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Penguins Report: 3/1/10 Practice

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

2:33 PM:

The Penguins not only welcomed Gonchar and Malkin back to practice, but also Fedotenko - who aggravated a lower-body injury last Thursday.

"It felt good. I was excited to come back out and skate with the guys," Fedotenko said. "I am getting there so that is good. It would be nice to have a couple more practices like that before the game but we don’t have that privilege."

Besides being able to skate again, Fedotenko something else to smile about after practice. Namely that his reign as mustache boy has come to an end.

"You can tell there is not much there," he said. "It is pretty light and not really thick. But now we have a new candidate so somebody else can take the torch."

2:11 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Dan Bylsma
On the U.S.-Canada game:
I had a four o’clock Arctic Foxes squirt (hockey) game to watch. I watched that game at four o’clock. I did catch the first period in the lobby and got some updates. I caught the end of the game at Primanti Brothers. I was more interested in watching my son’s game, although I did get some updates and watched the end of the game and the overtime. I caught the theatrics of that. It was as built. If you had an ability to write a script, I don’t know if you can write one like that.
On whether his son’s team won:
Yes, my son’s team won and they got into the playoffs. Thank you.
On how he was rooting in the U.S.-Canada game:
It’s tough to pinpoint where exactly your rooting interest is. I certainly wanted USA to win. I was cheering for USA. When they scored to tie the game with 25 seconds left I reacted more than when we score on the bench. I was rooting for USA and my interest was there. When Sidney Crosby took a step off the wall and had (Brian) Rafalski behind him, it was over. I saw it happen and I knew it was over and going in. I thought maybe he would go to his backhand when you look back on it. That was my feeling when he stepped off the wall and beat his man – this game is over.
On Miller possibly expecting a backhand too:
Sid took a quick shot. Ryan Miller, as that puck was probably going by him, was realizing ‘he just took a quick shot on me.’ He probably wasn’t set up for what was coming at him. I might have taken the quick shot but I probably wouldn’t have scored. That’s a goal scorer and a guy who seems to an incredible knack for the dramatic. He got his space and got the puck on a great play from Jarome (Iginla). I think before the puck went into the net you had a sense it was going in.
On what the forwards might be lacking compared to last year:
Sometimes I read what the media is writing to see what we are thinking. There have been thoughts that we need a goal-scoring winger. When I look at our goals-for this year it is the fourth or fifth best total in the league. If you say you are fourth or fifth best, you are pretty darned good at scoring goals. Whether every player on our team is scoring like we anticipated or not, or we can get more out of certain positions, we can score goals. Yes, I would like to be able to put Mike Bossy on the wing but this is a situation where we can say we can get better at defending and get better at playing our game. We need to. I think Jordan Leopold will be a good addition in that regard.
On juggling eight defensemen:
It can be a hard decision in terms of how you juggle that but I think if you look back to every year here at Pittsburgh around this time of year, there has been a move to get eight defensemen. We had that last year with (Philippe) Boucher and (Alex) Goligoski – two very good players. Those are decisions that come back to me and ultimately to the players and how they play. When you go and you get ready for the last 20 games that is an area of you team you need to have depth at and be confident in. Whoever goes in, you need to have confidence in what they can do on the ice for our team. We had that on our team last year whenever Philippe Boucher or Alex Goligoski went in against Washington for a few games. You have the confidence that player knows how to play and what we expect. Eight is a lot when only six play. But if you look at that eight it is also a pretty good, solid and solidified group.
On possibly dressing seven D-men:
I am not going to get pinned down to saying last year I didn’t like playing seven (D-men) because you kept reminding me when I played seven. Six and 12 is what I would like to see on the ice in a given game. I think it is more comfortable for the players on the ice and to manage. But, when we made the decision to go to seven (in last year’s playoffs), I would do that again exactly like I did last year. If a situation arises where a seventh is a special situation type of guy – a power-play guy or like last year when there was the injury with Gonchar and you weren’t sure about his ability to play the game or finish the game – I would go with seven again. Six is where I would like to be.
On Crosby facing Miller in the first game back:
I am not sure we are going to see Ryan Miller on (Tuesday). They are going to be in the building but I am not sure we are going to take jerseys off and put different ones on and face each other again. It is a unique situation for those Olympians – both the guys who won and didn’t win. For Brooks Orpik and Sidney Crosby to be on the same flight back here today and one is wearing a gold and one is wearing a silver, they will be playing tomorrow. It is kind of a unique situation. Both of those guys are going to be putting on a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey tomorrow night and meaning it. I am confident of that. It is a little bit difficult because they didn’t get the rest that a lot of us got. Ryan Miller, if he is starting in goal against us, is going to be doing his best to get the Sabres past the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are great competitors and they showed us great hockey and drama. Now they have to refocus and get back to their teams in real short order. It is probably a little difficult given the real short time. I’m pretty sure Sid is going to be taking faceoffs for us and throwing it all into tomorrow for us.
On Sid coming back from the emotional high:
I have a lot of thoughts on every player. Whether they are going to use this as a springboard or whether they are going to come back and need a rest; Flower (Marc-Andre Fleury) having been there and not playing a game; Brooks having been there, playing hard and not winning; Geno (Evgeni Malkin) and Gonch (Sergei Gonchar) coming back with a bit of a disappointment. They all have different scenarios. It is not much different than being a parent and thinking about how your kid is going to react to something good or bad. There are different scenarios that run through your head. Having talked to Geno and Gonch now, we talked about their disappointment, what is going on through their head and what they expect going forward.
On the reaction he expects from Pittsburgh fans for Miller:
I am not going to be surprised when they give a standing ovation to Sid. I am not going to be surprised when they give a standing ovation to Brooks Orpik. I would almost expect them to be giving one to Ryan Miller. I would if I was an American fan in the stands tomorrow night. I think you get a chance to get your Olympic heroes and the guys who took part in the drama back. You cheer for Ryan Miller and then you hope we score on him. That is what I think is going to happen from our fans.

