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Penguins Report: 1/23/12

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Letang added to the 2012 NHL All-Star Game (1:44 PM).
  • Malkin named the NHL's 'First Star' (12:02 PM).
  • Maintenance days for Malkin and Orpik (11:58 AM).
  • Malkin, Orpik and Asham are absent from practice (11:00 AM).
  • Malkin: by the numbers (7:45 PM).
  • Bylsma on Malkin, secondary scoring, player safety, St. Louis and JoePa (2:19 PM).
  • Pens' lines (11:06 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:21 AM).
  • "People I'm in beast mode…" (10:15 AM).

8:00 PM:
Let's close out the day (or night, now) with a PensTV production. We used questions submitted by our wonderful fans via Twitter to do a little Q&A with Eric Tangradi (@ETangradi) after practice this afternoon. Watch below to see if yours was answered...

7:45 PM:
As I'm sure you're aware, Malkin is absolutely dominating the league right now and has imposed his iron will on each of the last six teams Pittsburgh has faced, helping the Penguins earn wins in each of those games. He’s vaulted to the top of the NHL scoring race and has put himself at the forefront of MVP talks.

Even though math isn't my thing, I went ahead and spent some time putting together some of the numbers Malkin has compiled as of late. ...You can take a look by clicking here.

2:19 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if he has concerns about additional lines scoring:

I think there are parts of everyone’s game that get evaluated and we’re dealing with when they’re scoring and when they’re not scoring goals. You probably don’t draw a lot of attention to it when they’re scoring goals. But there are players who are playing well and doing the right things and getting opportunities that aren’t scoring. There are players who need to play better in their roles. So whether they’re scoring or not, they’re getting evaluated. We certainly know that we can’t count on two people to score goals and everyone else treads water. We got big goals from Dustin Jeffrey and that’s a big part of that win two nights ago. Richard Park getting a goal in both Tampa Bay and New York are big parts of winning those hockey games. And we know that getting Kris Letang back and having him score goals is a big part of that power play and special teams as well. There are some guys who haven’t scored some goals, but are doing good things. Some of those guys also need to do a better job of being in the areas to score goals.

On Evgeni Malkin:
The amount of ice time he’s getting, a lot of those decisions are based on the player’s ability to handle it. There are times when he’s gotten a lot of ice and he’s still ready to handle more. You find those situations now. He’s demanding the ice time by his play. The goal last night that James Neal scored to draw even, (Malkin) splits the defense, forechecks the puck and falls down but still gets up and helps battle a guy – wins the battle – then makes a play. He’s got plenty of energy to battle three guys then get the puck. So with the way he’s playing right now, it doesn’t look too much like he’s getting overtaxed. Twenty-five minutes is a lot for him but he’s playing hard and he’s battling hard. There’s not a cheat in the effort in those 25 minutes. That’s what you see in his game on both ends of the rink. A couple nights before, ‘Geno’ was playing similar minutes and even blocked a shot in the last 20 seconds of the game. It’s a lot of minutes, but he’s demanded them with his play. He’s got plenty of energy to battle and be a force in those minutes. I don’t know exactly how long it takes to be fully back from his ACL surgery, but he worked extremely hard in the off-season, in the summer and in training camp. Like some of the players have said, if he has another couple levels to go before he gets to 100 percent, in six more months it’s going to be really scary. 

On player safety steps taken by the league:
In the game (Sunday), (Zbynek Michalek) received a penalty in the game and (Alex) Ovechkin did not. That’s going to happen sometimes in the game and whether the referee would like to take another look at the (Alex) Ovechkin hit and call a penalty, I don’t know that for sure. Maybe or maybe not. I think in terms of looking at all the hits and the type of hits we want in the game, the league does that and should do that on all the hits whether there is a penalty or not. It’s not the easiest thing to do. There are a lot of hits in every game. I think they’ve done a pretty admirable job at looking at all the hits and trying to assess the ones we don’t want in the game. They are looking at the whole game, but they are looking at those two hits as well in the game.

