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Penguins Report: 12/21/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Rookie Despres gets Punk’D (11:32 AM).
  • Martin day-to-day; Malkin & Staal maintenance days (1:10 PM).
  • Staal, Malkin & Martin miss practice (11:45 AM).
  • Tangradi re-assigned to WBS (11:55 AM).
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY (1:21 PM).
  • Goalie keep away (2:07 PM).
  • UPMC shines a spotlight on Fleury (12:05 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on injuries, Lovejoy & more (1:34 PM).
  • Crosby is Mr. Ambassador (12:15 PM).
  • Pens pics (12:11 PM).
  • Pens pics II (12:26 PM).
  • “I have heard the wall and worried of the gospel…” (11:00 AM).

2:07 PM:
It was a pretty competitive practice and everyone got into it. The goalies were instructed to make a save and then keep the puck away from the forwards. Fleury ran a little interference below.

Alas, Team Black lost and was forced to skate laps.

1:34 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Pens not considering themselves shorthanded despite the injuries:
One of the things that I take notice of and a good deal of pride in about our organization is when Simon Despres or even Carl Sneep gets called up, the guys treat him as one of the team. Where that person is on the depth chart doesn’t matter. They’re a part of the team and whether they’re in Wilkes-Barre or playing their first game, they’re also expected to go in and play the right way. They are expected to go out and execute the way we need to execute to that standard. I think you see that in the room. Nobody thinks that we can’t do the job with the people we have or don’t have in the room. I think that mentality is a part of what those players expect. I think you step out against the Chicago Blackhawks, possibly the best team in the league right now, and we go in and expect to be able to do what we need to do to win a hockey game. I think you see that no matter who is in the lineup.

On Ben Lovejoy being in the top six:
It goes right along with the last question. You can talk about being sixth or seventh on the depth chart, but Ben Lovejoy is a big part of our team. We count on him for a lot of the things you saw (Tuesday) night. Certainly there’s an opportunity right now with some of the injuries that we have for him to get in there and be a factor. His skating, his defending, he’s a big part of our team and how we play. To his credit, he stepped right in last night and played one of his best games. He was a factor in our game, he was a factor in defending against some good players and he stepped right in and did that. So he does have an opportunity right now considering the injuries we have. But whether he’s fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh, we expect Ben to be a big part of our team and contributing to the way we play.

On if Evgeni Malkin’s increased production is a byproduct of his linemates:
I think everybody would like to play with good players. James Neal is putting the puck in the net an awful lot. Chris Kunitz is playing maybe some of his best hockey he’s ever played with us. But I think there’s a lot to what ‘Geno’ is doing this year that’s more than just who he is playing with. His determination coming into camp, his mindset, the confidence, the focus with which he’s playing. We’re talking about a guy who really didn’t want to take a faceoff last year, and went out in a tough game (Tuesday) and won 16 faceoffs. I think he was 16-7. To me, that’s just an indicator of him wanting to raise his level, him wanting to be in that spot and him having another focus and gear to his game. I think you’ve seen that right from training camp. He had a few games where his knee injury kept him out, but I think he’s the best player on the ice through two periods (Tuesday) night. Dominated when he had the puck and in a lot of different situations. That’s another level than we’ve seen from Geno.

On the importance of the last game before holiday break:
Around breaks there’s always a tendency to look towards a break, or even coming out of a break, to stay in a break. I thought the four games going into the break, starting with the Ottawa game, then coming back home with Buffalo and Chicago and now our final game in Manitoba are big games for our team. We had some losses and we needed to rebound, and I think we had that focus and played an outstanding game against the Buffalo Sabres. We get a big win against a team that’s right at the top – if not the top – of the league in points (against Chicago). Now we’ve got one more game here, the Manitoba game, to finish it off. I think it’s a really big game for us and a really big focus to go into Manitoba before we break for the holidays. I think it would be great to go into Christmas day having won three in a row and ready to come back after the break.

Sunshine: Michelle Crechiolo

1:21 PM:

1:10 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma updated the missing players at practice:
  • Martin still day-to-day and not on the ice
  • Malkin & Staal were maintenance days

12:26 PM:
Some more Pens pics...

Team White celebrates winning the breakaway challenge against the goalies in the corners

Team Black swallows the bitter pill of defeat

12:15 PM:
The International Olympic Committee announced that Crosby has been named a Youth Olympic Games Ambassador for the first edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck from 13 to 22 January 2012.

Crosby will not be traveling to the Games and his duties will not interfere with his playing status for the Pens.

More details here.

12:11 PM:
Pens pics...

The Pens moved the two nets to one end of the rink for a unique practice drill

Cooke (left) and Vitale (right) skate in full stride

Engelland with a bow-legged skating style (left); Lovejoy speeds down the ice (right)

MacIntyre SCORES!!!!! (left); Fleury practices his one-timer (right)

12:05 PM:
Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves against the Blackhawks Tuesday night, including 17 in the third period alone, to help the Pens defeat Chicago 3-2. On Saturday he won his 200th career NHL game. So Fleury was featured in this week's Pens Spotlight.

11:55 AM:
The Pens re-assigned Eric Tangradi to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

11:45 AM:
Pens Staal, Malkin and Martin are the only 3 guys missing from practice who aren't on IR.

11:32 AM:
The Pens pulled a prank on rookie Simon Despres, by hanging his street clothes from the rafters and above the ice.

Despres' clothes hanging above the ice at CONSOL Energy Center

Despres surveys the damage from above

Despres all smiles at the joke (left); Duper straight crackin' up (right)

11:00 AM:
Good afternoon from CONSOL Energy Center! Today the Pens will hit the ice for an 11:30am practice. The team had originally planned on practicing on the outdoor rink Pens Pond at South Side with 100 lucky fans attending. However, Mother Nature intervened and the rains came. So practice has been shifted to CONSOL Energy Center.


Today we'll kick off the day with "Born Alone" by Wilco. No real reason for this...maybe #cryptic

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