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Penguins Report: Game Day at New Jersey

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

6:42 PM:

The sights from a stroll around the rink at the Prudential Center in New Jersey:






6:22 PM:
Here are head coach Dan Bylsma's comments following today's morning skate:

Head Coach Dan Bylsma

On switching the D-pairings:
At the end of two games ago we were pretty much in the pairings you saw at the beginning of last game. It’s a situation where we would like to defend better. We would like to be better in our defensive zone. Pairing 44 (Brooks Orpik) and 58 (Kris Letang) gives 58 a chance to focus on defending with a little more aggression. He is quicker to his battles in the defensive zone. Sergei Gonchar, although he is viewed as an offensive guy, is a reliable guy both offensively and defensively execution wise so we might keep Alex (Goligoski) paired up with him.
On this game being a measuring stick:
Every game we play helps us determine where we are as a team. We have lost a home to Carolina and we used that to determine where we are at. We played a good team in Buffalo and we have to evaluate how we played and what that means. Tonight we are playing a team we have had trouble generating offensive chances against. They play very well against us. Of course they are sitting above us in our division so we will certainly take some cues from this game on where we are at and how we need to play and what we need to get better at going forward.
On when he became worried about the defensive-zone play:
I am concerned about it every game. We talk about how we want to play and one of the focuses is being quick to get out of the defensive zone. We want to be 10 seconds or less in our D-zone coverage. That is why we continually focus on puck retrieval and coming out of our D-zone. We are focused on it. It might not have been at the attention or in the questions from the media but we always focus on it. With the number of scoring chances we gave up in giving up 47 shots to Toronto it is clear to see that it is a focus we need to get better at. We have been very good at it at times this year. I certainly think we know what we need to do and how we need to do it. I think we are getting better in that area.
On getting traffic on Brodeur:
I think more importantly than getting traffic and knowing we are going to have a second-chance mentality is we need to have a shooter’s mentality. Last game we had situations where it was a three-on-three rushes or four-on-four rushes where we were looking to try to make plays looking for a perfect chance to score a goal versus coming over the blue line, attacking and getting a shot to the net with a rebound mentality. I think that is something we will try to focus on tonight.
On Crosby and Fleury:
You anticipate this day and we are certainly pleased for both of them. It is outstanding for Sidney and Marc to be on that team. I know Mike Yeo was really excited today but I am looking forward to the U.S. team getting named here in a few days. Mike Yeo was a little more red today. I think he showed his maple leaf tattoo a little bit brighter today than normal. It was unbelievable. We tried to get on to see the story and you can’t get on TSN because of all the traffic the announcement brings. It was a unique opportunity for both of them. I am sure they are pretty excited about it and excited to get their name on that announcement today.
On how Jordan Staal made a strong case to be included:
I haven’t looked very closely at the depth charts and who is making it and who is not making it. I do know that with the depth the Canadian team has they could make two teams and they wouldn’t be A and B. They have numerous players who are qualified. If you pick Sidney Crosby you know where he is going to play on the team and possible who he is going to play with. The bottom half of that team it’s tough to figure out which role players are going to play and where they are going to play and what their role on the team is going to be. I don’t envy that decision announcing Team Canada because I think Jordan Staal is a guy that I would want on my team. Having said that I know there is a number of great candidates. I think he made a case and I think he made it difficult. I think he put his name in there. It shouldn’t be taken any other way other than good players made the team. He did a great job of trying to get his name up there.
On Brent Johnson starting against the Devils:
Johnny’s going tonight.
On one day coaching Team USA:
I always wanted to be a part of Team USA in any capacity as a player. The year I maybe had a chance to be on the World Cup team I had knee surgery that summer so that was not a possibility. I certainly have that as one of my goals as a player and now as a coach to be a part of Team USA down the road. I am looking forward to that opportunity whenever it arises.

3:45 PM:
Here is the second half of our photo gallery from this morning's optional skate at the Prudencial Center:




3:38 PM:
Here are sounds from around the Penguins locker room, including reaction on the selection of Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury to the Canadian Olympic team:

