Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins Report: 3/23/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Niskanen and Vitale will not travel with the team to Ottawa (12:44 PM).
  • Johnson cleared for full practice (12:39 PM).
  • Playoff tickets go on sale April 3 at 10 a.m. (11:50 AM).
  • 6 Pens opt to skate (11:02 AM).
  • Bylsma on his goalies, Lovejoy and the Senators (1:29 PM).
  • Johnson and Lovejoy speak to the media (1:25 PM).
  • Sergeant delivers American flag to Pens (10:20 AM).
  • Pens optional practice pics (11:40 AM).
  • Penguins Cup championships are Saturday (10:40 AM).
  • Pens Vault: "Boys of Winter" (10:30 AM).
  • "In the daylight anywhere feels like home…" (10:00 AM).

1:29 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if there is a chance for Thiessen to play this weekend with back-to-backs:
I would say there are probably 3-4 more opportunities for games that Marc won’t play this year.

On if he’d like to get Johnson in a game before the playoffs:
That’s Brent’s fourth practice and first with the team and players. Hopefully things continue to go well. Yes, we’d like to see him get one or two of those opportunities before the end of the season.

On being able to insert Lovejoy into the lineup:
I think the disappointing part for Ben is that he has not been in there more regularly. He’s jumped in on a number of occasions going back to the game against Chicago, where he got inserted back in the lineup and played very well. He’s been put back in numerous times and done a great job. He’s a guy that can defend and skate against anybody in the league. He’s not a guy you put in and have to hide his minutes and be worried of who he’s playing against. He’s ready to go back in and ready to play good hockey for us. On the road, he’s going to be out against good players, which he’s confident (of doing) and we’re confident he can do – and has been able to do – for us.

On Karlsson and the Senators:
We haven’t played them in a while, so we’ve been watching what he’s been doing on the highlights. That’s a dangerous place to watch a player from, especially one who creating so many highlights like he is. He’s a dynamic player – his skating, his passing ability, his shot and jumping into the offense. On the power play, he’s moving across the blue line and getting his shot off, faking shots, dishing the puck. It’s been pretty remarkable what he’s been able to do this season. There’s been a lot of flair to it. We mostly see the highlights, but it’s been pretty impressive. It’s a lot of points. It’s a lot of assists for a guy to get, let alone a defenseman. He has been a real big part of how resilient that team has been. They’ve been able to keep winning hockey games throughout the year and he’s a big reason why.

On if the past playoff series with Ottawa come into play when they meet:
I think you do. I think you build rivalries and emotions in games through playoff series. We’ve had a couple of games against Ottawa. 2007 was the exit for the Penguins. In 2010, we beat them out in Game 6 in their building. Those are feelings you always have when you go into those games. Right now, we’re in a situation where at the end of the season, this is a team that is heading for the playoffs, is going to be a playoff team and a possible playoff opponent. It’s going to have a little bit of that emotion to it.

--Michelle Crechiolo

1:25 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Brent Johnson

On if he has full clearance for practice:

Full clearance. I’m still not 100 percent. I want to make sure everything’s ready to go before I get back out there in a game situation. It’s getting better and better every day.

On the frustration of trying to come back too early:

A lesson well learned because I came back a little bit too early and hurt myself a little bit. This time I took a little bit of time with it.

On if he will play before the playoffs:
I have no idea. I hope to. It would be nice. Especially when you’re looking at this team going very deep. You want to get as much work (as possible) before you get into the playoffs and just in case they need me.

On if he will be physically ready:

I’m just looking at it one day at a time. I hate to say that, but it’s basically where we are at. From there, as soon as the pain goes away 100 percent, then I’ll be ready to get back in there.

On the frustration of dealing with his injury:

No one ever likes to be on the sidelines no matter how it is. It’s tough, but it’s hockey. You have to learn to deal with it.

On how to know when to push through the pain:

It’s something that if you do it for a while and it doesn’t help yourself or the team, then taking a better look through a microscope at what’s going wrong personally, whether it be injuries or what not, then you have to get it resolved.

Ben Lovejoy

On being ready to go in the lineup at any time:

That’s my job right now. My job is to be in shape and be ready to go when and if something happens. I don’t know if I’ll be in (Saturday). If I am, I’ll be ready.

On analyzing the dynamic of the defensive talent:
I do think our goal first and foremost is to keep pucks out of the net. All four lines, all sets of D and our goalie are doing our best to limit scoring chances and keep pucks out of the net. One of the ways we do that most effectively is to play in the offensive zone. By doing that, first of all they’re not going to score because they’re 200 feet from being able to. And we are going to put ourselves in a position to be successful down low and getting pucks to the net. We’ve got enough talent that we’ve been bearing.

On Erik Karlsson’s dynamic on the ice:

He’s got crazy skill. He’s an unbelievable skater. He’s much like Kris Letang. They’re very similar players. We see a guy much like him in practice every day. It still doesn’t mean we can stop him. He’s an incredibly good player, but if we’re making life difficult for him, making him go back for pucks and putting him against the boards, then hopefully we can be successful against him.

