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Penguins Report: 4/17/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens lines at practice (11:34 AM).
  • Neal has spoken with Shanahan; no decision yet (1:18 PM).
  • Martin and player hearing updates (12:44 PM).
  • Martin is the only player absent from practice (11:14 AM).
  • Trib Total Media Playoff Update (2:56 PM).
  • Crosby, Fleury, Letang and Tangradi speak (1:56 PM).
  • Bylsma addresses the media (2:30 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:45 AM).
  • "It's not over…" (10:20 AM).

2:56 PM:
Mearsy is on his way to Philly for Game 4, but before he left he filmed today's Trib Total Media Playoff Update. Click the play button below to get your updates out of Pittsburgh.

--Michelle Crechiolo

2:30 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if there was a team activity Monday:

There was not. We had treatment and an activity here, but not any team activities. We had some conversations. We had our meeting today and are refocused today going into Philly to win Game 4. 

On if there was a reason for no activities:

Just a day away from the rink.

On if their performance is similar to when they lost twice to the Islanders:

I think we’re seeing some areas where it is different in terms of how we are playing away from the puck and defensively. We’ve given up nine special-teams goals. That’s been a big factor in games. In Games 2 and 3 it’s really (been) the factor in the game. Both the shorthanded goals and the power-play goals we’ve given up have been a real factor. In Game 1, we lose the special teams (battle). Minus the one empty-netter, the other ones have been four in the offensive zone for Philly, three on the rush and two from turnovers in the neutral zone. Those are the breakdown of those goals. But the real factor and I think it’s different from what we saw before was special teams situations, both our penalty kill and the shorthanded goals.

On if he’s ever had exposure to being down 3-0 in a series:
I’ve been in this situation as a player and as a coach in ’08 in Wilkes-Barre. We went to the finals. We were down 0-3 to Chicago. I’ve had that situation before. Our focus right now is that we have not played our best and we have not put our best out there. Right now we are talking about one game. Our focus and our mentality is that we know we can win one game. We know we can win four games in a row. Right now we are focused on going in the first period and winning the first period and winning Game 1 for us, which is Game 4. We’ll move on from there.

On if he won that Chicago series with WBS:

We lost in Game 6.

On if it’s fair to put blame on him or Marc-Andre Fleury:
I think if you go throughout our room, you are going to have every player feel like they’re responsible and haven’t been at their best. Whether it’s situational, making a mistake that’s caused a goal or a game or whether it was overall play, I don’t think you are going to find one person that thinks otherwise. That’s everybody included. 

On the rules of starting a fight after one has already begun with Kris Letang and Craig Adams:
It’s happened a couple other times where that call has been rescinded. It’s just a decision by the league. You don’t get to have an official hearing or conversation about that. The rules when it comes to fighting, just by the rulebook and a stoppage of play, is that there are simultaneous fights of which you can have more than one happen on the ice and you don’t get thrown out of the game. Then you have a situation, which I believed happened in the game, where Sidney Crosby gets in a confrontation with (Claude) Giroux and that was an altercation. If there is a second altercation and stoppage of play, it’s automatic ejection from the game for both players. It’s pretty hard to have a simultaneous fight unless it’s right off a draw or in those situations. In this case I don’t think it was.

On Sidney Crosby’s actions being calculated and if they liked the results:
In this particular case, it was a statement about doing something. We’re going to react here and we’re going to make a statement. I think in some cases, that’s what our team did. Sometimes the results are hard to figure out at the end of the game. We lost a fight in one playoff series and it turned out to be, for some, the reason why we won. Maybe Kris Letang should have lost his fight and gone down that route.

--Brittany Goncar

1:56 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On if the criticism Bylsma is receiving is fair:
No. That’s what happens when you lose. People want to point fingers at everyone. That’s not any different in this case. Everyone has got their own reasons for why we’re losing and their own opinions. They’re entitled to those. But we know in this room we still have yet to put a game together. That’s no one’s fault but our own. There’s nothing we can do about that now. The only opportunity that we have is to make it better next game. That’s what we’re going to try to do.

