- Marc-Andre Fleury is garnering attention for being the league MVP (1:13 PM).
- Pens holding an optional practice this morning (11:06 AM).
Bylsma gives an update on Evgeni Malkin's status (12:48 PM).
- WBS head coach John Hynes named AHL’s Outstanding Coach (4:44 PM).
- Dupuis, Adams & Cooke have a little fun with the equipment & training staff (10:43 AM).
- "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" Round 2 (1:04 PM).
- "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" Round 1 (12:02 PM).
- "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" Round 3 (4:36 PM).
- Bylsma talks about the standings, his lineup and Friday’s game in Long Island (1:08 PM).
- Letestu and Comrie spit knowledge (1:02 PM), as does Conner (1:05 PM).
- Insightful interview with Sam Kasan, the man behind this blog (3:04 PM).
- No. 66 joins the team pic (3:01 PM).
- Getting pretty (12:10 PM).
- Some of the guys get some family time with their little guys (2:42 PM).
- It's Team Picture Day!!! (10:29 AM).
- Last pics of the day (4:51 PM).
It's the moment we all knew was coming, but wished it wouldn't... the last pictures of the day!
Rob Rossi (aka Steven Seagal) of the Trib chatting with Dupuis before his Inside Penguins Hockey segment (left); Dooper in deep thought waiting for his chat with Steve Mears to get underway
TK joined Penguins Live around 10:15 am this morning
The accolades are continuing to roll in for the truly deserving Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who captured the American Hockey League regular-season title on Sunday. After Brad Thiessen was named the American Hockey League's Outstanding Goaltender
on Monday, head coach John Hynes was awarded the AHL's Outstanding Coach honors
this afternoon. Congrats to John!!!
Thought we were done with the "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" photos? Think again...
Max getting his model on (left); Goalie bonding (right)
The team poses for their informal pic (left); something's amusing Dooper, TK and Max (right)
Tony from The Confluence, which is part of Kukla's Korner, recently did a great in-depth interview with my boss, Sam Kasan. It's an insightful piece about the man behind this blog (the Penguins Report) and his experiences covering the team, especially on the road, as he has been traveling with them for the last two seasons. Check it out here
Guess who was in the Pens' team photo?
No. 66 himself, Penguins co-owner and chairman Mario Lemieux.
After the Pens finished their optional skate, a few players – Adams, Rupp, Dupuis, Talbot and Godard – took to the ice in just skates, sticks and gloves and had some fun, as some of the guys brought family members along. Some of the little guys were wearing the jerseys of their respective relatives.
Rupp giving his little guy a ride around the rink!
Now it's Godard's turn (left); Adams' son Rhys wondering where his ride is? (left)
is in talks for the league MVP award with his play this season. Click here
to see what they're saying about "Flower" and watch the vid to find out more about his all-around awesomeness this season:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...On Matt Cooke skating separately with the team:
The reason he was out there today was because it was an optional skate and there were fewer players out there. In terms of being with the team on a regular day, the 15 forwards right now is the max we’re going to skate with on a regular practice day. That limits it to a few players being now out there with the team. So depending on the situation and depending on going down the stretch and maintenance days with players, there may be a few players who join the team to make up 15 forwards. But that’s a lot of forwards to have on the ice to begin with so we’re going to limit it to that. Some days I can anticipate Matt Cooke
being included in that. On dealing with losing so many players from a psychological standpoint:
Not this particular year, it doesn’t feel any different. But yes, a large part of coaching is managing. I think baseball has the word right – it’s a manager. Every year it seems to be different personalities and different situations where that comes into play. At different times of the year it’s highlighted given the situation. But you can look at the beginning of the year in certain situations and you can look at now, and you have a player suspended and dealing with that situation and our group of guys trying to get back to full health. It’s been an interesting year of managing. On how the standings might affect his lineup for the last two games:
I have approached the last three games – not in every situation but a few of them – like training camp where you plan out the games. You plan out lineups and possible scenarios getting people a chance to get back to full health or get back to full speed, and in some cases, rest for goalies in particular. I think the good thing about our goaltender situation – we played Brent Johnson
in Florida because Brent Johnson
is going to give us a really good chance to win the game, not just to rest Flower. Brent’s won games for us this year, and he’s done very well in Florida with his history. And he’s done well against that team. So playing Brent in that game wasn’t just to rest Flower. We were trying to win that game just as much as if we had put Flower in there. And down the stretch with the last two games, playing Brent in one of them doesn’t mean just that we’re resting Flower. We’re going to try to win the game and think we can win the game. Brent’s going give us a good game if he goes in there. On the minutes for rest of the lineup:
Right now I still feel like we’re trying to win hockey games, and we’re making decisions that way. However, I think if it were Game 1 of the playoffs, I think the minutes would be a little bit different. There is some consideration given to that. You don’t need to tax players in certain circumstances. And given opportunities, you do maybe spread out more evenly or give opportunities out. We’re still trying to win games. In the playoffs, it would get a little bit different in terms of certain faceoff situations, and defensive pairings may get a little more ice time if it was Game 1 of the playoffs than Game 81 in Long Island.On if he expects to hear anything from the NHL about Friday’s game at Long Island and what he expects from the game itself:
Past experience says we probably will hear something from the NHL about the game. I’ve already spoken to our team twice, and I will speak to them again. We are not going in there for retribution or paybacks. We are not looking to avenge something that happened on the ice. We’re going in there to win the hockey game. We’re going to go in there, and if playing our style and playing with energy and playing aggressively means we can go in there and make a statement, I’m all for that. But we’re going to go in there to win those games and win the two points and play a good game. They’re two points we feel like we can have to possibly catch Philly and still get home ice, and that’s our focus going in there for those games. We won’t be worried about trying to avenge something that happened in the past. Two-run RBI: Tony Jovenitti
Time for "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" round 2!
