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Penguins Report: 12/22/11

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Updates from coach Bylsma (12:47 PM).
  • Martin absent from practice (11:16 AM).
  • Pens' lines (11:17 AM).
  • Bylsma’s Christmas sweater (12:45 PM).
  • Pittsburgh well represented in WJC (11:47 AM).
  • GM Shero gives state of the team (10:45 AM).
  • Bylsma on communication, WJC & more (1:09 PM).
  • Kunitz & Dupuis spit knowledge (12:35 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:35 AM).
  • “I’ll be home for Christmas…” (10:30 AM).

1:09 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On stressing communications between the defensemen:
Communication and talking is a huge factor on the ice in every situation, whether you know who your partner is tomorrow night or you don’t. I think the one thing you get – we used it in our team video – is that you can hear the communication via the television set. With the mics on the ice or the mics that are close to the arena, you can hear our players talking on the ice and communicating. That’s important for a lot of what we do. It’s extremely important when you’re playing with Carl Sneep one night, with Alexandre Picard the next night and with different pairings and different matchups.

On what goes into those communications:
You pay a little bit more attention to those types of things with younger players or new guys in the lineup when you talk about the opponents. When we talk about team’s tendencies, it certainly runs into players’ individualities – like a (Thomas) Vanek. We talked about (Patrick) Kane and (Marian) Hossa in our last game, about what their tendencies are, what they like to do and what we can expect from them. We talked about (Patrick) Sharp and (Jonathan) Toews. We talked about their skilled players so that we have an understanding. We would do that anyways, but I think it’s a little bit more important to go through whole lineups when you have new players in. Simon (Despres) is coming up and might know a Vanek, but might not know other guys down the lineup.

On his interest in the Team USA World Junior Championship team:
I’ve been watching our guys for Team USA and Canada, so we’re aware that Archibald made the team. It’s great. I spent some time with that team over the summer, so I’m keenly interested in all those guys and the coaches and their success. We’ll be communicating with them via text once the tournament starts here. We’ll be watching as much as we can. We’re always anticipating a game somewhere down the line against Canada. The rivalry is there. It’s a big tournament and big games. I’m certainly watching our U.S. team and I’ll probably get to watch a few more as they get on towards the medal round.

On if seeing an opponent live like they’ll do with Winnipeg tonight is more beneficial than video:
It’s not a benefit because we’ve got to watch a live game then we’re going to have to cut the video, so it’s double work (laughs). The tendencies of a team and how they play come through a little bit more in person. The flow of the game, identity of teams in terms of how they can dictate and what they can do is a little bit more apparent versus dissecting plays on a video screen. Being there is definitely a benefit to understand where a team’s at, what their mindset is, what they’re going through at the time, how they respond in certain circumstances, and understanding how they’re trying to play the game. A lot of the times some of the systems will be the same. Different teams will play them differently based on what their identity is so we’ll get to see that live tonight, and I won’t be wearing this sweater.

On if it’ll be special Friday night playing against Winnipeg, the team that originally drafted him in the sixth round (109th overall) in 1989:
It’s a little different for me. Coaches aren’t allowed to put money on the board so we won’t have to deal with that scenario. I never got to go to training camp or play in Winnipeg as a Winnipeg Jet. I did get into their farm system my second year and played. I still have the hat and the t-shirt from when I got drafted even though I wasn’t at that draft. I still have that as a memento for my career. There is something special. I wish I would of played for the Winnipeg Jets. I was hoping they’d have the same logo when they went back to Winnipeg just because it was the first logo that I had. Even though I’m not playing I still have special feelings about it.

Goal: Justin Criado

12:47 PM:
Bylsma gave a few player updates at the start of his media conference.

He said that there is no update yet on Deryk Engelland's situation, who had a hearing this morning for his hit on Chicago's Marcus Kruger in Tuesday's game. (UPDATE AT 8:58 P.M. -- ENGELLAND HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR THREE GAMES. READ MORE)

Bylsma also said:

"Malkin and Staal returned to the ice and we expect them to play in the game (Friday) night.

