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Penguins Report: 10/7/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Staal misses practice with maintenance day for cramping (3:07 PM).
  • Line combos (2:11 PM).
  • Captions worth a 1,000 words (5:02 PM).
  • Pens at practice in Saddledome (1:16 PM).
  • Bylsma talks Staal, Fleury and Malkin (5:07 PM).
  • Words of wisdom from Crosby & Sullivan (5:06 PM).
  • “Jump back, gotta get out of here…” (12:30 PM).

Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the status of Jordan Staal:
Just a maintenance day. He had some cramping in the game (Thursday) and we just felt the best thing for him was to be off the ice today. We expect him to be good for (Saturday).

On the rumors that Staal is having foot problems:
He cramped in the game (Thursday) night and that’s why he didn’t finish the game. The best thing for him is getting the flush on the bike today and he’ll be ready to go (Saturday).

On the power-play goals vs. Vancouver and winning the special teams battle:
I wish I could complain about power-play goals. We’ll take success on the special teams. With the first goal, it’s shortly after a faceoff – something we’re focused on not only winning, but attacking right off of it. We attacked the net and got a goal there. With the second one, it’s the third set of guys out there over the boards. It’s almost a 5-on-5 type of play that we’ve tried to fit into our offensive zone. So it’s a nicely executed play. Paul Martin comes down and creates the loose puck and Pascal (Dupuis) makes the play to Matt Cooke. It’s a nice goal; it’s a good offensive-zone goal. We’ll take it that; it’s a power-play goal. Then we get the shorthanded goal and we win the special teams 3-0. That’s a real good recipe for winning the game.

On Fleury’s play after the first goal he allowed Thursday:
Obviously, with the game being 2-0 and that goal going in, he’d like that one back. Not real pleased with that one. But some of the saves he did make – some of the bigger saves he made in the second and then in the third when Vancouver was putting a real good push on – he made some real big saves. That’s Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s a guy who’s standing in there, battles really hard and made huge saves for us. Gives you the feeling that we just got to find a way to hold on here or find a way to get a goal, because he’s going to give us a chance to get a win. And we got that chance in the shootout.

On if he has noticed a different Malkin in terms of his fitness and attitude:
I think Geno is a guy who has always been a hard worker in practice. He has always been a guy who has been a leader on our team when it comes to practice and his work ethic there. But I think last season with the injury and trying to come back with his rehab in the playoffs, which he was working really hard to do – he continued that this summer. Having some disappointment that he couldn’t help us have a deep run in the playoffs last year – he’s had motivation this summer with his rehab and then into his workouts that he’s brought into training camp that he wants to help our team be a great team. He wants to help us win a Stanley Cup. He’s carried along a lot of confidence with him. He has a different demeanor. That’s carried out onto the ice as well with his play. He’s been a horse in preseason. We’ve got one win under our belt, but you see a guy who’s a confident player. Physically, he’s confident. I don’t know if he’s a little bit bigger or stronger, but he’s certainly come to camp and worked harder and is in better shape. He’s ready to have a great year, to help us be a very good team and you can see that in the confidence level. You see that even (Thursday) night in some of the shifts he had down low and dominating. We hope that continues.

On if it’s through example that Malkin is a leader:
I really think what you see from him is a lot more confidence in the way he’s approaching coming to the rink, the way he’s approaching his off-ice habits and the way he’s approaching (his game) on-ice, practice-wise. Even in his interaction with the media and his interaction with his teammates, he’s a more confident guy, a guy who’s taking charge of the situation. When you talk about Evgeni Malkin, it’s always been about winning the Stanley Cup. It’s never been about awards. It’s never been about scoring titles. It’s not like he’s coming back and saying, ‘I want to win a scoring title.’ He was disappointed last year he couldn’t help us be a good team and run deep in the playoffs. He’s motivated with his rehab and is ready to come back in and help us be a great team – a Stanley Cup contentder. That’s where he’s at. It’s the confidence that I think is the real big difference, and you see it in every facet of every day on the ice and off the ice for Geno.

Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On what the next step is for him in his recovery:
Probably contact. That’s the next step. First things first is just making sure that there’s no return of any symptoms or anything like that. The last few weeks have been really good and I’ve been happy with the way they’ve gone.

On if he’s where he needs to be or if he needs to progress more:
No, I think I’ve gone as hard as I can and tried to push it as much as I can. I’ve responded well, so I think it’s more of just a matter of time than kind of pushing that next level. If there is a next level, like I said, it would be contact and how I respond to that. Everything else leading up to this point has gone really well.

On how he takes that step:
That’s something I’ll just talk to the doctors about. They always seem to have a few tests to kind of gauge everything. I’m sure that next step won’t be any different. It’s just a lot of communication. You have to tell them how you’re feeling and the reports have been good. So I think for them, they just want to make sure that it continues to go the same route here.

