, whether the lights are bright or not, it’s one of those awesome venues with history and there’s more to it than just the building. We’ll get that tomorrow and the Rangers, who are first in the division.

On if Henrik Lunqvist’s shoulder pads are legal size:
Those are figments of your imagination in terms of his gear.

On seeing the role players get a lot of shots:
While Malkin’s line with Neal and Kunitz have been the line scoring the goals, the scoring chances have been throughout our lineup. In Tampa Bay Sullivan had seven scoring chances with Cooke and Richard Park. They scored a big goal. Last night Pascal Dupuis has seven shots, Tyler Kennedy hit the post twice. We end up with 28 scoring chances. That line had eight of them. They had great scoring chances and opportunities. Playing that was has an effect. They’ll gets goals, opportunities and bounces if they keep playing that way. It also has an effect on the other team. They’ll get on the scoresheet and they’re still a factor in the way we need to play as a team.

On Joe Vitale:
He made a statement right off the hop in the first period. They got that first goal within the first three minutes, Joe’s line came out – and they did it three times in the first period – they made a statement. He was physical, added energy, added speed. He got us back playing our game. He did it again throughout the game and in the third period with his physical play. That’s his role on our team. That’s what he can bring . He brought it off the hop last night. He finished the game with seven hits, was around the net a couple times on the forecheck. He forces a guy to get into a fight with him. It was a statement game from Joe and a big part of having our team play the right way.

12:40 PM:
Coach Bylsma said that Malkin missed practice for a maintenance day, and Asham is day-to-day with an illness.

He added that there was a chance Letang could play Thursday in NYC against the Rangers, or at some other point on the team's current stretch.

"Letang had his second full practice with the team," Bylsma said. "We'll see how he progresses and reacts as the week goes on.

"There's a chance for Kris (Thursday) night and the remaining games going into the break. When it comes to the injury he had, which was a concussion, it's how he feels and symptom-related. He's been feeling good. He's progressed with difficult skating on his own to get his conditioning, which he's been able to do. Getting back with the team, he'll be on the ice with us tomorrow morning again. We're hopeful he'll be in the remaining games we have left (before All-Star break). Hopefully soon."

11:50 AM:
OK fans, time for your input. The Pens have won 3 games in a row. The obvious heroes of the streak are Malkin, Fleury & Neal. BUT, who do you think has been the most underrated player for the Pens on their current winning streak?

Click here and give your vote on Facebook.

My pick: video coordinator Jim Britt. Orpik is a close second.

11:37 PM:
Pens pics...

Fleury stalks his goal partner from the shadows, actually it's not really too dark and he's not very inconspicuous (left); Letang looks on in awe at his blade (right)

Kunitz adjusts the torque in his helmet strap, adding a hemi (left); Adams and Martin discuss the lack of evolution in Austrian economic theory (right)

Tangradi rocks the periwinkle blue hard (left); Johnson slyly steals a puck from the bucket in his pads (right)

Duper is as free as a bird now, and you know he'll never chaaaaange (left); Jeffrey bee bopping around the ice (right)

11:26 AM:
Pens Report faithful, ever wonder how you get your daily Pens news?

PensTV stalked Michelle Crechiolo and I last Tuesday for a behind-the-scenes look at how we cover a morning skate. Woodward and Bernstein would be impressed.

11:02 AM:
Players on the ice for practice. Malkin and Asham are not practicing. All the other usual suspects are accounted for.

10:30 AM:
Speaking of Malkin, how about the beauty by the Russian stud last night. He just has this insane ability to beat Cam Ward from close range and impossible angles.

Malkin's goal reminds of his spin-o-rama hat trick tally against Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2009. Again, Ward played low, Malkin was tight on the play and lifted and shot from close range and at a tough angle. The difference was that Malkin was on his backhand with a spinning shot. May be the best goal I've ever seen live.

10:10 AM:
It's Wednesday, so time to spotlight a Penguin. Today we'll highlight the marvelous play of center Evgeni Malkin.

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens will practice here in the home barn at 11am and then catch a flight to New York, where they'll take on the Atlantic Division leading Rangers tomorrow night at MSG.


I travel full time with the Pens, but I get to take an occasional trip off for maintenance. Michelle will be taking the trip to NYC, her first-ever trip to the Big Apple. In the spirit of her leaving me, I'm going to start the blog with Hall & Oates "She's Gone." Bye bye Meesh.

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