Bill Guerin
On the Americans taking a silver medal:
I think you are extremely fortunate to have whatever color medal it is. You are a lucky person to have than and very fortunate. I have mine displayed proudly on my shelves at home. I am extremely proud of it.
On Sid:
Like I said to my wife yesterday, it’s not really surprising. I really think it was destiny for Sid. He is that kind of player and that kind of guy. The stage was set for him. I couldn’t be happier for him. Sid is a good person and a great kid. I am happy for the way it worked out for him. Obviously I am an American so I was pulling for Team USA, but Sid is a friend. It was such a great game to see both teams playing like crazy like that and busting their humps and playing for their teams and country.
On Jordan Leopold:

We have played on some national teams and Olympic teams together. Jordan is a real talented guy. He has been around for a while now. He is definitely going to help us out. He is a really talented guy. He is going to be great on the power play, coming out of our own end and things like that. All offense starts from the defense. You can never have too many puck movers.
On Sid coming in on a rise following his goal:
I think it is a really good thing that happened for us because he is going to come in on a high. If he is not feeling great about himself right now then something is wrong. I am sure he is and hopefully carry into tomorrow night’s game.
On the reaction Crosby will get in Canada:
Every time he steps onto the ice they cheer – whether it is warmups, the first or second period – every time he steps onto the ice Canadian fans cheer. I think Sid really cemented himself in Canadian hockey history yesterday because nobody is ever going to forget that goal he scored.
On Pittsburgh fans reaction:
He is Pittsburgh’s adopted son. I think everybody should be really proud of Sidney and give him a standing ovation when he steps onto the ice.

