After a long flight, the team landed safely in snowy Winnipeg...or, as some people have told us on Twitter, WINTERpeg. Sam sent this photo back to Pittsburgh, which is probably positively balmy compared to Winnipeg, which is set for a low of -20 tomorrow night on game day...
I'd like to give a special shoutout to PensTV camera op Mark Cottington, who's in the front of this photo with the blue bag. Stay warm, my friend! --Michelle Crechiolo
Forward Chris Kunitz wore an "A" on his jersey in Wednesday's home opener, and coach Bylsma said that he will be alternating the "A" with Brooks Orpik at home and on the road.
"Chris is a part of our group leadership," Bylsma said. "We’re talking about Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Brooks Orpik and adding Chris Kunitz to that group. He’s a guy that’s emerged on our team as a leader with how he plays. He is a respected guy in the dressing room. Not a real vocal guy, but he does speak and does carry a lot of weight in our room. Certainly carries a weight with how he plays on the ice. Chris is joining Brooks as an alternate captain alternating home and road."
Also, Engelland did not need any stitches for the cut in his black eye.
"It’s fine," he said. "Just a bruise. No different than any other one. (No stitches). Just scraped the skin off."
When asked if his eye looked worse than it feels, he responded "I think so. Doesn’t hurt at all to touch it or anything like that." Engelland also said he doesn't think he'll need a visor. "I’ve worn a visor plenty of times, but I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. I can see out of it. It works. I’m not too worried about it."--Michelle Crechiolo
LOCKER ROOM SOUND
QUOTES HEARD AROUND THE LOCKER ROOM
QUOTE OF THE DAY (OR WEEK. OR MONTH. OR YEAR)
When I heard that the Edmonton Oilers went into the famous "flying V" formation at one point during their game against the Sharks on Tuesday, I couldn't believe it. It's like a hockey fan's dream come true. For those who don't know what the "flying V" is, it's from 1994's D2: The Mighty Ducks (the second movie in the epic Mighty Ducks trilogy, and by far the greatest movie of the three. Not even a contest). It's where all five skaters in the movie come at their opponent copying the flying pattern of actual ducks. Watch the movie magic...
Now here's a screen shot of the Oilers in this formation, grabbed by an astute viewer. (Credit to The Pensblog and CBS Sports for the discovery).
Incredible. Seeing this kind of somewhat happen in a real NHL game made my day. And it put a smile on captain Sidney Crosby's face when he heard about it. Best response ever...
Word is that the Oilers did not score on their flying V, that they did not keep the formation down the length of the ice. Did they not learn anything from watching the Mighty Ducks pull it off with Averman getting the goal?! This reminds me of just how much I love that movie. I even dressed up as Bash Brother Dean Portman for Halloween once when I was in college. Maybe coach Bylsma will take a page out of coach Gordon Bombay's book and get the Pens to do this at some point. Dreams can come true...
KENNEDY WITH MALKIN AND NEAL
As noted earlier, the Penguins shuffled their lines at practice today with Tyler Kennedy moving up from the third line to play with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal in the top six while Eric Tangradi moved down to the fourth line to join Joe Vitale and Craig Adams.
Malkin and Neal are both left-handed shots while Kennedy is a right-handed shot and normally plays right wing. In this situation, however, Kennedy will be on the left side as Neal likes to play on his off wing.
“’Nealer’ likes to play on the right side,” Kennedy said. “I’ll try the left side and see how it goes. I don’t think I’ve ever played on the left side. But if I go in focused it shouldn’t be too bad.”
Malkin sounded pretty excited about playing with a right-handed shot, saying “I like that (TK) is a righty. One guy on my line is a righty. I really like that. He can score. I think now, he has lot of confidence and he enjoys to play. We’ll see. We never played a long time together, but he’s a good guy.”
Kennedy is a tenacious, energetic player. He can keep up with Malkin and Neal speed-wise and hunt down pucks for that group. Kennedy also has a shoot-first mentality, and he said that won’t change no matter who his linemates are.
“I think just stick to my game,” he said of his mindset. “Skating and shooting pucks and try to get to the net. I know both of them are shooters, so I’ve got to get to the net and jam in some rebounds. … Obviously if they’re open I’m going to pass, but if I’ve got a shooting lane I’m going to shoot. It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with.”
Bylsma cautioned that while Kennedy practiced with Malkin and Neal today, during games different players may slot into that wing depending on the situation.
“In different situations, you may see another player go there as well whether (we’re) up or down in the game,” Bylsma said. “Last night, we were down in the game and Tyler got inserted there as a result for a little bit more of a jump than Eric was providing. In defensive situations, Tanner Glass has been there. We would expect to probably see them both there again the next two games.”
No matter what happens in the next couple games, Kennedy plans to make the most of his opportunities.
“I hope I make the best out of it,” he said.
Fleury protects the post
Sutter is a better door than window
Tangradi chats up Lovejoy
Crosby laughs while Vokoun falls asleep
Coach Bylsma asks Malkin about Russian cuisine
(Line) rush brothers
--Michelle Crechiolo & Sam Kasan
PIC OF THE DAY
Engelland sporting a new shiner following his heavyweight bout with Colton Orr in Wednesday's game.
All 23 Pens are in attendance at practice.
Pens used new lines with Kennedy on the second unit and Tangradi sliding to fourth.
The Pens opened Thursday morning with a couple of trades. They sent defenseman Carl Sneep to Dallas in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
In the other deal, the Pens acquired forward Chad Kolarik from the NY Rangers for Benn Ferriero.
Kolarik, 26, will report to Pittsburgh’s minor-league affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League (AHL). This season, Kolarik has been one of the top players in the AHL while playing for the Connecticut Whale, earning a berth in Monday night’s AHL All-Star Classic in Providence, R.I.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Kolarik has ranked among the top scorers in the AHL all season. He currently places 13th (tied) in the scoring race with 35 points (16G-19A) in 41 games. Kolarik’s 16 goals and seven power-play tallies both lead the Whale.
Full story on Kolarik here.
START THE DAY
The Pens will hit the ice at CONSOL Energy Center for an 11 a.m. practice and then head to the airport for a two-game Canadian trip. First stop is Winnipeg for a Friday contest. Then the Pens will head to the nation's capital of Ottawa for a Sunday night showdown with the Senators.