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Penguins Report: 1/5/12

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Injury updates from coach Bylsma (12:51 PM).
  • Dupuis and Bortuzzo at practice; Asham and Sullivan are not (11:02 AM).
  • Malkin's interview on NHL Live (4:29 PM).
  • Martin and Park activated off IR (7:00 PM).
  • Pens' lines (11:05 AM).
  • Malkin earns bragging rights over Canadian teammates (2:55 PM).
  • Bylsma on Letang, Sullivan and their five-day break (1:44 PM).
  • Dupuis and Bortuzzo discuss how they're feeling (1:30 PM).
  • Real Brooks Orpik speaks on Cardboard Orpik (7:13 PM).
  • Staal and Orpik talk with the media (3:23 PM).
  • Despres and McDonald named AHL All-Stars (10:51 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:37 AM).
  • "I have no resolutions or self assigned penance for problems with easy solutions…" (10:15 AM).

7:13 PM:
The good news on the injury front keeps rolling in, as Cardboard Orpik hit the ice after practice to get in some work with his teammates.

The defensive stand-in went down after blocking a shot on Oct. 28 (click here for the full story) and had been flying under the radar ever since. He'd been spotted in different areas of the arena, but was never actually seen on the ice. That all changed today.

The best part? We finally heard from the real Brooks Orpik about his cardboard likeness!!!

You've got to read on. It's hilarious.

On his cutout:

Yeah, I think we got three of them, but mine’s the only one that finds its way out there to take a beating every day. (Laughs) So yeah, some guys have fun with it. I think it’s more for the goalies. I guess we shoot at it a little bit, but more for the goalies. The guys have a good time with it. But I’d like to see Letang and I think Paul Martin is the third one. Maybe they can make an appearance too.

On it being better than himself taking the shots:

Yeah, that’s for sure. Especially in practice the way these guys shoot high on the goalies.  It’s good it’s the cardboard one, not me.

7:00 PM:
Note: the team has activated forward Richard Park and defenseman Paul Martin off injured reserve. They are both eligible to play Friday vs. NY Rangers.

4:29 PM:
Speaking of Malkin, Geno will be one of the guests for today's Cisco NHL Livewhich is broadcast on the NHL Network!

His interview will occur around 6:45 p.m., so make sure you tune in then!!! But if you don't get the NHL Network, don't worry – we'll have the video link to Malkin's segment posted on our site sometime this evening right here:

3:23 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Jordan Staal

On the games this weekend:
Obviously every game is big, but we were a little bit ahead games-wise. Over the past few days they caught up, but we’ll see where we stand. The Rangers game is obviously a big one as well as New Jersey, all these division rivalries. 

On extra days off:

It’s never a bad thing. It’s not too often you get that much time off. It’s nice for the body to kind of get back fresh again. It’s obviously a good thing.

On the current standings:

At times I’ll check out the standings to see where we are at, but it’s not every day. When you have it on right before the game and you know it’s a big two points, it makes up for that much more of a desperate hockey team. We know coming in this weekend that’s going to be tough games, but a lot of points that we need. 

On Mike Rupp’s scoring in the Winter Classic:

Yeah, ‘Rupper’ had a big game (laughs). I don’t know if he looked like (Jaromir) Jagr out there or not, but he had a big game. It’s good to see him back.  He’s been out for a while. He’s a great guy and I’m glad I got to see him score a couple goals. 

Brooks Orpik

On how well the Rangers have been playing:

They have been on a roll even besides the Winter Classic. They are playing really well. (Henrik) Lundqvist played really well for them. I think under (John) Tortella, they just play a real good team game. It’s not real flashy, but it’s definitely effective. 

On the parity of the Eastern Conference:
I don’t know.  It’s four teams that all seem competitive year after year. The Rangers are maybe a little bit up and down. The way you get teams together now, I think on paper we look good and I think everyone expected us to do pretty well.

