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Penguins Report: Game Day at Tampa Bay (Game 3)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Pens holding an optional morning skate; only four players absent (11:56 AM).
  • Mearsy gives you the scoop on today's game day info (2:54 PM).
  • Guy-1000 (1:51 PM).
  • Lightning go with limited skate (11:07 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on starting strong, ice conditions and being accountable (1:21 PM).
  • Coach Boucher on St. Louis, home playoff games and not holding morning skates (1:54 PM).
  • Fleury, Staal, Dupuis and Martin (1:36 PM).
  • Pens pics (1:32 PM).
  • Bolts pics (12:56 PM).
  • “I know a bar out in Mars where they drive spaceships instead of cars…” (10:30 AM).

2:54 PM:
Here is today's PensTV Online update from Steve Mears.

1:54 PM:
Coachspeak with T-1000/Guy Boucher…

On if Eric Brewer has surprised him with how well he’s played on the point on the PP:
I didn't want him to play on the power play, to be honest with you. We tried everybody else because we felt that he was getting so much ice time everywhere else, the penalty kill and playing against the top lines. I like to give roles to players on the team, and everybody’s got a role. Having him there just gives him more ice time, which doesn’t seem to hurt him at all. So it’s good. But my initial thought was not to have him on the power play. I think we put him on the power play at the end of the year and in the playoffs now. He gives us basically reliability too on the power play. If something happens, we don’t get caught. So that’s something that was a bit of a problem for us.

On if that takes the pressure off Marty St. Louis:
Well, we’ve had this setup before. We had four different setups that we used during the year depending on the team and depending on the period of the game. (Brewer is) just replacing one of the guys that was there before, so the setup hasn't changed. It’s just his contribution might a little different than somebody else’s. Marty, well, we’ve got four different setups. We’ve got Marty at the point, Marty on the boards, Marty down low and Marty in the middle. Right now, Marty’s everywhere, but it relieves Marty from having the pressure of being on the point and having to manage basically everything and all the pressure. If we do get caught, Marty has to be the guy defending, which, at his size, was never the ideal thing. We never really wanted Marty on the point, we put him there because we felt that nobody else could do the job he did. Initially, I wanted Marty where he is right now, but the personnel that we had this year, I felt that I had at some point, to put Marty on the point. It did serve us. He did great. But it does put a lot of pressure on you not being a defenseman and you do have to defend. I think you always say that great power plays at best get 30 seconds of setup in the offensive zone. The rest of the time you’re in your zone, you’re breaking out, you’re trying to enter, you’re regrouping, you’re battling. You’ve got to face off. So everything else, basically, you’re a defenseman and relieving Marty from that pressure, I think, has helped him.

On the emotions that will stem from the team’s first home playoff game in four years:
We talked about emotion, because we need some, but under control. So emotion under control, I know with Team Canada we talked about that all the time. I think the Team Canada teams are very emotional teams and going into these tournaments, have a lot of pressure, but that’s the way we managed that. We wanted emotion, but under control, because you cant deny the emotion. If you’re thinking you’re just going to go in there and be calm and focused just on the task, it ain’t happening. That’s just a dream. You get out there and all of a sudden you hear the crowd and the atmosphere and that’s certainly going to uplift everybody. But that’s the thing. You don't want to play your game before the game. You do your warmup, you’re all cranked up and then in the morning, you didn't sleep the night before and that’s the thing we want to watch out for. We’re not going to win this game in the first 10 minutes. It’s going to be 60, 70, 80 minute game, whatever the number of minutes it’s going to take to win, we’ve just got to get one more goal then they do and we have to be consistent in the way we play the game.

On his role in managing the team’s emotions:
It’s got to be part of a balance process. Everything has to be balanced. If you’re just going to play this great emotional game, you’re going to start the first 10-15 minutes and you’re looking great out there, then come the second period you’ve got nothing left. Some games, I don’t have to do anything. I just let the guys go. Some games, it’s the opposite. I’ve got to inject something in there. It’s my job to figure out what I need to inject. Early on in the season with the players that we had, we had a lot of guys that were very methodical about what they do. They’re straight guys, they don’t get out of the path and nobody’s talking on the bench and that’s how our bench was. It was very, very quiet bench. So as a coaching staff, we needed to be very alive, and sometimes very emotional. Whereas the year went on and the leadership slowly took over, by the last two months it was a very different approach with the players and in the playoffs, it’s different. It’s an evolving situation with the team. Ideally, you want the team to be the players’ team, not the coaches’ team. With Brewer coming in, (Dwayne) Roloson coming in, just added on more leadership. What it does is it creates a different chemistry that we have to respect and make sure that we balance well as a staff.