Sergei Gonchar

On Crosby and Fleury:
It’s a big day. I am glad they made it. It is well-deserved. I am not surprised at all. In my mind I always knew they would make it. Today it is official.
On a burden being lifted from their shoulders with it being their first selection:
Yes. It is always tougher to get selected for the first one. The last time we played in Turin Sid didn’t make it. Now these last four years he has proved he is one of the better players in the league. Now there is no choice for them but to announce him to the official roster.
On what the month leading up to the Games is like:
To be honest with you my experience is to not think about it. Obviously you have a season that you are playing. We have a lot of games so if you start thinking that far ahead that is not going to do a whole lot for you. You have to focus on every single game you are playing and when the Olympic Games come then you just switch your focus to the Olympic Games. From my experiences the best thing is to focus on every game you are playing.
On playing against your teammates in the Olympics:
I don’t think so. We are all professionals. It is not like it is the first time we are doing this. We all went through it during our years. Sometimes you are playing against your friends you grow up with. Other times your partner could get traded and all of a sudden you are playing against. At some point in time you have done that already. This is obviously at a higher level.
On the Devils being a measuring-stick game:
It’s a big game for us. We haven’t won against them yet so obviously it is a big game for us not just because of the standings but because of the way we have played against them.
On coming to their building:
Going into every game we are just focused on winning the game. Today is one of those games you really want to win.
On the traffic they threw at Buffalo:
We did a good job. Today we are playing one of the better goalies of all-time. We have to do the same thing. We have to get traffic in front of him and make sure he has a tough time seeing those pucks.

Brent Johnson

On Fleury making the Olympic team:
He just told me before we went on the ice. I am so happy. I am thrilled for him. It is fantastic. Vancouver has to get ready for that kid coming to town. It is a great honor. Obviously he is thrilled to have gotten named. Honestly it couldn’t happen to a better guy.
On making the start against the Devils:
I am excited. It is obviously a good test. We have to be mentally prepared for this one tonight because they are a team you have to play a patient game against no matter what. You can’t be looking to have a routing here. It is going to be a tough matchup from the drop of the puck.
On containing Parise, Bergfors and the rest of the Devils’ offense:
We are not going to key in on them. They have a bunch of guys who can put the puck in the net. They are two guys who are very skilled. If we play our game and eliminate a lot of odd-man rushes I think we will have a good shot tonight.

Mike Rupp

On the battle for the top of the division:
I think we know who we are as a team and what we are capable of, regardless of sizing ourselves up against them. I think it is more that is a team we want to get in front of and we want to catch so we have to be at our best. In order to do so I feel like our first three games they played real well and I feel like we played well at times but we have had some mental lapses where they got a couple quick goals. We have to have more focus.
On needing to get a win in their building:
We need to get a win because we have lost two in a row. We are not letting that play into our heads that we haven’t beaten these guys yet. I think our main objective every night is to get two points. This is an important two points to catch those guys. I think there is a little more stress on it and we are looking at it from that aspect as opposed to having not beaten them yet.
On this being his first game back in New Jersey:
I am excited to be a part of this organization and to play in this building. Hopefully we will come in here and beat them at home. I am looking forward to the opportunity tonight.
On getting traffic against Buffalo:
You have a goalie who flat out is going to stop every first shot pretty much. We have to make it tough on him and make sure he can’t see things. Maybe if he can’t see it he can’t control the rebounds as good and then we can pounce on that.

Bill Guerin

On Crosby and Fleury making Team Canada:
We are all happy for them and all proud of them. For guys to be able to go and represent their countries is a big honor. We have a lot of really good players on our team here in Pittsburgh. We are really lucky. We are just happy for those guys to make their time.
On the announcement of final rosters taking a distraction away:
I think so. I think guys are waiting on it and just kind of hoping and waiting. Now we can kind of put it behind us and just focus on the rest of the regular season.

3:02 PM:

As expected, the hot topic in the media session following Pittsburgh's morning skate was the selection of Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury to the Canadian Olympic team.

Read Sidney Crosby's media session here.
Read Marc-Andre Fleury's media session here.

1:12 PM:
Here is the first batch of pictures from Wednesday's optional skate at Prudential Center:

Marc-Andre Fleury, left, and Sidney Crosby, right, were each named to the Canadian Olympic team prior to the skate.

Brent Johnson gets the call between the pipes while Martin Skoula, right, grabs some Gatorade.

Max Talbot's shot was so hard it got stuck in the netting!

12:28 PM:
Team Canada announced its 2010 Olympic roster and two Penguins made the team. Forward Sidney Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be representing their country in Vancouver in February.

11:54 AM:
With Pittsburgh playing in Buffalo on Tuesday night, it was no surprise that head coach Dan Bylsma dubbed the club's Wednesday morning skate an optional session for the team. Despite the chance to take a rest, 14 players participated.

Those that laced up the skates Wednesday morning were forwads Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko, Sidney Crosby, Maxime Talbot, Craig Adams, Tyler Kennedy, Eric Godard and Mike Rupp, defensemen Kris Letang, Sergei Gonchar, Martin Skoula and Alex Goligoski and goaltenders Brent Johnson and Marc-Andre Fleury.
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