On if he has any regrets on the way Game 3 played out:
No. I think we’re trying to do whatever we can to win hockey games. We got some bad bounces there and made a couple mistakes that hurt us. We’ve got to find a way to put together a full game. That’s really what it comes down to. I think there has been a lot of periods in games where we’ve looked really good, but there’s also times when we’ve made big mistakes. We’ve got to put a full game together here.

On drawing from past experiences:
I’ve never been in this scenario, really. Maybe once, actually, but it’s the same mentality whether you’ve been through it or not. You’ve got to win one. You’ve got to focus on winning one. You’ve got to be desperate and leave it all out there. For us, the good thing is that we still haven’t played a full game yet. I think we’d all love to see the result with a full game. Hopefully it’s the result we want.

On potentially being down three players:
It doesn’t matter. Whoever is out there, we’ve got to find a way to win. We can’t worry about anything else. We can’t worry about who’s in the lineup. We can’t worry about what’s happened the last three games. All of our energy will be going towards winning that game. That’s where our mind has got to be. No one can waste any time or energy worrying about that stuff. If we’ve got to play with 10 guys, we’ve got to find a way to win. That’s really what it comes down to.

On Bylsma removing him from the top PP unit:
It was kind of just a mutual conversation that we had, actually. It wasn’t something where he came to me and said, ‘this is the way it’s going to be.’ We just talked about that possibility and different looks on the power play, and I just said wherever I need to play, I’m going to do my best there – whether it’s at the point, down low or whatever unit. I think every guy feels that way. That’s something that is pretty common, to have those conversations. Coaches try to feel players out for their accommodation level in certain areas. That’s all it was. It wasn’t a big deal.

On the fans saying Game 3 was embarrassing:
You know what, I think the tough part is that if they’re in this room, they’d see how much every guy cared. It’s more than one team that’s doing that stuff out there. They should have nothing to be embarrassed about. They should be pretty proud of the guys they have here. It’s a terrible situation to be in, being down 3-0. But that’s when you need your fans the most. We’re not going to sit here and make excuses. We can’t fix the fact that we’re down 3-0. But I think we all believe we can come back and I think this is when you lean on your fans the most.

On if they’ve grasped the situation, what they’re dealing with and what they must do:
We’ve just got to win one game. That’s really what it comes down to. I think that it is what it is. I don’t think anybody came here today shocked or down. This is a situation where we can’t change it. The only opportunity is to make it better and that starts with winning the next game. It’s something you can’t dwell on. You just can’t afford to dwell on that. It’s not going to make anything better and it’s not going to change anything. I think all of our minds are in the right place. We want to find a way to get back in this series. I think every guy in here believes we can do that. Whether, as you said, people are embarrassed by us or people are disappointed, you know what, that can’t change our mindset going into tomorrow. We’ve got to find a way to win a hockey game. When there’s adversity, that’s when you see guys’ true colors. I think we’ll show that tomorrow. We’re going to leave it all out there and give ourselves a chance to try and get back in this series.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On if the day off helped:

It was all right to get away for a little bit, do a little something else. I didn’t do a whole lot. Relax and take it easy, get ready for the next game.

On if he wants to forget his last couple games or let them motivate:

I don’t know. I think I would like to forget about the last two games, but not forget the position we are in right now. Make sure that motivates us to keep going.

On if his game feels different:

It doesn’t feel much different to me. It’s still the same me in there. But it’s definitely not going the way I want. Looking forward to tomorrow and making that change.

On if he’s identified problems or is just trying to get back to his game:
I think a couple of mistakes I’ve done. But I don’t think I will change my style of playing.

On if they are seeing carryover from the end of the season:

It’s the same results: losing and giving up more goals than we’re used to. That’s sometimes frustrating because you’re in the playoffs and you want to do well and win those games. It’s tough, but we just have to put everything together and make sure we are ready for tomorrow. 

Kris Letang

On if him fighting Timonen after Crosby and Giroux was heat of the moment:

Well, I was surprised that they called that a fight with Sid and (Claude Giroux) because the linesman was in the fight the whole time. The reason why I didn’t know it was a fight already was because I didn’t think they would call that a fight. It was just part of the game. I tried to spark something and make sure we knew what to do. I won’t do it again.

