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Penguins Report: 1/24/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby won’t attend All-Star Game to recover (10:58 AM).
  • Letang, Kunitz miss practice with illness; Malkin sees a doctor (12:36 PM).
  • Crosby still has concussion symptoms, still not active (12:05 PM).
  • Godard returns to practice with extra protection (11:07 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on injuries, Dustin Jeffrey and the Islanders (1:17 PM).
  • PensTV goes speed dating with Godard, Martin and Dupuis (2:14 PM).
  • Pens website new addition is muy caliente (1:08 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:20 AM).
  • “We are from Pittsburgh, the six-time Super Bowl champs…” (10:05 AM).

2:14 PM:

PensTV speed dating Godard, Martin and Dupuis




1:17 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On Letang and Kunitz:
Both are just not feeling well today.

On Evgeni Malkin’s status:
I don’t have an update on Geno, he’s going to see the doctor. He’s probably there right now, so I don’t have an update on Geno. That’s where that stands. I’ll get (an update Tuesday) probably.

On if there’s a ‘We need more from you’ conversation with the players because of the injury situations:
I think certainly the opportunity is the same thing, but probably described a little bit differently. There’s an opportunity in certain circumstances where there’s more ice time position-wise or on the power play for players given the injury situations that we’ve had this year. Mark Letestu is an example of that in training camp. I think when Jordan Staal, as his season didn’t progress, it was expressed to a lot of guys that there was an opportunity and a lot of guys knew they had an opportunity with him not being there in training camp and starting the season. Chris Conner has gotten that opportunity. It’s an opportunity he probably didn’t get in training camp as much as he would have liked, and then with some of our injury situations he got an opportunity to do that. Also early on in the year with defensemen and playing time for them, there was an opportunity with (Zbynek) Michalek out and Brooks (Orpik) out at times. We’ve had that opportunity, now obviously we have the circumstance with Geno and Sid. It means Mark Letestu’s getting to be on the first power-play unit with an opportunity to play in-between Kunitz and Dupuis. Dustin Jeffrey gained an opportunity as well. The discussion has been had. It hasn’t been, ‘We need more from you.’ It’s been, ‘Here’s an opportunity for you to step in and play in these situations.’

On how he would assess Jeffrey’s play now and how hard it is for him to adjust to a different role in the NHL:
I can’t personally answer that one for you, but the good thing about that situation for Dustin is how we play in our organization doesn’t change for Dustin whether he’s in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing a lot of minutes, whether he’s playing here in reduced minutes, or whether he’s playing wing or center here for a little bit. He knows and is confident of what is exactly expected of him, what the standard is and how we’re executing. So in the adjustment period, and we’ve seen that in our organization, there’s confidence in how he should play, how he needs to play and how we’re going to play. I think Dustin has shown that when he got called up for the one game in Buffalo and stepped right in. Then the last two games, he’s also played on different lines. With the power play, one of the things we talk about in our organization, is you play to your foundation and you play to what you bring. Dustin, every game he’s played, he’s been used on the power play for us. He’s been used on the point; he’s been used on the half wall. That may seem like somewhat of an adjustment for a guy, but that’s where Dustin plays in our organization, that’s where he’s played in WBS and so I think he’s being put in situations that he’s comfortable with, even though getting tossed on a top unit or being on the power play might seem like a stretch for a younger player. I think he’s pretty comfortable and has shown he’s comfortable out there. In regards to his play, I thought he was real strong in the game, I thought he stepped in, in the different situations. We used him in the four-on-four, and that was one of our better shifts of the game, we had five scoring chances out there with him there and him getting the goal. He was decent in the faceoff circle, and I thought in the first period, he was one of our better forwards contributing to our offense. So he played a strong game in his 12 minutes, and again, the expectation for him to be able to do that is there given the history and what he knows.

On the loss to the Islanders on Dec. 29:
We had 18 scoring chances in the last game, which is a pretty good number for us. We didn’t score, but when we get above 15 or 16, that’s where we need to be. What they do well is that they’re a hard-working, high-energy team. They forced us into struggling in the way they forechecked and their tenacity on the puck in the offensive zone. It did limit our ability to totally take over that game and play the way we like to play. So puck retrievals, coming out of the D-zone and minimizing their effectiveness is important to being effective against the Islanders. They did it well the last two games against us, and we have to be ready for that.

