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Penguins Report: 4/21/12

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Trib Playoff Update (4:03 PM).
  • Martin, Michalek, Niskanen absent from practice (12:01 PM).
  • Malkin, Crosby, Letang and Cooke check in with the media (1:59 PM).
  • Bylsma gives his thoughts (2:38 PM).
  • Good crop of photos today (12:53 PM).
  • "I'm still alive" -- shout out to Orpik (11:15 AM).

4:03 PM:
Mearsy filmed today's Trib Playoff Update before heading off to Philly for Game 6. Here's a wrapup of what came out of Pittsburgh this afternoon.

--Michelle Crechiolo

2:38 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if Jordan Staal’s play is going unnoticed:
I’m not sure what he would have to do to be noticed. I’m not sure why you haven’t noticed him. But I also know he’s not trying to get noticed. He’s trying to win one hockey game and he was a huge part of it last night. We needed big plays and his line stepped up. He gets the tying goal at a point in the game when there wasn’t a lot in the game. He stepped up and got a big goal. We had some momentum from there and his line ends up getting another goal on an offensive zone play. Huge plays and huge goals for our team, especially in a point in the game when we were behind and the period wasn’t much better than 50-50 and there wasn’t a lot going either way. They stepped up and came up big. He came up big in other ways, too, in the game. He came up big in the third period, he came up big on the penalty kill. Those were big parts, maybe as big of parts (as Fleury’s performance) to the game for us.

On keeping his three centers happy:
There are certainly different roles, different players and different opportunities on the ice for them. But it is interesting, really, that the time on ice doesn’t change a lot whether they’re in the lineup or not. Their roles and who they play against don’t really change it a lot whether it’s just one or all three in the lineup. They each play a significant role for our team. They each kind of get different matchups and different opportunities, but they all are very good and elite players in their own right and all at the center position. When all three are playing, they’re all around the same time. If one is out or both (Crosby and Malkin) are out, Jordan’s still around the 21-minute mark for our team. That’s a good challenge.

On what kind of game he’s expecting Sunday:
If I’m trying to expect something in these games, I would have been wrong a lot. Not really expecting (a certain) type of game or how it’s going to play out. Our focus has been just about one game, and really our team and being at our best at the start. Each game has been different. It was different last game. We again got behind in the game and gave up another power-play goal to be down again. It’s been different games. We know right now where we’re at. We’re at a one-game focus and really, one period at a time, five minutes at a time and now it shifts back to Philly for one game.

On if he believes in momentum from game to game:
It’s a tough question, because I do think there is momentum in a series. I do think it’s cut off by different factors. Sometimes it’s just a change of venue. Sometimes just game-to-game, it gets cut off by different things. But there is momentum in a series. But I also know starting Game 5, whether we had momentum or not coming back home, it’s immediately cut short by the start of the game and what happens on the ice. They clearly come out and get some great scoring chances. They get a power-play goal and they get another one. So whatever momentum there was, whatever things you think you can pick up from Game 4, it’s cut off by the start of Game 5 and the circumstances that happened there. We found ourselves in a completely different game than we were in Game 4.

On Malkin’s penalties and reinforcing the need to stay away from those:
Geno’s was not the only penalty that we took on the emotional side of the game last night. We had another one in the third period, Tyler Kennedy’s, that was a response. In the situation we’re in right now, we’ve talked about being emotionally in control in this series whistle to whistle, and not being involved in those situations after the whistle. Last night, it was between the whistles that we were on the wrong side of that and put our team in tough situations, which, luckily, didn’t hurt us. Or at least we were able to get a win in that game. It will be a factor next game. We know where we’re at. We know it’s one game. We know we have to have that focus. Playing our game and playing at our best is our focus. Not being caught up in that other stuff, because one time could be the difference in these games right now. We are at one game. That’s got to be our focus.

