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Penguins Report: 10/24/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Michalek out 4-6 weeks with broken finger, Malkin may play Tues (12:32 PM).
  • Pens lines/D-pairs (11:17 AM).
  • No Michalek at practice (11:06 AM).
  • Crosby & Malkin bro-hug (11:24 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Michalek and the Islanders (1:39 PM).
  • Lovejoy & Martin contemplate a Michalek-less environmnt (12:55 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:48 AM).
  • Mears gets called up to the big leagues (1:55 PM).
  • Fans donate blood (10:10 AM).
  • Mike Lange talks about first coming to Pittsburgh (9:30 AM).
  • Plays of the Week (9:15 AM).
  • “It’s too late to change your mind…” (9:00 AM).

1:55 PM:
Slight programming note for those faithful listeners to the game broadcasts on Penguins radio. Hall of Famer Mike Lange will not be calling Tuesday's game against the Islanders because he'll be attending a family celebration.

Lange will be back in the booth on Thursday when the Pens host the NY Islanders, and will call the rest of the games this season.

On Tuesday Pens radio is going to the bullpen and calling in Steve Mears to call the play-by-play action. For those who don't know, Mears was the radio play-by-play man for the Islanders for 3 seasons before coming to Pittsburgh.

It's kind of poetic justice for Mearsy to get to call the game against his former club. Here's hoping he calls a legendary game that fans will remember well into their golden years. #EpicGameCall

Fun Facts about Mears:
  • Grew up in Murrysville, PA
  • Franklin Regional High School grad
  • Attended Bowling Green (same college as Dan Bylsma & Todd Reirden)
  • Recieved the "Central Hockey League Broadcaster of the Year" award in 2005.
  • His name spelled backwards is Sraem Evets

1:39 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

Injury Update:
Michalek broke his finger and the timetable is 4 to 6 weeks. Evgeni (Malkin) will be coming on the trip with us tomorrow and is still not ruled in or out for tomorrow’s game. Everyone else is remaining the same statue-wise.

On if there is someone who can replace Michalek in the PK:
(Brooks Orpik) and (Michalek) were going over the boards for every penalty kill last year and we haven’t been able to have Brooks out there until the last two games. Both those guys are tough to replace in terms of interchangeable parts in the PK. The answer is probably no. Ben Lovejoy is a guy who was and is very good on the penalty kill. He was that guy down in Wilkes-Barre for a number of years. We have players who are very comfortable playing in the penalty kill position, showing they are very good at it. ‘Z’ is exceptional at it and excels at it, but Brooks is back in there and we are going to count on some other guys to step up and do that. Guys like Kris Letang who has grown into being a penalty killer over the last couple of years is going to be relied on a little more heavily than when Z was there.  

On how Michalek has played this season and how to fill that position:
We’ve played 10 hockey games with Z and our penalty kill has had a decent amount of success. In that regard I thought he started off exceptional in the year. He’s also been given a lot of extra minute as a shut down guy and done a pretty fair job. I’m sure his minus isn’t where he wants it to be, but he has had a pretty heavy load of getting the other team’s best player and a lot of minutes doing so. That maybe hasn’t worked out for him, but he’s done a pretty good job for us and the penalty kill has been exceptional. We’re going to have to fill that void both in the shut down pair and penalty kill wise. (Martin) and (Letang) have played together probably about 18 games last year in the November month period when our team was going through that stretch of games, so they have had some experience. Much like it was through the first 10 games (Letang), (Martin), and (Michalek) are the three guys in a shutdown role. Niskanen, Engelland and Lovejoy will all get some more minutes. The way Deryk has been playing the last couple of games has been real strong and with “Brooksy” there for some of that as well. We’ve got guys who have been capable and are capable and will fill in those spots.

On if Michalek’s injury will require surgery:
With a broken finger there’s not surgery needed to repair it, so it’s just a healing process.

On if the Islanders and the Penguins have moved on from last year:
 In terms of where we are at this year and facing the Islanders, we think we are facing a different team. They are a little bit more skilled team that poses a threat in a lot of different areas. Their defense has gotten healthy, so we are seeing different players and we think they’re a dangerous team with the speed and skill that they do have. In terms of what happened last year, we’re certainly not going into this game with any kind of thought of repaid debts from last year. It’s about this game and right now for us and where we are at in our 11th game and we have our sights set on different goals and where we want to be in the Atlantic division. This is our second one, we just played New Jersey. We’re going back-to-back with the Islanders and as far as we are concerned it’s a chance to put some distance and win some games against a team that is in our division.

