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Penguins Report: 3/19/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Letestu out Sun; Asham off IR; Crosby update (12:44 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:25 AM).
  • Letestu misses practice (11:18 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Rangers, the PK and GM meetings (3:27 PM).
  • Kunitz, Cooke and Fleury spit knowledge (2:55 PM).
  • Mears shoots IPH with Bylsma and players (3:00 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:29 AM).
  • “Me, I’m just lying here for what seems like years. I’m just lying on my bed with nothing in my head…” (11:03 AM).

3:27 PM:

Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Rangers without Lundqvist:
Having played Lundqvist a lot there are certain tendencies that you look for playing against him. If he’s not in there you won’t have that same familiarity with the goaltender. It doesn’t change your game planning a lot. It might change the shooters mindset, to shoot often. The game plan doesn’t change regardless of if Lundqvist is in or not.

On if the team scouts more on opponents in case they play in the playoffs:
Things do change a little bit. We prepare all year long like we’re going to play a team in the playoffs in terms of what we keep on them, where they get their scoring chances, what they do. Once you get to this point in the season you are giving them a different look now than you would in the playoffs or using a certain aspect of your game plan versus what you might do in the playoffs. It does play into some of the things you do going into the game and the game plan. You start to build a little game plan within in this game. You want to set the tone so there is a lot going on now. There are games coming up against Philly. There is a little bit of changing coming up, looking forward to what you might do in the playoffs, doing something different now. We’ve played these teams enough to know what type of game plan, the focus you want to bring out now as you might also play them in the playoffs.

On the PK being so successful:
I think the mindset of being an aggressive penalty kill that can push teams into areas of the ice where you can be aggressive and nullify their man-advantage. Players are really comfortable with that notion on our forecheck, on our first eight seconds into the zone. Once teams get set up we try to guide the puck into areas where you can nullify that advantage and take away lanes and options. Knowing where everyone is, knowing how to do that with positioning on the ice has allowed our guys go over the boards with confidence that we can be aggressive, we can dictate where the power play is going to operate from, take that away, get clears and go down the ice. Our guys have been consistently very good with that. You always talk about our penalty killers willingness to block shots and the goaltending as well. That’s the basis of our penalty kill. We think we can be aggressive, dictate, push pucks into areas, kill plays and get clears.

On the GM meetings:
I don’t know the tenor of the meetings and if they’re going to do something extra. I think it’s real clear that we don’t want shots to the head of players and putting players in jeopardy. When you watch games and see that happen again, you know something should be done about the shots to the head of players. We have to think of the safety of the players. Whatever rule we come up with will have to err on the side of the safety of the players. We don’t want to see shots to the head. I know that’s something they talk about. I think you’ll see gradual changes. I don’t know if it’s now or down the road, but I think you’ll get to a point where there will be no shots to the head.

3:00 PM:
Steve Mears shot some segments for Inside Penguins Hockey (which can be seen on FSN Pittsburgh Saturday's at 10:30 a.m.) at Southpointe with coach Bylsma and a few players.

2:55 PM:
Sounds heard around the Southpointe locker room...

Chris Kunitz

On why the Rangers seem to be a better team than they were a year ago:
I think they have a solid core of guys that like to play the right way. (Ryan) Callahan, (Brandon) Dubinsky, (Marc) Staal – those guys just go out and play the right way. They give their team a chance to win every night. They obviously have good goaltending and good, young defensemen that can move the puck, but then they have guys like (Marian) Gaborik up front who can really score goals – and he will. Guys like (Brian) Boyle jumping up and scoring quite a few key goals for them too, so it’s been an all-around improvement for their team. I don’t know what’s been inside of it, but it’s going to be a tough game every time you play them.
On the center position being where the Rangers have improved the most
Yeah, definitely. You need key pieces all over the ice, but centermen are such a critical part to the team. They’re winning faceoffs, they’re playing with the puck most of the game and if you can win those draws, you have the puck. So your centermen are key guys, but I think when you have character guys that are on that are willing to block shots and do things – that kind of builds the core of the team.
On both teams being in the top three in hits and the physicality being there throughout the series:
Yeah, I think we’re playing the same style of play. They want to work to work and play their systems; they want to get to their game as quick as they can. We want to do the same thing. I think both teams have been fairly successful on the road. I think it’s just kind of the style and the systems the teams play. It’s a good matchup. We’ve had some close games against them. The last one, we didn’t play so well at Madison Square Garden, so it’ll be nice to get back at them and play them at home here.

Matt Cooke

On the recent GM meetings:
In my experience with the league they do a pretty good job in dealing with clarity and coming up with ways to protect the players and help the game. I think that the biggest concern out of all of this for me was that something needs to be done but without a knee-jerk reaction.

On not trying to change the fabric of the game:
I think that’s something that they are aware of. They are working at it.

On the job the four man committee is doing:
I think it is a great thing, especially that group of players. They weren’t just perimeter players. They were very integral in the success of the game, the history of the game and how far it’s come. They understand the game, they respect the game and they are going to do what is best or at least recommend what is best not only for the game but for the players.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On Lundqvist success over the years and this season having 30 wins:
I think it is a good accomplishment, especially when you see that things are more even now. Every night you have to work for the win.

On getting 30 wins and if that is a good number for the season:
I think you should be aiming for 35-40. I think having 40 wins is a very good season.

On watching Lundqvist:
I watched him a lot growing up and he has always been able to be consistent.

Bracket Busters: Michelle Crechiolo & Joe Prince-Wright

12:44 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Letestu will not play against the Rangers on Sunday, but has an outside shot of playing at Detroit on Monday. He added that Asham will be taken off the IR list this weekend.

Bylsma also noted the he believed Crosby skated Friday and Saturday was an off-ice workout for the Pens captain.

"Mark Letestu not likely for the weekend," Bylsma said. "That could possibly change for Monday's game, but he's not likely for tomorrow. That could change, but probably won't.

"Arron Asham will be taken off IR this weekend, for the games coming up this weekend.

"I believe he skated yesterday. I'm quite sure he skated yesterday and today was off-ice work."

11:29 AM:
Pens practice pics...

Pens fans have packed Southpointe for practice

Players make their way to the ice

Comrie (left); Granato and Talbot (right)

Brent Johnson (left)

Engelland chats with Godard (left); Adams, Dupuis Talbot, Michalek (right)

Conner, Asham, Cooke, Lovejoy (left)

11:25 AM:
The Pens are employing the same line combos from the past few games:



11:18 AM:
Mark Letestu is the only notable absent player from practice (among those who have typically been practicing with the team).

11:03 AM:
The Pens are taking the ice right now for their 11 a.m. practice at Southpointe. The team had Wednesday and Friday off to rest. They're back to work today to gear up for their afternoon showdown with the New York Rangers Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center. 

For today's music selection, we'll go with the legend Nick Cave. Cave has pretty much done it all as a singer, musician, songwriter, literature writer and actor. He's most well known for his group Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but has been in a variety of acts.

We'll kick off the day with my favorite Cave song, "There She Goes My Beautiful World."

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