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Penguins Report: 3/28/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Bylsma gives updates on Letang, Vitale and Niskanen (12:49 PM).
  • Fleury confirms he has no injury (1:05 PM).
  • Vitale checks in on how he's feeling (1:10 PM).
  • Fleury and Vitale practice (11:05 AM).
  • Letang, Niskanen and Lovejoy miss practice (11:20 AM).
  • Pens' lines and D-pairs (11:23 AM).
  • Go behind the scenes with Mike Lange and Phil Bourque (10:30 AM).
  • Potash's feature on Malkin's parents (10:25 AM).
  • Neal and Crosby on Tuesday's game and bouncing back (1:27 PM).
  • Bylsma speaks briefly on a few topics (1:23 PM).
  • Pens pics (some real good ones today) (11:45 AM).
  • "Crosses all over the boulevard…" (10:00 AM).

1:27 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

James Neal

On being able to get a second crack at the Islanders on Thursday:
We just have to tighten things up. When you’re having success and the pucks are going in and things are going your way, you tend to get away from the things that help you win and make you a good team. For us, it’s just going back to doing the right things and playing with that speed and that physical edge that we know how to play with.

On if the goals allowed in the Islanders’ game had to do with their puck management:
We knew that. We were a little careless with the puck. (The Islanders) have skilled forwards and they are going to capitalize on those errors on our part. We need to know what we are doing with the puck. We need to go out there with a plan and execute. We get the odd goal and we have success like that and we are cheating a little bit. Then it comes back to bite us. We just have to get back to the play we know what to do.

On that the carelessness has been going on for a while:
It even goes back to the Winnipeg game. We’re letting them get chances, and grade-A chances at that. We’re relying on (Marc-Andre Fleury) to make the big save at the right time. We can’t let that happen. We can’t get in track matches with every team. We just need to take care of the puck and take that little carelessness out of our hockey game.

On if it’s a wake up call:
Yeah, it’s a little bit of a wake up call. Every team goes through that. We have that powerful offense and you can make up for little mistakes. For us, we just have to get back to doing the right things. 

Sidney Crosby

On the games within the last week and the playoff scenarios:
Yeah, I think anything can really happen. It’s good for everyone, especially the fans. All the games remain so important. And when you are playing divisional games towards the end, they're even more so with the way things are set up this year with a lot of us kind of fighting within our division. I think it’s good for everyone.

On the importance of how you play down the stretch:
How you play is the most important. If you play well, the points will kind of take care of themselves. You can’t get caught up thinking about that before you go out there and play. You just have to build good habits going into the playoffs. You just can’t turn it on when you get there. That’s got to be our mindset here the next few games.

On their work from the blue line:
I think we do a really good job of getting the puck when our D do a really good job of retrieving well. As far as rushes and managing the puck at the other team’s blue line -- and sometimes at our own blue line -- that’s where we kind of get ourselves into trouble with turning the puck over. You can’t turn the puck over at either blue line. That’s when you get yourself into a lot of trouble. I think that’s something that you learn all the way up. That’s not something you just figure out in the NHL. That’s always been important and always will be. It’s basic stuff, but those detailed things are what really make a difference when you are talking about tight games and the difference between winning and losing. We’ve got to make sure we tighten things up there.

--Brittany Goncar

1:23 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On the depleted personnel on the back end contributing to their defensive lapses:
I contribute the injuries or the personnel very little to some of the areas of where we’re managing the puck and the quality of the chances against. Brian Strait and Simon (Despres) have proven they can come in, play the right way for us and defend and limit other teams’ opportunities in the time they’ve played. It’s not part of the concern when it comes to what we’ve been giving up with the puck and our play without the puck.

On when a goalie challenges a shooter:
Marc came out earlier in the year in a situation where he read pressure and read the player and that he had his head down. In this particular case, I think Marc recognizes about 20 feet before Nielsen has a chance to shoot the puck that he’s made a mistake. He’s already getting up from his attempted poke check when he gets the collision with Martin. He already knows he’s in deep trouble. He made that read in advance, way before he should have, and he got caught way out of the net and he knew it almost immediately. He was already standing straight up – he wasn’t in a poke check or on the ice when Martin hit him. He was pretty much standing straight up. So he knew had gone way prematurely and the player had control of the puck, which gave him plenty of time to get his head up. Some of those situations are more when the puck is not in the player’s control and you’re coming out. That wasn’t one of those cases.

On how this team responds to games like Tuesday’s within the room:
I think there has certainly been words spoken about where we’re at and the situation we’re in, with how we’re playing right now and our mindset in terms of where we’re at in relation to the end of the season, with the games we’ve got remaining and then heading into the playoffs. I think both have happened. They realize the situation and there has been words spoken, both from players and the coaches.

--Michelle Crechiolo

1:10 PM:
Joe Vitale has returned to full practice with the team, which is a positive step in his rehab from an upper-body injury that's caused him to miss the last five games. We caught him before he headed out on the team's road trip. Here's what he had to say...

