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Penguins Report: 2/3/12

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens re-sign Joe Vitale to a two-year contract extension (10:45 AM)
  • Awesome feature on Joey V. (5:05 PM).
  • Bylsma update on Crosby, Staal and Despres (12:46 PM).
  • Pens lines with O'Reilly factored in (11:03 AM).
  • Crosby skates before practice (10:26 AM).
  • O'Reilly talks after his first Pens practice (3:15 PM)
  • Bylsma discusses O'Reilly, Vitale and Boston (12:50 PM).
  • What to watch for: Pens vs. Bruins (5:00 PM).
  • Pens practice pics (11:39 AM).
  • "I'm shipping up to Boston … " (10:00 AM).

5:05 PM:
Sam put together an awesome feature on Joe Vitale (or Joey V. as the team calls him) and the long road he took to get to where he is today with his two-year, one-way deal. Check it out!!!

5:00 PM:
We posted Saturday's "What to Watch for" earlier than usual because of the afternoon start, so everything you need to know about tomorrow's Pens-Bruins tilt can be found right here!

3:15 PM:
We spoke to the newest Penguin, Cal O’Reilly, following his first practice with the team. Here's what he had to say...

On learning this system:
It’s fairly different systems than I’ve been playing with other teams, but the guys have been great. I know Steve Sullivan pretty well, he’s been helping me out a lot. The coaches are showing me video. It’s a pretty aggressive style and I really like that.

On what he did on the day off:
We did a lot of video so they could show me what they expect and what the systems are. When you see it in a video, it makes it easier to learn.

On their plan for him:
I’m not too sure. I think playing it day-by-day here. This is only the second time I’ve skated in four days. We’ll see how it goes (Saturday) and maybe I’ll be in.

On the whole process:
It’s been a tough year, I’ve been all over the place. But that’s part of it. I’m happy to be here. I want to come in here and help any way I can and keep things going here.

On going to the Penguins:
When you come to a team like this that has all this depth and they want some more depth so they get you, that’s good for your confidence.

On if he thinks he’ll play during the road trip:
I hope so. I think conditioning-wise, I feel fine. I had a good little break there. It was good to rest some injuries. So hopefully, but we’ll see how it goes.

12:50 PM:
Here's the rest of coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On their plan for Cal O’Reilly:
The plan is to get him in some hockey games for us. Today we played him on a line with Steve Sullivan and Tyler Kennedy, which is a little bit more of an offensive-looking line. I’m looking to work him in on the second power play as well. So yes, we’ll see him on this trip.

On Joe Vitale:
Joe’s got speed, clearly. He’s got physicality and is a tenacious guy, a faceoff guy and a penalty killing guy. There’s a lot of grit and speed in his game. He really has an effect on other teams’ defense. The way he can skate and the way he can hit and be physical, he's certainly added that in a third and fourth line role for us.

On losing his voice:
I had a full day of rest yesterday and today it just cracked in practice. We had an exceptional practice, so I don’t have an explanation.

On the Carolina-Boston game:
I watched the first period then I watched the Arctic Foxes peewee AA team practice. I’m getting to the rest of the Carolina-Boston game today.

On the Bruins:
They have great structure, great depth. They’re really sound both offensively and defensively. You see it every game they play. You also saw Carolina win four games against them playing with some speed and getting on them and forcing them with that speed. Carolina is not a real big team, but they did force them in a lot of ways. We’re definitely going to look at that game and more of the Carolina games to get an idea of what they did well and what we can do against a good team.

12:46 PM:
Despite losing his voice earlier today, head coach Dan Bylsma soldiered on and gamely gave his usual post-practice update to the media.

He said that Arron Asham continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms. He also gave an update on Sidney Crosby (who skated before practice: see 10:26 AM entry), Jordan Staal and Simon Despres.

"Jordan Staal and Simon Despres had an off-ice workout today and did not skate," Bylsma said. "They will be coming with us on the trip. Sidney Crosby skated and will also be coming with us on the trip."

When asked when he thought Crosby, Staal and Despres could return to practice, Bylsma answered:

"At this point in time, we don’t have a plan for any of those guys to join. Both Jordan and Simon are progressing and sometime next week would be a possibility."

11:39 AM:
Pics of the Pens at work...

O'Reilly at his inaugural Pens practice (left); he of the new two-year extension (right)

This kind of reminds me of Waterboy. "Gatorade!!! ... H2O ..." (left); Johnson and Kennedy (right)

McDonald (left); Martin (right)

11:03 AM:
As anticipated, O'Reilly is at practice and he's wearing No. 16. Asham is the only player not on IR that's absent.

Pens' lines:


10:45 AM:
News alert: the Pens have re-signed forward Joe Vitale to a two-year contract extension with an average annual value of $550,000. Huge congrats to the hard-working Vitale, who has emerged as one of the Pens' most versatile performers during his first full NHL campaign.

(Getty Images)

10:26 AM:
Pens captain Sidney Crosby skated before practice with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

Here's the evidence...

10:15 AM:
Today should be forward Cal O'Reilly's first practice with the team since the Pens acquired him on re-entry waivers from Phoenix on Wednesday morning. He met the team in Toronto that night, but did not play in the game. However, our own Sam Kasan talked to O'Reilly and Pens GM Ray Shero during one of the intermissions on the acquisition. Click here for everything you need to know about O'Reilly.

(Getty Images)

10:00 AM:
Good morning everyone! The Pens are scheduled for an 11 a.m. practice at Southpointe this morning after getting a day off yesterday. (Practice is open to the public for any fans that would like to attend!) The team will jet off to Boston immediately following their skate for their Saturday afternoon tilt with the Bruins.

It's Pittsburgh's first trip to Beantown this season, so before we move on to all things hockey-related I've got to start the blog with the obvious choice: Dropkick Murphy's popular song "I'm Shipping Off to Boston." (Sidenote: I knew this was a popular song for sporting events, but didn't realize just how prevalent it was. Look it up on Wikipedia and see the list. Must be the bagpipes). Anyway, hope you enjoy!

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