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Penguins Report: Game Day at Washington

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Asham is a no go for tonight. Jeffrey or Godard will get the call (4:58 PM).
  • Pens recalled Jeffrey and Curry, and didn’t have a morning skate (4:42 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the lineup, injuries and the Caps (5:14 PM).
  • Did you know Crosby and Ovechkin are rivals? Weird (5:15 PM).
  • The Winter Classic truck (pics) is at Verizon Center and will make the trip to Heinz Field after tonight’s game (5:59 PM).
  • Visual evidence of my trip to Georgetown (6:11 PM).
  • Bipartisanship (7:02 PM).
  • “Lump was limp and lonely and needed a shove. Lump slipped on a kiss and tumbled into love…” (4:42 PM).

7:02 PM:

6:11 PM:
Spent my afternoon walking around Georgetown. What a beautiful hood. I can smell politics in the air. Corruption could be happening around any corner.

5:59 PM:
The Winter Classic truck is at Verizon Center. This is the truck that will be used to make ice at Heinz Field. After tonight's game it will make the four-plus hour drive to Heinz Field, as the NHL takes over the stadium this evening in preparation for the 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic.

5:15 PM:
Of course, anytime the Penguins and Capitals get together it's hard to ignore the individual rivalry between their two captains: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

5:14 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if Jeffrey is playing tonight:
We’re going to go game-time on that. We did get banged up in last night’s game. There are a few guys that are game-time decisions. We’ll see as they get to the rink.

On if Johnson and Asham will rest with the holiday break coming:
Everyone wanted to play this game. We had a decision last night to make about a player in the game, whether he could play in the game or one game and which game that would be. That particular person played last night and we think he’s going to play tonight. Everybody wanted to play this game whether they were banged up or not. No one wants rest considering we have two more days of rest coming up. Arron Asham will definitely not be out there tonight.

On if Jeffrey and Curry were home for the holidays:
No, team policy has always been that when they go home they’re on call and be ready to go. We had Jeffrey’s equipment in Pittsburgh last night and other guys’ equipment in Pittsburgh as well. We make those adjustments at this time of the year. We called up Jeffrey from his home in Sarnia. We had his gear last night. (Curry) was out East (in Boston).

On when the team got out of their trouble times
We put together wins and had the winning streak. I can remember playing in Atlanta and games along that stretch where I was thinking, ‘This is a big game for us to move to the next level and solidify how we’re playing.’ I don’t know if you ever get comfortable. We had two losses and got two wins. We know who we’re playing, we know the quality opponent we’re playing. We know we’re playing dangerous players. You still have that feeling in your gut and for your team that this is a game we are going to measure ourselves on.

On not overemphasizing the game:
We don’t have to put emphasis on this game. With the rivalry, history and players that we’re playing, the guys will be amped up and ready to go in this one. The mentality of our team, the way we focused the last few days on the previous opponents, Phoenix and Florida, we didn’t talk about the Capitals. We realize this is a big game with added emotion to it for a lot of reasons. It’s a good test against a team that’s desperately trying to get a win against us.

On back-to-backs
We have done really well in our previous fives games in back-to-backs. Last game (Dec. 15 vs. NY Rangers) we played pretty strong for the first half of that game and then let our game get away from us. Maybe we were content playing that 1-0 game and that style. With the team we’re playing tonight, that won’t be an issue. Last night we had the fortunate ability to manage our minutes for our guys. Everyone played a decent amount. I feel like that will help us out for tonight’s game. A lot of it is mental and a lot is focused. Given the opponent and the situation I think we’ll be ready to go and carry that throughout the game.

On how bad Johnson is injured:
Not significant, but probably questionable for immediately after Christmas. We’ll see.

4:58 PM:
Just got back from speaking with coach Bylsma. He said that Asham will not be in the lineup tonight. Thus, his spot will be filled either by Jeffrey or Godard.

4:42 PM:
The day has finally come. The initial showdown between the Pens and Caps. The rivalry hits Round 1 for the 2010-11 season. I'm at the Verizon Center, stealing the "Penguins Radio" seat for the time being.

Head coach Dan Bylsma is scheduled to speak in a few minutes. I will let you know what the head coach has to say. Until then, here are some quick points from this morning to take note:
Since we are in the nation's capital it only seems appropriate to kick off the abbreviated blog with The Presidents of the United States of America. And their biggest hit, "Lump."

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