On having to leave the game:

It’s not a situation that we want to be in, especially when we are trailing and trying to get goals. Obviously I don’t want to get kicked out. I want to try and help the team win. It’s part of the game. The referee called it and I have to deal with it.

On if they will be disciplined in Game 4:

Yeah. What happened last game, I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t think it was a dirty thing that I did. I have to play my game. I think everyone in the dressing room needs to focus on his own game and playing the game hard. We know what to do right now.

On if they’d planned the fights for a stoppage in play:

We didn’t get the opportunity, it just happened to be like that. I thought it would help. I thought it would get the guys going, especially when you see Sid going down and me after that. We’re not used to doing that, so I tried to do some stuff that we don’t usually do. But I think we have to get back to what we’re good at and what we need to do to win games.

On if frustration and a lack of confidence is present going into Game 4:

I don’t think we are frustrated. We’re not happy about the situation. They are close games. We’re making mistakes and they make us pay every time. I think right now we need to just play one shift at a time, play one period at a time and making sure we win those shift, win those periods. We’ll go from there. There is no plan of trying to get a goal back or anything like that. We just have to focus on next shift every time.

On if he regrets the ‘Shhh’ gesture:

No. I was trying to do it to (Max Talbot). Just a funny thing. 

On if Talbot saw it:

I don’t know. I couldn’t find him on the bench.

Eric Tangradi

On the possibility of playing in the postseason and his hometown of Philly:
I played in my hometown twice so I was able to get that out of the way. I played a playoff game last year in Tampa. I feel like I’m ready. I know what to expect in a playoff series. I know the pace may be at a different level than it was last year, but they’re all things where I am confident in myself and prepared to go to war tomorrow.

On if he is expecting to be a net-front presence on the power play:

I don’t have any expectations as far as where I’ll be on the depth chart. If I’m in, it will be a great opportunity for me whether it’s playing minimal minutes or a big role. I know that whatever the challenge is I’ve prepared myself throughout the season and definitely towards the end to be effective.

On if he knows who his linemates will be:

No. At this point we don’t even know who is in or out. I haven’t even heard what the rulings are on most of those things yet. I’ll have a better idea tomorrow. I’ve been kind of trained in all of the positions on this team, whether it’s with the top six or the bottom six. I feel confident that I can contribute wherever I may be. 

On his perspective of the series:

It’s been a little bit crazy. It’s almost like a rollercoaster ride. We score one and we’re feeling pretty confident, and they counter-punch. I think the dimensions that I can add in is to try and have some more offensive-zone play, protect the puck down low and really make their D work a little bit. I think that’s an emphasis we’re looking to exploit, playing a strong offensive game and (being strong) defensively as well.

On watching the first three games from the press box: 

Being up in the press box you get an idea for the energy and the excitement, but nothing does justice like being down on the ice. I’ve definitely been itching up top watching the games. I’m absolutely thrilled and excited for an opportunity to get in there, but in the same time I am looking forward to trying to help this team make a difference.

On if his friends will be at the game:

Yeah, I think there will be a few familiar faces up in the stands. Definitely some family and friends and definitely some friends that it wouldn’t be for the first time, but it’s all part of the game. I’m looking forward to it.

On if they will be wearing Flyers’ jerseys:
I would say the family might just go neutral colors. Maybe a white or something like that. But my friends will be wearing orange, that’s for sure.

--Michelle Crechiolo and Brittany Goncar

1:18 PM:
James Neal spoke with NHL disciplinarian Brenan Shanahan before practice this morning about two separate incidents in Game 3: his hit against Sean Couturier in the third period, as well as the charging penalty he received for a hit on Claude Giroux later in the period.

Shanahan has not made a decision yet on whether there will be any supplementary discipline for Neal. That is expected to come sometime today. Bylsma said they are hopeful Neal will be in the Game 4 lineup.

Here's what Neal had to say...

On if he has heard from the league:
Yeah, I talked to the league. I talked to Shanny (Brendan Shanahan) today. I don’t know if it’s good news. I haven’t heard back yet. We went over what happened. He’ll make his decision hopefully sometime today.

