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Penguins Report: 2/20/12

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Tangradi recalled from WBS (5:20 PM).
  • Maintenance days for 4 missing practitioners (12:13 PM).
  • 4 players not practicing (11:01 AM).
  • Peak behind the curtain of Michelle and I (10:50 AM).
  • Neal’s new Deal (3:00 PM).
  • Lange talks Pens’ Cup coaches (10:40 AM).
  • Plays of the Week (10:30 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on defeating the Rangers, the trade deadline & more (5:40 PM).
  • Sounds heard around the locker room (2:41 PM).
  • Pens prospect Wilson named HE Rookie of the Week (5:11 PM).
  • Pens pics (2:52 PM).
  • “We have plant a house or we can build a tree…” (10:20 AM).

5:40 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the back-to-back games on an emotional level:
I’m not sure (the schedule makers) know where Buffalo was going to be at in the standings compared to Philly. Philly is clearly a rivalry game for us. Both of those games where emotional game, especially on the road and another game in the afternoon We weren’t as sharp or emotionally as charged for (Buffalo) game as we were the night before. It was evident in our execution and details in our game more than anything. Physically we outhit them in that game, but our execution early on with some turnovers led to a goal and us taking a penalty. That was the first 10 minutes of the game.

On the team’s lack of consistency lately:
In evaluating the strengths and weaknesses, I think the consistency and execution to our detail level has been something we’ve talked about and need to get better at. Especially in situations where we play a big game against Philly and comeback against Buffalo and we don’t have that. You saw that in the previous back-to-back games as well. You may have seen that in some of the starts, we’ve given up two goals against Winnipeg and Tampa Bay. That consistency level and where we need to play has not been there. It’s an area we need to be better at.

On how to defeat the Rangers:
We know they’re a dangerous, aggressive team. They’ve got a lot of different guys being affective and scoring for their team. They’re going to come at you on the forecheck, they’re going to come at you down the wall and in the neutral zone. Those areas, in the last game we played them, we were very good at. It allowed us to have some success. They’re a team that’s going to keep coming at you. We have to be ready for that. If you can’t execute and you’re not ready for that they will be on you and turnover pucks. Then we see their skill and top lines take over and be affective. That’s the challenge. It’s what we did well against them last game and we know that will be the case tomorrow.

On if the team targeted Lundqvist’s glove hand:
He’s got some characteristics about the way he plays. He plays deep in his net. He’s a big goalie, blocks a lot of the net. That’s not where we think about going. The goals we’ve scored against him have been in different locations in the net than high glove. He played really well, made a number of big saves last time in here. I know they felt like he was a key to the victory the last time they were in (Pittsburgh), the way that he played and the saves he made.

On Malkin handling guys playing him physical:
I think he’s done a really good job with the way guys have targeted him physically. In past years he may not have responded or responded after the whistle in a way that was detrimental to his game. He’s really been focused and not really gotten into that type of scenario. He wins the physical battle a lot of times. He got a lot of room by playing the body and reverse body and did get room. That’s something he has to deal with. He still creates room and scoring opportunities. It’s something to be aware of when certain teams play those types of players against him.

On if players check their cell phones close to trade deadline:
I don’t know if I didn’t have a cell phone back then or didn’t pick up on a lot of the rumors surrounding our team as a player. I don’t know if social media has changed that for everybody. It’s changed for the players who are on Twitter and follow rumors, get that type of information from the social media network. I think there is a little bit of uneasiness for players regardless of the situation you’re in, no matter what year of your contract or where you’re at on the team, there is a little bit of uneasiness. I don’t think it’s an overriding factor that too many guys deal with.

5:20 PM:
Pens make a roster move, recalling forward Eric Tangradi from WBS.

Tangradi, 23, has appeared in 12 NHL games this season with Pittsburgh, going scoreless with 12 penalty minutes. In parts of three seasons with the Penguins, Tangradi has amassed career totals of 28 games played, one goal, two assists and three points.

The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Tangradi has played the majority of the season with WBS, where he currently ranks third on the team with 15 goals and fifth with 31 points in 37 games

Full details here.

(Getty Images)

5:11 PM:
Pens prospect Scott Wilson (7th round, 209th overall) recieved another great honor for his stellar play. Media release from UMass Lowell below...

For the fifth time this season, freshman forward Scott Wilson (Oakville, Ont.) was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week, as announced by the conference office on Monday afternoon. Wilson scored two goals and an assist, with a plus-3 rating, in a weekend split with #5 Boston University.