On his philosophy behind not usually holding morning skates:
Enthusiam. You need work ethic and enthusiasm to have success. When you’re missing one of the two, you’re in trouble. We always talk about working hard, and we work on that, work ethic, work ethic. But we like to work with enthusiasm here. When you always show up at the rink and get dressed. Get undressed, get dressed, get undressed, it doesn't become special to get dressed and go and play. I think when you don’t have a morning skate, I think that you tend to get to the game and guys are happy to get on and they’re anxious to get on and it’s special to get on. That’s my experience with it. We had a morning skate the first game, we lost it, didn't have a morning skate the second game, we won it. It’s been like that all year long, pretty much. I feel that when we don’t need a morning skate, there’s no reason to have a morning skate. When we need it because we didn't practice the day before, that’s a different story. You haven’t practiced, you haven’t played. So morning skates, for me, is I use them when I need it. When we don’t need it, it’s just showing up to get on. You always want the players to just get on and warm up for 20 minutes, but they always end up 45, 50 minutes on the ice. Just as long as you practiced the previous day, so they’ll have a practice, practice, and then the game at night. And then you’re mad at them because they don't have the energy to play 60 minutes. So it’s my responsibility to make sure that they do.

Supernatural Extra Terrestrial: Michelle Crechiolo

1:51 PM:
Random observation for the day. Am I the only one who thinks Lightning head coach Guy Boucher resembles the T-1000 from Terminator 2? Boucher has this crazy, intense stare. It's really powerful and imposing. If he shows up at the next media conference in a police uniform I'm running for the exit (and knocking children out of the way to get there). Let's hope he doesn't mistake Chris Conner for John Connor.

1:36 PM:
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On looking forward to getting back on the ice and if it was good to get two days of rest to refocus for Game 3:
Yeah, we’re looking forward to get back out there and play a game. We know it’s not going to be an easy series and we just got to go out there and be focused for tonight.

On if there was anything they did different in Game 2 that was better:
I think they played pretty similar. Both games, they had a good start, to come in a lot to the net. I think that’s something they’ve done both games, just having guys on net throwing pucks in that area and going for tips, rebounds, and screens also. That’s something we can expect tonight.

On what the ice is like:
It feels hot. There was a concert last night. I don’t know, we’ll see tonight. They’ve still got some time today to work on it.

On if it’s to be expected with the conditions:
Yeah. I think it might be a little choppy or bouncy, but it’s something that will be the same for both teams.

On if there’s anything unique to the rink:
I think just fast boards. If guys miss the net, I think it comes back out in front pretty quick. It’s something you’ve got to be aware of. Other than that, it’s nothing too different.

On if he expects them to come out even harder with them being at home:
Yeah, I think that’s something we’ve talked about. That’s their style. Every game we’ve played them, the first period they always came out very strong, very hard at us. Being home, I’m sure we’re going to see that again.

Jordan Staal

On looking forward to getting back on the ice and if it was good to get two days of rest to refocus for Game 3:
Yeah, it’s a little different having a couple of days in-between a game during a series, but we’re anxious to get back out there and show them what we can do.

On if they got the level of puck possession they wanted in Game 2:
No, I don’t think so. We gave them a few too many opportunities to take over the game, whether it was just penalties and special teams and just us not getting to our game, getting in their end and wearing them down. We have to get back to that.

On shutting down Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier being a key to victory:
It always is. They’re three talented players that know how to score goals, and we have to find a way to slow them down a bit and take away their time and space.

On if they can take advantage of Tampa Bay’s revved-up emotions due to playing their first playoff home game in years:
Let’s hope so. We’re going to try to just focus on the way we can play and then do our thing. Hopefully we can get under their skin and not worry about the crowd too much, and just play the way we can and find a way to win the game.

On the message from the coaching staff during the two-day break:
It’s the same kind of message. It’s if we invest in the way we play and doing the things we do, (we have) a good chance of winning the series. I think we got away from that in the second game. We’ve got to stay out of the box and do the right things and hopefully we’ll be fine.

Pascal Dupuis

On if they’ll be making any adjustments for Game 3:
I don’t think so. I think the only thing we have to do is limit the mental errors, the little mistakes here and there that gave them scoring chances. They do have some skilled players, so if we give them too much they’ll take advantage of it. At the same time, we can't change our game. We know what makes us successful and we’ll bring it tonight.

On how they can ignore the home crowd:
It’s playoff hockey. The crowd is going to be there for them in their building and it’s going to be really loud in their building as well. Maybe get a good start right away, get a couple goals and maybe take the crowd out of it.

On what they need to improve for Game 3:
We do need to have a better effort in the first 20 minutes of the game. I think the first two games of the series, they took it to us a little bit even though we won the first game 3-0. Just a good start, maybe take the crowd out of it a little bit and play a very solid game, the solid game that makes us successful. Little details here and there and we should be fine.

Paul Martin

On containing Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier:
We’ve done an ok job. Obviously they had a good Game 2. It’s tough to contain those guys. They’re going to get their chances. It’s trying to limit them and take away the big ones.

On the Penguins being successful in Game 3s:
Throughout both games, we’ve shown bits where we’re playing well, we’re getting the puck in deep and cycling down low and getting the puck to the net. If we can do that, I think that will help.

On if there was any one thing they got away from in Game 2:
No, I mean, it was just a game where we weren’t able to establish much of a forecheck and get the puck in like we had in Game 1, and hopefully we can do that tonight.