On the questions Shanahan asked:
It’s just about things. We go back and forth. I tell him what happens and he has his opinion.

On his defense for what happened:
(We) went over the plays and looked at the incident. Told him my views on it. It’s his decision. I’m not trying to hurt anybody or do anything like that. I’m going at a high rate of speed. I try to brace myself as much as possible.

On talk that the Pens are a dirty hockey team:
They can say whatever they want. We know what kind of team we are in here. I don’t think we’re anything dirty or anything like that. We play the game hard and play physical. When you have stars like we do here, you’re always going to have some criticism.

On if that was his first talk with Shanahan:
No, it wasn’t.

On the team must do a better job of staying disciplined to prolong the series:
Yeah, of course. We need to do a lot of things to make the series go on here. Our backs are against the wall. We have to go into Philly and play one period at a time and take one shot at a time. Anything can happen. We know in this dressing room, we still believe in our team and the way we play.

On a timeframe that Shanahan will get back to him:
Hopefully sometime today. I’m sure when we land in Philly I’ll hear back.

On if the criticism Bylsma is receiving is unfair:
Yeah, for sure. We’ve played a style of hockey all year that has been successful. We come (out hard) in the first game and they come back and score three goals on us. You can say what you want about it, but we need to play better and we need to not give up chances like we have. We’ve kind of let our goalie out to dry a few times. He’s taken heat for that. It’s a team game and we need to do a lot of things better to get one win.

On if he’s optimistic he’ll escape suspension and be able to play:
I don’t know.

--Michelle Crechiolo

12:44 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma said Martin was a maintenance day and is possible for Game 4.

In terms of player hearings stemming from Game 3, Bylsma also said the Craig Adams instigator penalty was not rescinded by the league. They were hopeful it would be, but it was not. James Neal's hearing with the league was this morning and they have not heard on that, but are hopeful to have him in the Game 4 lineup. Arron Asham's hearing is this evening.

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:45 AM:
Pics of the Pens at work before flying across the state...

Malkin through the glass (left); Letang with Tony G. (right)

Kunitz stretching out (left); Neal closeup (right)

Johnson huddles up with Tangradi and Engelland (left); Fleury plays keep-a-way with Cooke (right)

Vitale (left); Kennedy (right)

Engelland tries to stuff one home (left); Sullivan lunges for a puck (right)

Staal (left); Lovejoy (right)

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:34 AM:
The Pens used the following line combos at practice...


The seven defensemen rotated through the drills.

--Sam Kasan

11:14 AM:
The players have gathered at center ice around coach Bylsma, which signifies the start of practice. Paul Martin is the only player missing.

--Michelle Crechiolo

10:58 AM:
The guys are starting to trickle onto the ice for their 11 a.m. practice.

--Michelle Crechiolo

10:20 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens are scheduled to hit the ice at about 11 a.m. before flying to Philadelphia. The team had Monday off to rest their bodies and prepare mentally for getting back into the series.

"Certainly (it’s) a chance to get away from the rink, recovery-wise,” head coach Dan Bylsma told the media Monday. “The physical aspect of it, having a day off and not being on the ice, was a planned part of it. But (so was) being away from the rink.

“We now are challenged with the task of getting back and being real focused and winning one game. Our mindset and what we bring to the rink is as important as anything else we do. We’ll get back to that (Tuesday). Then we’ll have to be real focused about where we’re going to be at and how we’re going to play a game on Wednesday to get our first win and get back in this series."

Here are more details about the challenge the Pens will face in Game 4.


The Pens are trying to make history. Winning a series after falling down 3-0 isn't common, but it is not impossible. It's been done three times in NHL history (most recently by the Flyers in 2010 against the Bruins).

May be a steep hill to climb, but this Pens team have faced plenty of adversity over the years. Do they have another miracle up their sleeve? I guess time will tell. But in the meantime, they'll be battling for their playoff lives.

So we're going to open the day with a song by Daughtry, even though I'm not really a Daughtry fan. But his song "It's Not Over" is just the perfect fit for today (credit to Michelle Crechiolo with the suggestion). The Pens are not going to go down without a fight.

Anyways, enjoy.

-Sam Kasan
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