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Penguins Report: 2/28/12

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens crown March/April Mustache Boy... (11:57 AM).
  • Injury updates from coach Bylsma (12:54 PM).
  • Asham back at practice; Johnson absent; Crosby skated on his own (11:02 AM).
  • Asham said he "felt great" at practice (1:01 PM).
  • PensTV captured the Mustache Boy competition from every angle (7:09 PM).
  • Fleury wearing a PensTV helmet cam for Mustache Boy (11:15 AM).
  • Pens practice lines (11:06 AM).
  • Michelle will be making her solo hosting debut on Penguins Live this week! (5:24 PM).
  • Katie O. with an update on the Mario Lemieux statue (4:37 PM).
  • Neal and Niskanen discuss their first game in Dallas since being traded (3:41 PM).
  • Cooke and Kunitz wax poetic on the trade deadline (2:06 PM).
  • Bylsma gives his post-practice media conference (1:43 PM).
  • Practice pics (11:47 AM).
  • "And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains within the sound of silence…" (10:00 AM).

7:09 PM:
PensTV was all over today's Mustache Boy shootout. They had a bunch of cameras stationed all around Southpointe to get a bunch of different angles, and this is the end result. Check it out!!!

5:24 PM:
I have an announcement to make. Our normal host of Penguins Live, my good friend Steve Mears, will be leaving for NYC tomorrow to host NHL Live on NHL Network on Thursday and Friday. It's an awesome opportunity for Mearsy and one that he couldn't pass up, so I've been asked to fill in for him while he's gone and make my solo hosting debut on the show.

We'll be on from 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, then the normal two-hour slot (9-11 a.m.) on Thursday and Friday. I'd love for all of you to listen as I talk Penguins hockey and chat with a bunch of special guests! You can click here to listen live through the Penguins website, or tune in through the mobile app on your phone.

4:37 PM:
Want an update on the Mario Lemieux statue that will be revealed on March 7 (in a ceremony that will be open to the public and free of charge)? Katie O'Malley of PensTV has one for you. If this doesn't pique your interest as to what Mario moment the statue will be depicting, I don't know what will.

3:41 PM:
Forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen, who were acquired from the Stars in exchange for blueliner Alex Goligoski just before the trade deadline last year, will play in Dallas for the first time since the transaction on Wednesday. They spoke about their returns to the Big D...

James Neal

On if Wednesday is more than a road game for him:
Yeah, of course. I played a few years there, it was my first NHL team. I’m sure it will be a little different going back and being on the opposite team. It will be fun. I’m excited to go back there. I’m sure it will be a good game. 

On if he has any hard feelings that they traded him:
No. I’m past that. I couldn’t find myself in a better spot. I’d rather thank them for moving me because it’s such a great team here. It’s a great organization, so I’m in an amazing spot.

On his reaction when Dallas moved him:
It was a shock. I mean, being a younger guy, I was just going to continue to keep getting better. I thought for sure I’d be there for a long time, but things sure do change in a matter of a phone call.

On how it will feel to go back:
Yeah, I’m sure it will be weird. I mean, I’m not too worried about it right now, but I kind of got that out of the way when we played them the first time. It will just be a little different going at it the opposite way and doing everything the road team would do.

On the chirping that goes on with an old team:
Of course it does. I’m sure there will be some chirping back and forth. That comes with the game and comes with what’s going on on the ice, so I’m not too worried about that.

Matt Niskanen

On getting a hit on someone on the Dallas team:
Certainly don’t want to hurt anybody, but if you can get a good laugh out of it I’d like to give Steve Ott a good hit. Just the kind of guy he is, he’d probably laugh at me and I’d laugh at him. It’s all business during the game, but he’s certainly not going to slow up on any hits on anybody, especially not me. Anytime you get a chance to finish a guy like that, it’s nice.

On no changes on defense:
It’s a good feeling. General managers probably always have their options open. It’s just the way the situation was. I was a little nervous the last couple of days. I’m pretty relieved today. It’s a tremendous opportunity and a privilege to play here. I realize that and I just want to try to continue to thrive and keep getting better and enjoy my time here. 