On the talent in the Atlantic Division:
I think the parity around the league is pretty good. I mean, I don’t know if you say our division is the strongest.  I think it kind of switches around year by year. But yeah, definitely, even if you look at the way the Islanders finished last year.  They could beat anyone in the division the way they were playing last year. And they’ve got a pretty similar team, just a lot of injuries. This division is definitely really competitive. It seems like anyone has a chance to pull away.

On Philadelphia and team chemistry after trades:

Yeah, the Philly one was different. I know a lot of people were surprised with the two big trades they made with Carter and Richards. Didn’t really know how it was going to pan out. Lots of teams bring new guys in and obviously you see with Bryzgalov, there’s a little bit of an adjustment period. But for most of those guys, it seems pretty seamless.  Philly’s been playing really well.  A lot of those new guys seem to fit right in

Thirty dialogues bleed into one: Brittany Goncar

2:55 PM:

For those of you who follow our players on Twitter, you may have noticed a little exchange of words going on between forwards Evgeni Malkin (@malkin71_) and James Neal (@jneal_18) on Tuesday.

That was because Neal’s Team Canada was facing Malkin’s Team Russia in the semifinals of the 2012 World Junior Championships in Calgary, Alberta. Last year, Russia scored five third-period goals en route to a 5-3 win over Canada in the gold-medal match.  

And as if the stakes weren’t already high enough, this year’s game turned out to be just as wild of a ride as Russia built a 6-1 lead 7:54 into the third period – only to have Canada storm back to make it a 6-5 game.

But somehow, Russia managed to squeak out the victory – ending Canada’s streak of nine consecutive championship appearances – and giving Malkin bragging rights for a second straight year.

“It was a crazy game,” Neal said. “I thought I had (Malkin) when (Brett) Connolly scored to make it 2-1. I tweeted ‘Here they come,’ and that backfired fast and hard on me because then it became 6-1. Canada made a good run back. But a little fun back and forth.”

Needless to say, Malkin has been a lot to deal with in the two days since his country beat Canada for the second straight year.

“He’s been a little annoying,” center Jordan Staal joked of his stallmate. “It’s obviously well-deserved the way they played, but you never want to lose to Russia. Especially when you’ve got this loudmouth beside me.”

When asked about Malkin getting nervous toward the end, Neal responded, “Oh, for sure. He was eating his words there. I guess he’s lucky on that one. They got us twice now, I can’t believe it.”


Malkin at the 2005 World Junior Championships...he hasn't changed much, has he? (left); Neal after the 2007 World Junior Championships (right)

1:44 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On how Kris Letang is doing:
Kris Letang is doing pretty well right now. He’s had light exercises and is on the road to rehab and recovery. In terms of concussions and treating them, everyone is different. Players’ symptoms are different. We’ve treated each player with uniqueness. Kris has had some good days and light exercise. That’s where Kris is at.

On Sullivan’s health:
There is focus on the injuries that he’s had. They’ve been significant. The age of the player is a factor. Over the course of 18 years of playing hockey you’ll have some injuries. He had a couple significant ones. He recovered from the one he had three years ago, and dealt with a groin issue. Am I surprised he hasn’t missed a game? If we were talking about guys who would play all 38 games to this point, maybe we would have given him a day off of one of them. I’m not entirely surprised. It’s a pleasant surprise that he’s been an ironman for us to this point.

On the break in the schedule:
The five-days off was a good thing. It’s roughly at our halfway point. That’s pretty much the way we’ve treated it. We still have No. 39, 40 and 41 to play before we get to the halfway point. Essentially these five days give us that break. We’re going to playing a bunch of games in the next two weeks. The halfway point will slide by without notice.

On what the team worked on during the week:
We got a chance to rest two days. One day was a workday, which considering our year to this point we haven’t had a ton of those. A lot of times you get that work at the beginning of the season. We didn’t get that with our October and November. It was a chance to systematically go through systematically 85 percent of how we play and those details. It gave us a chance to do that off the ice as well in team meetings, defense meetings, PK, those types of things we try to have periodically throughout the year. We had the opportunity to do that throughout the week.

