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Penguins Report: 4/10/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Playoff Update with Mears (2:10 PM).
Cooke back at practice; Niskanen only player missing (11:03 AM).
Pens' lines at practice (11:08 AM).
Niskanen skates before practice (12:25 PM).
Power-play units (11:24 AM).

2:10 PM:
For every off-day during the playoffs PensTV will be bringing you the Trib Total Media Playoff Update. Steve Mears gets things started today.

--Sam Kasan

1:20 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the attention to detail in practice this time of year:
We have practices like that throughout the year to make sure we’re paying attention to certain areas of the game and certain details of the game. Yesterday (Monday) was after a day off, so we had more pace to the practice. Today was a little bit slower, a special teams day significantly for power play, penalty kill, 5-on-3, 4-on-3. It’s not something you always get a chance to work on extensively, but you might get just one of those situations in a game here in this series and it’s going to be a big game, a big situation. Paying attention to that detail again today with a 5-on-6 and that situation at the end of games. It was a little bit more attention detail and not as much pace to our game. We touched on some areas where we think are going to be critical, are critical to our game, and the special teams factor, which is always a big thing. Today was more of a detail-focused, a little bit slower mindset, but also keeping in mind that we have prepared for the Philadelphia Flyers when we are out on the penalty kill and power play today and some of the situations we are going to be in against this Flyers team. Kind of set those details in our game for the Game 1 tomorrow.

On if he is going to level out the numbers between the pairings compared to last season:
I think you see those numbers go up in the postseason based on game-to-game situations and the limited number of games. Early in the year when we had injury situations, we did tax the top two and three guys a fair amount. I think you’ll see in special team situations that we use an extra forward, which causes us to limit defensemen minutes. We’ll see that still. I think you’ll see a few more defensemen mixed into special situations. It’ll be PK and 5-on-5 situations where the minutes will be a little bit more spread out. I still think you’ll see overtimes always come into play here. You see minutes go up a little bit with the top four guys. I think you’ll see a little bit of minutes going up, but also I think right now with the depth of our defensemen, the way our defensemen are playing and where they play, you’ll see those a little more spread out as well.

On playing Ilya Bryzgalov or Sergei Bobrovsky:
I know Bryz. I have experience playing with him and coaching against him, and know him better (than Bobrovsky). We haven’t seen him a ton in net here in Pittsburgh and against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s a big guy who challenges more than (Bobrovsky). (Bobrovsky) is more of ‘stop the first puck’ and you see goals go in on second chances. Bryz’s talent is something we haven’t seen a lot of, but it’s very high end. He’s an extremely talented goalie, a big-body goalie with quick legs from side-to-side. That’s what we’re going to see with Bryzgalov. I expect him to be in there for every game. That’s what we’re looking for.

On Bryzgalov’s season:
I remember the first day I saw him on the ice. I thought of how talented of a goalie he was. He was 18 years old. I’ve seen him have a lot of success, going back to when he played for the Ducks in the playoffs. I always watched the Ducks having played there. I’ve seen a lot of their games. He’s a good goaltender and has been a big part of the success of his teams in Phoenix. I’m not surprised to see him go on a run the way he has the second half of the season.

On if Lovejoy can play in Game 1:
Ben Lovejoy is a guy that played after long absences three times this year and played really well when he stepped back in. He has played in the postseason. He has experience there. He’s been a guy that stepped in for us when we’ve had injuries this year and in different situations. When and if Ben gets healthy, he is a guy we’re comfortable with putting in situations.

--Sam Kasan & Brittany Goncar

1:00 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On if the Flyers are different without Richards and Carter:
They play a similar style. They have a lot of depth. I don’t see a lot of difference in terms of their style of play. They’re actually pretty similar.

On the way the team works at practice:
We don’t get a lot of time to practice. We had a couple days here to work on some stuff. The details for everyone are important. Those are the things everyone is going to be working on at this time of year. You should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do, but we’re just trying to touch on all those areas. That’s what you do at practice.

Evgeni Malkin

On the physicality of the Flyers series:
Yeah, physical of course, but we’re ready. We have great defensemen - “Engo” (Deryk Engelland) and Brooks (Orpik) is pretty tough too. And our forwards are strong. We have (Arron Asham). We have “Joey V.” (Joe Vitale) and those guys ready to play.

