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Penguins Report: 3/3/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens’ lines (1:52 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Kunitz, the Devils and Talbot (5:46 PM).
  • Engelland, Rupp and Talbot spit knowledge (4:43 PM).
  • Pens pics (1:43 PM).
  • Long and winding road (4:11 PM).
  • “Life is good. And Jesus loves you, as well he should…” (12:40 PM).

5:46 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if Kunitz not skating in a line indicates that he won’t be in the lineup Friday:
That would be an indication. However, he was on one of the power-play units, so I could have been throwing a curveball. The glass is tinted at one end of the rink, so I didn’t want to play my hand right out. One of those would be an indication.

On if Kunitz can still play this weekend even if it’s not against New Jersey:

Yeah. I mean, (he had) a little more contact today, and each day his injury reacted with the contact. It was important to see how his comfort level is with the increased level. So he’s been going well and progressing, and (he's) hopeful for the weekend.

On the Devils turnaround:
It does surprise me, just from the standpoint that it’s almost a tale of two seasons for them. But am I surprised to see them playing really good hockey and playing the New Jersey Devils style and having some success? No. I’m not surprised to see them have success. They’re playing extremely well right now, they’re limiting team’s chances. Last night they played Tampa Bay and limited them to 16 shots. They did a great job against them and they’ve had a ton of success doing that. And it’s not a new way for the Devils. It’s typical Devils-style hockey. They know how to play it, they’re comfortable playing it, and they’re having a lot of success. They propose a challenge for us (Friday) night.

On what was behind giving Talbot the ‘A’:
There’s a group of guys in our room, both (in) leadership and the way they play, what they say and the respect they have in the room, and Max is one of those. Matt Cooke had it on there, Max Talbot had it on there, and I don’t think it should be much of a surprise to anyone to see it on his shoulder. The way he battles every night, plays, his work ethic and the kind of guy he is in our room, it’s just an indication of what kind of player he is for us.

On how to beat New Jersey when the Devils are playing their game:

A couple of things. I think one word would be patience and (being) comfortable in that game. We know what it’s going to be like. Not getting out of character, not playing out of context and being comfortable in that type of game. One of the things that we have to be real careful about is our puck management, keeping it away from Marty Brodeur. Assuming he’s playing (Friday), he can be real devastating if you’re careless or you don’t make good plays with the puck. He handles it a lot and they come out of D zone coverage if you’re not establishing a forecheck. And that can be real devastating to the game and can lead to a little bit of frustration of not really being able to play with the puck. Those are two big keys. And special teams, one thing I’d like to see us do is get to the power play a little more. That means drawing more penalties, playing in the offensive zone more, playing with more speed in our game so that we can force them to deal with us and have the special teams be a factor. I think we’ve only gotten a couple (of power plays) a game in our last few (games), so I’d really like to see that change. So those are big factors going into (Friday) night’s game, and they’ve been very good at it, they’ve been very comfortable in those situations, and that’s something we have to expect and be good at (Friday).

On how to handle Kovalchuk:
Well, special teams again. Minimizing the opportunities there. (It's) just one game from us. We would like to try to get certain D pairs out against him and see Jordan Staal in situations where (he plays against Kovalchuk). It’ll be tougher to do on the road, and Jacques is a guy that tries to match up and get the matchups he wants, so it will be tough. But in certain circumstances, we want to make sure Jordan’s out there on the ice to prevent possibly affecting his line and Kovalchuk.

Assist: Michelle Crechiolo

4:43 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Deryk Engelland

On the importance of points:
Yeah, every point is huge right now coming down the stretch. It’s a battle from top to bottom right now for the playoff spots and home ice, everything. So every point is big, and we’ve got to come ready to play.

On what has inspired the Devils’ remarkable turnaround:
They’ve got good goaltending. I thought at the beginning of the year they had a good group of forwards, they’re skilled and everything. And they’re playing a lot better defensively now, with their new coach and everything, their systems are kind of back to how they used to play and they’re playing it well.