Put your best suit on: Sam Kasan

1:30 PM:
We spoke to Dupuis and Bortuzzo after practice about how they're feeling. Here's what they had to say...

Pascal Dupuis

On how he’s feeling:
I’m feeling good. Today was my first day on the ice with the team, felt pretty good. Probably see how I feel when I wake up in the morning, but I felt pretty good today.

On the importance of this weekend’s games:
Two division games and the Devils beat us, and the Rangers did too. We need these two points, especially right now. It’s a really tight race. We have teams in front of us that we need to catch, and those two are right there.

On the long break helping him heal:
I didn’t skate for two days there. It was good for me, personally, to get back practicing with the team. We’ll see what happens (Friday).

Robert Bortuzzo

On practicing with the team:
I’ve been doing a little bit of skating with (strength coach) Mike Kadar in the mornings. I’ve kind of graduated from that and we’re going step by step. I’ve been feeling good for about a week here and just hopefully keep moving forward.

On being symptom free:
No issues. It's just kind of getting into game shape and getting some legs and lungs back and hopefully be back as soon as possible.

On the frustration of having injuries in his rookie year:
It’s not kind of the first half I wanted. I had a big opportunity there with some guys going down and obviously things didn’t go the way I wanted. But I’m healthy now and I’m looking forward to a good second half.

12:51 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma provided a few injury updates during his media briefing...

- Arron Asham was not on the ice today. He’s still day-to-day with the injury he sustained in the New Jersey game
- Pascal (Dupuis) was back on the ice with us today and is day-to-day at this point in time for (Friday). We’ll see how he is (Friday) morning
- Richard Park and Paul Martin, both (have had) a couple days of practice and look good going into the weekend
- Robert Bortuzzo was on the ice for the first time for a full practice as he progresses from his concussion.
- Sully was ill today, so he did not come to the rink today. We’re expecting him (Friday).

11:37 AM:
Our new intern Brittany Goncar has been doing a great job of getting pics her first week. Here's today's batch...

TK in a goalie sandwich (left); Not really sure what 'Flower' is doing in this one...(right)

Vitale working on tips (left); Engelland, Staal and Orpik skating up ice (right)

Engelland happened to be in a lot of pics today

Cooke, Neal and Vitale (left); Niskanen with great form (right)

11:05 AM:
The Pens' practice lines:


The 7 defensemen rotated.

11:02 AM:
Pascal Dupuis (day-to-day with upper body injury) is on the ice for practice, while defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has rejoined his teammates after missing the last nine games with concussion-like symptoms.

Arron Asham and Steve Sullivan are absent from the skate. We'll try and get an update from coach Bylsma after practice.

10:51 AM:
The Pens organization received some fantastic news yesterday when it was announced that both Colin McDonald and Simon Despres will represent Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic (to be held Jan. 29-30 in Atlantic City, N.J.)

It's the second-consecutive selection for McDonald, while this is a huge honor for the 20-year-old rookie Despres after such a strong showing with Pittsburgh in his 13 games with the parent club.

A big congrats to both players!!!

10:15 AM:
Hello all and good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice after taking Wednesday off. This is the last day of their much-needed five-day break, as the Penguins have a pair of back-to-backs against division rivals here in Pittsburgh starting tomorrow. They will host the New York Rangers on Friday before New Jersey visits Saturday.


Sam sent me a few YouTube covers last night to carry on his weeklong theme, but I opted to go with a song I've been wanting to play since the calendar flipped over to the new year. He insisted he's played it before, which is why he didn't put it in the blog Monday, but regardless, I figured I'd go for it. Why not? Enjoy. I hope you're all doing well with your resolutions...I'm sure not!

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