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Penguins Report: Game Day at Philadelphia

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens recall Thiessen, Johnson hurt (4:09 PM).
  • Orpik is expected to play 5 or 6 games before the playoffs (12:36 PM).
  • Flyers go with Bobrovsky in goal (11:18 AM).
  • Pens lines (11:44 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Orpik, the Flyers and Kunitz (12:59 PM).
  • Kunitz, Staal and Jeffrey spit knowledge (1:06 PM).
  • Random observations by a bored Sam Kasan (2:25 PM).
  • Chris Kunitz is the Blackberry player to watch (3:59 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:56 AM).
  • Flyers pics (11:00 AM).
  • “Is your cat making too much noise all the time?...” (9:45 AM).

4:09 PM:
In a late move, the Pens have recalled Brad Thiessen from WBS. He will backup Marc-Andre Fleury tonight. Brent Johnson has an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

3:59 PM:
Chris Kunitz has been named a Player to Watch by the Blackberry All-Access Pregame Show. Watch and find out why:

2:25 PM:
Random weird observations of the day. While I was wandering around the Wells Fargo Center today I realized that the rink is filled with those machines that have a claw to grab stuffed animals. I never knew Philadelphians had such a fetish for this game.

See the pic to the right? I wasn't exaggerating that they are every 30 feet.

Oh No!! Out of Order!! What will the good people of section 218 do without getting their stuffed animal fix during intermission?

The Philadelphia Spectrum is gone. This is where it once stood (left). Hurry and get your Flyers fanny packs!!! Act now before supplies run out! If you call in the next 5 minutes we'll throw in a fuzzy key chain.

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

Chris Kunitz
On how they’re still fighting for the top spot despite the injuries:
We’ve faced a lot of adversity this year. I don’t think the guys feel like the last maybe 20 games or whatever (that) we’ve excelled at any point, we kind of came to a standstill. We’re winning a little bit here, a little bit there, fighting it off in overtime. But those are all learning experiences, things (where) guys that came up from the minors stepped up and had huge roles. Other guys on the team maybe jumped up in roles, some (were) getting PP time that aren’t used to it. So right now it’s just everybody filling in, giving that extra two, three, four, five percent, trying to make our team. Right now we believe in each other. We believe in the systems that we have, and we just want to catch Philly. We want to get as high as we can in the standings and tonight’s going to be a good challenge.

On seeing Brooks Orpik, Mike Comrie and Eric Tangradi back traveling and skating with the team:
It’s nice to see guys getting healthy. We can’t use them yet; we’ve got to wait till they get back in the lineup. But it adds to your lineup when they get back. It’s obviously nice to see the guys getting back and getting close to game shape.

On how he has felt since returning from his injury on March 8:
I was fighting it a little, but I’m playing with some new linemates. We’ve figured it out. We’re trying to play systems that help each one of us succeed, and that’s putting pucks deep and working their D and taking pucks to the net. It’s something that we’ve been trying to do better as a line, trying to talk about when we can exploit maybe a third guy high or go hard to the net and that type of stuff, and it’s been helping us out so far.

Dustin Jeffrey

On playing the point on the PP:
With our power play there are a lot of interchangeable parts. Practicing today I was at the point, but depending on the time and break-in there are many different parts there.

On being comfortable at the point:
My first few games here I was put at the defensive spot a couple times and I’ve done it at Wilkes-Barre the past few years. So it’s not something I’m not familiar with.

On adjusting to the point:
If you’re playing one of the flankers spots you have to be good defensively as well. You’re responsible in many different areas whether you’re on top or you’re a flanker.

On playing the Flyers:
The next two games we play against them is huge. We want to finish first and this is the team we have to go through. It’s a big challenge for us.


Jordan Staal
On tonight’s matchup with the Flyers:
It’s a big game to see where our team is at. They’re first in the conference; we want to find a way to beat them. Obviously there’s always that rivalry anyways, but it’s coming to the end of the season and every game is huge right now.

On how they’ll try to find success on the penalty kill without Matt Cooke:
We’ve got to keep improving on the PK. We lost a key guy on the PK that we need to find a way to fill (his role). It’s still going back to the same things we’ve been doing all year, and find a way to kill every PP.

On seeing Brooks Orpik, Mike Comrie and Eric Tangradi back traveling and skating with the team:
It’s always nice seeing those guys come back. Those guys look great out in practice, ‘Brooksie’ looked great. It’s definitely great to see those guys out.

Sweet Dee: Michelle Crechiolo

12:59 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Flyers matchup:
This is the time of year that these are the games you want to have. You want it to be Philly. You want it to be meaningful. They’re a great team. They’re one of the best teams in the league. We have a chance with two games against them in the next few days to catch them. That means in the next two points are a must if that’s going to be the case. It’s a rivalry game where there will be some extra jam in the game. We’re really looking forward to this one.