On what they need to improve for Game 3:
A little bit of everything. You need to commit to doing the little things. For us, getting through the neutral zone and getting pucks in the right areas where we can go get them will help our forwards get in there and establish a forecheck and get pucks to the net.

On the challenges Tampa Bay has presented and how to deal with them:
It looks like, to us, that they’re just throwing pucks around, but a lot of them have played together for a long time so they know where they’re going to be on the ice. For them, they get pucks and they throw them to the net, so sometimes it’s hard for us to know what’s going to happen when they’re just throwing things around. So for us, just to make sure that we know where they are. They’re talented guys, so we’ve just got to try and limit their chances the best we can.

Big-headed astronaut: Michelle Crechiolo

1:32 PM:
Pictorial images of the Pens morning skate...

Kris Letang (left), favorite band is Metallica; Jordan Staal (right), favorite movie is Anchorman.

Zbynek Michalek (left), first car was a Jeep Cherokee; Brent Johnson (right) is back in the black pads.

Head coach Dan Bylsma with whistle at the ready

Staal (left), "The Human Torch was denied a bank load"; Maxime Talbot (right) skates stubbornly out of frame

See if you can spot the six differences in these photos. It's like hockey MegaTouch.

Deryk Engelland (left), favorite movie is The Hangover; Tyler Kennedy (right) is a Hank Williams Jr. fan.

Thank you to the 2010-11 Penguins Media Guide for the tidbits of insightful info on the guys.

1:21 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Neal and Asham not skating:
The morning skate was an optional skate so they took the option. (The lineup) will be game-time.

On Crosby’s progress:
His workout regiment and the one he’s gone through the last five days are all through the doctor. He’s been working out off the ice. That’s through communication with the doctor. There hasn’t been a change in his status.

On starting strong on the road:
There is more attention on Tampa’s tendencies. They are a team that likes to start fast and comes out hard, tries to get on the forecheck, pucks to the net, around the goalie to gain momentum in the game. That’s something they’ve been very good at. That’s what I’m sure they’ll try to establish with energy coming home to their first home game in the series. That’s going to be how it plays out. For us, whether the game is on the road or home, it doesn’t change our mentality. We know we have to be ready for what they do, and do well. We have to counter that with some things we can try to do. That’ll be important from the start of the game.

On the ice conditions in Tampa:
There are things about the buildings that you are aware of going in. Both buildings are very similar in terms of boards and ice conditions. In that regard there isn’t a lot of change in what we’ll see tonight.

On why the team is successful on the road:
For a long time in hockey you heard “playing a road game,” or keeping it simple, or playing differently on the road. Our focus is not that at all. We try to play the same way regardless of the venue, regardless of where it’s at, regardless of the score in the game, whether you’re up or down. That’s something we try to maintain. It’s carried us pretty well through difficult road games and buildings and some big hockey games on the road as well. The expectations and the mindset of our team and how we need to play doesn’t change whether we are on the road or if the building is really loud, which we expect it to be tonight. We expect this to be a big game, Game 3 here when (the series) is 1-1. So our expectations and what we might do is not going to change. It’s something we’re comfortable with and developed in our team. It’s served us well.

On Orpik be accountable to himself and teammates:
One of the things our team has done well, whether we win or lose we evaluate what we did well, what we didn’t do well, where we need to be better, where we can improve. Knowing the mistakes we made in Game 2, understanding what led to them is an important part of the process of getting back and focused for Game 3. To have your leaders be that way and have the room almost expect that to be a part of the evaluation process from game to game sets us up to come back here understanding what we need to do, how Tampa is going to play in this game and gives us a chance to be focused to be at our best for Game 3. Brooks Orpik is a guy that is a big part of that in our room. We have other guys as well that are a part of that. Talking about not doing well in a game isn’t the first time we’ve done that with our group. It’s not a huge difference to what we normally do day to day. We made some mistakes, we have to be better in certain areas and we have to be ready to play the game that will give us a chance to have success here. It’s going to be very important right from the start on the road.

On how the Penguins start games:
I can say that we don’t have a tendency to be one way or another. Early on in the season we didn’t have great starts. That was a long time ago, 50, 55 games ago. The start of the game and second period, the focus is the same with how we want to play and come out. We want to set the tone. We are a similar team (to Tampa) with how we want to play and how fast we want to play, aggressively. We want to get to the offensive zone and play in the offensive zone. It’s very similar to some of the things that Tampa Bay does.

12:56 PM:
Here are some pics from the Bolts morning skate - attendance 4.

11:56 AM:
The Pens also decided to hold an optional skate this morning at St. Pete Times Forum. However, Crosby, Cooke, Asham and Neal were the only players absent.

11:07 AM:
The Lightning have decided to hold an optional morning skate. Three Bolts and backup goaltender Mike Smith are the only ones on the ice for Tampa Bay.

10:30 AM:
Good morning from Tampa! The Pens and Bolts will battle in Game 3 of their opening round series tonight at St. Pete Times Forum at 7:30 p.m. in a pivotal contest in the series. Pittsburgh is 9-1 in Game 3s since the start of the 2008 playoffs, so the team knows how to play with the stakes on the line in a swing game.

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