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Penguins Report: 3/6/12

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby cleared for contact (12:53 PM).
  • Injury updates (1:05 PM).
  • Johnson talks about returning to practice (1:36 PM).
  • Practice players and non-participants (11:05 AM).
  • Military vets attend practice (4:50 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Crosby, contact and more (1:31 PM).
  • PensTV talks with Martin and Dupuis (2:11 PM).
  • The Century Line (10:10 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:32 AM).
  • Game time change (10:20 AM).
  • “Put your hand into the fire…” (10:00 AM).

4:50 PM:
Twelve military veterans were treated to Pens' practice today, including a WWII vet and a Korean War vet.

“I was very excited,” Marines Corporal Ramen Blakey said. “This is a time to remember. I’ve never seen them in person. This is the first time I’ve been here.” 

On a typical game day the veterans tune in from their bedrooms at the V.A. Hospital. Sometimes the guys get together in the recreation room and drink a few pops. The important part is that they never miss a game. 

Full story here.

Pens players and coaches salute the military vets before practice

2:11 PM:
PensTV caught up with Martin and Dupuis...



1:36 PM:
Goaltender Brent Johnson skated with the team for the first time on Tuesday since tweaking something in practice on Feb. 23.

Johnson, who remains day-to-day, said he’s “still feeling it a little bit" and that his injury is "not quite up to snuff." However, taking this next step in his rehab felt good for the veteran netminder.

“The first practice felt good,” he said. “It’s been a while, but it feels good. I wanted to push myself as much as I could.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma said last week that the injury didn’t appear to be long-term, and Johnson confirmed that’s still the case.

“Hopefully get it taken care of and hopefully it’ll get better in the next couple days here,” Johnson said.

It’s an injury that’s been nagging Johnson for “a very long time,” and it’s one that he wants to get taken care of now so that he can be healthy for the stretch run and the playoffs.

“We’ve still got a few games left here,” Johnson said. “I want to get as healthy as possible if coach needs me to step in there and give ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury) a break, because he’s played so many games already. It’s one of those things where I want to be there for the guys and most of all for my goalie partner, because in my eyes, he’s the MVP of the league so far.”

--Michelle Crechiolo

1:31 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if Crosby could return Sunday:
It’s more in tune with how he feels as he goes through a few days of practice. Today wasn’t extensive in terms of getting a lot of contact. He had some extra drills after practice with some contact. We’ll see over the next days before we decide when there might be a date.

On if the contact is similar to that used in his last comeback:
A lot of the situation is where the person is conditioning-wise. He’s been skating real hard for a number of days, if not weeks. In terms of contact, there are a couple different types of contact. Everyone feels like running into the wall is contact, but we had a couple faceoff drills where you’re in and around people. You’re winning faceoffs. You’re getting tossed to the ice and a little bit of D-zone coverage. He also had a 2-on-2 drill that was man-on-man bumping and puck battles in the corners. Those are different levels of contact that we’ll put him through and continue to try and implement drills where he gets those types of situations where he does get contact in traffic, in the faceoff circle, taking draws and one-on-one battles. Today was Day 1 of that. We’ll see where we progress in Days 3, 4, 5, 6.

On if guys will lose focus waiting for Crosby to return:
We talked about practice and Sid being in practice with contact, that was the first time the guys on the ice knew that was coming. I don’t think any more than normal with the anticipation of getting Crosby back in our lineup and what that means for our team with the playoffs 17 games away. Those questions are swirling around. You see those questions every time they talk about our team is the possibility of that happening. When that happens, it’s not due to our players.

On if the coaches will give Crosby contact:
There are levels of contact in the coaching staff. I don’t know which goes first or second, but Tony (Granato) is the third level of contact. That may be a part of it as we'll go along. Today you saw Todd (Reirden) jump in on the defense with only five defensemen being out there.

On balancing the games and practicing in March:
It is a challenge. I’ve tried to learn the 20-25 minute practice. It’s a challenge to get something positive, work on details of our game and still be within that smaller timeframe of 20-25 minutes. Get on with some real purpose and get off without taxing our team too much. You saw some maintenance days, that’ll be a part of it as well. We play every other day here. Next week we are in a three (games) in four (days) situation. We have that again at the end of the month. In March we play a lot of hockey games. Optionals for morning skates and still trying to get something positive from our team and what we need in those 20 minutes, that’s a big challenge. Coaches like to have more practice time and be on the ice longer. Being off the ice may be the best thing for our team at times.

1:05 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma had a few player updates...

"Kris Letang is feeling better, but still has some symptoms. He is feeling better though and had light exercises off the ice today. ... Going through the tests that you go through, he’s feeling better and doing well. He’s still having symptoms in some areas. But he is continuing to feel better. They progressed him to light activity. He did that today. I don’t quite know what that means for him in terms of timetable, short term or long term. (A concussion) hasn’t been diagnosed at this point in time. He’s still having symptoms.

"Deryk Engelland is still day-to-day

"Brent Johnson joined the team for his first practice. He's still rehabbing. That does include practice for Brent.

"Jeffrey is still ill.

"Everyone else was maintenance days."

12:53 PM:
Well, so the news of the day is that Pens captain Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact. The media spoke with Crosby following his first contact practice...

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been cleared for full contact, but there is no timetable for a possible return to the lineup.

“I was cleared to do contact,” said Crosby, who resumed contact practice with his teammates Tuesday afternoon. “We’ll see how that goes. There is no real timetable, but it’s a good step. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum and get out there soon.”

Full story here.

(Getty Images)

11:32 AM:
Pens pics...

Vitale and Adams (left); Dupuis (right)

Brent Johnson was back at practice (left); Tangradi and Neal (right)

12 military vets from the Veterans Hospital watched Tuesday's practice (left); Adams (right)

11:05 AM:
Pens on the ice for practice. Goalie Brent Johnson is practicing with the team, as well as Sidney Crosby. Johnson has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

Players that are not practicing are Malkin, Staal, Sullivan, Jeffrey, Orpik, Letang, Engelland and Fleury.

10:30 AM:
Pens forward James Neal will be appearing on "NHL 36" Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.

Full details here.

(Getty Images)

10:20 AM:
Pens fans, don't forget that this Sunday's game has been changed to a 12:30 p.m. start and will be aired on NBC as the Game of the Week (also Sunday is turn forward the clocks an hour, so add that to your planning equation!!!)

The contest was originally scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.

(Getty Images)

10:10 AM:
It's Tuesday, so let's look back at some Pens History. Grover takes a look back at the Century Line of MacDonald, Apps and Pronovost.

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens will hit the ice at 11 a.m. for practice. They'll continue their four-game homestand with a 7:30 p.m. showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.


For today's musical selection we're going to open with Thirteen Senses "Into the Fire." I love the blend of guitar licks and running piano. And there is nothing better than a simple rock video shot in black and white. The focus is on the music, as it should be.

Anyways, enjoy.

BONUS - I found a pretty good live version of the song. 

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