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Penguins Report: 2/3/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Bylsma updates on Malkin, Crosby, Letestu, Asham, Orpik, Letang and Rupp (12:46 PM).
  • Orpik, Letang and Rupp miss practice (11:24 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Letestu’s injury, Jeffrey and Johnson’s fight (1:47 PM).
  • PensTV speed dates with Malkin, Talbot and Goligoski (3:01 PM).
  • Malkin shows the Steelers some love (5:15 PM).
  • Johnson and Tangradi spit knowledge (2:39 PM).
  • Johnson and Jeffrey pics with Inside Penguins Hockey (1:32 PM).
  • Fleury Flakes, for kids that want to grow up to be Stanley Cup-winning goalies (5:12 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:53 AM).
  • “Go tell that long-tongue liar, go tell that midnight rider, tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter…” (10:57 AM).

5:15 PM:
Geno is showing the Steelers some love before their Super Bowl showdown.

5:12 PM:
When I'm hungry and want a bowl of cereal in the morning I always reach for Fleury Flakes. They're Grrreeatt!!! (And available at Giant Eagle).

3:01 PM:
PensTV goes speed dating...




2:39 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Brent Johnson

On being surprised at the media attention the fight is getting
Not after you hear that it has not happened in quite some time. It has been a while since goalies have got into it. Afterwards I was kind of hoping it would be a longer tussle. I was figuring it was going to be because he is a tough guy. I just got a lucky punch in and that was that.

On the Penguins enforcers comments
A couple of the guys have said something. I am never going to hear the end of it. They are all saying, ‘Make room, here comes Johnny.’ I definitely have that side to my game. But I have been trying to relax ever since I started playing in the NHL.

On what he was thinking heading towards DiPietro
I was just thinking he is a lefty. I was thinking maybe to go in with my left and try and swing with him and that was it. I heard that he had beat up a couple of guys before so I was pretty excited. But I figured that if I got hit my adrenaline was going so much I probably wouldn’t have felt it at all.

On getting it out of his system or more fights to come
It is out of my system. Definitely for any goalie, if that option arises its fun for the fans. I am guessing a lot more people would have wanted it go on a lot longer, like Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy. Or like Chris Osgood where the jerseys come flying off but it was mutual and a good tussle.

On Marc-Andre Fleury’s reaction to the fight
I wish I could have had a camera on ‘Flower’ the whole time. I think I was more excited for him after than I was for myself. He has always been in my corner – no pun intended. He has been great. We definitely talked and watched the fight afterwards for a while.

Eric Tangradi

On coming back into the team

It felt natural. No matter what level it is at, wherever I am I feel like I belong where I am so I just have to do the little things to keep me successful.

On his performance Wednesday against the New York Islanders:
I thought it went pretty well. I did all the things they expected out of me. I got to the net on the power play goals, was good around the walls and was a little physical at times so I was pretty happy with my game.

On easy transition from WBS:

Nothing really changed, it was just hockey to me. Everything felt pretty natural to me. Whether I put on the Penguins or the Wilkes-Barre uniform, it's just hockey to me.

On net-front presence in power play:

I think I have come a long way, that’s for sure. I am 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, (so) it is something I am going to be effective at for a long time. I think finding pucks around the blue paint is something I’ve definitely gotten better at and we will see in the upcoming weekend if I can bat one home or not.

Assist: Joe Prince-Wright

1:47 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if they have to guard against the players relaxing when they start getting guys back
I’ve said this often, there’s lots of times and lots of scenarios that you think about in these situations, and yes, I have thought about that. When you get an exceptional player like Malkin back in the lineup (and) when we got Staal back, down the road I think we still need to play the right way and do the right things to win a hockey game. We just don’t hand it over to a good player to get a win. So I have thought about that. The one thing in regards to our team and our success, I think the expectation of how we’re going to play, and the expectation from the execution level of our team and on the ice doesn’t drop one bit when we lose a player. Whether it’s in the game with Staal, or whether it’s having dealt with Sid and Geno not being there. That, I think, watching on our bench, the guys – we don’t change our demeanor, we don’t put our heads down, we don’t say 'hey, we can’t do this.' We don’t say, 'hey, we’ve really got to play better defense because we’ve lost a goal a game from Sidney Crosby.' Our guys expect the game to be played a certain way and we expect how it’s going to be played. And they demand it from each other. We win games with special teams, you win games certain ways. We’ve been good on special teams, we’ve gotten some power-play goals. Our PK’s been good, that’s been a big help for us. We’ve played good defensively, we’ve gotten good goaltending, but we’ve also continued to try and put teams back on their heels and continue to play. The expectation from our guys is that’s how it’s going to be.