... For the season, Wilson is tied for the team-high with 31 points on 15 goals and 16 assists. He currently leads all NCAA rookies in points per game (1.11) and has tallied 10 points (4g, 6a) in the last six contests.

3:00 PM:

As I'm sure most of you heard, Sunday morning James Neal signed a six-year contract extension with the Pens. The deal runs through the 2017-18 season and has a $5 million average annual value. Neal said that playing for a Cup and talented teammates like Malkin were factors in his decision to stay.

Neal spoke with the Pittsburgh media following Monday's practice.

2:52 PM:
Pens pics...

Dupuis was the first one on the ice, while the rest of the guys beaked him from the runway (left); Dupuis & Staal rock the periwinkle blue. It must be Monday (right)

Jeffrey (left); Vitale shoos away the pesky pucks (right)

Goaltenders present: Johnson (left) & Fleury (right)

Lovejoy & Engelland skate with their eyes closed #SixthSense (left); Crosby working before team practice (right)

Pens argued which direction to start the drill (left); Park has a wardrobe malfunction (right)

2:41 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Zbynek Michalek

On team defense:
We’re giving up way too many goals. We are a much better team than we are showing so we have to play better defensively. We know there (are ways) we can improve our game. Playing defense as well.

On transitioning zones:
Those are some of the things that we talked about. We have to be more careful, playing more cautious defensively and not always thinking about offense. We are a good team offensively, but we cannot just play a free flowing game. We have to be cautious defensively first and offense will come from defense. I’ve always believed that. We just have to try to defensively make sure we do those little details and we’ll be fine.

On helping Paul Martin:
Well, I‘ve been through some tough times too. It’s part of the game. Everybody is on the same page. When somebody goes through a tough time the other guys that can step up and help. We immediately feel for each other and one bad game doesn’t immediately mean you are a bad player.  There’s another game tomorrow. It’s always how he can comeback and recover. He’s a great player and I have a lot of confidence in him. Everyone is on the same page here and it’s a long season. Like myself, I struggle too so I cannot say anything.

Brent Johnson

On your performance in Buffalo:
Sometimes it happens. Obviously, with Buffalo they’re a rush team and to trade chances with Buffalo sometimes gets a little hard because they have a lot of skilled players. We have a ton here too, but they thrive on that. Our game is to get it in deep and work the D.

On the toughness of the season:
It’s been tough. I want to contribute, help my teammates win. Three out of the last six I’ve played haven’t been what I wanted. It’s not for the lack of trying. I feel confident every game I go into. I feel fine. Just haven’t been getting the results I wanted.  It’s tough. I want to do so much for these guys. 

On what you can work on to improve your game:
There are a couple things I have to work on. Patience is one of them. I said earlier when things aren’t going well you try and go out there and you do a little bit too much and sometimes that ends up hurting you. There are a couple things with my game. A few small things I can refine. We got a lot of back-to-backs coming up here. If I get more chances I just have to be there for my teammates and just give them a chance to win every time.

Assist: Brittany Goncar

12:13 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma said that the four missing players (Malkin, Neal, Cooke & Orpik) were maintenance days.

"We had maintenance days for several players that didn't go on the ice today in varying degress of bumps and bruises," Bylsma said. "We'll see what our lineup is tomorrow."

11:01 AM:
Pens are on the ice at Southpointe for practice. Only Cooke, Malkin, Neal & Orpik aren't on the ice. Crosby skated before practice with strength & conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

10:50 AM:
A month ago, we gave you guys a peek into the world of Michelle and myself while covering a morning skate with the team. Now we're back for Part II. This time Meesh gives you a walk through of what it's like covering a game. I pitched a Part III where they film Michelle and I sitting and typing at our desks, but no one seemed interested in the idea. Weird.

10:40 AM:
Monday = Mike Lange Journal time. In this week's installment, the HOF broadcaster talks about the Pens' three Stanley Cup winning coaches (Johnson, Bowman & Bylsma).

10:30 AM:
Monday = Plays of the Week. Let's take a look back at the top moments from last week.

10:20 AM:
Good morning from Southpointe! Today the Pens will hit the ice for an 11am practice. The team will faceoff against the Eastern Conference leading NY Rangers at CONSOL Energy Center Tuesday night.


Those who follow the blog regularly know that my all-time favorite band is Nirvana. And my friend Jimmy B pointed out to me that today, Feb. 20, is frontman Kurt Cobain's birthday (this is why I keep Jimmy B around). So we'll open the day with these three fine gentelmen from Seattle performing one of their most underrated songs: "Breed."


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