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Penguins Report: 4/19/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Trib Playoff Update (3:35 PM).
  • 14 Pens practice (12:04 PM).
  • Bylsma speaks on a variety of topics (2:15 PM).
  • Neal, Orpik, Adams and Asham talk to the media (2:03 PM).
  • Practice pics (12:24 PM).
  • "Always by your side. I'm on your side. And so alive..." (11:30 AM).

3:35 PM:
Here is the day's wrap in your Trib Total Media Playoff Update, brought to you by yours truly. I've been a little under the weather so please excuse my voice. But it's the playoffs, so I've got to play through the pain.

--Sam Kasan

2:15 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On what the team accomplished defensively in Game 4:
I think there are areas of the game where we were able to be effective. It allowed us to be better defensively as well. I thought we were very good with our forwards in the offensive zone responsibility-wise and coming back through the neutral zone, which forced minimal puck possession by them. They dumped pucks in and we had five guys back to retrieve and come out of D-zone coverage. I think we did that with not necessarily execution and efficiency. But with the five guys there, we were able to get pucks out and minimize the time in the D zone. I thought our forwards were really good, both in being quick and physical and our positioning in the offensive zone. Also limiting their D. We saw them be active in this series, and we were good as a five-man unit against that last night.

On if this series feels like it’s from the ‘80s with the amount of offense:
I don’t have a lot of explanation for the dynamic on the ice. We got down and up in that game, and looking at the clock, it’s 3-2 and we still had about four minutes left to go in the first period. It ends up 4-3 in the first period. You don’t know how many goals it’s going to take to win at that point in time. It feels strange for a playoff game and a playoff series. Pretty much every game has been to some degree of that. I liked the fact that we didn’t give up much and didn’t give up a goal in the last 40 minutes. I thought we played responsibly and well away from the puck, and that’s what I take away from that game defensively even though it ends up with a lot of goals. We gave up three goals in the first, then didn’t give up a lot and played well for 40 minutes defensively.

On Matt Cooke’s ejection:
Going into the game, during the game and throughout the game, I think you understood there was not going to be a lot of – if any at all – tolerated extracurricular activity. Anything after the whistle, they were right on top of and that was clear right from the start. I think at that point in the game, it was not necessarily a call of a person did this or a person did that. There was extra stuff after the whistle and it wasn’t going to happen in this game. The referees made that clear with the fact that they kind of cleaned the ice at that point and said you’re gone. Whether it was fair or just, if you’re looking for that, you shouldn’t. It was just a matter of there being after the whistle stuff and the refs got two guys from each team out of there for the rest of the game.

On Strait and Despres:
I think we went to seven defensemen for a couple reasons. Obviously without Paul Martin in the lineup, that’s a lot of minutes and a lot of situation, including the second power play. Simon being in the lineup factored into that – needing to have another guy on the backend for power-play situation. Brian Strait also added some defensive situations and minutes in the absence of Paul Martin. I thought the seven defensemen worked really well. I thought they did well and played well in the game. I told Simon when he was sent to Wilkes-Barre that he was going to come back and play a big game for us. We thought that because we know he can do it. He’s been in those situations throughout the year. He certainly came back up in a big situation and played well.

On if he’s found his first power-play unit:
We have, on two different occasions, gone with that as the first group. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz with Sullivan and Letang. It wasn’t totally new to have them thrown out there into that position, given the two previous games. But 4-for-9 is pretty good.

On if he thinks this series eventually has to return to normalcy:
Yes, I do. I think that. Special teams has really kind of blown it up in this series as a big factor in each game. The number of special-teams goals has been probably off the charts in terms of the amount of them. That’s kind of blown up some of the games and made them high scoring. I do anticipate being in games where it’s tighter and more of a playoff-type of hockey. Just hasn’t gotten there yet. After the first period, you’re kind of shaking your head. You’re talking about playoff hockey and expecting some of that stuff. It just hasn’t totally materialized for 60 minutes or a full game here.

On how Fleury has gotten his confidence back and how he’ll respond in Game 5:
I think Marc-Andre and the team feel the same way. They’re mired in some of the responsibility for the first three games. Marc made two really big saves in the second (period), one in particular on (Claude) Giroux. He makes a big one in the third on (Braydon) Coburn with the glove save on a rush. Whether they meant a ton to the score at the time, especially in the third period, they probably didn’t. But I thought they were big saves for Marc and the type of saves you get from Marc-Andre Fleury. I thought that from our team as well in terms of the play. Certainly our big guys stepped up and had big nights and big moments in that game, from the first goal to Jordan Staal and Kris Letang getting goals there at the end of the first period. Those big-time guys stepped up and I think you saw that from our group. You saw our team in a lot of ways, but it’s one game. We know we had to win one game. We’re not in a series any longer. We’re in one game. That’s what we have Friday.

On pairing Crosby and Malkin together during certain situations and if he’ll do that more:
I definitely will look for situations to see Sid and Geno together. I thought Sully was going well. We’ve used Kuni particularly in that spot for the few times that we have seen that. In Games 1 and 2, we were tied early in games or in the lead for a lot of the game. It’s not something I usually go to when we’re in the lead. In that particular case, we needed a response from our team and the two big guys going over the boards together in different times certainly gave that response for our team. It wasn’t just those guys. Jordan Staal stepped up. Big guys stepped up. We needed them too. They especially did in the first period where you see them get one goal, you see us respond, you see them get some other big power-play goals. We needed a response from our team immediately, and those guys stepped up and did that.

--Michelle Crechiolo

2:03 PM:
Sounds heard around the room…

James Neal

On where he watched the game:
I was up in the press box.