On how tough it is to prepare for teams like the Islanders and the Devils:
It’s a good question. I think there is a challenge when you are playing teams that maybe don’t spur a rivalry. You might play the Detroit Red Wings, and you’re playing one of the best teams in the league. So you up your attention level to the details and you focus on coming out strong in that game. But for us right now, I don’t think it should be that way. We have the challenge of playing without Geno and Sid, and bringing that out of the gate is important for us to play our game against these teams. So I don’t know if it’s a challenge for us right now, but against a team like the Devils, playing against that style – that’s probably the challenge for us in terms of trying to get to our game and play with the puck and get on the forecheck like we want to be able to do against them. Part of it was due to Brodeur’s puck-handling ability and our poor dumping, but we’ll have a challenge. The last (game) before the break, certainly, is one we’d like to make a statement with to finish off on the right note.

On Malkin’s status for Tuesday’s game:
I would say it’s not likely at this point.

On who makes the decision whether Malkin goes to the All-Star Game:
It would be collaborative for what’s best where he’s at injury-wise, and what’s best for Geno and the team. There has not been (a decision).

Give-and-go: Michelle Crechiolo & Tony Jovenitti

1:08 PM:
The newest edition to our Pens website news team: the space heater. The past few weeks have been very cold from our perch at CONSOL Energy Center. So we're stealing a page from the playbook of Steve Mears, and adding some heat. Michelle Crechiolo (below) greets our new friend.

12:36 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Letang and Kunitz were "not feeling well." He expects both to be in the lineup Tuesday night vs. NY Islanders. Bylsma said that Malkin, who is seeing a doctor today, is "not likely" to play in the game.

"I would say it’s not likely at this point," Bylsma said.

He added that no decision has been made regarding Malkin's participation in the All-Star Game.

12:05 PM:
Sidney Crosby spoke to the media at his locker. Not much to update. Main points of interest on Crosby:
  • Continues to experience symptoms (headaches)
  • Still isn't cleared for any physical activity
  • No timeline for return

Full transcript to come shortly below:

On his progress taking a while:
They were pretty clear in communicating to me when I saw doctors that there is no real timeline. People say mild concussion, but I don’t know if there is such a thing. It’s a serious thing. It’s frustrating being out. It’s out of my control. All I can do are the things on my part to give me a chance to come back and play. It just takes time.

On the neck issue:
It’s gotten a lot better. My neck was the first week and a half, dealt with that a little bit more. We did a little bit of work on it. It’s freed up a bit. It’s just the other symptoms. You don’t really know as far as time when those go away.

On the symptoms:
Headaches. There’s never a consistent cause. It’s really hard to find out what causes them. That is the tough part and the frustrating part about concussions. They come and go, but the last few days have been better. They haven’t been as intense. That’s a good thing.

On what he can do physically right now:

On if he’s reached out to other players who’ve dealt with concussions
No, not really. Everyone is different. Some guys take a week or two, some guys longer and some guys really long. There’s no real timeline. Everyone has different symptoms too. Some guys can’t sleep. There are different symptoms. It’s kind of hard to gauge it. But from the guys that have talked about it in the past, they always say to take your time and not to rush something like this. It’s pretty good advice in this case.

On if the neck problem was whiplash from Steckel’s hit:
I’m not sure. It’s tough to tell with neck symptoms and how much that plays a role in concussions too with headaches. The symptoms are pretty close. As far as whiplash, I’m not sure. I got dinged pretty good on that one. My neck had a lot of movement on that one. I don’t know if that was it or not.

Sidney Crosby talks to the media
On if it was a disc:
Whiplash is probably the best way to describe it. I never had it before. I don’t know if it was ever diagnosed as that. That would be the closest thing I think.

On not being active:
It’s really difficult. It doesn’t get any easier with each day that goes by. It gets tougher and tougher to work your way back in it. At the end of the day you keep reminding yourself that everything is clear, and when you do come back you’ll be ready to go hard and do the things it takes to get back.

On if he’s sleeping well:

On how this effects him off the ice:

It’s brutal. You sit around and can’t do anything. Early on, I could barely watch TV. I’ve been able to do that more. It’s the things you take for granted and do everyday, like driving. That would set me off. That kind of stuff you take for granted. You realize going through something like this that being able to drive is a good step. I’ve been driving since it happened. Just getting through that without getting a headache or feeling a little off are the things you take for granted.

