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Penguins Report: Game Day at Ottawa

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

1:15 PM:
Steve Mears chips in today with the Verizon Game Day Report.

--Sam Kasan

1:10 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On finishing first in the conference:
A motivator is first in the division. That is what we talked about in the beginning of the year. It’s something we wanted to do, being in the top three spots going into the playoffs. That would mean we’ll be first in the conference if we do that. We certainly have our eyes on it. We know we have to beat the Rangers all three times to do it. That’s still probably the case. Tonight if we win we could move ahead of the Rangers. We’re definitely focused on that.

On Thiessen’s confidence:
He’s played so little in the National Hockey League. Every game is a new experience for him in terms of being a goaltender at this level. He’s had home games, now he’ll have a road game. He’s playing an opponent that’s right in the playoff mix. This is a big game for us as well. We want to win this game and move into first in the division. This is a very big game. It’s a different type of game for Brad that he hasn’t seen. Going in and being solid on the road will be another test for him.

On the team being the deepest in his tenure with their big three centers:
I would always fight in ’09 and ’10 about who the second- or third-line center was anyway. To have three deep like that and have Sidney back in. He’s playing guarded minutes to start off with, around 15, 16, in different situations, it’s still a challenge for me. He’s still not going out in every position you would normally put him in. In 2009 and ’10 after an icing you’d say ‘87’s line’ or different situations, 4-on-4. That’s not the case. To have Malkin and Staal, the three centermen is a great benefit for us. Sid gets back into playing games and we have to remember that he hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last 18 months. Each game he’s trying to get better in different situations: offensively; defensively; with the puck; away from the puck. That’s still happening for him. Luckily we’re still having success with him in that capacity.

--Sam Kasan

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

Brad Thiessen

On playing on the road:
It’ll be my first time on the road. I’m looking forward to playing up in Canada and on a Saturday night. It’s exciting and I’m looking forward to it.

On if his family will be watching the game:
Yes, I’ll have a good crew watching it.

On the progression in his game:
I feel comfortable. It helps being out at practice everyday with these guys. We have some pretty good players here. That always helps. I felt over the three games that I’ve played I’ve felt confident out there and did the things I needed to do.

On scouting the Senators:
We watched some video this morning. They have a pretty skilled group, (Daniel) Alfredsson, (Jason) Spezza, (Sergie) Gonchar, guys like that. They’re high-skilled offensive guys. We’ll have to watch out for them.

Sidney Crosby

On wanting to finish first in the conference:
It’s something we’re aware of. We want to get it, but that being said, if we just focus on the way we need to play those things will take care of themselves. We have a few games before the playoffs and we want to make sure we play them the right way, build some good habits. I think that’s a big part of our focus.

On where his game is rounding into form:
It’s just feeling comfortable with the speed and decisions. There are so many aspects of the game that go into playing a complete game, I have to learn on the fly sometimes. There’s only so much you can do to prepare in practice. It’s more the speed of the game, decision making, timing, that kind of thing. It seems to take a little bit longer.

On his ice time:
Usually 21, 22 (minutes) is where I’m at. Prior to this I don’t think I’ve ever had a discussion with Dan (Bylsma) about my ice time. I think we both have a good idea what to expect. We know how the game is going. I’m pretty sure he has a feel for when I’m feeling good or other guys are feeling good. That’s something you work on prior to this. Twenty-one is pretty normal for me. I think I played 19 last game so I’m pretty close to that right now. That’ll be a progression too.

--Sam Kasan

12:14 PM:
Brad Thiessen will start for the Pens in goal. It will be his first start on the road in the NHL.

--Sam Kasan

11:55 AM:
Pens pics...

Martin (left); Malkin and Crosby go over the plan for the PP (right)

Best player in the world (left); Best player in the world (right)

Lovejoy will step in for Niskanen (left); Coach Bylsma (right)

Asham stretches (left); Engelland gives Kunitz a shove to clear the net (right)

--Sam Kasan

11:37 AM:
Pens' lines from the morning skate...



--Sam Kasan

11:35 AM:
The Ottawa Sun is reporting that Bishop will start in goal for Ottawa.

--Sam Kasan

11:00 AM:
All three goalies and nine skaters are on the ice for Ottawa's morning skate. Not a bad turnout considering the team played last night in Montreal.

--Sam Kasan

10:40 AM:
Tonight’s game is a meaningful contest for both squads. While the Pens are trying to climb to the Eastern Conference mountaintop, the Senators are fighting for the right to play in the postseason. The Sens are sitting in the seventh hole, but have only a two-point cushion. Click here for more on what to watch for from tonight’s matchup. Michelle Crechiolo scouts Ottawa below.

--Sam Kasan

10:30 AM:
Good morning from Ottawa! Or Kanata to be exact. Tonight the Penguins continue their quest for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a showdown against the Senators. Pittsburgh is only one point behind the New York Rangers for that title, and the Pens have one game in hand. By the end of the night, the Pens could find themselves atop the conference. First, they have to handle the Sens.


A quick thank you to my Ottawa friends Wally and Peeler and their families – always a gracious host and good time when we come to town. They wanted to pick today’s song. After some debate, they finally settled on Paul Brandt “Small Towns and Big Dreams.” So here it is, for Peeler and Wally. Enjoy.

--Sam Kasan
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