On how his morning went:
It was a long day. You usually have your (afternoon) nap and then you’re off to the rink. I had a nap, woke up and sat around the hotel a little bit because I had a good skate in the morning. I waited until game time. It was a different feeling, a different nervousness. I’m glad the guys did a great job. It’s tough when you can’t help your team out and have nothing to do for an outcome. It was weird, but it was good.

On getting back:
Coming back home we’ll take it one game and one shift at a time. We have to keep going and stay on the gas. We have to keep being physical and keep shooting the puck.

On if he could relax at any point during Game 4:
When we got up by four goals I was OK. It was a different nervousness in the press box watching. Not a feeling that you like to have. There was confidence in this room. Our backs were against the wall and we knew what we had to do.

Brooks Orpik

On if Game 4 is a turning point:
Not for our team. We knew it was an elimination game. The way we looked at it, it didn’t matter if it was 2-1 or 10-3. It’s still only one win. You don’t get any extra points for beating them by seven goals. We’ve dug ourselves a big hole and we just have to chip away at it, little by little here.

On what was different in Game 4 playing in front of Fleury:
We didn’t give up five breakaways on him. We made it easier on him. A lot was made of the way he played. He probably hasn’t played his best, but we’ve been really bad in front of him for the first three games. Not allowing the quality of chances in the first three games was big. Hopefully he can build on some of that confidence, making some routine saves rather than having to make 10 spectacular saves every game.

On if the Pens were shocked after the first three games:
I don’t know about shock. It would have been more shocking if we played really well for three games and we were down 3-0. We were really bad for three games and were down 3-0. It was what you expect. On the flip side of that, because we hadn’t played well for three games that gave us a reason to opportunistic going into Game 4 and saying if we could play halfway decent we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for. A lot of weird things can happen in a game. You can outshoot a team 50-10 and a goalie can stand on his head; you deserve to win but you lose. The biggest thing is you have to give yourself a chance to win. The first three games we really didn’t do that.

Craig Adams

On if the mentality changes at 3-1 in the series:
I think the mentality stays the same. We have to be a desperate team. We have to play with confidence. We have to limit their chances. We did a better job of that the other night and we got a better result.

On not being able to play in Game 4:
The first period was tough to watch. The guys were very resilient, as we have been all year. As the game went on it became easier and easier to watch.

On if he was relieved at any point during Game 4:
Probably in the third period. With the way things have been going against us you never know what kind of lead is safe. It is clear the guys were playing well and managing the game. They were limiting chances. It was going to be tough for them.

On the perspective of watching from the press box:
Not really. It’s a different perspective but I don’t know if it’s the best place to watch a game. Tactically maybe. It’s so much slower up there and you see so much ice that it’s deceiving. I don’t think it’s too good to watch from up there.

Arron Asham

On if he lost his emotions in Game 3:
I don’t think it was dirty. (Brayden) Schenn left his feet and targeted my teammates (Paul Martin) head. He’s not playing. It’s my job to go in there and make sure no one takes liberties on the guys. My stick got a little high and I’m paying the consequences now, sitting out four (games). As long as our team keeps winning I’ll sit out all playoffs if it gets us where we need to get to. I’m not worried about that.

On if his punch factored into the suspension:
Obviously it didn’t help. It was more distance traveled. I came from the other end of the ice and wasn’t striding. I had my arms extended. It’s contact. I’m just glad I didn’t get him where I hurt him. Sometimes you have to take one for the team. I did.

On being on a team that came back to win a series when down 3-0:
We’ve been talking. We’ll take it game by game, shift by shift. It’s obviously a big hill to climb. Anything can happen. We have the horses. We have the guys. We have the character in this room to do it. Guys are excited to still be playing. We got a huge win in Philly and we’re coming home. It’s always nice to play at home.

--Sam Kasan

12:24 PM:
Pens pics...

Johnson (left); Orpik (right)

Kennedy (left); Kennedy with coach Reirden (right)

Video coordinator Jim Britt filling in (left); Neal (right)

Letang (left); Despres (right)

--Brittany Goncar

12:04 PM:
The Pens are on the ice for practice. Looks like a couple guys are getting the day off for maintenance. The following players are taking part: Jeffrey; Vitale; Tangradi; Neal; Adams; Asham; Park; Kennedy; Despres; Strait; Letang; Orpik; Lovejoy; Johnson.

--Sam Kasan

11:30 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens will hit the ice for practice at roughly noon as they prepare for Game 5 Friday night in the home barn against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Pens headed into Game 4 in Philly last night with one thing in mind, winning the contest to stay alive to force a Game 5 back home. Mission more than accomplished as they skated away with a lopsided 10-3 victory. But the team is keeping the win in perspective.

“It’s one win. We came (to Philadelphia) to stay alive,” captain Sidney Crosby said after the game. “It was a good effort by everyone and we’ll continue in Pittsburgh.”

It was a complete effort from the team on many fronts, however the two aspects that shone brightest in the contest were Jordan Staal's first career hat trick and a power play that converted four times.

But now the most important task for the Pens is to forget about Game 4. It's in the past. The team's focus now must be on Game 5. After all, they still remain one loss away from elimination. Despite all the great things the team did in Game 4, they have to be even better in Game 5. There is much work to be done and that starts at today's practice.

“It’s still 3-1 for the Flyers,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We have one game to win on Friday. That’s got to be the focus. It can’t be about momentum or what happened in this game. We have to worry about one game only, which is Friday.”


Today, we'll open the day with a fitting song by Ryan Adams called "So Alive." After all, the Pens didn't just barely squeak by with a win in Game 4; they stayed alive with a dominant performance. And the lyrics are very fitting with the support the team has recieved from Pens fans everywhere: "Always by your side. I'm on your side. And so alive..."

Anyways, enjoy.

--Sam Kasan
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