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Penguins Report: Game Day at New Jersey

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Staal cuts the golden locks (11:17 AM).
  • Kunitz not playing tonight vs. Devils (12:32 PM).
  • Pens optional skate, no lines (11:46 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Kunitz, the PP and penalties (1:07 PM).
  • Neal and Letestu talk Devils (1:06 PM).
  • BlackBerry demands you watch Letang tonight (3:22 PM).
  • Morning skate pics (11:54 AM).
  • Around Prudential Centre (5:02 PM).
  • “You want this world so you can own them. I am the keeper of the songs of everyone…” (11:09 AM).

5:02 PM:

3:22 PM:
Kris Letang gets some love from BlackBerry Pregame Show as tonight's Player to Watch.

1:07 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if Kunitz will play vs. New Jersey
Chris Kunitz will be going out for warmups, but not playing in the game tonight. Today we’re putting him on the ice twice to see how he reacts. We’ll see for tomorrow. It’s not for sure yet.

On playing low-scoring games
I think there is a comfort level in that dressing room about playing in games like that. That’s what we expect. We expect to give up very little. We expect to not give teams too many scoring chances or opportunities. One thing we have to do a better job of is staying out of the penalty box. Keep teams from testing our penalty kill too much. We’re comfortable in those situations and it’s that time of year where games tighten up and it feels more like playoffs. We’ve talked about that. We look forward to be in those types of games.

On the penalties:
We don’t know if because our penalty kill has been so good, if there is a reliance on that. In a lot of cases, it’s been offensive zone penalties which have hurt us, stick penalties, on the forecheck. We’ve gotten a number of undisciplined, chasing behind the net penalties. We’ve talked about it. We have to get better. We can’t rely on our penalty kill. In tight games that we’ve been in and going into the playoffs, those are areas we know we have to get better at as a team.

On the power play
We have not done as good a job on the power play lately, taking advantage of opportunities. We haven’t gotten that many opportunities. That’s something we can do a better job of is playing in a way that draws more penalties, gets teams in trouble. We haven’t done that with enough frequency and gotten four or five power plays a game. That would give your power play a chance to be a factor. Another area we can improve on is the length of our shifts. It’s something we can be better at. It’s caused us to have bad changes. It’s caused situations in Toronto where we have a good shift for 45 seconds in the offensive zone. We turn the puck over and are careless with the puck. It gives them 35 seconds in the other end. That’s a 1:30 minute shift. That’s a lot to recover from. That is something that will help us be better at our game, especially with the types of games that we’ve been in.

1:06 PM:
Sounds heard around the visitors locker room….

James Neal

On the Devils’ turnaround:
I played the Devils the first game of the year. Ever since that first game they seemed to struggle. The last little bit they’ve really turned it up. Kovalchuk has come into his own and he’s playing great. It’s a total team effort and they’re trying to make a push for a playoff spot. We know that coming in. We’ll be well prepared for them tonight.

On playing against the trap:
You just don’t want to turnover pucks. That’s what they want you to do. They want you to come into it, try to make a quick play and they circle on offense. You just need to be smart with pucks, make good dumps and get in on the forecheck.

On playing with Letestu and Kovalev:
I think we just need to get into the zone more, get a little more offensive time and hold onto the pucks more. They’re both really skilled guys and they’ll find you. As long as we manage the puck well, we’ll be all right.

Mark Letestu

On the Devils’ turnavourd:
They’re battling pretty hard for pucks now. You can see the urgency and desire back in their game. Not that it wasn’t there to start, but you see it more consistently from that group. They’re getting results because of it.

On Lemaire’s return:
I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Their record has turned around since he’s been here. He’s an established coach in this league and he’s had success here. He’s lit a fire under these guys and they’re playing good hockey.

On Kovalchuk:
He’s playing well. He signed the big contract and he’s really playing to it now. He’s been a leader for them offensively and that’s what they expected all year from him and that’s what we expect from him. We’ll be checking him tightly and hopefully keep him in check.

On stopping Kovalchuk:
You eliminate time and space for these guys. If you give them time, they’re going to make plays. He’s got that big shot on the power play. We’ll try to eliminate those opportunities.

12:32 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Chris Kunitz will not be in the lineup tonight vs. New Jersey.

11:54 AM:
Morning skate pics...

Magically awkward goalie stretching: Fleury (left); Johnson (right)

11:46 AM:
The Pens are holding an optional skate at Prudential Center. The following players are participating: Talbot, Godard, Adams, Conner, Letestu, Kennedy, Jeffrey, Rupp, Kunitz, Lovejoy, Niskanen, Engelland, Letang, Fleury and Brent Johnson.

11:17 AM:
Pens center Jordan Staal was sporting a fresh clean cut look this morning.

Before (left), After (right)

Staal signed autographs before the Pens morning skate

11:09 AM:
It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh! The Pens will take on Atlantic Division rival New Jersey at Prudential Center tonight at 7 p.m. The Devils, who were left for dead only two months ago, are playing the best hockey of any team in the NHL – as evidenced by their 18-2-2 record in the past 22 games.

We’ll kick off the day with Remy Zero. The band was discovered by Radiohead, and joined them on tour before even releasing an album. Their most recognizable song is probably “Save Me,” which is the theme song for a TV show.

But my favorite Remy Zero song is “Prophecy.” The striking guitar riff perfectly complements the singer’s unique vocals and dark lyrics. It’s a powerful song with a very cryptic meaning. And I love the underplayed aspect of the video. The band gives no artistic interpretation of the song. Instead they just rock out on a dimly stage and leave the song’s meaning to be determined by the listener.

So here is Remy Zero: “Prophecy.” Enjoy.

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