Sergei Gonchar

On the final Olympic game between the Americans and the Canadians:
Obviously, when you have two teammates playing on the teams, you’re very happy for them. I was happy that Sid scored that goal since the guy was born for it. Out of all the guys, he’s the guy who did it. I’m glad.
On if he was rooting for one team or the other:
Not really, no. I can say that we lost to the champion.
On what the Olympic experience was like for him:
We lost in the quarter-finals, and the way we lost was a big thing. It’s a tough one, but sometimes it happens, and you just have to move forward. Obviously, you don’t want to lose in the quarter-finals and go home.
On Team Canada facing the pressure to play well in their country:
You can see in the beginning that they didn’t play as well as everybody expected, so there was a lot of pressure on them. They learned and moved forward and did a good job.
On if he knows much about Jordan Leopold:
To be honest, no. For most of his career, he played in the Western Conference, so I don’t know much about him.
On if it will be difficult for him to adjust to coming back after playing in the Olympics:
We’ve been around each other for a long period of time, so I don’t think we need that much to adjust to each other. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. The guys who stayed here worked hard and prepared themselves. We’re just going to join them. I don’t think we need that much time. We just have to make sure that our focus is turned on since we’re going to start playing. But otherwise, we know the system, and we’ve been together for a while, so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
On how he thinks the fans will react to Sidney Crosby scoring the game-winning goal:
They will be proud of him as all of us are. He’s done a great job. He deserves it, and I’m sure they will be happy for him.
On how it feels to be back with the team:
You’re really happy to see familiar faces. It’s a little different over there. You have a different bunch of guys, but now you’re back with your own team, and you’re playing with them. Obviously, I’m excited about it.
On if anything from the two-week tournament surprised him:
The result surprised me. It’s very disappointing. Everything was about the gold medal, and we didn’t get it. It’s probably one of the biggest disappointments so far.
On if he has any hopes of playing in the Olympics again in four years:
I’ll do my best. We’ll see if I’ll be chosen. Obviously, it will be up to the coaches. I’ll do my best to make sure that I’m ready for it, but you never know what the future is going to be like.

Jay McKee
On if he thought Crosby had a chance to score when the Olympic game went into overtime:
I was actually hoping it would go into overtime just to make it more exciting. I wanted the result that we got. I think it was perfect way to finish a great Olympics for Canada.
On he knows anything about Jordan Leopold:
I don’t actually. I never played with him and don’t really know a whole lot about him.
On the trade deadline:
It’s tough. I think everybody is a little bit on edge for a couple of days, but it’s only natural. All of the guys here make good friends with each other and battle hard, and it’s tough to see a good friend go if that’s what it comes down to. At the same time, you kind of get used to it. It’s part of the game, and Mr. Shero is exceptional at what he does. He’s going to do everything he can to make this team as good of a hockey club as he can. We support any decision that he makes.
On how long it takes a defenseman to get used to playing with a different player:
Sometimes guys feel good together right away. Sometimes it takes a little shifting and moving the guy around with different partners. Sometimes players with different styles complement each other differently. But, I don’t think it takes too long. Usually guys find a pretty good fit quick.

Jordan Staal
On Canada winning the game last night:
It’s pretty cool. It’s going to be tough to top for me. It’s really special for our family, and we’re all so proud of Eric and what he accomplished. It’s really exciting.
On the ending of the game:
It was an exciting game. It was a nail-biter for sure. It could have went either way.
On if there is any way to describe the depth of the Canadian pride over this win:
I’m sure every city was going nuts all throughout Canada. There’s no question that every kid was glued to the television for that game and every parent, as well. It’s something special for sure.
On if Crosby’s game-winning goal is something that hockey players dream of as children:
I think everyone in that dressing room and everyone across Canada dreams for that opportunity. Very fittingly, Sid got the opportunity and buried it.
On if Crosby’s legend has continued to grow at age 22:
Yeah. What he’s accomplished so far in his career is really remarkable. The things that he has done and the ways that he has done them – there’s no better feeling to be on his team for sure.
On if the win made him want to be a part of the Olympic team:
It obviously hurts to see the way they won and how close it was. It’s disappointing for me, as well, and I know that I have to get better to be a part of something like that. It’s going to give me extra motivation.
On if he exchanged texts with his brother after the win:
I texted him a couple of times to say congrats. He texted me a few pictures of them having some fun and the gold medal and stuff like that. I’m very proud of what my brother accomplished.
On if he can empathize with what Orpik went through after losing the game:
He was actually the first one who I texted after the game. Obviously, it’s difficult to lose something like that. He had a great tournament and played hard, and I think both teams played unbelievable. It was an exciting game to watch.

Assists Caitlin Kasunich and Jason Seidling

12:31 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero are holding back-to-back press conferences in the media lounge. Stay tuned for immediate updates on their statements about the Jordan Leopold trade and the trade deadline. 

"To get a guy who plays against the other team's top line, a guy who skates like he skates, joining and supporting the rush, going back for pucks, and a guy who moves the puck like he moves it is a unique opportunity to add to your team, whether it's now or in the summer time. That's what we think we're getting and I think that adds to our defense. That adds to the way we want to play. You're also getting a guy that went to the Stanley Cup Final. i think it says a lot that Calgary re-acquired him after that. I think is what you're adding to the back end and to the team."