On if being familiar with Lemaire’s system helps
I think so. It sounds like they’re working on the D zone and letting the offense take care of itself. It’s obviously working for them, I think they’re obviously the hottest team right now, and it’s (going to be) a big challenge (Friday).

Mike Rupp

On what has inspired the Devils’ remarkable turnaround:
It seems like they’re back to their way of not giving up too much against. They’re getting some good goal scoring from that one line, (Patrik) Elias, (Danius) Zubrus and (Brian) Rolston. They’re a contributing line. Kovalchuk’s been coming through for them. When you get timely goals and you’re not giving up much against, you’re going to win hockey games and that’s what they’ve been doing.

On if being familiar with Lemaire’s system helps
Yeah, I think so. I think anytime you get a change, it shakes things up a little bit. And I think it’s something that they know and they’re comfortable with, they had him last year. So they’ve done a good job of turning things around.

On if he’s told the Penguins coaching staff of any possible weaknesses he’s aware of from his time with the Devils:
No, I haven’t really done that. We understand that one of the biggest things against them is just to be patient. They’re patient, and it’s kind of a patience game. Anytime it seems that they turn the game on us is (when) we get a little anxious and try to make a play happen when it shouldn’t. Then they capitalize and score a goal on us. So when that happens, it’s tough to play from behind against this team.

Maxime Talbot

On being awarded an ‘A’ Wednesday in Toronto:
It means a lot. I take pride in being a leader on this team, and it was nice to wear the ‘A.’ Even though it doesn’t really change my leadership role or anything, it’s nice to have the recognition.

On if he’s honored about the recognition given to him by his teammates:
Yeah, for sure. You take pride in being a leader and I talk when it’s time to, and go on the ice and do the right things and try to work hard. It’s not only talking, but being on the ice together too, and it means a lot.

On what has inspired the Devils’ remarkable turnaround:
Well, since they’ve got their new coach Jacques Lemaire, I think they play a different game a little bit. They try to play that puck-possession type of game, and they’ve been doing it really well. (Ilya) Kovalchuk has been scoring some big goals for them; Brodeur’s been strong in net, so they’re a different team. They’re always tough to play, and it’s going to be a big challenge (Friday).

On if that’s due to being familiar with Lemaire’s system:
They take pride in playing well defensively, and they’re always a dangerous team. It’s always a battle when we come here, and I’m sure it’s going to be one (Friday).

4:11 PM:
It was a long walk from the locker room to the Devils' practice ice at Prudential Centre.

1:52 PM:
There are no major changes as far as personnel at practice. Kunitz is going through another day of full contact work. Coach Bylsma said there was a chance he could play this weekend. There were no changes to the line combos.


1:43 PM:
The Pens are on the ice, but not on the normal Prudential Center ice. The Pens are using a separate practice rink (located inside the Rock) because Seton Hall is practicing at the building as well.

12:40 PM:
Welcome to the Prudential Center, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ March 3, 2011 practice, which will begin at approx. 1:15 p.m.

The Pens flew into New Jersey late last night from Toronto, and will take on the red-hot (pun intended) Devils Friday night at 7 p.m.

We’ll open the day with a song from the New York City band Eve’s Plum. Before she became Vitamin C, Colleen Fitzpatrick was the front woman of Eve’s Plum. The band released a couple albums in the mid-90s, but never really garnered much commercial success, though I always enjoyed their melodies. “Jesus Loves You (Not As Much As I Do)” is a happy upbeat song (and Fitzpatrick is a cutie). So it's a good way to start the day. Enjoy.

Fitzpatrick will probably be mostly remembered for her song “Graduation (Friends Forever),” which she recorded as solo artist Vitamin C. I guarantee you’ll be hearing this song at every wedding, graduation, slow dance, etc. for the rest of your life. So get used to it.

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