- Your Verizon Game Day Report from the water! (2:27 PM).
- Fleury in net; rest of lineup is game-time decisions (12:46 PM).
- Pens lines (11:47 AM).
- Engelland, Neal, Michalek at morning skate (11:44 AM).
- Dads and sons take a group photo (2:15 PM).
- Bylsma on Michalek, attacking the 1-3-1 and other assorted topics (1:53 PM).
- Neal, Martin and Kunitz on Tampa Bay and their dads (1:51 PM).
- Pens at morning skate (12:20 PM).
- Bolts on the ice (10:57 AM).
- He said, 'I’m gonna be like you, Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…' (10:15 AM).
One last thing before we wrap up. There's been a lot of talk about the Lightning's 1-3-1 trap that they like to use ever since the Tampa Bay-Philly debacle (click here if you don't know what I'm talking about
) and how it's not good for the game. But head coach Dan Bylsma isn't too worried about that, as he said it's not an unbreakable strategy.
As Bylsma said:
"I think the slower the game goes the harder it is to beat the 1-3-1. That’s not something we want to do. We aren’t looking to play a slow game. We don’t want set breakouts or set neutral zone transitions. We hope we do that less than seven times a game. We don’t want to get in that situation. We’ve played them a lot in the last year. We played a lot of games against them and done different things and had different amounts of success. If we get into too many set situations it’s not going to be as good for our team. We won’t try to get into those situations or minimize them as much as we can."
So, there you have it.
In addition to this Penguins Report, I've also got your Verizon Game Day Report discussing both Tampa Bay and the dads' presence. (It was sooo hot while we were filming this). Check it out:
As mentioned earlier, the Pens got on the ice a little late for their morning skate because they took a group photo with their dads on the bench beforehand. I sprinted over to the other side of the ice when I realized this was happening and snapped some pics. Here they are:
The guys laughing it up
Trying to get situated
Note: Bolts coach Guy Boucher didn't hold his media conference until the Pens locker room opened, so we couldn't go find out what he had to say. Apparently the reason for the lengthy wait was that he had a meeting with GM Steve Yzerman. I'm not even mad, because being from Detroit, If Stevie Y asked for a meeting with me, I'd make my own mother wait. (Sorry, Mom!)
But Staggy (Paul Steigerwald) was kind enough to inform me that Roloson will be in goal and Malone will not play tonight as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury.
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...On Michalek practicing:Zbynek Michalek
was on the ice today, his first team practice in 23 or 24 days post-injury. He’s not quite at the four-week mark yet on a 4-6 week injury. He’s just on the ice with the team today. On getting Michalek back:
We talked today and the stress level on the hand and all he can be involved in with practice is still to be determined by what we see down the road when the doctor examines him.On the Dads' Trip helping players in the games:
It’s been good in the past. It’s a unique opportunity for the players and dads. It adds a unique dynamic to the scene. It always seems to be a good and energetic response from the players. The dads are under the pressure. They were given the ultimatum that if they didn’t two games last year then they wouldn’t be back this year. They responded well last year and we’re looking for a similar response. On Martin missing Michalek as his partner:
They’ve played a lot of successful hockey together. It’s not a security blanket for him or something he needs to play well. He’s played a lot without “Z” last year and this year as well. I think a little bit of the situation in terms of the play over 18 games, because of our injury situation we put our players in extra minutes, different situations, and that’s a little bit attributed to that. He’s done a lot of good things for us. He makes a mistake here and there like we all. Puck goes in our net last game. He does a lot of goo things. He’s comfortable playing with Kris Letang
and the off-side with Brooks Orpik
. It’s not a great number for him (plus-minus rating) right now, but I’m not going to be surprised when he’s even. He does a lot of good things for us and we count on him to do those for our team. On the team’s 5-on-5 play:
One thing we would assess and plan on doing with the way we play is draw penalties. That’s an indication of how we’ve played. Our 5-on-5 isn’t where we’d like it to be in terms of scoring goals and keeping goals out of our net. I do believe it’s been the fact that we’ve been up in games, 4-1, and given up goals as teams try to come back. That’s been a factor in that number. There are parts of our 5-on-5 play that I really like, we’ve improved on, especially in the last five games. At the same time I don’t like that number at all. We’re a better team than that defensively and better offensively.On attacking the 1-3-1:
You’ve seen different ways from different teams. A lot of teams have tried different things. You’ve seen some success at getting into a set breakout scenario like Boston did last year with different routes. They had success. They scored some goals and it worked. I also think the slower the game goes the harder it is to beat the 1-3-1. That’s not something we want to do. We aren’t looking to play a slow game. We don’t want set breakouts or set neutral zone transitions. We hope we do that less than seven times a game. We don’t want to get in that situation. We’ve played them a lot in the last year. We played a lot of games against them and done different things and had different amounts of success. If we get into too many set situations it’s not going to be as good for our team. We won’t try to get into those situations or minimize them as much as we can. On the Lightning slowing down the pace:
I think there is a misnomer about the Lightning and the 1-3-1 somehow slows the game down. Every other part of Tampa’s game is a fast game. They play fast defensively and transition-wise, quick in the offensive zone. The top four or five guys can go really quick the other way. They attack quickly and they’re quick in the offensive zone. Those are all things that they’re strong at. We need to be acutely aware of tonight. We’ve seen a lot of it in the last 11 games we played them last year. They can damage you with it if you turn the puck over. They’re quick the other way. If you mismanage the puck in the offensive zone they are quick to come out of there with skilled players. I’m not subscribing to the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning play a slow game. You know I'm gonna be like you: Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...James Neal On the Dads’ Trip:
It’s fun. It’s nice for my dad to come out and see what I do on a daily basis. It’s a good experience. It’s my first Dads’ Trip, so it’s a lot of fun. On the chance to enjoy dinner with his dad:
Yeah, that’s right. In the summers you get your chance, too, but during the hockey season it’s pretty busy. It’s the first time you get to sit down and really enjoy a good meal. It’s fun talking with the other dads and telling some fun stories. On summing up what happened with the Lightning in the playoffs:
You put it past you. We’re familiar with these guys, we know what to expect. We’ve just got to come out and play our game. We struggled a little bit last game against Colorado, so we want to be on our toes tonight. On the Lightning’s 1-3-1 trap:
It does slow you down, but it’s something we know what to expect against them. We need to play fast, we know how to play our game. We can’t worry about it that much, we have to worry about ourselves. If we’re doing the right things and come at them with speed, I’m sure we’ll be able to to break down the 1-3-1. Paul Martin On if he’s been frustrated with his play as of late:
Yeah, I mean obviously when the team’s winning you want to be the reason why. The higher plus-minus rating gets, the more you pay attention to it or other people pay attention to it. For me personally, I’ve been around long enough to know that sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t. For me, it’s early and obviously I’m not playing as well as I’d like, but you can only do what you can control now. You’ve got to move forward and hopefully you start to get some bounces and play a little better. On if there’s extra motivation playing Tampa Bay for the first time:
Yeah, for sure. Any time you get knocked out and are done for the season, you take that into the summer and it’s something you can use as motivation. We felt we could have done a lot better. On wanting to do well for their dads in the stands:
Yeah, for sure. This is my dad’s second trip and he had a lot of fun last time. Hopefully we can do the same this time. Chris Kunitz On if there’s extra motivation playing Tampa Bay for the first time:
Yeah, I think so. It’s one of those things that’s fresh in your mind still that they’re the ones who ended your season. We know that lineups change, but we still want to be able to tell ourselves that we’re successful against this team. If you can beat them, it gives you that confidence when you play them in the playoffs or sometime down the road. On wanting to do well for their dads in the stands:
Yeah, it’s fun that the dads are here. They all get to get together and tell stories. You listen at dinner and see how familiar our families are of traveling to the games and parents driving all over the place to watch their kids play. So it’s definitely fun having them around and we want to do our best, play our best game and get a win.
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Fleury will start in goal and the rest of the lineup will be game-time decisions.
12:20 PM:Hello masses. Sam Kasan checking in. Meesh is running around St. Pete Times Forum getting you the latest scoop on tonight's game. She asked me to guest caption for the day, and since I'm a nice guy, I obliged.
Former Pen Ryan Malone rocks red while asking asst trainer Scott Adams when he's going to return to the staff afternoon game #AdamsWatch (left); You can't tell from the pic but the top of Dupuis' stick is on fire...like a torch (right)
Michalek was back on the ice with his teammates after downing some McCafe. It always goes down smooth
Letang's p-p-p-p-p-poker face (left); Neal laughs to himself. No one is sure why #Awkward (right)
It's Cardboard Bylsma!!! No wait, that's real Bylsma. Breathing is a dead giveaway (left); Orpik is wounded and a silent predator - Neal - is about to strike #NatureChannel (right)
Pens' lines at the morning skate:
A slight delay for the start of the Pens morning skate as the team and dads posed for a picture by the bench. Engelland & Neal, who both missed practice Wednesday, are on the ice. Also, defenseman Michalek is out there as well with the team.
Bolts are wrapping up their morning skate. Head coach Guy Boucher looks as intimidating as ever.
I swear, that stare...could make grown men cry
Confession: I honestly did not even recognize Steven Stamkos until I saw the number on his helmet, as he's rockin' the long hair and fu man chu.
Martin St. Louis with his yellow stick (left); captain Vinny Lecavalier (right)
Ryan Malone wearing a red no-contact jersey (left); Victor Hedman played Monday after sitting out the previous three games (right)
Hello and good morning everybody! We're currently on the bus heading over to the St. Pete Times Forum, where the Penguins will face Tampa Bay for the first time since the Lightning rebounded from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Penguins, 4-3, in the opening round of last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
This is more than just a road trip, as tonight marks the front end of the Penguins’ sixth annual Dads’ Trip – a staple on Pittsburgh’s schedule since GM Ray Shero took over in 2006-07. We talked to a few of the fathers and their sons before we left Pittsburgh yesterday and they all had awesome things to say. Check out the story here
It was actually pretty fun trying to guess which dad was who as we watched practice at CONSOL Energy Center. So fun, in fact, that PensTV put together a little video for you guys so you can try it yourself:
In the first Penguins Report of last year's Dads' Trip, Sam Kasan actually played this song to commemorate the event. I'm going to continue that on this year, as it's absolutely fitting for the fathers being here. He used Ugly Kid Joe then; this time around I'm going to use the timeless Johnny Cash. Enjoy!