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Penguins Report: 11/30/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Updates on Michalek and Letang (2:42 PM).
  • December Mustache Boy is… (1:50 PM).
  • All accounted for at practice (12:46 PM).
  • Pens lines (12:53 PM).
  • Midnight train to Georgia – I mean, Washington (4:00 AM).
  • Shine the spotlight on Geno (11:27 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on practice, Capitals and more (3:17 PM).
  • Pens pics (1:37 PM).
  • “There’s a train a comin’…” (4:00 AM).

3:17 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On working on line rushes and gap control in practice:
We have been working on our line rushes and sorting out gap for our D all year long. It’s a strength of our team, but it’s an area where we need to get better at as well. To sort it out with the forwards – their responsibilities and eliminating that time and space – is something that we need to continue to get better at. It showed up in our game last night. We worked on that in practice today.

On other teams being more intense with Crosby back:
I haven’t noticed that in particular. We’ve played the Islanders, St. Louis, Ottawa, Montreal and now our game in New York, I think we played a very good team in the Rangers, who are playing very well. I expected that game to be intense. It’s the top-two teams in the division kind of fighting it out. I expected that type of game from them. I haven’t necessarily noticed that. We do feel like teams are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins so they’re going to be ready to play. They’re going to be ready to play against good players and a good team. I think we do feel that.

On what he expects to be different about the Capitals:
It’s tough to know after just one game under their new coach. We did watch two periods of that game already. You could see some tendencies from their team. It’s tough to know what the energy level of the team is, what the response level is and where those guys are at. I expect a pretty energetic game from this team with the Pittsburgh Penguins coming into this building (Thursday). They only were able to generate 19 shots against St. Louis, and certainly they did some things defensively that looked like it was something different from the previous coach. So we’re going to try to take as much as we can from the tape, but also realize I think we’re going to see a real energized group with the Penguins coming into this building.

On what he remembers of Hunter from playing against him:
Very few games against him. I was always with a Western Conference team and he was always with an Eastern Conference team, although I watched a fair amount of the Capitals due to some friendships with the players that were with them. There’s an intensity level and a tenacity that was displayed pretty much every shift of every game. The statistics are staggering. To have a thousand points and 3,000 penalty minutes is one of the most staggering statistics I think is out there. It says a lot about the way he played the game and what he brought to the game. I expect that from his team.

Don't need no baggage, just get on board: Michelle Crechiolo

2:42 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma provided updates on Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, who both returned to Pittsburgh for further injury evaluations.

Bylsma said that Michalek suffered a hit to the head in the Montreal game and didn't play in the last five minutes of the contest. He's been suffering on and off with some symptoms. He has practiced with the team and was fine, passed the baseline test but is still suffering from the headache symptom so he can't be cleared yet.

Bylsma also said Letang felt fine for a couple days then started to get symptoms in New York. He's also suffering from a virus and so he cannot take the baseline test because of that.

The team is waiting to see where they're at after the next 24-48 hours, meaning both will not play Thursday vs. Washington.

Here are Bylsma's exact words on the two D-men:

On Zbynek Michalek:
Michalek was hit in the Montreal game and didn’t play for approximately the last five minutes of that game due to the hit that he received. It was to the head. He’d been suffering on and off with some symptoms. He practiced with us, was fine. Just in terms of he’s gone to be re-evaluated, he did do a baseline test and passed, but is still suffering from a headache so he can’t be cleared because he has a symptom still. It’s really precautionary at this point and we’ll see where he goes. He’ll be exercising in the next 24 hours to see where he’s at.

On if a concussion is still a possibility for Michalek:
He’s passed the baseline, but he’s still suffering from a headache symptom. So kind of over the next 24-48 hours, both in exercise and moderated, we’ll see where he’s at. So yes. It is still a possibility.

On Kris Letang:
Kris Letang suffered the hit to the head (in Montreal), a facial injury. He has felt fine for a couple days and skated with us after being evaluated a couple different ways on Monday. He skated with us, felt fine. Started to get some symptoms in New York. He also has a virus and some sickness. So there’s some other things going on there with Kris that he’s not even to the point where he can take a baseline test right now because he’s ill. He is suffering from a virus as well. So they are both in 24-48 hour (timelines), to kind of see where they both go from here.

On Letang’s illness presenting symptoms that could be comparable to a concussion:
Yes. In addition to the injury to the head, the shot to the head that produced a broken nose, flying (on the plane to New York produced) some of that swelling. So kind of we’re waiting to see over a precautionary 24-48 hours to see how they’re doing and go from there. But both are not going to be there (Thursday).

1:50 PM:
It's the last day of November, so you know what that means...time for the December Mustache Boy shootout!!!

It came down to Neal, Cooke, Dupuis, Orpik, Niskanen and Kunitz...and the lucky Pen who will get to sport upper lip fur for another full month is...



Note: Cooke will save his current mustache and then start from scratch for the month of December. But after that he isn't permitted to even trim it during Dec.

1:37 PM:
Pens pics...

Pens gettin' schooled (left); asst coach Reirden with the life lessons (right)

Today is the final day of Movember. Meaning guys like Cooke & Sullivan will have cold upper lips tomorrow...and Dan Potash too, sort of (left); Kunitz about to dispense some pain on a puck (right)

Martin waits to pounce into action (left); Pens worked on blind backtracking coverage at practice. 3 players faced their goal with attackers skating behind them. When the whistle blew, the 3 men had to quickly turn, locate their player responsibility and defend the rush (right)

Pens asst to GM Tom Fitzgerald is with the club in Washington, and in the Movember mood (left); Pens of a feather, flock together (right)

12:53 PM:
Pens lines...

(Park, MacIntyre)


12:46 PM:
All the Pens players who are in Washington are on the ice, including MacIntyre. Letang & Michalek went back to Pittsburgh for further injury evaluations.

11:27 AM:
Since it's Wednesday, it is time for the Penguins Spotlight. This week we highlight the excellent work of Evgeni Malkin, a bit overshadowed by that other center on the team.

11:24 AM:
The Pens just arrived at Verizon Center. They'll hit the ice in a bit for practice. I'll keep you updated on any developments from the day.

4:00 AM:
Good morning from the capital of the United States of America! The Pens arrived in Washington, DC, late last night and will practice today at the Verizon Center Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday, they'll have a showdown with the Capitals.


The Pens are on the second-leg of their current 3-game road swing through New York, Washington and Carolina. It's been a hectic trip so far with a few travel quirks. We've traveled via planes, trains and automobiles.

The team's flight to New York on Monday was delayed on the runway due to problems in New York City airports. Then the team was unable to land in NYC, so the flight diverted to Newark, New Jersey, landing at 4:20pm. The team bused from there to Manhattan, but hit heavy traffic. The Pens didn't arrive at their hotel until after 6 p.m. (a 4-plus hour trip).

The travel fun continued Tuesday night/Wednesday morning with a train ride from New York to Washington, DC. The train left New York's Penn Station at 11:15 p.m. and arrived at Washington Union Station at 2:30 a.m. The team got to the hotel at around 3 a.m.

Here are some pics of the Pens' train trip.

Pens MacIntyre, Dupuis and Johnson arriving in Washington

Inside the train (left); Vitale (right)

Pens deboarding the train (left); Malkin on the station platform (right)

At Washington Union Station (left); Sullivan takes the escalator (right)

Inside Washington Union Station

Final ascent to the exit (left); Team arrives at the bus for the hotel: Neal, Fleury and Crosby (right)


In light of the Pens' late-night train ride, we'll open the day with a classic train song "People Get Ready" by the Chamber Brothers. Enjoy.

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