The Penguins are going back to their roots. Nothing screams “Old Time Hockey” like a team bus trip for a road game.
Pittsburgh traveled on Sunday to Buffalo via bus for its Monday showdown with the Sabres. Most of the players haven't taken a bus since playing in juniors, college or the minors.
“That’ll be special,” said Pascal Dupuis
, who will make the trip with his teammates. “We did it so much in junior. It’s been a while. Maybe that’s something that will help us hang out together.”
The bus was a necessary form of travel due to the fact that Buffalo is being hammered with snow. The city is projected to accumulate an estimate of 2 to 4 inches of snowfall on Sunday.
“It’s been a while,” said Sidney Crosby
, who last rode a bus in the Memorial Cup. “It’s pretty fun to get the guys together. You look back on those (days) and that’s a lot of fun times.”
Unlike those days though, the Penguins will have the luxury of getting some rest following the bus trip. In juniors and college, teams would travel the day of the game and play once they got off the bus.
“It’s not like we’re taking it right to the game,” Crosby said.
“It’s a two, three hour trip and at least we don’t have to play the game as soon as we get in,” Rob Scuderi said. “It’s not that bad, as long as the trip goes according to plan. Some of these guys have endured 10-, 12-hour bus trips.”
Plus, the Penguins have the benefit of entertainment that their predecessors didn’t thanks to modern electronics.
I’m sure we’ll all find a way to make due. I think we can suck it up for three or four hours. - Rob Scuderi
“With the DVDs on computers you’re pretty much constantly entertained,” Scuderi said. “Play cards, listen to IPods, I’m sure we’ll all find a way to make due. I think we can suck it up for three or four hours.”
The lengthy bus ride is an opportunity for Pittsburgh to bond, which may be what the team needs following its 7-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
“You have to talk to each other after a while so it’s kind of a good thing,” Crosby said. “It’s usually pretty quiet after a game like that. You’re forced together and that’s not a bad thing. I think it will be good for us.”
And besides, barring a bus ride home - Buffalo is projecting another 1 to 3 inches for tomorrow - the team will only have to endure one bus trip this season.
“With the charters now it’s very nice to go from point A to point B in no time at all,” Scuderi said. “We’re pretty spoiled. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to suck it up for one trip.”>
The Penguins held an optional practice on Sunday afternoon at Mellon Arena. A major bright spot was the return of Dupuis.
“It was good to be with the team,” Dupuis said. “I went out there to see how I feel. Hopefully, I’ll be ready (Monday) night.”
Dupuis practiced for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury against the Atlanta Thrashers Dec. 18. He is still listed as day-to-day.>
Ryan Whitney completed a conditioning assignment with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday. Whitney played in the Baby Penguins’ 4-3 victory over the Albany River Rats.
“It was good to get in the game,” Whitney said. “It’s nothing like practicing, the pressure you have on you to make a quick play and make the right decision with the puck, just playing the one-on-ones, physical and in the corner.”
Whitney recorded an assist on Janne Pesonen’s power-play goal in the first period.
“I had it on top of the zone and fed it down low for a one-timer and (Pesonen) scored,” Whitney said.
The game was Whitney's first on his surgically repaired left foot.
“In the first period I was testing it a little,” Whitney said. “I felt a little unsure but as the game went on it got better and better. Once you get by thinking about it, it gets easier. It’s just tough because I skated so long with that (foot pain), it’s in your head.
In the first period I was testing it a little. I felt a little unsure but as the game went on it got better and better. - Ryan Whitney
“As the game went on it was a relief. It was good to know that once I stopped worrying about it I played better and we won.”
The game was Whitney’s first game action in six months. The final hurdle for Whitney to overcome is his conditioning.
“I was dying,” Whitney admitted. “I looked up and there was 10 minutes left in the first period. I was like, ‘uh-oh.’ The first period was one where you were in your own zone. The second and third felt a lot better.”
Whitney is slated to make his NHL return on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I’ll skate (Monday) and hopefully get a good skate in,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll play a smart game on Tuesday. There’ll be an adjustment period. I just want to play as well as I can. I don’t know where I’ll be playing but I know I can step in and play a little bit at least.”>
Crosby confessed that throughout his entire hockey career, he’s been a streaky scorer. That would explain why the Penguins captain could score six goals in three games, followed by going goal-less in December (nine games).
“The last couple games I haven’t gotten chances,” Crosby said. “I have to be better. You need more than two chances a game. I have higher expectations than that. The time before that I hit three or four posts.
“You’re going to have times like that. That’s the story of an NHL hockey season. As a team and individually, you’re going to have times that are tougher than others. Everyone is human. That’s normal. You just have to find a way to get back to doing the right things and everything will work itself out.”
Crosby, whose raspy voice gave the indication that he is on the verge of illness, said that the key to improvement lies within.
“It’s me,” he said. “There’s little details and sometimes if you’re not executing as well then you’re not going to get chances. Sometimes as a team, if you’re playing better then you can benefit from that. You just benefit from someone else doing the right thing. When the team is not playing well you have to force more to make sure you’re doing those detailed things. That comes down to winning and losing. It’s about each guy doing detailed things and it starts with me.”Archive