On if he’s ever been around a winning program like the Penguins at any level:

No. This is crazy. The amount of success we’re having, we knew were capable of it all year. I think guys weren’t satisfied with the success we were having the first two thirds of the year. We were a good team, but I think everybody knew how special this could be. Right now we are playing well and we have all of our big guns in the lineup. It’s been fun to watch and fun to be a part of.

--Brittany Goncar

12:44 PM:
Pens coach Dan Bylsma said that Matt Niskanen and Joe Vitale will not be going on the trip to Ottawa with the team and their statuses for Sunday's game vs. New Jersey are uncertain.

"Joe Vitale and Matt Niskanen will not be going on the trip with us and they probably won’t be playing through the weekend," Bylsma said.

Niskanen left about midway through the second period of Thursday's game vs. Nashville with an upper-body injury and did not return. Vitale has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury.

Bylsma also confirmed that today was Brent Johnson’s first practice back with the players as he continues his rehab.

--Michelle Crechiolo

12:39 PM:
Goalie Brent Johnson has been cleared for full practice. Even though today's skate was optional, it was his first practice back with the players as he continues his rehab.

Johnson, who has missed the last 14 games with an undisclosed injury, said while he'd like to get in a game before the playoffs, he is still not 100 percent and is just taking it day by day.

"I want to make sure everything’s ready to go before I get back out there in a game situation," Johnson said. "It’s getting better and better every day."

Head coach Dan Bylsma said when Johnson is healthy, he will be the backup goalie to Marc-Andre Fleury.

"He’s on a rehab schedule. Like to see him continue to do well in that," Bylsma said. "If that’s the case, he’ll be in practice next week a couple of times. If that continues to go well, then we’ll be looking to get him back in a game at some point."

(Getty Images)

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:50 AM:
A limited number of individual game tickets for the Penguins’ first two home games of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center will go on sale to the general public Tuesday, April 3 at 10 a.m.

Full details here.

--Sam Kasan

11:40 AM:
Pens pics...

Brent Johnson

Tony Granato gives the practice orders (left); Tangradi (right)

Park (left); Jeffrey (right)


Lovejoy and Jeffrey (left); Johnson and Thiessen (right)

--Sam Kasan

11:02 AM:
Pens are on the ice for their optional practice. Participants are Dustin Jeffrey, Eric Tangradi, Richard Park, Ben Lovejoy, Brent Johnson and Brad Thiessen.

--Sam Kasan

10:40 AM:
The top high school hockey teams from western Pennsylvania will compete for Penguins Cup championships in three divisions Saturday at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League (PIHL) will crown champions in the Class A, AA and AAA divisions, and each winning team will receive the Penguins Cup. The  Penguins Cup games are presented by 84 Lumber.
The matchups:
Class A – Quaker Valley vs. Mars – 1 p.m.
Class AA – West Allegheny vs. Erie Cathedral Prep – 3:30 p.m.
Class AAA – Peters Township vs. Bethel Park – 6 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. Kids under 12 are admitted free.
All three Penguins Cup champions will then advance to play the Flyers Cup winners in the state finals.

Full details here.

--Sam Kasan

10:30 AM:
It's Friday, so let's reveal what is inside the Pens Vault. In this week's edition we look back at a few promos from the "Boys of Winter" campaign from 1984.

--Sam Kasan

10:20 AM:
On June 9, 2009, most Penguins fans remember watching Pittsburgh battle Detroit in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in the comforts of their home, out with friends or maybe even on the big screen outside CONSOL Energy Center.

Sergeant Tom Lieb of Nicktown, PA, is different. He remembers watching the big game from a stream on his computer in Kara, a city in Northern Iraq.

When the Penguins won Game 7 over the Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, Lieb looked up to the American flag that was flying over his head.

“I want that flag,” he said, and the army gladly gave it to him.

On March 22, 2012, Lieb – with the help of his nephew Dimitri – presented the flag in a shadow box to the Penguins coaching staff and general manager Ray Shero before Pittsburgh’s game against Nashville at CONSOL Energy Center.

Full story here.

Sargeant Tom Lieb and his godson Dimitri (center) presented an American flag flown in Kara, Iraq to (L-R) head coach Dan Bylsma, general manager Ray Shero and assistant coaches Gilles Meloche, Todd Reirden and Tony Granato.

10:10 AM:
On Thursday night the Pens clinched a playoff berth with an impressive 5-1 win against the Nashville Predators at CONSOL Energy Center. Evgeni Malkin increased his NHL points lead to 10 with two goals in the contest to give himself 95 points (45G-50A). Pittsburgh is now one point behind the Rangers in the Atlantic Division/Eastern Conference and two behind St. Louis for the best record in the NHL.

(Getty Images)

--Sam Kasan

10:00 AM:
Good morning from Southpointe! Today the Pens will hit the ice for an 11 a.m. optional practice before taking a plane for Ottawa, Canada. They'll face the Senators Saturday night.


This morning we're going jump start the day with a happy, cheerful jam called "Daylight" by the group Matt and Kim. The video features Matt and Kim playing in various locations - even inside of a refrigerator. Anyways, enjoy.

--Sam Kasan
View More