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Penguins Report: 1/3/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Pens sign Engelland to three-year extension (11:08 AM).
  • Mustache Boy for January, Mike Rupp (12:28 PM).
  • Rupp is going Hulk Hogan style for his mustache (5:05 PM).
  • Pens change lines (11:24 AM).
  • Pens CEO/Prez thanks fans for Winter Classic (4:37 PM).
  • Winter Classic breaking TV viewership records (4:33 PM).
  • PensTV talks with Engelland, Rupp and Orpik (4:06 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Engelland and line switches (1:41 PM).
  • Crosby and Staal chat (1:38 PM).
  • We went papa-paparazzi style on Staal and Mears (4:28 PM).
  • Pittsburgher’s know how to tailgate. Watch (4:21 PM).
  • Pittsburgher’s also love their Kielbasa (12:08 PM).
  • Pics (11:42 AM).
  • "Doo doo doo doo dingle zing a dong bone ba-di ba-da ba-zumba crunga cong gone bad..." (10:58 AM).

5:05 PM:
The Penguins newly crowned “Mustache Boy” for January already has a head start on showcasing his lip fur.

Mike Rupp, who failed to score in Monday’s shootout, already is rockin’ a full beard.  So instead of growing a mustache, he’ll only have to shave off the beard. But that won’t stop him from chopping his mustache down a little.

“I’m going to shave it. I won’t (use the razor blade). I’ll just use the clippers and cut it down and let it go for a month,” Rupp said of his mustache technique.

Across the locker room sits defenseman Paul Martin, December’s Mustache Boy. He also is planning on doing a little shaving.

Or is he?

“I thought about keeping it. It’s growing on me,” Martin said with a coy smile. “No, I’m going to get rid of it. It was fun. It’s a reason to grow a mustache. It was my first attempt. It came in better than I thought, but it will come off as soon as I find a shaver.”

Martin won’t have listen to anymore good-natured ribbings on his hairy upper lip.

“Everyone said it looks good. You never know when they’re being serious or not,” Martin said. “But it’s over now.”

For Rupp it’s just beginning. Of course for Rupp, who normally has an unkempt beard, it will be an adjustment to keep his face partly hairless.

“I have to be cleanly shaven everywhere else. You can’t hide the mustache with the rest of the beard,” Rupp said. “I’m sure it will come in Hulk Hogan-like.”


(By the way, do a Google images search of Hulk Hogan and check out the photos of people dressing up and posing like Hulk. That will provide 15 solid minutes of entertainment. I never realized how popular the Hogan Halloween costume was).

4:37 PM:
Pens CEO/Prez David Morehouse made a nice gesture by thanking the fans for their support and loyalty. Afterall, without you guys the Winter Classic wouldn't have been the amazing spectacle that it became.

4:33 PM:
Not that this is a shock to anyone, but the Winter Classic was a huge success. It became the most watched regular-season game in 36 years.

4:28 PM:
After Monday's practice Jordan Staal joined Steve Mears for an interview for Inside Penguins Hockey. Of course our camera was there to creep out the scene.

That's Mearsy's "I can't believe you're taking a photo of this" look.

4:21 PM:
Pittsburghers really know how to tailgate. Just ask Katie O.

4:06 PM:
PensTV making their presence in the locker room...




1:41 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Engelland being rewarded:
It’s nice for a lot of reasons.  Deryk is a guy that came from the East Coast Hockey League and has been battling and working to get better. He’s been in our organization a long time doing that. And he did the hard way. This year, he earned a regular spot on our lineup in the National Hockey League. It’s great for him, and it’s great for us to have him locked up for three years.

On not having groin injuries after playing on the soft ice at Heinz Field
It was certainly a concern after the game, I think for a number of reasons. Luckily, minus a player or two, we didn’t have any issues injury-wise with the Winter Classic.

On Engelland’s defense:
The biggest surprise on the year for Deryk and the thing that’s kept him in the lineup the most, his pugilistic achievements have been pretty big. He’s surprised us in that regard. His ability to play defense and defend and be physical against good players is the biggest thing he’s shown this year. Him being on the ice against good players, defending well, but also holding them accountable physically, finishing his check and being a tough guy to play against in his zone is something he’s shown he can do. That together, what he’s done for his teammates is the reason he’s been a regular in our lineup.

On Engelland’s offseason
Skating has always been an area we told him he’s need to improve and work on. He’s done that over the course of three or four years. He continually works on his feet, footwork and quickness. The one thing this summer that was different than before, Deryk did a pretty significant job of changing his body-type in terms of his strength and body fat. He was a guy that was carrying an extra pound or two. This summer he made a real commitment. He worked back home, but came early for the month of August in Pittsburgh working on his skating and working out. Coming into camp there was a noticeable difference in his skating and footspeed. He certainly hasn’t lost anything on a physicality standpoint. That was a big factor for him adding the defensive and skating part of his game as well as the toughness that we knew he had.