On the exploiting the Flyers goalie situation:

It’s not any different than if they had a clear picture in net and a clear No. 1 (goalie) and the guy is playing really well. We’ll have to expect to get goals a dirty way. That means getting pucks to the net and getting bodies there regardless of who’s in there.

On playing with Crosby and Malkin:

We’re confident in the way we need to play to have success, and the way we can play to have success. We feel when we play that way we can compete and be a good team. We’ve done that against other good teams. We’ll have another test tonight against the Flyers. We’re going to have to execute and have a game plan to get to the offensive zone and see if we can put enough pressure on to have a presence there, and getting pucks and bodies around the goaltender.

On Orpik close to returning:
To see Brooks get back into full practice and get close to playing, he’s a big part of our team. He’s a big part of shutting down other teams’ good players, making them accountable on the ice and being a physical presence. If we can get him back for some games, get his time back and playing the way we can is a big thing for us. Hopefully, it’s going to be five, six games for him to play. That’s something as a group that we want to play well defensively and adding Brooks is a big part of that.

On Kunitz’s play:
He’s probably played his best hockey in the last few games for us, what he’s done on the ice, the way he’s skating, the way he’s hitting, the way he’s going to the net, the way he’s shooting the puck. It might be some of the best games I’ve seen him play for the Penguins. He really elevated his game. He’s also setting the tone for our team in a lot of aspects, our work ethic, playing the game with speed and it’s a great time of the year. He’s excited about how he feels physically and it’s noticeable on the ice.

On worrying about Kunitz’s health with the way he plays:
I’d rather have bumps and bruises and worn out than being safe and sound without a bump. He’s a guy that plays a certain way. He’s terribly effective being that way. He’s going to get bumps and bruises. But he’s also a guy that’s going to play his heart out and lay it out there that way because that’s what makes him a great player.

12:36 PM:
Coach Bylsma said Orpik will not be in the lineup tonight. But he will play before the season ends.

"Hopefully, it’s going to be five, six games for him to play," Bylsma said.

11:56 AM:
Pens pics at Wells Fargo...

Orpik (left) skated with the D rotation; Asham (right)


Michalek (left); Staal (right)

11:44 AM:
The Pens are on the ice for their morning skate. Brooks Orpik rotated with the other six defensemen during the drills. We'll check with coach Bylsma if Orpik will be returning to the lineup tonight. Regardless, it's a good sign that he's close to coming back. Rest of the combos below:


Bobrovsky will start tonight against the Pens.

11:00 AM:
We made it to the rink. The Flyers are on the ice at Wells Fargo Center for their morning skate. Pronger is in a yellow "no contact" jersey and was taking some shots, though not heavy shots. Meanwhile, coach Laviolette hasn't tipped his hand on whether he will start Bobrovsky (who was pulled in the previous game against Washington) or Boucher tonight.

Pronger in yellow (right)

Boucher or Bob tonight?

9:45 AM:
Welcome to Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia is the home of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin (sort of), the Liberty Bell, Paddy's Pub and the Original Kitten Mittons. Meeeeeeowww.

Tonight the Pens will battle the heated cross-state rival Flyers as both teams jockey for the Atlantic Division crown. Philly is currently the lead horse with 97 points, but the Pens are only five points behind. The two teams will meet twice in the final regular-season stretch, and Pittsburgh will have its first crack at cutting into that lead tonight at Wells Fargo. 

Michelle Crechiolo has filled in (admirably) on the Pens Report the past few days. But it's good to be back, and thus, I've got to open the day with some music. We'll start with a little Bruce Springsteen "Streets of Philadelphia." It features some great shots of the city (both the skyline and the seedy streets). Plus, Tom Hanks makes a 4 second cameo...BONUS!

"South Philly, Don't Believe the Pipe!!"

A Philadelphia-based group that hit it big in the early 90s was Boyz II Men. The "Motown Philly" video is the epitome of the early 90s R&B movement. Let's get four guys that can sing, give them "Kid and Play" haircuts, put them in awful clothes with terrible dance moves, have them pose around a birthday cake/Geno's Steaks and belt out random melodies. I love the "deep voice" guy who chimes in with "Nah" and "All the Philly steaks you can eat." Classic.

(Side note: I met two Boyz II Men at Super Bowl XLII in Arizona. The guy with the long face is unreal. His face is actually longer in person no joke. The camera cuts two inches off his chin).

"Motown Philly back again doing a little East Coast fling." Boyz II Men ABC BBD. Enjoy. 

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