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Penguins Report: Florida Practice 11/23/10

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Malkin and Kunitz miss practice with maintenance days, also coach Bylsma talks special teams, Malkin and road success (12:56 PM).
  • Crosby is on the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine (6:08 PM).
  • Crosby and Letang making All-Star push (5:38 PM).
  • Dads Trip starts strong (9:45 AM).
  • Crosby and Ovechkin: Rivalry five years in the making (10:36 AM).
  • Pittsburgh is starting to produce top-end NHL talent (10:37 AM).
  • Forecast change (5:56 PM).
  • Schedule for the day (10:07 AM).
  • Practice pics (11:53 AM).
  • “I just want to feel some sunshine. I just want to find some place to be a lone…” (9:30 AM).

6:08 PM:
Crosby graces the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine with a pretty good article to go with it. If you have a minute, check it out.

5:56 PM:
After a 2.5-hour flight and 30-minute bus ride we’ve made it to the hotel in Buffalo. We left 74 degrees and sunny in Florida for 42 degrees and cloudy in Buffalo. Downgrade.

5:38 PM:
This shouldn't surprise anyone, but Crosby is dominating the All-Star voting (as he should). What's more impressive and shows the power and passion of Penguins fans is that Kris Letang is the eighth leading vote getter among defensemen - and he's a write-in candidate.

Pens fans felt the injustice with Letang not appearing on the All-Star ballot. And they are enacting a call to arms to get Letang to Carolina. He certainly deserves a mention, being the third-leading scorer among all NHL defensemen.

So write in Letang's name, count those hanging chads and make it happen! If Lisa Murkowski can pull it off, why not Kris Letang?

12:56 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin and Kunitz were given maintanence days. Here is the rest of what the coach had to say...

On if the team is building momentum:
I think our team now has a better understanding of how we need to play to have success. We’re working on different areas of our game and feeling comfortable in those areas, having a lead and protecting the lead. We’ve made some mistakes in that area, but we’ve also played some good games in that area. Our penalty kill has been a big factor for us. Our power play scored goals in the last two, but the last three games we’ve gotten chances and doing the job for us. There are a lot of things that our team is doing to put ourselves in a situation to have success. It’s nice to string the last five, six games.

On the team’s road success
I wish I could tell you that we have a different focus or I’m doing a different job coaching, but I’m actually doing the opposite. We talk about playing the same game no matter where we’re at or who our opponent is.

On if he’s surprised by the road success
We were good on the road last year too. I don’t think it’s a fluke. It’s not where we say we’re on the road, we’ll play a simpler game and try to take the crowd out of it. It’s not the coaching. I can’t take any credit for it, or coaching for it. We just talk about playing the same game whether it’s 0-0, we’re up 1-0 or we’re down 1-0. We still want to maintain the same focus when we play defense, five-man unit playing aggressively, execute and play in the offensive zone. One are of the game that we continue to work on is the percentage with which we play in the game: time of the game; where you’re on the ice; where you are in your shift. Those are the biggest point of emphasis that we’ve made in the last 10, 15 games to add to our game. Hopefully, we see that paying off in tight situations for us.

On the most important quality on the PK
Most importantly quality I think is to have that mentality in the first eight seconds when the puck enters the zone. I think it’s critical for the penalty kill. There is a point of time that elapses where the man-advantage isn’t a man-advantage where they’re trying to get set up or recover a puck. That eight seconds sets up your penalty kill. Last night, from faceoffs to the first eight seconds and getting clears from our defensemen going back for pucks is a huge factor in setting up the penalty kill. If you have to penalty kill for 1:30 in the zone you’re going to give up chances. There’s going to be a scramble. There’s going to be a loose puck. That’s not a recipe for success. The first eight seconds is huge.

On his use of Malkin on wings and playing with Crosby
Typically there are certain points in the game where the D on the other team isn’t going to be a favorable matchup. You have to anticipate those situations and play your card. After penalty kills and power plays are times when you get a better mathcup for your team and your lines. Those are times when you try to play that card. It doesn’t always work out. You have to anticipate that. Also where the faceoff is at dictates. It’s a little harder to do without Jordan Staal on our bench. You can’t waste all your centers on one line. That’s happened to me a few times. Then you ask Max Talbot and Letestu to play center. You have to plan for it and play your cards to get that opportunity.


11:53 AM:
The Pens are finishing up at practice. The only players not to skate were Malkin and Kunitz.

The dads watch practice (left)

The ol' saucer pass drill


10:37 AM:
Forget Canada, Pittsburgh is the new hotbed for NHL talent.

10:36 AM:
In case you were keeping track, it's been five years worth of Crosby vs. Ovechkin. The rivalry will only get better at the 2011 Winter Classic.

10:07 AM:
The Pens will hold an 11 a.m. practice at BankAtlantic Center. The team arrived a few minutes ago at the rink. The dads will joining us in about an hour. After practice everyone will board a plane destined for Buffalo.

9:45 AM:
I almost went with Everclear's "Father of Mine" for Monday's song post to kick off the Dads Trip. But it's about an absent father, so it wouldn't work considering how amazing all these fathers are. Now I know why the Pens have such a solid group of guys - it's all about dad (and mom, of course).

By the way, Pittsburgh started off the Dads Trip with a big victory at Florida (Michelle Crechiolo has the game analysis). General manager Ray Shero brought the tradition to Pittsburgh in 2006. Since then. the Pens are 6-3 in Dads Trip games, and 3-0 with Dan Bylsma as coach. Let's hope we make it 4-0 after Wednesday in Buffalo.


9:30 AM:
OK, we may not be in California, but Everclear's "Santa Monica" still brings up images of the beach, the ocean and palm trees - both applicable in Florida. And since we aren't making a trip to Cali this year, we'll have to settle for the beaches of FLA. So enjoy. I know Red Lightning will....

PS - I think it's time to bring back the chain wallet.
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