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Penguins Report: Game Day at Carolina

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Game Day Report with a red Meesh (3:03 PM).
  • Johnson starting; Letang & Michalek update after game (1:20 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:40 AM).
  • Canes pre-game skate event (11:32 AM).
  • Scouting the ‘Canes (11:10 AM).
  • Staal, Crosby & Cooke spit knowledge (1:05 PM).
  • Pens pics (1:13 PM).
  • “All ages show…” (11:00 AM).

3:03 PM:
Meesh wraps up the day's events in today's Verizon Game Day Report. She wanted me to assure you she didn't wear Carolina colors on purpose; it was a total accident. Especially since those are Wisconsin colors as well and the Badgers play her Michigan State Spartans for the Big 10 Championship today. #DoubleFail

1:20 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Michalek and Letang:
I’ll give you an update after the game.

On starting goalie:
Brent Johnson will be in goal tonight. The rest of the lineup will be game-time.

On the Hurricanes:
We’re playing a new coach in Kirk Muller. We expect them to be a very aggressive group, more than the previous coach, in the neutral zone, forecheck, we saw that in their games. We’re expecting that. Watching their practice and reading the clips we’re expecting that in the game tonight. Skinner has been dangerous against us. Eric Staal is a dangerous player. He’s not at the point where he’d like to be in terms of getting points, but continues to be a dangerous player. We’re aware of him. Joni Pitkanen is a guy we didn’t see last time. He’s a threat and someone we have to be aware of on the ice at all times.

On taking over a team as a new head coach:
That’s being a head coach when you walk into the room every eye from the trainers to the players is looking at you. Coming to a team that’s not in a position they want to be, trying to right the ship, trying a new system, new attitude, new outlook. When you walk in the room you feel the eyes. Kirk’s coming to a team and it’s different than other coaches at this point in time. It’s a different team, it’s a different situation. It’s one where he’s looking at add a new energy, a new outlook and how they’re going to play the game.

1:13 PM:
Pens pics...

As noted earlier, the Canes had an exclusive season ticket holder pre-game skate

Even though Carolina didn't skate, the STHs got to see the Pens morning skate

Malkin & fans watch the play (left); Martin played 28-plus minutes vs. Washington Thursday night (right)

Team gathers (left); HC Bylsma with whistle in tow (right)

Malkin tries to poke Fleury's glove hand (left); Neal unleashes a 1-timer (right)

1:05 PM:
Sounds heard around the visitors locker room…

Jordan Staal

On the problems a new head coach presents:
I’m sure they’ll be an energetic team. With a new face behind the bench, you always want to prove yourself to the coach. I think they’re still searching for that first win too, so we’re going to have a very desperate team as well. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us tonight.

On if it’s tough knowing what to expect:
A little bit. There’s going to be times when they have a new system and new things, so you may not know exactly what they’re up to. For the most part, we’re just worried about how they’re going to be desperate and we’ve got to be ready for that.

On carrying over their stingy defensive play from Thursday:
Yeah, that’d be a good start. We had a very solid effort from our team defensively. We didn’t give Washington too many opportunities to score goals, which is always a good thing. We want to keep doing the same thing.

Sidney Crosby

On the team’s faceoffs the past two games:
That’s not good. Obviously we take a lot of pride in that area. I don’t know if there’s an explanation for it. I can speak for myself – the last two games I haven’t been good. The last game it seemed like every faceoff I took was against (Brooks) Laich on his strong side. It was always on my weaker side and that’s something I have to make sure is a lot better, because you want to be strong from both circles. So that’s something we always pay attention to, but I wouldn’t say it’s something we’re worried about. We work hard on it and I think we know with focusing on it and making sure that we’re ready for it, that we’re going to improve.

On if it’s a cause for concern:
No. Up to the last couple games, I think we’ve been pretty solid. So I think that’s something we know we have to focus on a bit more. Sometimes there’s 50-50 pucks and we’ve got to jump on those pucks too, so there’s a lot of things that kind of go into it. But yeah, we could get better there, for sure.

On how he rates his play since returning to the lineup:
All right. I think the last few were probably not as good as I would have liked. But I think for anybody that’s come back after that length of time, during the first few games you’re riding pretty high, then you just kind of set into the grind. I think the adrenaline kind of goes away a little bit, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re adjusting and your habits are good. That just comes with playing. So I’m pretty happy. I want to generate chances out there. I want to create things. I feel like I’ve done that but still feel I can get better. I’m working towards that.

Matt Cooke

On where John Carlson made contact on the hit:
(My head) is the only place I got hit. It was my jaw.

On if he felt it was intentional:
I couldn’t tell you his intent. I don’t know his intention. Only he knows that. I’m not about to guess what someone else’s intention is.

On if he’s troubled the league didn’t do anything about it after:
I can’t really worry about those things. I just trust that they’re doing the right things and that they have everybody’s best interests in hand when they’re making decisions.

Gets the Cradle rockin: Michelle Crechiolo

11:40 AM:
Pens lines at morning skate...


Defense rotated 3 at each end.

11:32 AM:
As we walked into the RBC Center I heard Hall of Famer Mike Lange's voice booming through the PA system. As I turned the corner I saw a crowd of people in the stands (morning skates are not typically open to the public). In front of the crowd Lange was doing an interview and even answering a few fan questions.

A reader via Twitter (@cmbarron1; and Michelle and my Twitter account is @PensInsideScoop in case you'd like to follow) informed me that it was a special game day skate event for season ticket holders. There was only one head coach Kirk Muller cancelled the skate!!! He did come out and apologize to the audience.

But fear not, it wasn't all lost for the STHs as they got to see legendary Pens goalie and current Canes goalie coach Tom Barrasso tutoring Cam Ward. Not gonna lie, being a Pens fan from the 90s it was cool to see Tommy B on the ice. He revolutionized the way goaltenders play the puck. And he is one of the most intense goalies of all time. Enter Barrasso's crease and ankles will be hacked.

11:10 AM:
As stated previously, the Pens will be facing the Hurricanes with a new general. It's impossible to know what you'll get whenever a team hires a new coach, but Michelle scouted out the 'Canes season to date.

11:00 AM:
Good morning from Raleigh, North Carolina! Tonight the Pens will battle the Hurricanes for the second time this season, and first time under new head coach Kirk Muller.


We'll start the day with a little NC-related song - "Chapel Hill" by Sonic Youth. I've heard the song is about the up-and-coming youth rock movement in North Carolina in the early 90s, with a reference to a famous venue: the Cat's Cradle. The song is much more polished than the typical noise-fest style of Sonic Youth. It's a pretty awesome tune.

Anyways, enjoy.

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