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Penguins Report: 10/2/09

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
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Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who has been recovering from a tight groin, said he will be in the lineup when Pittsburgh opens the 2009-10 season against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m.

"It feels good," Crosby said. "No effects so I feel healthy."

Crosby's groin tightened on him during Pittsburgh's Sept. 25 pre-season contest in Columbus, forcing him to sit out the rest of the game. Crosby tested the goin on the ice for two days before returning to practice with his teammates on Tuesday. With three days of practice and a morning skate under his belt, Crosby said he's ready to suit up and start the season.

The line combinations and defensive pairings at Friday's morning skate were:



Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for Pittsburgh.


Pittsburgh conducted some drills with its power play. The Penguins top power play unit will consist of Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Gonchar and Goligoski.


With the opener now less than eight hours away, the Penguins finished their final preparations for tonight's game with the Rangers.

Here are some sounds from around the locker room following the pre-game skate:

Marc-Andre Fleury
On this years’ Rangers’ team:
I think they have a fantastic goalie and a great bunch of forwards that can put the puck in the net. This should be a fun game.
On the Rangers playing a more up-tempo style under John Tortorella:
I think a little bit. I think last year when he first came in they made some changes on the team. I guess we will see tonight. They had the whole training camp to get used to the system and get some new players in there. I am sure it will be little different than last year.
On great battles with the Rangers:
Yeah it is always fun playing the Rangers. They are usually high-tempo games.
On his defensemen:
Other than (Martin) Skoula, they are all guys that played here last year. It’s good that I know everybody and they know me. We might need a couple games to get where we were last year but I think it’s good to start with the same guys.
On Jay McKee:
I think he will be fun to have around because he likes to dive in front of shots and block a lot of shots. I am looking forward to playing with him.
On McKee's style of play:
Yeah, a little bit. That is his style – a little more of a stay-at-home defenseman. It should be fun.

Sidney Crosby
On avoiding a letdown:
I don’t think we think like that. To be honest, I don’t think we try to avoid anything. I think we try to improve and prepare the same way we would every season. It’s important to know that we’re going to be the team that everyone wants to beat. We’re not going to get any easy games. We’re going to get other teams best. As long as we realize that, keep in mind that the process doesn’t really change, you have to build from scratch basically. That’s what you’ve got to realize.
On chemistry between Crosby and Malkin:
I think the most important thing is that hopefully we make each other better. We both want to make sure we’re doing our part to help the team. It’s really nice, and I think we’re pretty fortunate. There’s nights where we’re going to help each other out. At the same time we want to be good leaders and things like that. To have one other guy to lean on, so to speak, is important. It’s nice. We just try to make each other the best we can.
On the pre-game ceremony:
I don’t think you have to prepare for it much. You enjoy it and keep in the back of your mind, (but) you’ve got a game to play. It’ll be a nice moment. And then it will be time to move on and worry about playing.
On ceremony as a distraction:
I don’t think so. That could be an easy thing to think about, but at the same time, every home opener you have a ceremony, introductions and things like that. This is just a little bit more unique and special, but at the same time that’s basically what you’re doing.

Dan Bylsma
On benefit of full training camp:
I don’t think you’re able in a three-week time period to add a lot more (systems). The foundation of what we did last year, we put all of that in, a few other things. It won’t really take shape fully for another month or so, in terms of some of the other aspects, some of the other habits that we try to get our team to be able to do. There certainly should be more. They have a better idea. They know what it looks like and know what we’re talking about now because of last year’s experience. We have started to build in addition to what we’ve done last year, but it will take another 10-15, 20 games to really say the foundation is there for this team, both systematic on the ice and what kind of team we’re going to be and what our identity is.
On power play, young defense capabilities:
Right now we’ve practiced a lot in the last few days with Alex Goligoski. We’ve previously played Kris Letang there as well. Obviously one offers a one-time, right-shot presence there and that could be a threat. And the other one’s more of a Ryan Whitney type of coming down the back door, catching on your forehand type of presence on the back door. They offer different elements. At different times, it would be based on the penalty kills we’re playing. But right now, Alex I think offers a little bit more there right now in terms of being a threat to get to the net, being a threat on that seam pass from our half-wall guys. Both will get opportunities there. I think, more than last year, we’ll be in a three-man rotation that will see the ice time. (Sergei) Gonchar will probably get the majority of it, but the other two will be in a rotation to get about half the ice time on that power play. They’re going to get their time and they’ll be about equal.
On changing power play to match penalty kills:
Hopefully we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to see going into the game. This game’s probably the game where you know the least about your opponent, in terms of how they’re gong to play. There’s certain principles that we talked about. If you’re under pressure, if you’re not under pressure, if it’s coming from the forwards, if it’s coming from the defense, those principles are things we practice and talk about. When we know that we’re playing against a team that the forwards pressure up hard, we certainly will be ready for that and adjust our power play accordingly. And if it’s coming from the defenseman coming up on the half wall, we’ll adjust accordingly as well. Those are things we’re ready to do given what penalty kill we go against. We should know that going in. So we will adjust and look for different things and try to select different things on the ice based on what we see in the penalty kill.
On installing a second system:
I think we are better suited right now to play what you could perceive as two different types of systems. We have been able to do more in that regard than we did last year. Last year in some areas we did attempt it. And we’ve already done that in several areas of our game. So we are more apt to see changes in games and be more apt to change on a game to game basis based on who we are playing and what we expect to see. We do have that capability now.
On Rangers, Tortorella, coaches starting at the beginning of the year:
They do a good job of changing on the fly. It’s tough to change on the fly. It’s tough to get a different identity in the middle of the season. And not only do they have what was presented to them last year, but also training camp. You’re allowed to make more mistakes in training camp. You’re allowed to learn some of the things you need to do with the pressures of winning a game. I think they’ll have a much better idea and be much better at playing the way John wants them to play. So we should see a pretty good, aggressive team tonight.
On putting last year behind them, enjoying ceremony:
I would be surprised tonight if players spend very much thought thinking ‘Ok, I really want to enjoy this thing.’ The banner going up, we certainly are proud of what we did, proud of adding to the history of our team and we will all enjoy it. I think there will be emotions, seeing that thing going to the ceiling tonight and knowing we were part of that. But I think everybody wants 7:58 to hit tonight. That’s what they’re looking forward to. Check your schedules, 7:58. When that puck drops at 7:58, that’s what the players want to have happen tonight. They’ll enjoy it. They will for sure. But right now they’re glad preseason is over. They’re glad some of the celebrations and reminders of how good we were last season are over and that the puck drops tonight.

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