On if cracking down on headshots at all levels is a response to his injury:
I think it’s part of it, for sure. But I think at the same time, it was at the top of the discussion leading up to my hit anyway. It’s something that I think had to be looked at a little bit closer. For kids growing up now, it’ll be easy for them to adjust. That’s what they’re doing now. They’re going to know that there’s no headshots and I’m sure they’ll adapt according to that. For us, it’s a little bit different. There’s an adjustment there. We didn’t grow up playing with those rules, so everyone’s got to be a little bit more responsible and figure things out. I think it’s a step in the right direction, for sure.

On if the backlash surprises him:
No, everyone’s always going to have opinions. They’re going to have really strong opinions. I think it’s a matter of adjusting. Nobody wants to see the physical play taken out of hockey. I’ve said this before, but we talk about that stat – there’s 50,000 hits a year and you’re talking about taking out maybe 50. So I don’t think it would change the game. The game’s faster probably than it’s ever been. Guys have to make sure they’re smart and responsible, but it’s still a pretty good product out there and I think everyone can agree with that.

Steve Sullivan

On the dynamic of his line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal:
It’s very dynamic. I think that there’s a lot of skill. Obviously ‘Geno’ is one of most talented players in the world, so to have a chance to play with him is outstanding. We’re just trying to make the best out of our opportunities.

On playing with Malkin in the preseason and now:
It’s great. I think that he’s probably the most talented player I’ve ever played with. The things that he can do with the puck are amazing. His range of ability with the puck and without the puck is just outstanding. There are not enough accolades I could give him for what he’s been able to do on the ice.

On the potential of this team to win a Cup:
This summer, when I had an opportunity to look around, I think that my age definitely became a factor in what I want to accomplish here coming in finishing it up. I want to win a Cup. So when I was looking at teams, I wanted to go to where there was the best opportunity for me to win. When Pittsburgh came calling, I wanted to jump on that opportunity, because like I said – I don’t have that many years left. I’m in the twilight of my career, so I really wanted a chance to win a Cup and I think this is a great opportunity here.

On if he’s happy with the responsibility of playing on a top line:
I relish that opportunity. I think that I’m able, on good nights, to put some numbers up. Hopefully I can help in that area and just be responsible all over the ice. I think that’s what they brought me in here for, so hopefully I can do that for them.

One-(wo)man army: Michelle Crechiolo

Pictures from north of the border...

Paul Martin gives new meaning to the term "hooking" ... Ouch!!! (left); Kennedy fer sure eyes up his target like an 18th century English archer (right)

Sidney Crosby action figure on sale for $9.95 - that's Canadian money, we are in Calgary (left); Malkin and Niskanen work the give-and-go-and-explode (right)

Letang tries a little human bowling (left); Johnson not assumed at Letang's damage (right)

D-FENCE (left); O-FENCE (right)

Happy Happy Lovejoy Joy (left); I don't know who Johnson and Orpik are staring at in the corner, but whoever it is probably feels like Nick Brophy right now - Slapshot reference, Google it (right)

Malkin hiding behind an iron iron net (left); Voted most intense player by his teammates: Craig Adams. And I'm actually being serious. Nearly unanimous choice (right)

Alright guys, we got our update from HCDB (head coach Dan Bylsma) on Jordan Staal. He said today was a maintenance day for Staal with cramping and that he'll be back Saturday for the game vs. Edmonton.

"Just a maintenance day," Bylsma said. "He had some cramping in the game. We thought the best thing for him was to be off the ice (Friday). We expect him to be good for (Saturday's game)."

When asked if the rumor's of Staal having foot problems is true, Bylsma responded:

"I can try honesty if you'd like. I tried it yesterday and I'll try it again. He cramped in the game last night. That's why he didn't finish the game. The best thing for him is getting on the bike today and he'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Here are the lines the Pens skated in today:


The Pens are on the ice at the Saddledome for practice.

Jordan Staal, who left in the 3rd period of Thursday's game due to dehydration, is not at practice. Also missing is Richard Park (Park joined the team on the ice). We'll get updates from head coach Dan Bylsma after practice.

The Pens are coming off a thrilling 4-3 shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks. Thanks to the heroics of Matt Cooke and some pretty shootout goals from Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, Pittsburgh got off to a good start for their Western Canadian trip.

After the game, the club flew to Calgary. Pittsburgh will take on the Flames Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. That game will be the season opener for Calgary.

Let's kick off the day with Toad the Wet Sprocket, one of the more overlooked bands of the 90s. Lots of good hits to choose from, but I've had "Fall Down" stuck in my head for two days so let's go with that to start the Report.


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