On what Dallas has been up to:
I see the occasional highlight in the locker room and I check the standings every now and then. I’ll take a glance at where they are at. They are in a similar position as they were last year (when I was there) at this time of year, hovering around that eighth spot desperately trying to get in. I don’t see a ton of change in their team. Kari Lehtonen has been really good again for them this year. Their young players, like Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, are having good years. Not a whole lot of surprise from them.

2:06 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Matt Cooke

On Ray Shero not making a trade at the deadline:
We don’t control it, obviously. We feel like we have a successful group in this room that can go on and win. We’re confident in each other. We’re confident in the group. If management made a decision either way, we don’t really have control. We just go with the flow. I think that we believe in this room without a change and that’s the most important thing.

On Sidney Crosby coming back being the biggest acquisition:
I think that goes without saying.

On the Avalanche and the Stars:
We had a great game against Dallas at (CONSOL Energy Center). They are both really great teams that play a good team game and we are going to have to play the way we play, the way that we know how to play that brought us success in the not-so-far past.

Chris Kunitz

On screening the goalie:
(The goalie is) in a crouch position, not necessarily looking over a 6-foot-5 guy all the time. If you can be in an area where he can’t see the puck or the pass, that’s to your benefit.

On his net-front presence:
You work on it by tipping shots and things like that. You want to be working on that aspect of it. Somebody who can be there and be able to score goals a guy like Todd Bertuzzi, he’s a guy I played with. You can take a lot from him and be able to watch his skill.

On Ray Shero not making a move on the deadline:
I think we’re a confident group. We had some struggles, we figured it out and we’re playing better hockey. Maybe not getting rewarded every night, but it’s something where we keep working and we keep building our game. I think if some of our guys get healthy and get back in the lineup, they’re better than maybe a trade that you could make. We still have guys out of the lineup that make our team better and right now we are just trying to go in the right order and trying to catch the Rangers.

On his reaction to disallowed goals:
I say a few words to myself. It gets a little frustrating sometimes, but you’ve got to stay positive and think that if you weren’t there it wasn’t going to go in anyways. You want to make sure you are in one of those areas on the ice and hopefully when it counts in the playoffs, you can get one that goes in our favor.

--Brittany Goncar

1:43 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On making no deadline moves:
I’ve been given a few movie quotes about continuing down the road. My team is on the floor. We like our team. With Sidney Crosby, if that could ever be a possibility to come back and play, would blow away any other acquisition that any team made at the deadline yesterday. We like our team. We like players. Our team is on the floor.

On if injured players will go on the upcoming road trip:
Everybody is going on the trip.

On how the lines will change if Crosby comes back:
There is no anticipation on when Sid would come back to our team. I haven’t written anything down in terms of what the lines would be. I certainly have been thinking about it for a good month and a half now because you watch that line (Kunitz-Malkin-Neal) play together and they’ve been extremely good. You hear people talk about them as the most dangerous line in the league. They’re going really well, playing really well together. They each add a lot to that line. We’re going to keep letting them do that in the meantime. We’ll worry about that when and if we get that luxury.

On Asham’s status:
We’ll see. Today was a good day for him. We’ll see how his practice was and how he responds. I think him being healthy at sometime during this trip is a good possibility.

On Kennedy’s status:
Kennedy is going on the trip and he skated this morning with Sid. He’s doing well. That’s four consecutive days on the ice with “TK,” so he’s improving as well. With the injury he has, the high-ankle sprain, you start to feel good. It takes a little longer than you always anticipate. If he gets on the ice and starts feeling good, it sometimes takes longer than you think. He’s going to have to get stressed and tested in practice for a couple of days before we see how he is progressing once he does get back to a full practice.

On Johnson’s status:
He’s day-to-day at this point in time.

--Sam Kasan

1:01 PM:
We did talk to Asham after practice. I asked him how he was feeling, and he responded, "Everything’s good. Just a little banged up. More precautionary than anything. Felt great out there today. Had a good day off yesterday and will be ready for this trip."

12:54 PM:
A few injury updates from head coach Dan Bylsma at practice. He started by saying that every player will be going on the trip.

He added that they will wait and see on the status of Arron Asham, who sat out Sunday's game vs. Columbus with an upper-body injury but practiced today with the team.

