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Penguins Report: 4/24/11

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Staal and Kennedy are absent from practice; Cooke and N. Johnson are skating (11:04 AM).
  • Mearsy brings you today's update (3:32 PM).
  • Brent Johnson is rockin' the all-white getup (10:46 AM).
  • Pens have a history of bouncing back from tough losses in the playoffs (2:53 PM).
  • Bylsma reflects on Game 5 and refocuses for Game 6 (1:28 PM).
  • Words of wisdrom from Asham, Rupp, Neal and Michalek (12:57 PM).
  • Stats on the Pens' resiliency (10:30 AM).
  • Pens pics (11;23 AM).
  • Power-play meeting of the minds (1:33 PM).

3:32 PM:
And here's Steve Mears with today's Penguins Insider report:

2:53 PM:
We just posted a great article by's own Sam Kasan on how the team plans on bouncing back from last night's Game 5 loss. Seriously, it's a solid read. Check it out by clicking here.

1:33 PM:
Here's a cool moment we froze in time: the Pens' power-play units gathered to watch assistant coach Todd Reirden map out strategies on the dry erase board.

1:28 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On how hard it is to get his team refocused after a loss like Game 5:
I think there’s some emotional parts of losing a game 8-2 that are different than losing a game 3-2 in overtime and regrouping. Certainly there are things we have to talk about and discuss that. At the end of the day, they won a game to make (the series) 3-2. It’s 3-2 for us and we’re going on the road to Tampa for Game 6. A lot of the emotions of a loss have got to be dealt with and put aside and move on to the real situation at hand in we have an opportunity, for Game 6, to be the first to get to four wins. That’s why our team has got to get refocused and get ready for Game 6.

On if he is satisfied with Jordan Staal’s play this series and if he is confident that he will have his best game of the series on Monday:
You’re talking about a guy who plays in every situation every time he goes over the boards. They score four power-play goals last night; I don’t think Jordan Staal felt very good about that. He’s a big part of our penalty kill. So certainly some responsibility for that, and I know he takes responsibility for that. And there are other scenarios of the game that are like that as well. He could have a good power-play night and not a good penalty kill night, and he’s walking home not feeling maybe great about his game or his situation because of how much he means to our team. But our team and how we play and the emotions of our team, a lot of it is through Jordan. Last game wasn't good in a lot of regards; we don't feel good about the game. But now it’s time to refocus and get on to Game 6, and Jordan will be a big part of that for our team in getting back to what we need to do and how we need to play to be successful and how we have been successful in the series.

On how important it is for the team to get back to interior offense after struggling with it in Game 5:
I have a tough time really putting a true evaluation on the game last night given the situation of, at one point in the game, the shots are 11-4. And there is a feeling, at least when you hit a post and you have an opportunity to go up and there was maybe one other opportunity, a really good one, to go up in the game, you feel like you’re on the verge of having a good first period if you get that first goal. But there are things about the game, even at that point, that I didn't particularly feel great about and we need to remedy. But we’ve had success with certain things about how we play, quickness-wise and speed-wise and being able to get to the offensive zone, where we have had success in that. We have to be able to do to get what we need in and around their goaltender in the offensive zone, playing shifts there and pinning them back. That’s something where we’ve been successful at it at times and they have been successful at times at nullifying that from our game. That will be a big part of our success going forward.

On looking back and thinking if there is anything they could have done differently as coaches to stop the guys from losing focus:
Yeah, we do. When they scored the second goal, I believe there was around 2:25 left on the clock, I don’t know exactly. But looking up at that particular time, I thought about a timeout. But with two minutes to go in the period, I thought (we could) get to the end of the period. But there are some things you can do and say on the bench, timeout-wise, changing the goaltenders depending on the situation. Those are all things (you can do) to stave off the momentum. Some of it is just recognition on the bench that in this series – and a lot of playoff series – there have been goals in very short order after a goal. You’ve seen that numerous times in these playoffs and it just speaks to the emotion of playoff hockey, especially I think here in the first round where teams respond real quickly or some teams have scored two goals in short order. Tampa Bay did that basically in two shifts. We did it in Game 1. It’s been in other series as well. So that emotion swing and responding and the next shift mentality and understanding those things are things we have to be better at, but it’s something you see in particularly this first round in a lot of series.

