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Penguins Report: 3/11/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Maxime Talbot has a tiger named after him. Seriously (4:01 PM).
  • No major news from practice (11:03 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on 5-on-3 PP and Staal’s faceoff plays (1:45 PM).
  • Kunitz, Letang and Michalek spit knowledge (1:00 PM).
  • Pens players love the fan support - 200th straight sell out tomorrow (3:48 PM).
  • Pens Adult Camp invades Southpointe this weekend (1:44 PM).
  • Practice pics (11:36 AM).
  • “Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years…” (10:30 AM).



4:01 PM:
This is a www.PittsburghPenguins.com exclusive!!! The Pittsburgh Zoo named a tiger after Maxime Talbot. After Friday's practice Talbot went to the zoo to meet "Max," and while he was there he also met the penguin named "Fleury." (Story and video coming later). Read all about Max & Max's here.


Max and Max - look at the gleam in his eye


Max feeding Max. Tigers hate pepper. They love cinnamon.


Max meets "Fleury."


"That's my boy," Talbot said.

Trying so hard to resist using any "tiger blood" jokes. Sigh...

But we can't resist "The Hangover" jokes. After Max met with his namesake, he went to make nice with the young cub's mother. After Max fed her, she got sleepy and laid down to rest.

Which is when Max suggested we sing the ballad made famous by Stu Price (played by Ed Helms) which begins with the line, "What do tigers dream of, when they take a little tiger snooze?"  

 



3:48 PM:
As you may or may not know, this Saturday against Montreal will be the Pens' 200th straight sell out. It's an incredible show of support and committment from the fans. The players are blown away by the loyalty of Pens fans.



1:45 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if he’d be inclined to start a goalie on his birthday:
I haven’t that into consideration before. Inclined to? Possibly. Not just because it’s (Brent Johnson’s) birthday.

On the 5-on-3 PP:
There are a couple things with a 5-on-3. You feel like your chances of scoring are a certainty. That’s not true. The PKers have a different mentality. They don’t move much, take shooting lanes, pack in. If you don’t do something to change that with your execution or set plays then you can often find a guy standing in your shooting lane. We didn’t do a good enough job of moving the puck around, moving them in their setup and creating deception. We tried to shoot the puck a couple times, but it wasn’t anything too dangerous.  A couple times we shot it and it got blocked. We work on it a fair amount. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to take advantage of it. Even though the percentages aren’t a certainty like we feel it should be, when you look at the clock and you have over a minute of a 5-on-3, that’s a real opportunity to get a goal. When you don’t take advantage of it, it can be deflating.

On using Staal in faceoffs for set plays
:
Jordan was the best in the first period on faceoffs. We were pretty good as a team, but he was the best. We wanted to take advantage of that, and got that opportunity. He snapped it right back. It put us in a good situation to run that play. Neal was in the right area and we ran the right play. We got a big goal.

On if the play was designed to go back to Jordan:
There are more options, but Jordan was the main option. But the other guys are going to areas as well. Jordan was covered so Deryk made the pass to Neal. He was open in that spot.

On building momentum in the stretch run:
You feel it just in general this time of year. The races that are going on. Teams are  pushing to make the playoffs. There is some fighting and jockeying for position within the top eight in both conferences. When you read the paper or put on the TV there is that heightened sense of that. In terms of ourselves, you play a lot of games and near the end of the year you look at your own position. Games start to take on a different tenor, the intensity of the games, meaning of the games, the closeness of the games starts to build up and we’re in that phase right now. It’s a good thing for our team to be in playoff-type games. They have playoff implications for our team or the teams we’re playing. That’s the mode you have to get into. It makes for exciting hockey games.






1:44 PM:
Bryan Trottier and Gary Roberts are leading the Pens Adult Hockey Fantasy Camp this weekend at Southpointe.


The throwback jerseys the players will wear, honoring the teams of the past.




Love the Lemieux jersey Nordique style



1:00 PM:
Sounds heard around the Southpointe locker room...