On playing against Max Talbot in the playoffs:
He works hard. He likes playing against the Penguins, I think. He’s worked hard and does a great job on the faceoffs and with the PK. It doesn’t matter. I play my game and we try to win. Try our best. Just try to score goals and beat Philly.

On watching Jaromir Jagr growing up:
Of course I watched him. I watched the Olympics. He played unbelievable. He’s my hero for sure, but now it’s a different time. I play against him and I will beat him too.

On if age has changed Jagr’s play:
No. He’s always the best and it doesn’t matter what age. He is 40 and still pretty strong, has a great shot and he did a great job this year. We need to do a good job when he (comes). The defensemen need to play hard against him

Matt Cooke

On if he’s ready for the playoffs:
We’ve been through it before. There is a lot of experience in this room in the playoffs. Most of the guys here have gone to two Finals and even more. I think that you use that experience as confidence moving forward. You realize and know there’s times to react and times not to.

On the difficulty of separating from the scrums:
It’s really hard. I think it’s easier in the playoffs because there is a heightened focus on the ultimate goal. During the season it’s one of 82 and it gets a lot easier to turn around and whack a guy or retaliate. If they score on that penalty, it’s during the regular season and maybe it doesn’t have the volume or the importance that it would in the playoffs.

On if he views himself as a guy made for playoff hockey:
Throughout my career I’ve always felt like the playoffs is kind of when I have been most effective.  There’s such a heightened focus on certain things. Quite often the superstars, they get their points. Every team that’s won has had guys on the third or fourth line that played, had great playoffs and chipped in as a secondary scoring to help the team win.

--Brittany Goncar & Sam Kasan

12:45 PM:
A major key to which team wins this first-round series will be who wins the special teams battle.

The Flyers finished the regular season with 66 power-play goals, the most in the league. But something that the Penguins players pointed out is that Philadelphia also drew the most penalties, with 335 total power-play opportunities.

... (The Pens) finished the season with the league’s third ranked penalty kill – establishing a franchise record for the highest single-season success rate on the penalty kill (87.8). The players that are utilized while shorthanded – shotblocking specialist Michalek, rugged, responsible blueliner
Brooks Orpik and forwards Adams, Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal – have been together for a long time, and their familiarity and comfort level with each other shows.

Full story here.

(Getty Images)

--Sam Kasan

12:35 PM:
The Flyers will be trying to get under the Pens' skin during the opening round series. And the Pens are trying to keep away from those post-whistle altercations. In fact, the Pens say that keeping their cool will be the key to the series.

Full story here.

--Sam Kasan

12:25 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that defenseman Matt Niskanen (upper-body) skated prior to team practice. The lineup for Game 1 will be decided at game time.

--Sam Kasan

11:30 AM:
Pens pics...

Strait tries to clear the puck as Johnson protects the crease (left); Tyler Kennedy (right)

Marc-Andre Fleury skates over the Stanley Cup marking (left); Sullivan and HC Dan Bylsma examine the ice (right)

Nealer (left); Candy giver (right)

Kristopher (left); Michalek checks the expiration date on his stick (right)

--Sam Kasan

11:24 AM:
After moving onto some flow and battle drills, the Pens are now working on the power play.

The first unit: Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Neal and Kunitz.
The second unit: Martin, Sullivan, Cooke, Staal and Kennedy.

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:08 AM:
Pens starting practice by working on set faceoff plays that are given different player names like "Crosby" and "Asham." Here are the lines they're working in:


The seven defensemen rotated.

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:03 AM:
Pens practice is underway. Matt Cooke is back after taking a maintenance day Monday. Ben Lovejoy (knee surgery) is participating in the team skate for a second straight day.

Matt Niskanen (upper body) is the only player missing.

--Michelle Crechiolo

9:55 AM:
The Pens coaches aren't the only ones who did their homework on the Flyers. Michelle Crechiolo scouted the team's lineup. She gives you the gist on the boys in orange.

Full scouting report here.

--Sam Kasan

9:45 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Today the Pens will hit the ice for an 11 a.m. practice as they continue to prepare for their Round 1 matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, it ended this way...

How will this year's series end?

--Sam Kasan

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