On St. Louis:

Having revisited the game that we played against them, that was maybe unlike what we think of a real Ken Hitchcock team being a really defensive team. They were defense first and really structured. They didn’t give up a lot but they played with a lot of speed, a lot of quickness and got on the attack in the offensive zone very well. They continue to do that, which is why I think they’ve been able to have such an outstanding record since the coaching change. They’ve played really well. They’re a tough team to handle with quickness. They are very physical and very aggressive. It was a physical game that we played them. It was a pretty gritty game. They were around their net. They were in the blue paint. Those are things we maybe didn’t anticipate or may not think about with a Ken Hitchock team, but you’ve seen that this year with their team. They’ve been able to do that very well and very consistently to make themselves a very good team, and that’s what we’re looking at going into St. Louis (Tuesday).

On Joe Paterno:
I’ve long been an admirer of Joe (Paterno) and his coaching and what he’s been able to do with his program. I see player, after player, after player talk about the Penn State experience and Joe Paterno and the effect it had not only on their football, but as a person and on their team. The coaching, the teaching, and the life teaching they got at Penn State from Joe Paterno. That is what I think about when I think about Joe Paterno, and not necessarily the last few months. It’s sad to see that situation end with Joe passing away a few days ago. I was listening to Matt Millen on a radio show and listening to him talk about his experience, and I can’t think of a better endorsement or better words from a player about his experience with a coach and his experience at Penn State.  That’s what I kind of remember and learn from ‘JoePa.’

On St. Louis planning for Evgeni Malkin:

I think they are definitely going to have a game plan for Evgeni. I think they are going to have a match up. I think they are going to try and play a physical game against them. They talk about limiting time and space, but I think they’ll go after him a little bit with that match up and with physical play. We’re anticipating that.

Overtime winner: Brittany Goncar

1:44 PM:
More awesome news: Pens defenseman Kris Letang has been named to the 2012 All-Star Game! He joins Malkin on the All-Star roster, giving Pittsburgh at least two All-Star representatives for the fourth straight season.

We were able to speak to him this morning about his selection...

I've got more from Letang on going to Ottawa, hopefully being drafted on the same team as Geno and his favorite memories from last year. You can check it out by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

12:02 PM:
To no one's surprise, Evgeni Malkin was named the NHL's 'First Star' for this past week.

The one they call "Geno" has reached a whole new level in his play. The NHL's scoring leader with 58 points led the Pens to four wins last week – improving the team’s winning streak to a team-high six games – by scoring at least one goal in all four contests. In total, Malkin finished the week with five goals and seven points in two games.
For all the deets, click here.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

11:58 AM:
Pens coach Bylsma said that Malkin and Orpik had maintenance days and he expects them on the ice Tuesday.

11:21 AM:
Proof of the Pens practicing just in case you didn't believe me...

11:06 AM:
Pens' lines are as follows:


Neal and Kunitz skated together with no center.

11:00 AM:
Kudos to the guys for their punctuality...practice is starting promptly at 11 a.m.

Malkin, Orpik and Asham are all absent from the skate. We'll try and get an update on them from coach Dan Bylsma after practice.

10:30 AM:
It's Monday, so you know what that means...time for a journal entry from the legendary Mike Lange!

This week, he reminisces about the Pens' 1982 Game 5 playoff loss to the NY Islanders.

10:15 AM:
Hello from CONSOL Energy Center, where the Pens are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice before they jet off to St. Louis to take on the red-hot Blues on Tuesday night. The team is coming off a huge 4-3 overtime victory over Washington on Sunday, their first win over the Caps in Pittsburgh since Dec. 27, 2007.

The chemistry that center Evgeni Malkin has had with winger James Neal all season manifested itself in a big way in Sunday’s game. Malkin scored the overtime winning goal and Neal scored twice, with Malkin assisting on both of his tallies. It's hard to describe how good they've been over the Pens' six-game winning streak, but we gave it a try...calling it Beast Mode.

One of the followers of Sam and I's Twitter account (@PensInsideScoop), @zacmatthews14, gave us a heads up that there's actually a song called "Beast Mode" by B.o.B. and that we should play it in honor of Geno and Nealer. Luckily, I was able to find a clean version, so stick tap to Zac for the idea!

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