On the Flyers knowing a comeback from 3-0 can be done and if that can affect them:
The question about playoff experience and having done things in the past and playing games, I think it’s beneficial. But at the same time, every playoff series has been different – completely different. Some of the things you did well one year, we didn’t do well last year or the year before. What we did well in ’09, we experienced in a different way against Tampa Bay and didn’t do well. It’s different every year. The emotions are a big part of the playoffs. They’re big game-to-game and even within a game. Some of the emotions that are in the game and within the game are huge. You might have played 263 playoff games or you might have played 50, but it’s different every year. The emotions from game to game are real hard for teams to deal with. We were on the backside of losing Games 1, 2 and 3. That’s an emotion we’ve dealt with. Now we’re at one game at a time. We win Game 4 and we come in here in a real emotional game for our team, one where we probably aren’t at our best in terms of emotional control and dealing with the building and the situation of the game where we’re fortunate to win Game 5. You can’t look at any other momentum building or any other things other than our one-game focus. Not really worry about where the Flyers are at. We have to have that focus. It’s very important for how we play Game 6.

On if they still have yet to play their best game:
We have done some things at our best for Games 4 and 5. I think we’re still looking for our very best for Game 6. That’s what our focus is. I thought defensively and away from the puck, we did a lot of really good things. Our battle level (was good, too). We did very well, but we’re looking at being at our very best for Game 6 and that one-game focus

On Raffi Torres’ 25-game suspension:
I think it’s going to be probably the most talked-about thing throughout the locker rooms today. I think everyone will have a sense of it. I think the amount of the games was a big statement. I think it will have an effect not only on Torres and that situation, but I think it will have an effect around the league in terms of a statement about that type of hit and that type of play not being in our game. I think it will have a big effect.

--Michelle Crechiolo

1:59 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Evgeni Malkin

On his mindset heading into Game 6:
Just be patient and just play my game. Last game I had two bad penalties. I’m a little bit nervous. So play my game. 

On if they have mental advantage over the Flyers now:
We just think about the next game (Sunday) and not Game 7. Just tomorrow, the next game and 60 minutes to play. Of course we have a chance, but Phily is a great team and they’re playing at home, so of course they’ll try to finish the series at home. But ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury) played great last game. We’ll just focus in the defensive zone.

On colliding with Crosby:
We both go to the puck and it’s my fault because ‘Sid’ controlled the puck. I just think it’s a loose puck and I tried to pick it up, but since Sid is moving a little bit to the left I can’t stop. It’s too fast. 

On if his line can pick it up a notch:
We have 20 people and everyone needs to play their game. Of course we need to play better. Last game (Friday) we did not score and did not play great. I had a couple of bad penalties. Next game we’ll play better. 

On Sean Couturier and Philly’s checking line:
It’s tough. He’s a good, good player. He plays with Max Talbot. I know him, he’s a good player too. We just need to show our best and if we play right, we have a chance to win.

On keeping emotions in check:
Of course it’s hard to control emotions because every whistle the puck stops and every whistle you have five D coming to you or two D coming to you. They start pushing you. Of course it’s hard, but I need to control.

Sidney Crosby

On what has changed from the first three games in the series:
I think we’ve executed much better. We’ve limited our mistakes and are getting ourselves a much better chance in the game. That’s really been the difference. They are still getting opportunities. They’re a good team. They’re going to have opportunities, but I think we’ve limited our mistakes. That’s really been the difference.

On how to be successful in Philadelphia tomorrow:
We just need to keep the mentality that we’ve had the last couple of games. Our situation doesn’t change. Same mindset.

On Evgeni Malkin’s emotions:
I think he’s been through enough already to know when it’s important to keep that in check. It’s an emotional game, things are going to happen. We all know that we have to put our energy in the right places. He knows that. We all know that. It doesn’t mean things aren’t going to happen because they do. As long as we try to know that in the back of our minds then we give ourselves a better chance.

On if there is a mental and physical change in Marc-Andre Fleury:
I think he just looks like he’s having fun. I think when (Marc-Andre Fleury) is at his best he’s enjoying himself out there. He’s a competitor. He competes, he enjoys competing and when he’s making those big saves it’s a huge boost for us. He changed the game (Friday) night with those saves.

On if Flyers are starting to get nervous:
We expect them to be desperate. This is a big game and we have to be desperate as well. Our situation and our mindset hasn’t changed. It won’t change. We expect it to get tougher and tougher.

On his feelings towards Fleury’s bounce-back performance:
I’m just happy for him as a teammate. You love seeing your goalie have success and make those big saves. He competes hard. He works hard. He definitely made some big saves and was able to help us move forward. That’s great for him and we’re happy for him.