On if he has a target date for anything:
No. The good thing is that the last four or five days have been pretty good. But that’s not to say that tomorrow couldn’t have more symptoms and things like that. It’s one of those things that’s hard to really gauge. But I’ve been pretty happy with the way I’ve progressed the last four or five days. Hopefully, it keeps going that way, and it will be sooner than later. But it’s still pretty hard to tell.

On who tells him when he’s ready to come back:
It’s Dr. Burke. Obviously there’s a lot of communication. They need to know exactly what your symptoms are and find out as much as they can about what’s causing them. If they can get a grasp of that, they are able to help. So the communication is every day. You’re constantly evaluating yourself, and they’re doing the same.

On the baseline test:
Yeah, that’s one of the things that are a gauge. Symptoms are another thing. So those two things need to be there and they need to be right. So just having one or the other isn’t enough. You need to make sure that symptom-wise, you’re clear. You take the baseline and that’s usually kind of the protocol. You have to make sure that goes well too.

On if anyone from the NHL has reached out to him:
I’ve been talking to Brendan Shanahan the last week or so to just kind of give him and update on my status. They’ve been great. He’s someone who’s actually dealt with a concussion, so it’s good to talk to him and hear about what he went through. But he’s been more or less just checking in.

On what Shanahan says to him:
Just be patient. That’s kind of the common thing. I guess just hearing that from him – someone who just played, he’s not too far removed from playing – was good.

On if the NHL asked him to go to the All-Star Game even though he’s not playing:
No. (Shanahan) was pretty clear in just making sure that my health was first and foremost. That was great to hear.

On if anything was missed following the Winter Classic that led him to play in the Tampa Bay game:
No, I don’t think anything was missed at all. When you’re dealing with these symptoms and the things that go on, it’s pretty tough to find out exactly what’s going on. And for me, someone who’s never really experienced anything like this, it’s really hard to gage where you’re at too. So no, I don’t think in that case there was anything. It’s easier for me having gone through it to say there’s no such thing as “mild,” but who’s to say what mild is. I don’t think that really matters when someone has a concussion. If it takes them a week, great. If it takes them longer, then that’s the case. It’s pretty hard to grade that.

On if he and the Penguins will have to be as careful as Boston is with Marc Savard:
I think you’re always careful. No matter if it’s your first, or in his case he’s had multiple ones. I don’t know how they deal with that, but I think in any case it’s something that you’re seeing more and more. Guys are being really careful with this and it’s for a good reason. You don’t want to be in that situation where you come back too early. Like I said, it’s not going to do me any good to come back too early feeling like I do now – obviously, putting myself at risk to have it happen again.

Tip-in: Tony Jovenitti

11:20 AM:
Morning visual stimulation...

Coach Bylsma (right)

Jeffrey and Reirden (left); Kennedy (right)

Rupp (left)

Granato (left); B.Johnson (right)

11:07 AM:
Pens have begun their 11 a.m. practice at CONSOL Energy Center. Crosby and Malkin are still not skating. Also, Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz are also not practicing. We'll get an update on Letang and Kunitz from coach Bylsma after practice.

Eric Godard is back with the team. He's wearing a protective shield for his eye.

10:58 AM:
The Pens just announced that captain Sidney Crosby will not attend All-Star Weekend in Carolina as he continues to recover from his mild concussion. For more details click here.

10:05 AM:
We have to start the day by congratulating the Pittsburgh Steelers on winning the AFC crown with a 24-19 victory over the New York Jets Sunday night at Heinz Field. The Steelers advance to their eighth Super Bowl in franchise history, and will battle the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV Feb. 6 in Dallas.

Monday fun fact: before joining the Penguins, I previously worked with the Steelers (2005-07) and the Packers (2007-08). This is my dream Super Bowl. I am so happy for both organizations. But, of course, my heart will always be with the black and gold (or yellow these days). So here we go Steelers!

I have to start the day off with an old classic. Roger Wood & the Fan Club have been singing this song for 15 long years, and it is still as catchy as ever. So since it is official that Pittsburgh is, indeed, going to the Super Bowl, let's play "Here we go."

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