On if there are any adjustments he needs to make facing seven defensemen in a game:
It’s more having to do with really, they don’t have a fourth line. Their fourth line consists of players from their top line and a lot of changes there. So some of the anticipation of the line changes, getting certain matchups, being aware of those situations because they are supplementing some of their top forwards on to their third and fourth lines. Those are things to be aware of in the game for both our forward matchups and our D matchups. Seven defensemen, they have been using (Marc-Andre) Bergeron in offensive situations, power-play situations and when they got offensive-zone faceoffs, they would switch him out sometimes to get his shot on the point for an offensive-zone faceoff win if they did get it. SO those are things to be aware of, because they’re a little bit more specialty play then when they have seven versus six.

On Tampa Bay having success wristing shots to the net and making them 50/50 pucks off rebounds and what they can do to adjust to that:
It’s been something that’s been in this series from the opening game. Their first period in Game 1, they put, shoveled, scooped and threw pucks to the net every chance they got. They’re a team that likes to go to the paint and crash there with three guys. One of the things that we’ve tried to adjust to, make ourselves and our D zone coverage a little more aware of is their pucks back to the point and the shot getting there as quickly as possible. It’s something we’re aware of. It’s something that we’re trying to do and having a focus from our defensemen. It’s something our goalie is aware of, and shooting lanes for our forwards is something we’re aware of. Again, it takes one to be a goal. So we have to continue to do a good job throughout the series. We’ve got to be aware of those scenarios, those situations. Be aware of what we can do and what we’re trying to do and keep those pucks away from those areas when we can and be aware of the battles at the net when they do happen. They did a good job last game of getting those scenarios and they won 3-4 of those battles and turned them into goals behind our goaltender.

12:57 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Arron Asham

On the road team having success:
We’ve just been playing really well on the road and Game 6 is definitely a big one, so we’ve got to go into Tampa with a good mindset and go there and outwork them for 60 minutes.

On how much they can take away from a game like Saturday’s:
I think I would rather lose 8-2 then lose in a triple-overtime game or something like that. No one was happy with the outcome. We came out strong then just deterioted from there. It’s the way it goes. That game is behind us; we’ve got to think about Monday and we're put in a big effort.

On what’s behind the teams getting quick goals in short spans of time:
It’s been weird. I think it happened in Game 1, I think it’s happened every game pretty much, or something close to that. I’m not sure what it is, but we’re hoping next game it goes our way. We’ve just got to play our style and stick to our game plan and we’ll be fine.

Michael Rupp

On how to put the Game 5 loss behind them:
You have to. You can’t let that linger. You don’t want any momentum to be carried by them or want to be down in the dumps on our end. I think it’s an easy one to throw in the garbage. I was saying yesterday that the two or three overtime losses are sometimes a little harder to swallow. This one, from an early point, as far as scoring-wise, we didn't give ourselves a good shot in that game. So it’s an easy one to toss to the side.

On losing like they did as opposed to losing in two or three overtimes:
It’s a loss either way if it’s 13-0 or 1-0. So we’ll take it as that. We’ve done a lot of good things in this series, and we need to take that to Tampa.

On the road team having success:
I don’t know. I think that it might be more of just the rebound. Both teams have very good character to come back after poor games. So we win the first one, they respond in Game 2. We respond in Game 3. We had a tight one in Game 4. We came off two wins there, and they respond here. The ball’s in our court now to do the same, and I think it’s more of that then where the game is played.

On the guys maintaining an even keel and if the attitude around the locker room is different than after any other game:
I don’t think so. I think if anything, it brings our focus a little more onto the tasks that need to be done. Not that (our focus) wasn’t there yesterday, but you’re driving to the rink and you’re looking at today as an opportunity to step on that ice and forget about yesterday and tomorrow is an opportunity to win a hockey game. So our attitude is great. No one’s dragging their tail or their heads are down, so it’s a good thing.

James Neal

On how to put the Game 5 loss behind them:
I think you need to take what good there is out of the game and you move on. It’s playoff time and you can’t let things dwell or things stick with you. The second you start doing that, then you’re not prepared for your next game. So let it go and look forward to tomorrow.

On what they took out of that game that was good:
The first 10 minutes of the game, I think we played well and came out and did exactly what we wanted to do, and then we kind of fell apart from there. So that’s the good.