"As far as the guys not on the ice, there are no updates. No change in status. It’s status quo. Paul Martin is still day to day. Zbynek Michalek was obviously on the ice, he’s still day to day at this point."

12:45 PM:
As promised last week (click here to see what I mean), today head coach Dan Bylsma is wearing an awesome forest green Christmas sweater.

Here's the photographic proof...

12:35 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Chris Kunitz

On the most difficult part about facing Winnipeg:
They always have good goaltending. They’re really good at their rink. The last 10 games or so I think they’re 8-2 or something like that, so it’s going to be a good challenge for our team. We know that they’re fans get into it. They really play well at home. We got to play the same as we did in the first two periods against Chicago, and apply pressure to them.

On the first game in Winnipeg earlier this year:
I think they scored their first shift. We had a D-man fall down, so right at the beginning we were kind of behind the eight ball. It made it tough. We know their team. We know what to expect. We’ve just got to go out and execute.

On how vital it is to keep the momentum going through the holidays:
We played portions of our last couple games really well. We still have to get better. It’s a team game, and we can’t allow as many shots and so many goals. The goaltenders played great, but if we can help them out a little more during games we’d have more wins, that’s for sure.

On if he’s looking forward to the holidays:
Yeah, we’ve had some road trips. It feels like we haven’t been home very much, and when we have been we’ve been at the rink. We’ve got to do our business first and get a win, then we can come home and enjoy it.

Pascal Dupuis

On the challenges Winnipeg presents:
It’s been a while since we played them. We did not start the game great. I think they scored about 10 seconds in. obviously a better start. They’re a team that we kind of know playing them so many times last year being Atlanta. They obviously work hard at home. It’s a good building for them, it’s a loud place. So we have to play a big game before the break here.

On taking care of business before the holiday break:
You don’t want to be home and thinking about what we should have done. You want to go into the break on a three-game winning streak. It’s the way we have to approach this game.

Assist: Justin Criado

11:47 AM:
Western Pennsylvania is certainly going to be well-represented at the 2012 World Junior Championships, as Penguins prospect Josh Archibald and four local products -- Brandon Saad, J.T. Miller, John Gibson and Stephen Johns -- were all named to Team USA's final 22-man roster this morning. Congrats to all the players!

11:35 AM:
Pics of the Pens at work...

Bylsma with Kunitz (left); Fleury watching his teammates swarm his net (right)

Not really sure what's going on there (left); watch out coach!!! (right)

Malkin is back on the ice after a maintenance day Wednesday

Engelland, Despres and MacIntyre (left); Adams skates while Williams stretches (right)

Fleury practicing for his next career: modeling? (left); Despres' clothes were hung safely in his locker this morning (right)

11:17 AM:
Pens are running line drills as we speak. Here are the combos...



11:16 AM:
Everyone is accounted for at practice. The only player missing that is not on injured reserve is Paul Martin. Zbynek Michalek is on the ice.

11:09 AM:
The guys are still filtering onto the ice for practice. We'll keep you posted on who's here/who's not.

10:45 AM:
We've got an awesome edition of Radio Rewind for you today. This week, we revisit general manager Ray Shero's appearance on Penguins Live with Steve Mears. Shero discusses the state of his team at the midpoint of the season...fantastic stuff.

10:30 AM:
Welcome everyone! The Pens are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice at CONSOL Energy Center. Afterward, they're jetting off for Winnipeg where they'll face the Jets at the MTS Centre Friday night for their last game before the holiday break.


I know I joked about Sam being a Grinch the other day, but in all actuality his heart really is three sizes too big. He's going on the Winnipeg trip and insisted on taking over all the duties that we normally team up on (including everything that goes into the Penguins Report, in-game blog and Endgame) so that I could go home to Michigan early and see my family for more than just two days. He's the best.

So when the team heads to the Great White North in just a few hours, I'll be driving back to the Mitten thanks to Sam. In honor of that, I've got to start the blog with a classic Christmas melody...enjoy! I hope all of you have a fantastic holiday!

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