On how he feels about Brent Johnson leaving the crease
I don’t think you ever really feel comfortable when you see your goalie go over. It certainly provides a highlight for the year. Eric Godard should not feel threatened. I’m not sure Brent Johnson knows what he did, knows how he did it or ever practiced it. The response from our team – that didn’t need to happen at the end of the game, their goalie started a ruckus. And the response from our guys, not just Brent, but Deryk Engelland getting in there and being together as a team – that’s what I like about what you saw last night.

On the role Letestu had carved for himself and the candidates to replace him:
He addressed an additional power-play guy on a second unit (and) some skill. (He was) a little bit of a faceoff guy, he wasn’t used a ton but he was winning some draws and was a right-handed shot. He added skill in the center position to our team even with Jordan coming back, having played at the second center position he left a question mark at the center position on the third and fourth line. Going into the season, we didn’t know how that was going to play out. We had some scenarios and he answered that with the way he played in training camp. He also has enough skill to say he could play on the second line center position with Malkin. Those were all possibilities.
Candidates for that: Dustin Jeffrey, really on the top line with Kunitz and Dupuis; Max Talbot has been on the third line the past 10 games with Rupp and Conner, he’s stepped up into that spot. Possibly when we get players back, you’d want to keep Max in that spot as he’s doing a real good job on both ends of the rink. So that’s what Mark did, and there’s opportunities there. We haven’t used Mike Rupp at center, but he is a centerman and he can win draws with Max Talbot and Dustin Jeffrey the way he’s playing. Craig Adams is a guy we use at center as well. So there’s a void now that needs to be filled.

On if Jeffrey would be in the mix when Malkin and Crosby returns:
Yes. He’s getting that opportunity right now and doing a real good job at that. That’s a place that Dustin maybe didn’t get a chance to be in earlier this year because of the situation and the number of guys we had. But right now, especially with Mark being out, he’s certainly getting that chance and doing real well with it.

On Tyler Kennedy skating Wednesday morning and scoring a goal in the game:
He invited himself (to morning skate). I actually probably thought he maybe shouldn’t have gone out yesterday just given our travel. But we talked about it, and I said you’re not going out unless there’s a reason and a purpose for going out. Tyler sometimes does activity just to do activity. He’s a high-energy, speedy, tenacious guy who sometimes tries too hard and gets himself into trouble. He was coming off not playing real well in New York and he went out with a purpose yesterday morning. And I thought he had a pretty good game yesterday, a good response by Tyler. He’s a guy who we need right now to be an effective player, but we also need him to be an effective player when we have everyone healthy and as we get towards the playoffs and those big games. He’s a guy that can be a big factor in games and he was last night.

Breakaway goal: Michelle Crechiolo

1:32 PM:
Pens Brent Johnson and Dustin Jeffrey sit down with Steve Mears to tape segments for Inside Penguins Hockey (IPH), which airs Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

12:46 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma gave an update on a few players:
  • Malkin will play Friday against Buffalo
  • Crosby is going home to visit his parents and continues his functional rehab with light exercises
  • Letestu to have surgery on his left knee and will miss 4-6 weeks.
  • Asham remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury
  • Orpik, Letang and Rupp (who missed today's practice) are expected to play vs. Buffalo
In Bylsma's words:

"The players that were not on the ice today (Orpik, Letang and Rupp), we expect them to be back on the ice with us and available to play (Friday).

"Evgeni Malkin will be playing (Friday).

"Sidney Crosby is going out of town for a few days to visit his parents. He continues his functional rehab and light exercises.

"Mark Letestu is scheduled for surgery and will be (out) approx. 4-6 weeks. More information will be provided when we have it as far as when the surgery is. ... I'm still not quite sure how he got the injury. It is involving his meniscus."

"Arron Asham is still day-to-day."

11:56 AM:
Speaking of Brent Johnson, he will be appearing on NHL Live at 1:15 p.m. today. You can watch/listen here. Johnny gettin' a lot of love today.

11:53 AM:
Pics of the boys of Winter...

Maxime Talbot scored a goal Wed. night against the Islanders

Cooke (left); Martin (right)

The Man in Black

11:24 AM:
The Pens are on the ice for practice. Malkin is at practice, but a few Pens are missing: Sidney Crosby, Mark Letestu, Arron Asham, Mike Rupp, Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang. We'll get an update on their situations.

10:57 AM:
At CONSOL Energy Center as the Pens have an 11 a.m. practice scheduled. Wednesday, Brent Johnson did his best Muhammad Ali impression and clocked Islanders Rick DiPietro. Oh, and the Pens won the game 3-0. Good times were had by all.

Johnson is on the ice now in his black jersey and all black pads. Our media crew has dubbed him the "Man in Black" for his dark look at practice, and because his nickname is "Johnny." And in honor of Johnson, we'll open the day with the real Man in Black, Johnny Cash. And there's no better song than "God's Gonna Cut You Down." If you mess with any of his teammates, Johnny is gonna cut you down.

PS - I couldn't embed the actual video, which features an array of musicians and actors paying their respects to Cash. It's worth a view so click here if you have a second.

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