"Today was, I think, a good day for him," Bylsma said of Asham. "We’ll see how his practice was and how he responds. I think him being healthy sometime during this trip is a possibility."

Bylsma was then asked about the status of Tyler Kennedy, who has missed the last nine games with a high-ankle sprain but has been skating before practices. Bylsma's response...

"Kennedy is going on the trip. He skated this morning with Sid. He’s doing well, as well. I think that’s four consecutive days (of skating) for TK. He’s improving as well."

Bylsma concluded that goalie Brent Johnson is still day-to-day at this point in time.

11:57 AM:

The Pens held their monthly Mustache Boy shootout contest at today's practice. Luckily for Fleury, he will get the opportunity to shave as he avoided the repeat.

The shootout came down to Vitale, Martin and Asham.

And your March/April Mustache Boy is.......


The most relieved player in the Pens locker room is February Mustache Boy Marc-Andre Fleury. He talked about losing the lip fur and wearing a camera on his helmet after practice. Take one final look at that epic 'stache (one member of the media said today it gave him an 'evil villian' look) because it will be gone tomorrow.

-- Sam Kasan

11:47 AM:
Pics of the Pens at practice (say that five times fast)...

Dupuis checks to make sure Fleury's helmet cam is securely in place (left); 'Flower' adjusts to the extra weight perched on top of his head (right)

Man down!!! (left); Thiessen prepares for his first-ever Mustache Boy shootout (right)

Smiles from Letang (left) while Staal is all business (right)

Cookie tries to fake Fleury out (left); Kunitz and Dupuis worked on one-timers before practice (right)

Their shots were going everywhere; coaches and trainers had to duck for cover

11:15 AM:
This just in: the Pens will have their monthly Mustache Boy shootout at practice today before they hit the road.

PensTV adorned Marc-Andre Fleury's helmet (who is the current Mustache Boy for February) with a camera for the festivities. We've got the picture to prove it...

11:06 AM:
Slight change to the Pens practice lines. Asham rotated on the fourth line with Tangradi while Park played right wing on the third line.


The seven defensemen rotated.

11:02 AM:
Arron Asham is at practice after missing Sunday's game vs. Columbus with an upper-body injury, while Brent Johnson and Sidney Crosby are not on the ice. Sid did skate on his own earlier this morning.

10:26 AM:
It's Tuesday, so you know what that means...time for Bob Grove to share another Great Moment in Penguins History! This week, 'Grover' revisits the year that Tom Barrasso broke Les Binkley's single-season shutout record. Kinda fitting, as Marc-Andre Fleury tied Barrasso's franchise mark for whitewashings on Feb. 21.

10:00 AM:
Good morning everyone! The Pens are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice at Southpointe. Immediately afterward, they'll head to the airport and depart on a two-game road trip to play a pair of Western Conference teams in Dallas and Colorado.

The team that will be heading West hasn't been altered in any way over the last day, as general manager Ray Shero was not active on the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline Day for the first time in his six-year tenure in Pittsburgh. And he's 100 percent fine with that.

“I said this six weeks ago when we had lost six in a row, I like our team and I believe in our hockey team,” Shero said in his media conference yesterday. “I still do and I’m comfortable with this team moving forward. That’s where we are.”

For the full story on Shero's deadline silence, click here. And though the Pens didn't end up being active this year, Sam Kasan was still busy leading up to the 3 p.m. cutoff time revisiting remarkable and memorable moves by the Pens in their history at the trade deadline. He worked his tail off all day (I don't think he looked up from his laptop all day) to look at the shakeups Penguins GMs have made in the past, and you can see the fruits of his labors at yesterday's Penguins Report: 2012 Trade Deadline edition.

So this is it. The players that will be on the ice here in about an hour's time are the ones that Pittsburgh will be going to battle with for the last 20 games of the regular season and the playoffs (with the injured guys hopefully getting back soon to join them). It's a fine group and one that I believe has a completely legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup. I'd take this team any day.

In honor of Shero's non-activity on the deadline, I'm going to start the blog with Simon and Garfunkel's 'Sounds of Silence.' (Plus it's my old intern Tony's favorite song, so a little shout out to him there).

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