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Penguins Report: 2/13/10 Practice

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins


The Penguins will face off against the Nashville Predators for the only time this season tomorrow at 1PM at Mellon Arena. The Predators are finishing up a four-game East Coast road trip, and they were defeated 5-2 yesterday by the New Jersey Devils. Here are some pictures from the Predators' practice Saturday afternoon:



Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer Shelly Anderson brought her class from Duquesne University to watch the team's practice this afternoon. The students also had a chance to ask Coach Bylsma questions during his subsequent press conference. Here are some pictures of the class:



Sounds heard around the locker room:

Dan Bylsma
On the team now having one goaltender since Johnson got pulled during the Rangers game:
We will probably be in need of another goalie, but we’ll see who the backup will be tomorrow.
On Johnson leaving last night’s game during the second period:
I don’t think it’s serious, but I had to take him out of last night’s game. He probably needs a few days to get back.
On how he thinks the team has played in recent games:
I would use the word “inconsistent,” and that’s something we’ve addressed and talked about. We have played good hockey. We have played against good teams and gone out on the road and won games on the road in tough places. I think you play a team – the Islanders or Rangers – they come in the building trying to get back on track and trying to get a win. We don’t have that consistent type of hockey where we’re going to play a certain way every time and take the doubt out of the game. We play good hockey, and that’s kind of where we’re at. We know what it looks like. We know what it is, but it’s inconsistent right now. That’s something we have to address going forward tomorrow.
On playing consistent throughout the game’s full 60 minutes:
I think when we’ve met situations where desperation rises in big games, we’ve seen that gap close quickly, and we play more of the type of game that we know we can play and need to play. At times, we’ve lost that focus. You can talk about whatever reasons you want to talk about, but it’s about becoming a good team. If we want to be an elite team and throw our A-game out there every night and be a team as good as we think we can be, then that’s something we have to address in terms of playing, starting games, responding after goals, coming out after periods and re-establishing our game. Those are issues we have as a team. The good news is that we are at 75 points. We are two points behind the second place in the conference. We have 21 games left, and we know what that looks like. We’re going to push as a group to find that in our game and to get to that level. We certainly have a response game tomorrow against Nashville.
On if he thinks the team is not spending enough time in the attacking zone:
Managing the puck, the decisions we make with the puck when placing it behind the defense, where we’re going to attempt to make plays, plays that we attempt to make in the offensive zone once we have it there – these are all of the factors that lead to us not getting to the offensive zone as much and establishing the forecheck. When we get it, we don’t hold onto it as a five-man unit in that offensive zone for long periods of time. It’s not necessarily a high-skill game or a chance game. It’s about getting to the offensive zone. It’s about holding onto the puck and playing there for periods of time. That prevents teams from having enough energy to get to their offensive zone and to get to their game. It leads to you getting back to the offensive zone more quickly. That’s puck management, puck decision and puck support. That’s the game that we need to get better at to play those periods of hockey where we grind teams down and force them into tiring out. You can have an effect on a team in 60 minutes if you play that way, and that’s something that we really haven’t gotten to this season.
On playing the Nashville Predators on Sunday:
This is a team that I actually know pretty well. I coached with Todd Richards, who was in the Nashville Predators organization in Milwaukee. A lot of the thoughts he had and the drills he had have come from Nashville. A handful of our drills are Nashville Predator drills. We have a sense of how they play and what they’re trying to achieve as a team. They have a strong defensive core, as well. They supplement it with a hardworking group of forwards who are going to work and put pucks in. I think we have a pretty good feel. They’re a team that’s had quite a bit of success this year. We’re expecting to see a pretty good team tomorrow and a pretty good pressure team.
On if he thinks that Nashville’s success surprises people:
I don’t think so. I think they’re a team that has surprised in the past, but you know what you’re going to get when you play the Nashville Predators now, and you better not be surprised. They’ve established that they continually play a certain way.
On if he prepares differently for West Coast teams than for East Coast teams:

I think the preparation would differ in the fact that we don’t know them as well, so they would need more preparation. We talk about their tendencies and what they do more than we would for, say, Philadelphia who we know really well. We need reminders about Philadelphia, but if you ask one of our players about Philadelphia, he’d be able tell you what he’s going to see tonight. With a team like Nashville, we’re really getting to them for the first time. There is a little bit more video and a little bit more than just reminders before a game. In practice today, we started with those reminders. That’s a lot different than what we do with a team that’s in our division.

Sidney Crosby
On preparing to play Nashville on Sunday:

I think system-wise we don’t know a whole lot about them. We’ll watch some clips and see some things there, but I think the common thing that I’ve seen over the last few years is that they play a speed game. They really like to forecheck hard. They’re very quick. They’re always skilled. I expect a pretty fast-paced game.
On what the team can do to spend more time in the attacking zone:
I don’t think it’s technical. I think it’s just managing the puck and executing. It’s not where our guys are. It’s making the play and making the pass in the neutral zone. It’s winning a battle in the offensive zone to keep the puck alive. It’s not X’s and O’s. It’s more up to us as individuals to be responsible enough to win our battles and make smart decisions with the puck. We have enough skill that when we do that, we give ourselves a chance in the offensive zone. We’re going to create things, and we’re going to make it tough on teams.
On playing consistent throughout the game’s full 60 minutes:
I think the frustrating thing for us is that it’s not like we’re searching to find what it looks like. We know what it looks like. We know what’s expected of us. All of us are well-aware of what our roles are and what we need to do. Every night you’re going to have times where we make bad plays or individually we don’t make the right choices. It can’t happen as often as it has been in the last week or so, especially with the way things are going. We need to make sure that we’re improving and getting better – not the other way around.
On the team knowing how good they can play when they apply themselves:
It’s applying it and bringing that every night. That’s the challenge that every team is faced with, not just us. The battle level has to be there. You just need to find ways to win, and we have to be a little better at that. We’re all pretty confident in ourselves. In the result, if we outwork the other team, everything else just takes care of itself.

Here are some pictures from the team's Saturday afternoon practice:




2:10 PM:
Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson, who left the team's previous game against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury in the second period, did not practice this Saturday.
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