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Penguins Report: 4/26/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens hold optional practice – 13 attend (2:20 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma is ready for Game 7 at home (1:41 PM).
  • Meesh gives you the day’s scoop on the Penguins (5:51 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on experience, the power play and lineup changes (4:35 PM).
  • Letang, Letestu and Lovejoy spit knowledge (3:57 PM).
  • Pens pics (2:36 PM).
  • “It's kind of funny how something so soothing gets interrupted by the ring of a telephone…” (1:30 PM).

5:51 PM:
Michelle Crechiolo brings you today's edition of Penguins Insider. Click to watch this rising star shine.

4:35 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if experience helps in a Game 7:
There is experience to draw. There are a number of players that have been in this situation. We’ve been in this situation and lost. There is something to learn and gage. I also know that every series and every game has its own separate emotions. We’ll do with what we’ve gone through being up 3-1 and losing the last two. Now we have a Game 7 back in our building. They won two games, have some momentum, and now they’re coming back into a building where they’ve had some success in this playoff series. Every series is different. You try to draw on your experiences. Their players have some as well, some of them don’t. We’re going to have our challenges coming out for Game 7, as are they. There are lots of parts of the story that will play itself out. We’ll all gain experience from it.

On Crosby playing:
There will be no change in Sidney Crosby’s status.

On telling the team that this will be a seven-game series:
It takes seven games to win four. If you have that mentality in how you’re going to play and keep focused on playing that way. When you have that mindset that you keep playing a certain way and play your game, then you push a team out. You push them out in seven games. We would have taken it in fiver or six. But we knew we were playing a good opponent. We knew they would respond. We knew they are a hard working group. We know what they’re good at. We fully expect to be entrenched in a battle with Tampa Bay. We have somewhat prepared to play them seven games, which we’ll get tomorrow night.

On Fleury needing his best in Game 7:
Certain aspects of playoff hockey and of this series that play themselves out, we talked about how that was going to be. There are other aspects of the game that will be there and the winning team with write the script on how those play out. Our power play, their power play, our penalty kill is going to be a factor, goaltending will be a factor, our good players, their good players. They have skilled players who are dangerous. We have to be aware of that situation. Those will play themselves out. They’re going to be a factor tomorrow. How our team plays versus their team and their structure will be part of the storyline tomorrow. Someone is going to be on the winning side of that. Their story will be better than the other teams. We need our team to play the right way. We need our special teams and penalty kill to be good. We need to use our speed and play a quick game to get to their defense. Those will all be factors in the game.

On the power play:
We have a number of scoring chances. The facts are that they have eight goals to our one. That is the predominant fact. They kind of rule the storyline. I think we can execute better in zone. I think we can do a better job in certain areas to try and get better opportunities to score goals. The one goal we do have is with Eric Tangradi as a net-front guy in the game in Tampa that Tyler Kennedy scored. He was a factor for that score. The bottom line is that specials teams are a factor in postseason. They’ve won that battle pretty exclusively in a couple of the games. Last night it was even. In Game 1 it was even. In Game 3 we won the special teams battle. It will be a factor. I think we can do a better job. We have to do a better job of capitalizing. It would have been a big part in last night’s game had we been able to get the equalizer with our power play. We didn’t get that. We had those opportunities, even though we did get some zone time and scoring chances. Part of it is execution. We have to find ways to finish those off. If we don’t then the scoring chances aren’t going to matter in the end.

On if Tangradi will play in Game 7:

On if Engelland will play in Game 7:
It is difficult bringing a guy in that hasn’t played, coming in cold. You saw Eric Tangradi came in somewhat cold. He hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last couple months and played a pretty good game for us without Chris Kunitz. You can come in and do it. It is a situation in playoff hockey, a different level, a higher level, stepping into Game 7. Engelland, one of his strengths is his grittiness around the net area. It’s a maybe.

On if Letang is pressing for offense and why he isn’t scoring:
I think not having Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out there on the power play, he feels more offense falls to him and doing some things more himself. That has affected him. He put himself in situations. Last night he hit the post in the third period. If he finds the back of the net like Jordan Staal did then you’re talking about him getting that goal for us. Again for our team, it’s not about Kris Letang having to do more for Game 7. It’s not one person on the power play coming up with a big game. It’s going to be our team and how we play. It will be the factors in the game that have played out through (the first) six. It’s putting ourselves in a situation to win the hockey game because of the way we play. If we have success, we’ll know how we need to do that. As a team for Game 7, someone will put the cape on. It could be Kris Letang. It could be James Neal. It could be Jordan Staal. It’s more important with how we play as opposed to one guy going out and thinking they need to put the cape on to help us win the game.

On if he’s superstitious for Game 7 or will change routine:
I feel the same way about routines as I do with the way our team is going to play Game 7. I’m confident our team knows how to play tomorrow’s game. I’m confident that they know how we need to play to have success. We’ve built that in our team. We’ve been a good team, playing a certain way. The suit that I wear tomorrow will have already proven its worth throughout the season. That’s why it will be worn tomorrow. The routine will be the same as I’ve used throughout the year. I’m not going to change it and try to come up with a trick. My son and I had a conversation this morning. He didn’t let me know of any of the statistics. He was more supportive today and ready for Game 7. He didn’t alert me.