On packing a lot into a short practice with the intensity of the series:
Yeah, with the quick turnaround it’s just a matter of getting out there and going over a couple of things you need to go over. At this point all those habits you practice all year and all those things you stress, that’s when they become so important. That’s why you work so hard on those things. Everyone should have a really good idea of what they need to do, but it’s always good to touch up on things and adjust going into games.

On if they have apprehension for a noon game time:
No, no it’s good. Just get up and play. It’s fine.

Kris Letang

On if the Pens now have the mental advantage:
No, I don’t think so. They’re going to turn the page like we did from the game. It’ll be a new start. It’s a new game. I think we have to go in there and be comfortable, play our game.

On the Flyers trying to wear down the Pens:
They finish their checks. They're really going hard on the forecheck with two guys. It was a weird series at the beginning. There were a lot of power plays and PKs, so it was tough for a team to get any momentum.

On if the Pens have rattled Bryzgalov:
No, I think the playoffs are day-by-day and game-by-game. You have to forget about the past and move forward.

On improving the PK:
We made some huge mistakes in the first game. They’re a good team. We just have to look at different options that they’re using more than the others and make sure we play a tighter box.

On if the Flyers will be desperate in Game 6:
In the third period (of Game 5) I think we had a really good start until the first timeout. After they started pressuring. They had great chances on the power play too. They’re going to be desperate as much as we are. At this time of the year you can’t take a night off.

Matt Cooke

On the lack of a presence in the offensive zone:
Each game has been totally different. It’s a win and it’s behind us now. We need to approach the next game like we have the last two and worry about the first five minutes of that game.

On if he anticipates the Flyers starting strong:
They’re at home. They’ve got their fans behind them. It’s a loud building so obviously they are going to be pumped up and they’re going to be loud.

On Raffi Torres getting a 25-game suspension:
We’ve got Game 6 tomorrow and that’s the most important thing.

--Brittany Goncar and Sam Kasan

12:53 PM:
Pens went through a brisk practice that lasted about half an hour. Here's the evidence...

Billy G. was on the ice with the team! #lifeiscomplete (left); Fleury - aka the hero of Game 5 (right)

Dupuis' beard is already epic (left); Joey V. with a smile (right)

OK, maybe Strait's beard is better than Dupuis' -- what do you think? (left); Engelland (right)

Friday's game-winning goal scorer (left); Johnny protects the cage (right)

Kunitz and Neal gather in their usual stretch spot (left); lining up for a drill (right)

Cagey vet Sully (left); and for the grand finale, a special guest appearance from Cardboard Orpik!!! (right)

--Michelle Crechiolo

12:01 PM:
Pens practice is underway. Defensemen Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Matt Niskanen are not on the ice.

UPDATE 2:55 PM: When asked about the three missing blueliners, coach Dan Bylsma responded: "There was a handful of guys that stayed off the ice today and everyone else was on. So (it was) nothing."

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:50 AM:
Deryk Engelland was the first player on the ice for practice about 10 minutes ago. The rest of the guys are slowly filtering on now.

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:15 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Today the Pens will hit the ice at about noon for practice before they fly to eastern Pennsylvania. The Pens will play cross-state rival Philadelphia in Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center Sunday at noon.

The Pens and Flyers got together for Game 5 at CONSOL Energy Center Friday night and finally in this series a playoff game broke out. Instead of the run-and-shoot games that have symbolized this series, Game 5 was a typical tight-checked, hard-fought battle of inches. And when the game ended, it was Pittsburgh coming out victorious, 3-2, to for Sunday’s Game 6.

Marc-Andre Fleury got his swagger back in goal, Jordan Staal continues to be the team’s best player and Tyler Kennedy, who always scores at home against Philadelphia (seven goals in nine games at CONSOL Energy Center) notched the game-winner.

Just a few days ago the hockey world had written the Pens off. A lot can change in a few days. Believe.


The Pens have been staring down extinction for the past few days. Instead of wilting, they’ve been thriving. The Flyers haven’t been able to finish them off.

So in honor of the Pens’ stubborn unwillingness to be eliminated I’m going to open the day with Pearl Jam’s “Alive.” Plus, Pearl Jam is defenseman Brooks Orpik’s favorite band and I told him I’d work them into the blog one day. No better day than today.

--Sam Kasan
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