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Penguins Report: Game Day at Philadelphia

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Malkin and Kunitz are game-time decisions tonight (12:55 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:43 AM).
  • More from coach Bylsma on Malkin, the streak and playing through injuries (12:55 PM).
  • Crosby will be on “The Price is Right” (6:19 PM).
  • Crosby and Letang still leading All-Star voting (6:16 PM).
  • Words of wisdom from Crosby, Asham and Letang (1:10 PM).
  • Pens-Flyers at a glance (11:15 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:59 AM).
  • Flyers pics (11:34 AM).
  • Wells Fargo Center tour (6:29 PM).
  • “Sucker love I always find someone to bruise and leave behind…” (10:52 AM).

6:29 PM:

Pens GM Ray Shero's father, Fred, has a bust at Wells Fargo Center

Philadelphia is also known as Comcast Country

Santa Claus visited from the North Pole for the game. I wonder what the odds are that he'll get boo-ed.

6:19 PM:
By the way, Sid is going to be a guest on "The Price is Right" on Monday, Dec. 20. Ovechkin and Roenick are also going to appear on the show.

6:17 PM:
Crosby and Letang are still beasting the All-Star voting. Fleury and Malkin also creeped into the top 10.

6:16 PM:
The Penguins are excited to see HBO's "24/7 Pens-Caps: Road to the Winter Classic," which debuts Wednesday night.

1:10 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...


On how much of a challenge tonight's game will be:
You’ve got to find a way to win every game. I think that every game against Philadelphia is always intense, and I think there’s always a little something extra, especially with where the two teams are right now. If it was possible to add anything to it, it would be now. So certainly, I think both teams have it out for one another and if you said that we marked this on the calendar, obviously it’s the case for them as well.

On whether this is the best stretch of hockey Pittsburgh has played since he’s been here:
I don’t know. I don’t know what the case has been with past streaks, but I feel like we’ve done some good things. We’ve played some games where we haven’t played great and found a way to win, which you have to do sometimes. But that’s going to happen over a stretch like that. I think tonight’s going to be a great test for us.

On posting the numbers he does against the Flyers in such a hostile environment:
It’s always intense here. Both teams bring out the best in one another, and I think you always kind of expect that.

On the status of Chris Kunitz:
He looked fine, and hopefully there’s no question there. We’ll see what happens. He’s been playing some great hockey and creating a lot, so it’d be nice to have him out there.


On if he’s feeling comfortable in Pittsburgh:
Yeah. It took me a little while to get the systems down and get used to my teammates, but I’m playing with some pretty decent players right now and our line is pretty decent. So I’m not sure what’s going to happen tonight with Geno coming back, but either way I just hope I’m in the lineup.

On the Penguins and the Flyers:
Both teams have a lot of firepower up front. We’ve got Sid, Geno, Kunitz, and Dupuis—guys that can put the puck in the net. And they’ve got their guys over there. Both teams have a lot of grit and a lot of toughness, so it should be a fun game.

On his return to Philadelphia:
I don’t know how warm (my reception) is going to be, but I’m definitely looking forward to being out there.

On the Flyers fans:
They’re good fans. They want their team to win and to do well. I was a part of it for two years, Now that I’m on the other side, I expect nothing but boos. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.


On if he’ll take the time to sit down and really watch Wednesday’s premiere:
I’m interested to see what it’s going to look like on the screen. I’m wondering how it’s going to come out, and if I do anything stupid on there. There’s a lot of people that are going to watch, so I want to see it.

On if he’s curious to see what goes on in Washington:
Yeah, I want to see what they do in other places. I’ve only played in Pittsburgh in my career, so I want to know how it happens in other dressing rooms.

On if they can keep the streak rolling against the Flyers:
It’s going to be a tough game. They’re playing really well, they’re only one point behind us. It’s a game for first place. It’s going to be like a playoff game. They don’t like us, we don’t like them, so it’s going to be a good game.

On if it’s more intense with the rivalry:
Yeah, the rivalry is really important. It’s really big here. I think it’s just going to bring more hype to the game, the fact that we’re playing for first place.

On how the Penguins’ playoff run last season is helping him now:
Every year after the playoffs, I’ve sat down with the coaches, and they really want me to bring the type of game that I bring (to the playoffs). The physical play, playing hard in my zone, not being afraid to shoot. In the playoffs, you score a lot of scrappy goals. You go to the front (of the net), you tip one, it goes off a shinpad. They want me to play like that, and I think I came with that mentality this year.