Joe Vitale

On returning to team practice:
It was a lot of fun to be back out there with the team. It’s been a long week of being off. That’s something you never really like as a player. So it’s good to be back out there and getting a feel for the game again.

On if he’ll make the trip:
Yeah, I’ll be going on the trip with the team.

On his timetable moving forward:
I think it’s just day by day right now. I haven’t heard anything about this weekend yet whether I’m in or out.

On his conditioning and his timing:
Conditioning has been good, I’ve been skating a lot with (strength coach) Mike Kadar a lot. Getting that timing down and shaking out the cobwebs in practice is going to be the first step, which I’m doing now and then we’ll go from there.

On being antsy to get back into game action:
‘Kades’ has been great, he’s helped me out a lot. But he definitely makes you want to get back a lot sooner than you’re probably supposed to (laughs). The skates can be miserable. We’ll just leave it at that.

--Michelle Crechiolo

1:05 PM:
Tuesday's game turned out to be a physical one for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, as he absorbed a few hits here and there and got shaken up a bit. But Fleury practiced today and said afterward that everything is OK and he feels fine.

"A couple good hits, but we’re lucky we play with good helmets compared to back in the day," Fleury said with a smile. "So it’s good."

He confirmed that there is no injury or lingering effects from any of the hits.

"There is no injury, so there are no lingering effects," Fleury said. "Just a tough game."

--Michelle Crechiolo

12:49 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma provided a few updates before the team headed to the airport for their two-game trip.

He said that Letang did not skate today and is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Letang will not make the trip to Long Island and Buffalo with the team.

Joe Vitale, who has missed the last five games with an upper body injury, was back in full practice today. He will be on the trip with the team but is not yet ready to return to game action.

Finally, Niskanen, who has missed the last 3 games with an upper body injury, is still skating on his own and will continue to do so during these 2 road games.

"Kris Letang was not on the ice. Is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury," Bylsma said. "Joey V. was back in full practice today. Getting into some battling areas, but don’t think he’s ready to get back into a game just yet. Matt Niskanen is still skating on his own, and will be skating on his own through these two road games."

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:45 AM:
Pens pics...

Johnson continues to practice with the team (left); Tyler Kennedyyyyy....Kennedyyyy (right)

Fleury plays goal judge at practice (left); Harvard (right)

Niskanen winds for a slapper in pre-practice (left); Man down!!! We've got a bleeder (right)

Vitale returns to practice (left); Kunitz shows the proper form on his follow through (right)

--Sam Kasan

11:23 AM:
Pens' lines and D-pairs...



--Sam Kasan

11:20 AM:
All 15 forwards and three goalies are on the ice. Three defensemen are not practicing - Kris Letang (lower-body), Niskanen (upper-body) and Lovejoy (knee surgery, 3-4 weeks). Niskanen did skate earlier in the day on his own.

--Sam Kasan

11:05 AM:
Pens center Joe Vitale just took the ice. It looks like he's progressed well enough to rejoin the group for team practice. Also, Marc-Andre Fleury is out for practice. A good sign after he was shaken up in Tuesday's game against NYI.

--Sam Kasan

10:30 AM:
Earlier this year PensTV followed Michelle Crechiolo and I to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we cover the team on a game day (Part 1 and Part 2). Now PensTV is really stepping up their game. This time around, they're giving you a being the scenes look at real professionals, Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange and his color commentator Phil Bourque. Needless to say, they showed us amateurs how it's really done.

--Sam Kasan

10:25 AM:
Pens center Evgeni Malkin is running away with the NHL's scoring title this season with 99 points (46G-53A) - a nine-point lead over second-place Steven Stamkos. Malkin is so beloved by the Pens fans that even his parents have become local celebrities. ROOT SPORTS' Dan Potash talked to Vladimir and Natalia Malkin.

--Sam Kasan

10:20 AM:
As you may have heard, the Pens captain is back. And this week the spotlight shines on No. 87, Sidney Crosby.

--Sam Kasan

10:10 AM:
Before the Pens' showdown with the Islanders last night, the team held the final super Student Rush. Katie O and PensTV were there on the scene to bring you the highlights.

--Sam Kasan

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens are scheduled to hit the ice at about 11 a.m. for practice before jumping on a flight to Long Island. They'll have a rematch with the NY Islanders Thursday night after the Isles got the best of Pittsburgh in a 5-3 contest Tuesday night.


Today we'll open the day with a brilliant song by Jose Gonzalez called "Crosses." The guitar picking is phenomenal and his voice perfectly matches the melody. I don't quite understand the video, but I'm sure there is some underlying meaning behind the vanishing figures. Anyways, enjoy.

Just so you can see how amazing Gonzalez is at finger picking, below is a live performance of the song. His live version sounds just like the recorded version. No studio magic needed.

--Sam Kasan
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