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Penguins Report: Game Day at NY Rangers

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Letang & Michalek return to Pitt; Picard & Bortuzzo recalled (5:17 PM).
  • Game Day Report from Meesh (2:36 PM).
  • Pens morning skate lines (11:13 AM).
  • Letang post-practice update (12:00 PM).
  • Rangers lines (12:25 PM).
  • Scouting the Rangers (9:15 AM).
  • The New Matt Cooke (5:20 PM).
  • Indecision 2011-12 (5:35 PM).
  • Extreme MSG Makeover (5:45 PM).
  • Sneak peak at MSG (10:30 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the lineup, Letang and more (1:25 PM).
  • Letang & Crosby spit knowledge (1:11 PM).
  • Pens push winning streak to 16 in Great Moments (9:20 AM).
  • Pens pics (1:22 PM).
  • “I’ll always love you though New York…” (9:00 AM).

5:45 PM:
As promised earlier, here is the Extreme Home Makeover: MSG Edition. Enjoy.

New building, same lighting

The signature upper row green seats and roof (some things never change)

The lower bowl pink and green seats have been replaced with dark blues seats. You can buy the old seats (left); The brand new, gorgeous concourse. Hard to believe this is the same building (right)

Throughout the concourse there are memorable moments and years plastard on the wall

So welcoming this new MSG is

It's not all complete yet. Still a lot of construction going on around the rink (left); This used to be the walkway for the Pens to the ice. Now it is some virtual futuristic 3-D path. The Pens have a new route to the ice (right)

The TVs were airing the 1992 NBA Finals between the Knicks and Bulls (left); Andy Warhol with Michael Jackson and 2 other Jacksons (right)

5:35 PM:
It only took for games for Crosby to net 9 points (2G-7A). But the stat sheet isn't the only place he is surging. He's jumped 4th place in the NHL All-Star balloting with 206,863 votes.

Other Pens are in the hunt to be voted to the game. Fleury in 2nd among goaltenders, Letang is 2nd among defensemen and Malkin is 11th among forwards. Neal and Staal also appear on the All-Star ballot. 

Get in the election year mood early and vote your Pens to the All-Star Game here. As they say, Vote or Die. It's a little harsh in my opinion, but it is what it is.

5:20 PM:'s Dave Lozo did a nice piece on Matt Cooke's new style of play. A very good read.

5:17 PM:
Pens Dmen Letang & Michalek are heading back to Pittsburgh to be further evaluated. The team has recalled blueliners Picard and Bortuzzo from WBS.

2:36 PM:
Meesh delivers today's Verizon Game Day Report with class and style.

1:25 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On tonight’s lineup:
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for us tonight. The rest of the lineup will be a game-time decision.

On what they’ll do for a sixth defenseman if Letang can’t play:
We’d be calling someone up in that case.

On if Letang has passed all concussion-related tests:
He’s seen the doctor a couple times and he’s obviously dealing with a facial injury – a broken nose and everything that entails as well.

On if there’s any testing Letang needs to go through this afternoon or if it’s just a case of how he feels:
That’s the case, yes.

On if he’s surprised at James Neal’s fine:
Not particularly. The control of the stick is in the rulebook. I think that’s (relevant) regardless of the situation. Obviously he was aided and there was a kicking of the feet, but he’s responsible for his stick. It was a hi-stick.

On Matt Cooke being a new player:
I think Matt Cooke will be proving for a long time that he’s playing within the rules and playing with a different mindset in the game. He’s certainly done a good job of that. He has a different approach and I think he’s learned how to play the game within the rules and has that mindset. This is the first time you get to see him. I think he’s always going to be proving that as he continues to play.

On the Rangers being a tough test:
I don’t think they should be lying in the weeds. They’re 8-2 in their last 10 and they’re 6-1 here at home. They’ve played very well. They’ve played some good teams and beat them and I thought they’ve really done a good job of keeping the puck in the offensive zone. They play very good defense that way. They’ve only let in I believe 29 even-strength goals and have the lowest goals-against average in the league. They’ve done that by playing very aggressively, playing with the puck and they’ve had guys step up and play well on defense for them in the absence of (Marc) Staal. So we see a lot of good things from their team. They’re very aggressive on the puck and with the puck, and of course they’ve got Henrik Lundqvist back there in goal. So it’s a pretty formidable team and I think we know what we’re playing against tonight going into this game.

On Malkin playing with different linemates during games:
When he goes to the wing and plays with one of those guys, I think the mindset changes a little bit for him. Defensively and then playing with those guys, there’s an opportunity to play with the puck a little bit more. I think you see that in those situations where he does get an opportunity to go with those guys. The same thing with Crosby and Staal. They feel the same way, I think, when they get that opportunity and those situations arise where they do go together. I think there’s a focus on playing with the puck, playing in the offensive zone and really using those abilities as a line coming together to add more offensively.