12:55 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if Malkin or Kunitz will play:
I don’t have an update for you yet. I don’t know what the lineups going to look like tonight. Goaltender will be Marc-Andre Fleury.

On if both Malkin and Kunitz could play:
That’s what I’m hoping for.

On if Malkin will play with Crosby:
If they both play I can envision a scenario where the Crosby line will remain intact, but you’ll see Geno there. We were doing that when Geno was in the lineup.

On the standings adding to the game:
There’s definitely a little something extra to the game tonight. There always is when it’s Philly. The way our season has gone as of late and the way they’re playing right now, their record and where they are in the standings, adds extra to it than the normal Pittsburgh-Philly game. We’ve had this in the back of our minds for the past week or so. Thankfully, we’ve been able to focus on the games at hand. When the Buffalo game ended, everyone in the dressing room knew we were heading to Philly next.

On taking the streak game-by-game:
That’s been the strength of our team. It’s been matter of fact. It’s been evaluating our play regardless of the result and then moving on to the next one. There hasn’t been a change in our demeanor or the looseness of our group. We’ve gone about our business and gone on to the next game, worrying about the next opponent. It’s been a strength through this time. Sometimes it would be tough to know if we won or lost the last game. We just try to keep it going, get better in certain areas, get better as a team. We have a challenge to do that tonight.

On playing well on the road:
We’ve had to take our road game home with us early on in the season. We’ve gotten some wins in a row at home now. Our mentality, regardless of who we’re playing and how we’re playing, we’re going to try to get to our game, execute the right way, manage the puck the right way to get to the offensive zone. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. That’s going to be key for us tonight.

On Malkin playing with the injury
When he got a hat trick in Atlanta he was still banged up. He was out there battling and playing hard. Now we’ve gone through a week and half or so, trying to get him healthy and back on the ice without the pain of playing with an injury. Hopefully, that scenario happens tonight.

On how the injury affected Malkin:
It certainly had an effect on him and was an issue for him. It wasn’t just one game. He had the injury for a while and was playing through it. Playing with a certain amount of discomfort goes along with the injury. When he comes back hopefully he will put it behind him.

12:05 PM:
For a preview of tonight's game, listen to Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange break it down on NHL Live. The legend will be on around 1:20 p.m. If you miss it, you'll regret it for the rest of your life (or until you forget about tomorrow).

11:59 AM:
Visual evidence of the Pens morning skate:

Chris Kunitz was back at practice (left)

Evgeni Malkin was also at the morning skate (left); Michalek and Talbot (right)

Arron Asham (left) will play in Philly for the first time as a Pen tonight; Marc-Andre Fleury (right)

HBO is everywhere! They're more omnipresent than any deity. Big Brother is watching. Kris Letang (right) ties his skates while his teammates steal his glove. Quite a look of confusion on his face when he turned around and the glove was gone.

11:43 AM:
Couple quick morning skate notes as the Pens go through their routine. Chris Kunitz, who missed Monday's practice, was back in action. He resumed his usual spot alongside Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. Evgeni Malkin also skated, but didn't work with any lines in the drills. No changes to the lines:


11:34 AM:
Visual evidence of the Flyers morning skate:

Scott Hartnell (left); Random Flyer (right)

The "Bob." Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

Did you know that the slap shot was invented by Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion? Hat tip to Mike Lange for that little nugget of info.

11:15 AM:
I'm sitting at Wells Fargo Center (formerly Wachovia Center) in Philadelphia. Should be a great match tonight as both teams are rolling right now. The Pens have won 12 straight and haven't lost in regulation since the Fourth of July (or at least it feels that way), and the Flyers are 7-1-3 in their last 11 games.

The Pens have the best record in the NHL at 21-8-2 for 44 points. But the Flyers are right on their heels with a 19-7-5 mark for 43 points. That should only add to the already intense rivalry.

The Flyers are finishing up their morning skate.

10:52 AM:
On a non-hockey related item to start the day, my beautiful friend Kristen went to see Justin Bieber last night at CONSOL Energy Center. And to quote her text to me after the show, "For the record, I am a total belieber. Best show since nsync 2001. Quote me."

I need new friends. 

Anyways, let's kick off the day with some real music: Placebo's "Every You, Every Me." Great song from a great movie. Who doesn't love Cruel Intentions? 

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