"I don't need to see him in practice to have an idea of where he's going to fit in. We haven't had that conversation in the coaching staff. That will play out with his assignments and where he falls once he gets here and gets on the ice. I've seen a fair bit of him in the last couple weeks."

"Jordan Leopold played against Alex Ovechkin every shift last time Florida played Washington. When his coaches decided who plays against the other team's top line, it was Jordan. That may not be the case for us. ... I think we're getting a guy that can defend well. He may be in situations against other teams' best players and best lines, or second best lines with different teams and different scenarios. ... I think we're getting a guy that will help us defend against the other teams' good players. He's proven that and has been counted on to be that for his team this year."

"Contracts play a huge role in any deals being made right now. Teams have to be very careful with guys that have existing contracts moving forward. You're living in the cap world. I think what you're seeing now four or five years into the salary cap, I think your a seller then you're in great shape. If you're a buyer, there aren't a lot of pickings. That's a byproduct of the salary cap. There is a lot of parity in the league. Not a lot of teams are selling right now so the prices for players are relatively high. I'm not complaining because I'd rather be a buyer than a seller. That's just the reality of the situation with the salary cap."

"If you're the Pittsburgh Penguins, I'm not really that interested in trading players off our team becasue I'm trying to strenghthen it, not weaken it."

"The Leopold deal, we're fine cap wise. This was to strengthen our defense, which I think we needed to strengthen a bit. Right now we have eight NHL defensemen. Last year we went to the Final and won the Stanley Cup with eight NHL defensemen, and all of them played in the playoffs. It's important to have. We'll see what happens by Wednesday. Right now there are no cap implications. We're fine there."

"Dan (Bylsma) has a lot of input. I talk to Dan regularly. I think it's important to do. We have to be on the same wave length. He has to understand what I'm trying to accomplish in terms of what our assets our, where we are with the cap, but I also have to know what areas he and the coaches think we need to improve upon. That's a constant dialogue throughout the year. It's no different than when Michel Therrien was here. I think it's important to be in constant communication with your coach and making sure you're on the same wave length for any deal that you do."

"From our meetings and talking to our coaches, our first priority was to try to add a defenseman. Since Saturday I've been active trying to do that. I was more of a caller trying to see the value for players, who was going to be available and what the cost was. Once we established that, we've got Jordan Leopold now, we'll see what's out there. Maybe it's a minor league deal, maybe it's no deal at all, but we want to be in the mix of things and see what's out there."

"With a guy like Leopold, you look at who they're playing against. This is a guy that's played against good players, whether it's Ovechkin or other guys. That's what he's done. When you're playing 22 minutes a game, as he was in Florida, you're going to get those assignments. They've got a few other guys that did that. Leopold was one of the guys. He's one of their top penalty killers. He wasn't playing as much on the power play but he still has seven goals. He's a guy that can skate, move the puck, he's got good NHL experience. I think for our group transitionally and not spending as much time in our end, I think that will be an important addition."

"This deal helps us solidify the back end."

11:53 AM:
The Penguins held their monthly "Mustache Boy" shootout contest. Last month's "winner" was Ruslan Fedotenko. He will be handing the crown to........drum roll..................JAY MCKEE!!!


11:32 AM:
With the trade deadline coming Wednesday at 3 p.m., the Penguins wasted little time fine tuning their roster. The team traded for tough defenseman Jordan Leopold from the Florida Panthers for a 2010 second-round draft pick.

11:22 AM:

Evgeni Malkin (left with head trainer Chris Stewart) and Sergei Gonchar (right) are back practicing for Pittsburgh. The duo was given some time by Dan Bylsma after their Olympic action.

Maxime Talbot (left) is hopeful to return to action Tuesday night; Ruslan Fedotenko (right) returns to practice after aggravating a lower-body injury last Thursday.


10:58 AM:
The Penguins are taking the ice for their Monday afternoon practice. One bright sign already is that forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who has missed the past two practices after aggravating a lower-body injury, ice already on the ice and shooting around.

Also, Russian Olympians Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are expected to practice with the team.
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