On playing Game 7 at home:
I sensed the fans in that game last night for their team at certain times and the emotion in the building for their team. We have Game 7 in our building and I know how it’s going to be in here right from the anthem, with the towels and the energy in our building and our fans behind us. We’ve used that in the past to spur our team on with the energy that our fans provide and the atmosphere in the building. We have home ice, we have the last change, we have our fans, the whiteout is going to be in the building, the towels are going to be going and that’s energy and momentum that we’re going to need to use in the game to have. I know the fans are going to be a factor. I know home ice is going to be a factor. I can’t wait to step out for the start of that game tomorrow and get the fans behind us.

3:57 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Kris Letang

On if he’s pressing to score:
No, not at all. I keep doing my thing and playing my way.

On why the PP can’t get going:
Over six games we have 26, 27 scoring chances on the power play. It’s just a question of bounces. Sometimes you get a lucky bounce and it goes in, then we don’t talk about the power play anymore. We’ll make some adjustments, but we’ll focus on our game five-on-five.

On Game 7:
You need your best players to play their best. Everybody needs to bring their best game. For the experience, it’s just a question of being relaxed, focused and doing your best on the ice.

Mark Letestu

On Game 6:
I think we played a good game in Game 6. We didn’t give them a lot and they capitalized. In Game 7 we’ll have Fleury in net. We know he’s going to play great. Whatever happens, happens. We’re going to play hard and see where it goes.

On why the power play isn’t clicking:
For us right now it is the mentality of the next one. If you look at the numbers right now it can be discouraging. In the single-digit percent. It’s the next one. If the power play gets a big goal then it’ll be a great power play. The mentality right now is to get the next goal, a big goal for the team and hopefully spark something.

On Fleury rebounding in Game 7:
He’s a big leader on this team. He’s someone we lean on, hopefully not too heavily. I’m sure there will be some big stops in there for us. His experience probably brings him a lot of confidence in this situation. It breeds throughout the room. It gives us confidence to go out there and give him a few goals to work with.

On playing at home in Game 7:
It’s 82 games of work to get that home ice. The fans are a big reason for that. They’ve been behind us all year. They’re great. We pride ourselves playing in front of them and we feed off the energy they bring to the building to help us play.

Ben Lovejoy

On the team’s poor history at home in Game 7:
We’d much rather be here. Coming out and playing here is the best. Right after the national anthem, which has been amazing the past couple times, the whiteout and the towels and the place going nuts, it’s a fun place to play. I think we’re excited that this game is a home game.

On playing better defensively:
We need to be more cognizant of guys around the net. They throw pucks to the net almost blindly and crash the blue paint. Those are tough plays to play against. We each need to have our man and be ready to go. Marc(-Andre Fleury) is going to make that first save. We need to be ready for the rebound and be on our man.

On the series going 7:
We were told all along by our coaching staff that this would be a seven-game series. These are two evenly matched teams that bring different things to the table. We finished only a few points apart during the regular season. We expected this to be a battle. We didn’t expect this to be easy. Going into a Game 7 is fun. This is what you look forward to all year, and I’m glad it’s a home game.

2:36 PM:
Pens practice pics...

Letestu has a staring contest with a puck (left); Brent Johnson works on his wrist shot (right)

Two strangers skate in two different life paths (left); Look closely and you'll see Nick Johnson 'put on the foil' (right)

Meeting of the minds - French Enlightenment style (left); Martin works on his no-look, no-puck pass (right)

Video coordinator guards the net like a sponge (left); Engelland tries the thieve Kennedy's stick (right)

2:20 PM:
The Pens are on the ice for an optional practice. There 13 players on the ice: forwards Letestu, Kennedy, Conner, Godard, Comrie, Tangradi, N.Johnson and Cooke, defensemen Martin, Niskanen, Lovejoy and Engelland and goalie B.Johnson.

1:41 PM:
The Pens worked all season to gain home-ice advantage so that if a Game 7 would be needed, the team would be playing on its home turf with the support of the fans. Head coach Dan Bylsma made that very clear on his comment about Wednesday's Game 7.

1:30 PM:
Welcome to CONSOL Energy Center. We are posted up at practice as the Pens are scheduled to hit the ice at 2 p.m. 2:15 p.m. After a 4-2 setback to the Lightning, the team flew back from Tampa and arrived in Pittsburgh a little after 1 a.m.

The Pens and Bolts will face off in a do-or-die Game 7 Wednesday night in the 'Burgh. The Pens are 7-5 all-time in Game 7 contests, including 4-1 in their past five contests.

2010: Montreal 5 at Pittsburgh 2, conf. semis
2009: Pittsburgh 2 at Detroit 1, Stanley Cup final
2009: Pittsburgh 6 at Washington 2, conf. semis
2001: Pittsburgh 3 at Buffalo 2 (OT), conf. semis
1999: Pittsburgh 4 at New Jersey 2, conf. quarters

For today's music we'll go with Chuck Ragan covering Hot Water Music covering Alkaline Trio. Ragan was a member of Hot Water Music from the band's inception in the mid-90s until 2006, when he left to start his own acoustic solo project.

As a member of HWM, Ragan recorded an acoustic version of Alkaline Trio's "Bleeder." The two bands released a split album together, covering songs by each other with a few new releases. Here is a clip of Ragan performing "Bleeder" live in Canada. It's hard not to love his rough and raspy vocals.

Here is the original version by Alkaline Trio. Enjoy.

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