Holding my trust like a child: Michelle Crechiolo

1:22 PM:
Pens pics...

"Hey guys, let's all form a circle around this circular symbol on the ice," said an unknown Pen (left); "Hey guys, let's all get a group pic together so that we'll remember this day forever. Memories," said an unknown Pen. That unknown Pen is quite chatty today (right)

Letang may have a broken nose, but his hair is still unprecedented (left); Michalek takes a moment on the ice to pray (right)

Get that Gatorade in ya (left); Pens form a line before being escorted to 3rd grade art class (right)

Niskanen genuflects at the new MSG (left); Now Fleury genuflects the new MSG (right)

1:11 PM:
Sounds heard around the visitors locker room...

Kris Letang

On if he’ll play tonight:
I need to talk with the doctor.

On taking the ImPACT test:
No, I’ve done that test many times. It was more a question of how I feel on the ice, if I don’t feel worse by expending energy and getting my blood flow going.

On not taking the ImPACT test:
I don’t have to take it. It’s not mandatory. I take it all the time. Now it’s just a question of how I feel.

On if it’s a conditioning issue or breathing:
I’m having problems breathing, but you can play with that.

On if he’ll play and with any protection:
I have no clue. No (on wearing special protection).

On Pacioretty’s hit:
I think it’s a fair amount of games. I’m not angry with him. I don’t think he’s a dirty player. I don’t think he tried to injury me. I think you have to be responsible with how you act on the ice. I think it’s a fair amount of games. It’s about the safety of the player.

Sidney Crosby

On doing so well at the start:
I didn’t have any expectations to be honest with you. I just wanted to make sure that I was focused on preparing and making sure I’m doing my job. When you miss that amount of time you want to make sure that you’re contributing and responsible out there. That was my only focus. I’m happy with getting four games in right away. I got just thrown into it. It’s good to get four in six and get used to it.

On if there is a difference in how he’s being defended:
No, that’s typical. I don’t see any differences. Teams are keeping a close eye, but I think the depth that we have is a key to our team. Everybody is playing well right now. That helps benefit everyone.

On the MSG:
It takes some getting used to, like anything new. It’s nice. The dressing area is looking good. It’s a matter of getting used to everything. It’s a bit of a maze going out to the ice now. Just trying to find my way.

12:25 PM:
Rangers' projected lines for tonight:


Del Zotto-Sauer

12:00 PM:
Letang, who suffered a broken nose on Saturday vs. Montreal, is unsure if he'll play in tonight's game and needs to talk with doctors before making a decision.

"Playing depends on how I feel on the ice, if I don't feel worse expending energy," he said following the morning skate. "I need to talk with doctors."

Head coach Dan Bylsma said apart from Fleury starting in goal, the rest of the lineup (including Letang) will be a game time decision.

11:13 AM:
Pens lines at the morning skate...


The defensemen rotated. Letang is on the ice.

10:30 AM:
The Pens are at the newly remodeled Madison Square Garden. I gotta say, this is like a brand new arena. The team already had difficulty navigating to the locker room. The entire locker room area is revamped. There are new seats, new ice entrances and the concourses are all newly polished. It's kind of odd. It's like feeling unfamiliar in a familiar place.

Center ice at the new Madison Square Garden

This used to be the old coaches locker room, now it's a suite. I've watched many a final minutes of the 3rd period in this room (left); The new concourse. It has that newly finished kitchen feel (right)

(more pics to follow)

9:20 AM:
In this week's Great Moments in Pens History, Bob Grove takes us back to the Pens' NHL record-setting 16th straight win in a game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers in 1993.

9:15 AM:
The Rangers have been on a wicked tear lately, winning six straight at home and nine of their last 11 overall. They've started nipping at the Pens heels in the Atlantic Division standings. For more details on the Blueshirts, Michelle Crechiolo scouted them out for you here.

9:00 AM:
Good morning from New York!! (aka NYC, aka the Big Apple, aka The City that Never Sleeps, aka...uh, you get the point). Tonight the Pens have an Atlantic Division showdown with the New York Rangers.


Since we are in NYC we'll start the day with "New York, New York" by Ryan Adams. The video was shot on Sept. 7, 2001 (four days before 9/11). And incredibly it was shot with the Twin Towers as the signature backdrop, one of the last times the buildings were caught by professional camera work before the unthinkable event a few days later.

Anyways here is Ryan Adams "New York, New York." Enjoy.

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