Engo giving TK a face wash (left); Dan and Flower (right)
Dooper readying Dan's seat for him (left); here he is! (right)
PensTV also caught up with Chris Conner...CHRIS CONNER
Sounds heard around the locker room...Mark LetestuOn having the chance to win the division:
I think we thought we’d be in this position at the start of the year – contending for the division and the top of the conference. With the circumstances the way they are, maybe we probably wouldn’t be this high. But credit the guys in the room, we worked hard for it, and it seems like if we catch a break here or there, we have an opportunity to win the division.On the importance of the last two games:
Obviously with the Islanders game, a lot of people are looking forward to that. With the standings the way they are, the importance of the game is exciting. It’s exciting for us a to keep the good hockey going into the playoffs. We hope to get as many points as possible and let the chips fall where they may. On the way the team is playing going into the playoffs:
I think our defense has played as a five-man unit. It’s as good as it’s been all year. Fleury is playing as good as he has all year at the right time. We’re getting timely goals. We got a power-play goal last night in a big game. I think right now we’re comfortable with the team we are and the way we’re playing. I think it’s going to cause some success in the playoffs. Mike ComrieOn if he thought they would have a chance to catch Philadelphia after the last week:
I don’t think you ever really think about it too much, because you kind of try to think about the task at hand. As much as you try not to scoreboard watch, you do, but you try to focus on what your team does.On possibly clinching home ice in the playoffs:
It’s something that you’d love to do as a team. We’ve got great fans and a good record at home. Any time you’re able to get an extra game, if it does go to the all-important seventh game, you want it to be at home. On if they focus on the possible playoff opponents:
You only pay attention once it’s set in stone. You try not to worry too much about it. The league is set up right now that the races are so close with the extra point and the shootout. There’s so much parity with the salary cap now that you’re going to face a good team. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. The bottom line is that you have to be prepared as a team. Whoever you face, you have to worry about yourself. Grand salami: Tony Jovenitti
Head coach Dan Bylsma gave an update on Malkin's progress, who has missed the last 28 games with a torn ACL and MCL.
"It was his first time on skates," Bylsma said of Geno's lap around the ice after the team photo. "He is doing very well. You get different opinions depending on who you ask. Geno is coming back yesterday, according to Geno. The doctor will say something different. But he is doing very well and he’s working extremely hard. The fact that they didn’t have to repair his MCL has allowed him to accelerate what he can do in terms of rehab and strength. He’s working diligently every day he can to prove himself right that he can come back yesterday."
Bylsma was then asked if the doctors had only surgically repaired Malkin’s ACL and not MCL.
"(His MCL) was not surgically repaired," Bylsma said. "Which, again, what we had mentioned at the surgery time allowed a different and more aggressive rehab given the situation. But he is doing very well. Again, Geno thinks tomorrow. If we would have let him go down back on the ice today, he would have probably done that."
As I was perusing through the photos that Tony Jovenitti got of Team Picture Day, I realized there was quite a bit of hair fixing going on...
Staal smoothing the back of his hair (left); Dooper and Max patting down some stray hairs on Geno's head (right)
Here's round 1 of "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day."
The setup (left); Letestu and Engo in their tennies (right)
Lovejoy and Letestu getting instructions on where to stand (left); Sid, assistant GM Jason Botterill and Tony G. cracking up (right)
Conner chatting with strength coach Mike Kadar (left); Kadar looking a tad disinterested (right)
Mustache Boy Kunitz had to leave the upper-lip hair on for the photo (left); Shamus atop his perch (right)
Nine players are partaking in the Pens' optional skate. Crosby, Letestu, Comrie, Conner, Godard, Tangradi, Lovejoy, Engelland and Cooke. No goalies are on the ice. Video coordinator Jim Britt has assuming netminding duties instead.
Dupuis, Adams and Cooke had a little fun with team picture day. When the Pens training staff lined up for their photo, Dooper, Adams and Cookie gathered some speed - and sprayed snow all over them. We got an epic photo of it for your viewing pleasure.
Before, looking serious and solemn...(left)...After! (right)
And to top it off...the ever-clutch PensTV crew got it on camera! And many more: Mike Davenport
Good morning everyone! Today marks the Penguins' final regular-season practice at the beautiful CONSOL Energy Center – I can't believe it's already that time.
Head coach Dan Bylsma made today an optional practice after last night's emphatic 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils
here in this same building, which marked the Pens' final regular-season home game. The crowd count was 18,331, meaning the Pens sold out every regular-season home game for a fourth-straight season
-- just another reason why Pens fans are the best
The Pens are gathering some coveted momentum entering their last two games of the regular season and have climbed to within one point of Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division title and have regained their three-point lead over fifth-place Tampa Bay. Any combination of two points (a win by the Pens or a loss by the Lightning) means Pittsburgh cements home-ice advantage for the playoffs!
The Pens are currently filtering onto the bench dressed in their snazzy white jerseys instead of their traditional practice garb, as today is official team picture day. Team photographer Greg Shamus is in the process of getting the guys lined up, and it's pretty well organized, as the players standing on the risers are wearing their tennis shoes, while the Penguins in front have their skates on.
We'll have plenty of behind-the-scenes photos for you shortly, as today's Penguins Report is going to be a "Behind the Scenes at Team Picture Day" blog.