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Penguins Report: Game Day at New Jersey

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

6:55 PM: Around the rink - Happy St. Patrick's Day edition!




2:42 PM:
Some of the sounds heard around the Penguins locker room earlier this afternoon:

Head Coach Dan Bylsma

On what we can learn about the Penguins over the next two games:
A big one for me is our focus level on playing the game. With some of the things going on being focused on brining our A game and our opponent tonight and some of the challenges we have to overcome tonight when we play this game against a team that has given us some problems. Getting to our game and staying on our game and playing that game no matter what happens or what the situation is inside our room or outside our room. We have to be willing to play our game. That is something we have been better at but something we have not yet done against this team in particular.
On how much the Devils style of play affects how the Penguins play:
The obvious answer is that the matchup is one that is difficult for us. I still really believe where we were earlier in the season when we played them is different than where we are at right now in terms of our mentality and playing our game. Even two times ago it was a 1-0 game and that is the game we have to be ready for. That is the game they are willing to play. One of the questions for tonight’s game is how long can we stick with our game? We have to be really concerned with playing at our pace and not slowing this game down and having a 22-shot performance on both sides of the puck. We want to get quickly through the neutral zone. We don’t want to take our time we want to quickly get to the offensive zone. The quicker you can get there the better you can manage the puck against their D and their goaltender.
On trapping teams preventing a quick attack up the ice:
Against an aggressive team it is easier when you go north to go quickly. It accomplishes more. (New Jersey) has five guys back a lot. They are not real aggressive. They are in their positions and you know where they are going to be. We have to move the puck before they get there. The longer it takes the more they are going to be right where they want to be and the harder it is going to be to get there and the worse your puck management is going to be. That is one of the keys for us.
On how key special teams is going to be:
We are 0-fer on the power play against them. That has been a big, big factor – especially in the early part of the season. They got a goal and they got a power-play goal early in the game. That is a difficult recipe. We weren’t able to maintain our focus and stay with our game plan. The last two games have been better. We haven’t given them a power-play goal. Our penalty kill has been good. We have not had that patience to stay with our game and stay with our pace regardless of whether they are playing a tight-checking game.
On Malkin’s injury changing the way Ponikarovsky is used:
I think you saw in the last game where (Ponikarovsky) got a little bit more time on the power play. You saw an effectiveness there in front of the net and along the corners. I think it is easy to play with Alex. He has to adjust to playing with Geno and other centermen. He is going to drive the net, he is going to end up in the corners and he is going to be on the forecheck and work. I think it is easy to play with him. I think it is him reading off his centermen and I think that takes a little bit to read off Geno and how he plays. I think Sid is a little bit more of a straight-line guy and then a little like Geno in the offensive zone. That may take a little bit in terms of where he is slotted tonight but he is going to create room for his centermen. That we do know.

Bill Guerin

On New Jersey’s throwback uniforms:
It’s pretty cool to see them. It’s good to see the Devils doing stuff like that because they usually don’t do that.
On Lou Lamoriello not usually doing things like wearing throwback jerseys:
No, not particularly. Things have changed a bit. I just thing that it’s neat they brought them back. I think it’s great. They are awesome.
On liking the jerseys when he wore them:
Yeah, I did. It meant I was in the NHL. It is your first jersey.
On Brodeur agreeing that these jerseys meant ‘I finally got here’ when they wore them in 1991-92:
Exactly. Sometimes you just go through your closet and you see that jersey tucked back in there and it is a nice reminder of where it all started and what you were wearing. It’s a nice reminder.
On what he remembers from first joining the NHL:
I remember getting called up for the first time and walking into the locker room. Tommy Albelin was the first guy I met. He brought me into the room and from then on it was always good in New Jersey. The people that we met and the friends that we had was great. I loved it.