On losing like they did as opposed to losing in two or three overtimes:
It’s obviously a tough way (to lose), coming into your home building and having an opportunity to clinch the series and play like that. But it is a seven-game series. That’s why it’s the playoffs.

On the advantage going to the road team in this series:
Yeah, it has. It’s tough to say why, but we just have to come out and play the way we can and for some reason, we’ve done that in Tampa and played Tampa tough in their own rink. Maybe it’s just coming home and feeling too comfortable and the distractions of being at home. On the road, you’re focused on only one thing and sometimes you get away from that at home.

On if it’s as simple as getting the first goal:
I think that’s a boost to get the first goal. But you can’t fall behind and expect to just catch up without playing the right way. But like I said, put stuff behind you, look forward to the next game and if you get the first goal, it’s obviously a boost for our team. But if you don’t, keep going the same way and find a way to get the lead.

Zbynek Michalek

On what they took out of Game 5 that was good:
I don’t know. It was a tough one to take something positive from there, but maybe the start. We started pretty good, and it’s going to be important tomorrow again. We want to make sure we regroup and play our game again. Make sure we stay composed and play our systems. The first goal is always big, and we want to make sure we start well again and put all of the pressure on them and keep getting shots on net like we did yesterday and hopefully get that first goal.

On what’s behind the teams getting quick goals in short spans of time and if that has anything to do with mental breakdowns:
You might be right, there might be something like that going on because when one team scores, it seems like a few shifts later or the next shift, another goal comes. We’ve got to make sure if that happens to us, we go out there and stay focused. We can’t get out of our game. The next shift we have to bear down and don’t let them score again like we did yesterday.

On if that maybe made them go into shock a little bit in the second period:
It was just like (those goals) happened so quickly, and before we realized it, we were down five, six goals, and everything was going against us. We didn't get any bounces; they were getting all the bounces. But that’s how it goes. When one team gets confidence, they get on a roll and they get those bounces and those lucky goals. So yesterday it was them. But they work hard for it, they deserved those bounces. We made it pretty easy for them.

On the road team having success:
I don’t know, I wish I knew. It’s not just been our series, it’s everywhere in the playoffs it seems like road teams are doing pretty well. I don’t know what the reason is. I guess if you go on the road, you know you’re more focused. You think about your system more and just to play a simple game. I think at home sometimes you try a little too much, and when things don’t work out, the crowd tends to get on you a little bit and people are unhappy, so players on the ice get a little bit nervous. They’re not as confident. So there’s a lot of things probably playing a role. You would like to play good at home for sure, but for whatever reason, it’s not happening this year.

11:23 AM:
We've got the photographic proof of the Pens at work...

Goalie bonding time in their white pads (left); Adsy with a smile on his face (right)

Comrie eyeing Conner's puck (left); Meeting of the minds (right)

Tony G. being a team player and clearing out the pucks (left); Kovy's laser-sharp focus (right)

Linemates Kovalev and Neal

Paulie M. (left); N. Johnson taping it up (right)

11:04 AM:
Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy are the only ones absent from practice. Matt Cooke and Nick Johnson are skating with the team, while Sidney Crosby is not.

10:46 AM:
Goalie Brent Johnson took the ice early to get some work in, with Deryk Engelland and Mike Comrie testing him with some shots. Johnny's rockin' the white pads again today – and now has the glove and blocker to match. He's looking pretty fresh!

10:30 AM:
Hello and welcome everybody (and Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!) We're currently posted up at CONSOL Energy Center waiting for the Penguins to take the ice for their 11 a.m. practice. The team will fly to Tampa immediately following their skate.

Despite an 8-2 loss to the Lightning in this same building on Saturday, the Pens still hold a 3-2 edge in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Lightning and have a chance to clinch in Monday night's Game 6 for what was announced to be a 7 p.m. start.

Although Pittsburgh's Game 5 loss was a tough one, the good news is that the Penguins have a history of both closing series on the road and rebounding from tough playoff losses.

The numbers don't lie:
  • Pittsburgh is 5-1 on the road in their past six chances to close out a series.
  • Three of those five wins came following home losses when the Pens had a chance to close out the series.
  • The Penguins are 6-1 in their past seven second chances to close out a series.
  • And although the Penguins are 7-2 in their last nine playoff games on the road, the team is 6-1 all-time in playoff series since 2008 when they have held home-ice advantage.
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