On Tyler Kennedy skating with Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal:
He adds a disruption factor and a speed factor to a line that other guys on our team don’t match. He has speed on the forecheck, chasing pucks down, tenacity-wise pursuing the puck. He’s the F1, and he has pursuit. His tenacity on pucks and going to the net would be big factor for (Malkin and Staal) on that line.

On which wing Malkin plays:
He prefers the right wing. If you ask the question, he’ll always go to the right wing. But in the last game, I sent Tyler Kennedy over the boards and he played on the left side, and Geno played the right side. But Geno just told him he’d take the left. He’s okay playing both, but he prefers the right side, which I actually prefer him playing the right side and TK playing the left in those situations. So that’s the way that line will look. 

1:38 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...


On getting back to focusing on the rest of the season after the Winter Classic:
It’s important to move on, whether we won or lost that game. Obviously December was a pretty busy month with the build-up to the Winter Classic and HBO. It just seemed like there was a lot going on. So it will be nice to get back to a bit more of a normal routine. It’s a big second half for us.

On the Penguins’ first half of the season:
If we’re looking at it as a whole there, I think the first half was pretty good for us. We had some injuries early on and had a bit of adversity to deal with, and got through that. We had a good streak there. Since after Christmas, we’ve struggled a bit. But as a whole, it’s a pretty good first half of the season.

On how Jordan Staal looks:
He looked really good in his first game back. I’m glad to see he’s back with us, he’s a big part of our team. So for sure he’s just going to feel better and better with time.


On making his season debut:
It was definitely the start of a new year for me, quite literally. It was nice to get that first game in and get back into a routine of practicing with the guys and playing some games. It’s a very exciting time.

On how his first game went and how he feels:
I think the game went pretty well for me. I thought I played a pretty solid game. The legs were cooperating quite a bit throughout the game. They were a little sore yesterday, but it’s nice that I’ll get a few days rest. It’s nice to get one underneath my belt and hopefully I can get back into a routine.

On if it’s going to be tough getting going with the team in terms of chemistry:
It’s going to be the hardest part, the timing and playing with the guys and understanding the different situations and how different players react. That’s always going to take time. I understand that and the coaches understand that, and hopefully I can catch that quicker than most.

12:28 PM:
"Mustache Boy" shootout underway!!!

We are down to Engelland, Goligoski and Rupp.

Engelland beats Brent Johnson stick side. Goligoski scores five-hole. Down to Rupp. A score and the three players have to keep going, or else Rupp will have some extra lip fur for a month.

Rupp tries to stuff it in stick side, but is denied by Johnson.

January Mustache Boy is Mike Rupp!!!

12:08 PM:
Well, the Pens may have lost the Winter Classic, but they won the "Signature Sandwich Face-Off"!!! Don't mess with the Kielbasa Grinder!

11:42 AM:
Practice pics for the Monday.

11:24 AM:
The Pens were working in a few new line combinations at the morning. Tyler Kennedy was re-united with Jordan Staal, with Evgeni Malkin working the other wing.


11:08 AM:
Back to practice at CONSOL Energy Center today. Players are making their way to the ice. Of course, the big news today is that defenseman Deryk Engelland has signed a three-year contract extension.

That's great news for Engelland and the Pens. Engelland was drafted in 2000, but didn't make his NHL debut until November of last season with the Pens at 27 years old. It took him nine years to breakthrough into the NHL. But he never gave up on his dream, and now he's establishing himself at hockey's highest level. It really is an inspiring story. Plus, he's an awesome guy. I couldn't be happier to see him rewarded for all his hard work. And it will be great having him around for a few years.

For the Pens, they now have all seven NHL defensemen locked up through the end of NEXT season. That provides ridiculous stability for the organization in the salary cap era. Great job by GM Ray Shero and assistant GM Jason Botterill for securing the Pens blue line.

10:58 AM:
It's such a weird day. No HBO crew following us around, filming our every move. No Winter Classic hype to document and prepare for. It's back to just plain old ice hockey practice. I hope everyone had a great time at the Winter Classic, it was truly a remarkable event. 

Let's start the day with another timeless classic, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A band that has been around for 50 years, but still produces great albums and songs year after year. They're so consistantly good that I feel people take them for granted.

The Chili Peppers have so many incredible songs to choose from that it is a daunting task (and I briefly considered posting two). In the running were: Californicaion; Dani California; Snow; My Friends; By the Way; Breaking the Girl; and Higher Ground.

But I opted for one that doesn't automatically register on the radar. Nonetheless, it is an amazing jam. Kickin' off the post-Winter Classic season is "Soul to Squeeze."

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