Sidney Crosby

On how much this game means:
That is typical with points meaning so much and the two teams battling for position in the standings. That is to be expected at this time of year. These are the kind of games you have to find ways to win. They aren’t easy. They do feel good when you do win them. It is pretty normal to feel that way after a big win.
On not beating the Devils yet:
That happens. I don’t think that is something we think about a whole lot to be honest with you. When we play them what we’ve done in the past doesn’t matter. It is always a matter of winning the next one. That is how we have approached it. Unfortunately we haven’t won the ones in the past but I think this is the biggest one up to this point.
On playing without Malkin:
Yeah, it doesn’t make it any easier. But I think if anything maybe that will simplify things. When you see guys go out you see other guys step up. It is not easy and it’s a little bit of adversity for us but it’s a good test.

Alexei Ponikarovsky

On playing with Crosby:
Everybody knows he is a great puckhandler and a great player. I just have to use my speed going to the net and my size going into the corners to pick up the pucks and in front of the net.
On meshing will with Crosby against Tampa Bay on Sunday:
We were mixing lines up a bit because Geno was out. We had everybody going with everybody almost every shift. We played pretty good and we have to continue to do that tonight.
On the similarities or differences between Crosby and Malkin:
It’s pretty much just similarities. They are both two great players who really see the ice well and handle the puck well. You just have to get open and head to the net for rebounds and to screen the goalie.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On how well the Devils have played against the Penguins:
I think all year they have been a good team that has been playing well. We haven’t been able to score much on them. We battled hard last game – it was a tight game.
On the game being critical for both teams:
I don’t think it is critical to beat them. I remember not winning in Madison Square Garden the whole year (in ’07-08) and then beating them in the playoffs. I don’t think it is a matter of beating them as much as it is just playing our game and getting two points. That is all that matters.
On what he learned from Martin Brodeur at the Olympics:
A couple of tips. He gave me a couple tips on the shootout. It was nice to be beside him and watch him practice. It was pretty cool. He is a little bit different how he plays so it was good to see his style from up close. … I asked him for a little break because all year we have been struggling against (the Devils). That didn’t go too well because they still beat us last game.

1:22 PM:
Here are some photos from the Penguins morning skate at Prudential Center:


Sidney Crosby will skate on a line with Alexei Ponikarovsky (right) and Pascal Dupuis tonight against the Devils.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski will be back in the lineup on Wednesday night paired with Jordan Leopold.

Chris Kunitz (left) and Bill Guerin will flank Jordan Staal against New Jersey.

12:43 PM: Head coach Dan Bylsma just addressed reporters at Prudencial Center and he announced center Evgeni Malkin will not be in the lineup tonight against the Devils.

"That's the case," Bylsma said when asked if Malkin would be out. "He is still day-to-day. He was not able to get on the ice today."

Malkin skated prior to practice with head athletic trainer Chris Stewart but felt his foot wasn't healed enough to take the morning skate.

"He was trying to skate and get on the ice and deal with it," Bylsma said. "Hopefully tomorrow he will be in (the lineup)."

11:40 AM:
The Penguins have officially hit the ice for the morning skate and Evgeni Malkin is not on the ice. He did some light skating on his own prior to practice with head athletic trainer Chris Stewart. With his absence head coach Dan Bylsma has once again reconfigured his lines. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Pascal Dupuis will flank Sidney Crosby on the top unit. Also, defenseman Alex Goligoski looks set to get back in the lineup as he skating extensively with Jordan Leopold. Here is the lineup the Penguins used for the morning skate:



11:25 AM:
About five minutes ago Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin did some light skating with head athletic trainer Chris Stewart to test his injured foot. We will keep you updated throughout the morning on Malkin's availability for tonight's game.


11:15 AM:
New Jersey is breaking out their green "throwback" jerseys for tonight's contest with the Penguins. They are the sweaters the team wore from their inception in 1982 through the '91-92 season. Check out the Christmas-tree green shells and Martin Brodeur's throwback mask below:




11:04 AM:
The New Jersey Devils have just finished their morning skate at Prudencial Center and the big news from their side is that defenseman Paul Martin will be in the lineup. Martin hasn't played since fracturing his forearm against the Penguins back on Oct. 24. When healthy, Martin is among the top two-way defenders in the Eastern Conference. He was selected to play for Team USA at the 2010 Olympics but had to back out due to the injury. Lemaire wasn't sure how many minutes Martin will log or what his role might be, but his addition is a huge one to the Devils lineup.
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