Chris Kunitz

On how to get to their game against a Montreal squad that’s been dealing with a lot of emotion lately:
I think we can only control how we’re going to come out and play. You know they’re going to have that emotion in their locker room, they’re pushing for a spot in the playoffs, and we need to capitalize on our game early and get pucks deep and make it easy for our team to win games. If we get away from our systems, we’re not a very good team. So we have to dictate the play and get it to them. From there on, we should build off that.

On how to get their power play going against Montreal, who’s been consistent on the power play all year:
First, we’ve got stay out of the box. The special teams battle is big. Our PK has done it all year, but it’s time for the power play at this time of the year to win us some games. It’s something that right now, we have two confident groups of guys playing together going out there, and we’re looking to do good things the next two games.

On solving Carey Price, who’s been hot lately
:
You’ve just got to make him not see the puck, kind of get those rebounds. He’s a guy that is an emotional player, he’s had a great year so far. But he’s carrying their team, and I think if you get to him early it makes it a little easier for your team to put pucks there and go to the net.


Kris Letang

On how to try to win and keep up their pace:
There’s a race right now for the No. 1 seed. I think we’re right there. We’re playing well right now, we have confidence. But I think it’s a great opportunity to face Montreal and Edmonton this weekend. We just need to get pucks in the net.

On if he feels the momentum building and if they’re building confidence:
Yeah, obviously it was tough times losing all those guys, but right now we have to play with what we have in the lineup, and I think everyone’s starting to get a good feel of each other and the new lines, the new guys on D and the new pairings. So everybody’s starting to be a little bit more comfortable and I think that’s the whole reason for our success right now.

On if it’s too early to think about the playoffs:
You want to get ready, every game is really important until the end. Either you want to get up in the standings, or you want to make a push for the playoffs. I think guys have stepped up their game and I think that should make us more into it at the end of the season.

On if there’s any significance to the fact that Montreal eliminated them last year in the playoffs:
We always remember that series, but I think there’s always a little something when we play them. It becomes a little rivalry with them

On the significance for him:
Obviously to play against my hometown, it’s always special. I always want to go in really bad. I think it’s like that every game, but there’s always a little something about Montreal that I want to beat them.




Zbynek Michalek

On his first goal with the Pens:
I was happy to get the first one finally. I was tired of hearing questions from my friends on when I’ll get my first goal. It’s been a while so it was a big relief that one went in. I was happy that I could contribute to the team. It was a big game for us, big win. It was a big goal for me.

On if his brother, Milan, will congratulate him Tuesday:
I’m sure he’s happy for me. I haven’t talked to him yet, but we support each other all the time. I’m sure he’ll be happy for me.



Assist: Michelle Crechiolo




11:36 AM:

Pens Spointe practice pics...


Tony Granato instructs Talbot (left); Staal screens Johnson (right)


Dupuis (right) celebrates a goal


Cooke (left) with the net-front presence; Rupp head above Conner (right)

 


Letestu (left); Letang (right)



11:03 AM:
All the normal Pens are at practice. No changes from recent days to the group. Orpik, Asham and Comrie continue their pre-practice workouts on the ice, but today they'll be skating post practice. 



10:30 AM:
Welcome back to Southpointe. The Pens have an 11 a.m. practice. Pittsburgh has back-to-back home matinee contests this weekend against Montreal (Saturday) and Edmonton (Sunday). The Pens will face off against the Habs at 2 p.m., and they’ll be sporting their own French Connection.

Now it’s time for the grand finale of our weeklong celebration of MTV’s Unplugged. We had a good start with Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots.

We’ll start today with one of the greatest performances ever on Unplugged. The energy and intensity of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” is almost as impressive as his abs. Of course, if I looked like him, I’d never wear a shirt either. I’d even show up in the media level flexing. And bonus, the song doubles up as a public service announcement when he has the crowd chant “Leave that crack alone.” LL Cool J is all about keeping kids off drugs.




Up next is A Tribe Called Quest “Can I Kick It?” Yes, you can.




And we’ll end with the King, the Eighth Wonder of the World. It’s hard to top Jay-Z performing an Unplugged with the Roots. I wish more hip hop adopted this type of sound. Absolutely love the blend fo sheezy my neezy. Here is Jay-Z’s “Izzo (H.O.V.A).” That’s the anthem. Get your hands up.

Enjoy.

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