Let laws be her guide: Kaitlin Zurawsky

12:55 PM:
Lovejoy and Martin talk about adjusting to Michalek's absence...

Ben Lovejoy

On how the team will fill in with out Michalek:
He plays a lot of minutes, so obviously everyone is going to have absorb a few more. He’s been an important part of our blue line on our team for a while. We will certainly miss him.

On if he thinks the pressure will fall on him:
I think it will fall on everyone, but I hope to raise the level of my game. Nobody can do what he does. He blocked six shots last game it’s pretty impressive. I will hopefully absorb some minutes and help.

On how important Michalek is to the PK:
He is a huge piece, but all the defensemen and forwards are. Our goaltenders are the biggest part of that. They’ve been great all year, but they’ve especially been impressive on the penalty kill. We’ve given up one penalty kill goal. We take pride in that as a team and as a penalty-killing unit. It’s something that we want to continue even without “Z” there.

Paul Martin

On playing without Michalek:
You hate to see anything like that, but at the same time it’s part of the game and we have some other good defensemen who will step in and do a good job. We’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries on and off, so whoever is in there has to do the job. I’m sure that will happen now.

On if it’s tougher to play without Michalek as his pair:
You develop a certain level of comfort when you spend that much time paired with a certain guy, You start to realize where they are going to be and what you are going to do, but the way that we play is that it’s okay to be playing with other guy. For me personally, it doesn’t matter who I play with. There’s a good group of guys back here and they’ll play.

On dealing with the multiple injuries:
It’s nice to have a healthy team. Hopefully sometime during this year we get one, but the guys have been doing a good job handling the injuries. Guys have stepped up and filled in and done a good job. It would be nice to get everyone back.

On if it’s better to get the injuries out of the way early in the season:
Yeah, as long as we are winning. It’s tough when you don’t have some of your key guys. Last year, we were missing a couple of guys and we still found a way to win some games down the stretch. It’s tough, but you’ve got to move on and try to find a way to win.

Bound to run amok: Kaitlin Zurawsky

12:32 PM:
Pens coach Dan Bylsma said that Michalek has a broken finger and will be out 4-6 weeks. He added that Evgeni Malkin will travel to Long Island and hasn't been ruled in or out for Tuesday night's game against the Islanders.

11:48 AM:
Pens pics...

Craig Adams nearly scalps Richard Park like Clarence "Screaming Buffalo" Swamptown (left); Lovejoy mistakenly wore grey instead of red. Letestu is sad their Christmas card photos can't be taken today (right)

Roll call (left); Sullivan doesn't strap his helmet in warmup because he lives life on the edge (right)

Staal marches to the beat of his own drummer (left); HC Bylsma works part time as a human broom (right)

Mad scramble for a loose puck (left); SCORE!!! Crosby and Malkin celebrate. Look below for their bro hug (right)

11:24 AM:
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin hug it out after their team scores during a drill. #bromance

11:17 AM:
Pens lines and pairs from practice:



11:06 AM:
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who hurt his hand in the third period of Saturday's game against New Jersey, is not on the ice for the Pens. Neither is Tyler Kennedy.

We'll get an update from coach Bylsma following practice.

10:53 AM:
The players are starting to make their way onto the ice for practice. Forward Dustin Jeffrey was the first one to go out. Crosby and Malkin also have joined the team.

10:10 AM:
OK, one more video for the morning. On Sunday the Pens held a blood drive with the American Red Cross. Beth Vietmeier and PensTV were at the scene and bring you a look at those who took some time to save a life.

9:30 AM:
Also every Monday, we'll be airing interviews with Hall of Famer and Pens radio play-by-play icon Mike Lange. Throughout the season Lange will be touching on his broadcasting career with personal stories and experiences never before told.

In this week's segment, Lange talks about Pittsburgh and how he ended up working for the Pens.

9:15 AM:
Every Monday this year we'll be starting the new week by taking one last look at the top plays from the previous week.

9:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens have an 11 am practice scheduled and will be hitting the ice shortly. The team (and Michelle Crechiolo) will fly to Long Island after this morning's practice for a Tuesday night showdown with the NY Islanders.


Let's start the day with a little diddy from the group Broken Bells, a side project of Shins lead singer James Mercer. He teamed up with music producer Danger Mouse, the mastermind behind the Grey Album - the blending of Jay Z and the Beatles. If you haven't heard it, Google Grey Album, and you won't be disappointed.

So for your listening pleasure this fine Monday morning, here is the song "The High Road," from Broken Bells. Enjoy.

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