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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Anaheim

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Game Day Report (12:36 PM).
  • 12 players skate for practice (10:36 AM).
  • Scouting the Ducks (10:10 AM).
  • Quote of the day (11:54 AM).
  • Coach Boudreau gives some great one-liners (5:30 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Boudreau’s style, Selanne & more (1:06 PM).
  • Adams, Engelland & Cooke spit knowledge (12:16 PM).
  • Crosby skates (12:48 PM).
  • College hockey grows (10:28 AM).
  • Spotlighting Staal (10:20 AM).
  • History will be mad – Ducks (12:25 PM).
  • The Students are rushing!! (4:54 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:49 AM).
  • “If I had to choose her or the sun, I'd be one nocturnal son of a gun…” (10:00 AM).

5:30 PM:
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is definitely one of the most quotable guys in the NHL. He said Jonas Hiller will be in net for Anaheim. Here is his full transcript. I bolded the best lines. Read & enjoy.

On playing the Pens without the Caps rivalry:
Maybe they’ll take it easy on us then. They won’t have any hate built up for us yet. When you come to Pittsburgh you know who you’re playing against. It’s not hard for a team to get up no matter if you’re on the road for two days or two months.

On scouting the Pens:
I think I know how they play. It’s just a question of going out and executing. We all as coaches, with the scouting and video, know how other teams play. It’s one thing to know and another to stop them. These guys are good. There’s no ifs, ands and buts about it. They’re good.

On stopping Malkin:
I keep looking back to Game 3 of the playoffs that we played against them. If he’s better than that we’re not going out. It’s hard not to gravitate towards watching him play, being an exciting team and as powerful as they. You have to watch him and they’re on every highlight that you see. He is on quite a run. I’m just hoping he has the flu or something.

On the Pens special teams:
They’re the best combined power play/penalty kill in the league. They were the best penalty killing team last year, but their power play, as much talent as they had, wasn’t clicking. Now their power play is clicking. They can play any kind of game you want. If you want to play a rough game, they don’t mind a penalty filled game. You want to play 5-on-5, they’re good at that. It’s going to be a battle no matter how you look at it.

On if Hiller is starting:
I think we’ll go with him, yes.

On the 15-day trip:
I haven’t been on a vacation in 15 days. This is ridiculous. The East has no idea how lucky they are. I think every team in the West should start out with 10 points before the season starts. I’m sure Pittsburgh goes through it too, but when you have a four-game road trip in seven days, you’re coming home exhausted. We’re at seven days right now and this is just the halfway point in our trip. For a guy that’s coached in the East, I don’t know how they do it. It’s quite a testament to every team in the West’s character for not griping as much as I’m doing right now about it. You forget your hotel room and everything during the course of this trip. It’s pretty wild. It is what it is. You can’t use it as an excuse. You have to keep going.

4:54 PM:
What happens when you get a bunch of society's youth standing in a line for hours just to get some Pens tickets? American Eagle Student Rush is what happens.

1:06 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Sidney Crosby skating today:
He is scheduled to skate.

On the Pens record against the West:
I don’t have an explanation for that. I’ve seen that. I know what our record is and I think especially early on in the season we played some very good teams. At least teams you expected to be really good teams, Vancouver out of the gate and San Jose, a place where we haven’t done very well. It was a place where we haven’t done really well and it was a focus for us. Going into L.A. playing some very good teams early on and I knew that our focus was there and we were going to play in good games. Our focus has been good and we played good against teams out West. We played good games against St. Louis. It’s been close games. I don’t really have a great explanation of why we have a great record this year against the West, but we’ll definitely try to continue it today.

On Bruce Boudreau’s style:
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I’ve coached against Bruce (Boudreau) an awful lot going back to Hershey and Wilkes-Barre as an assistant coach and then in Washington. There are some similarities. I see some Bruce Boudreau coaching in their team, how they are playing. As I look at the game tape and watch two games now, you got a little smile occasionally on seeing some of the same tendencies we saw from their team in Hershey and in Washington.  They’ve always been tough games. I think Bruce has had great teams and great success. You see that now in his record. His teams are playing really hard and playing really well. They’re a formidable team and you do see some of the coaching influence. I hope you see some of the thing we saw us do in Wilkes-Barre. I hope he gives a smile that I just maybe take one play or two plays here, knowing what they are going to do on the ice, use some of the old tricks. We’re expecting a really good higher arching team and a team that’s playing really well and coming at you in a lot of different ways with good skill time.

On playing Anaheim with Chris Kuntiz:
A little crossover as a player and then I coached Chris (Kunitz) in the lockout year in Cincinnati. I knew Chris pretty well and I’m really not surprised to see him be the player that he is for our team and that he was for the Ducks. He won a Stanley Cup there. He’s tenacious, gritty. He’s a guy who forces the issue. He has some, not necessarily toe-dragging type of skill, but he’s got a great shot. He’s got good hands. He’s got a very good sense and he adds a honey badger type of mentality to your team and your power play. I watched Chris a lot in 2007 when he was with the Ducks when I have moved on and saw that success. I remember when he got picked back up on waivers by the Ducks. I remember a game he played in St. Louis and he was not in the third or fourth line. Maybe not in the position we know he is now. He went out, ran two guys over and got into a fight. I was watching that game on T.V. saying there’s a guy who’s making an impact in the game and he went out to do that on purpose. Now he plays more minutes. He’s in a different role. He plays on our power play, but he still has that impact on the game. Whether physically, tenaciously, net front. I’m not really surprised to see him where he is now which is a part of a really good line and being a factor for our team.

On Teemu Selanne:
I watched, played against, played with and then go back to watching Teemu. I think when things changed in the games it allowed him not to have to adjust. You see since the lockout when the rules changed and the speed of the game, it looks like he’s gotten faster at the rightful age of 38, 39, 40, 41, but think the speed of the game changed a little bit and he was able to utilize some of the things that maybe I saw him do when he was a Duck and I was playing with the Kings. I don’t know if he’s changed all that much. He’s got a rare gift of speed and shooting and scoring ability. He’s also a guy who if you didn’t think he’s a physical player you’re wrong. He doesn’t run you over, but he can play physically down low, he can reverse shoulder you and knock you off your feet. He can drive the net. He’s got a lot of power in his game. That is not real evident when you see the guy flying up the ice. He’s got a lot of power there too. I know we used to give him a lot of grief for having a muffin of a shot. We used to scream muffin. He had a wood stick then and his shot wasn’t the greatest, but he’s got a goal scorer’s touch. And maybe the stick now, his shot’s pretty lethal now. The sticks maybe helped him out a little bit there, but always that goal-scoring touch, I love to watch Teemu play. Hopefully just not tonight.

On how the top line compliments each other:
I would say there is not a lot adlibbing anymore because they know what’s going on. There are some players who play with Evgeni Malkin that run into him a lot. These two guys are smart enough to get out of the way. Chris Kunitz is going to the net a lot of times. He’s the guy on the forecheck sometimes creating loose pucks that allow Evgeni to have puck time. James Neal is more of a guy who’s looking for areas at the net and soft areas to get open and get a shot off. So if you want to go have the puck on your stick you’re probably going to run into Malkin and these guys accent that and are intelligent enough. They’ve really worked well as a line now because they realize they have their roles. They understand that situation. Not every player that has played with “Geno” has been like that. They’ve read off him well and I think you see a real dangerous line in the offensive zone because they all have specific roles in that line. They all understand that real well and compliment each other.

Shorthanded goal: Brittany Goncar

12:48 PM:
Pens Crosby hits the ice for another session of work. On Tuesday, Crosby skated for roughly 45 minutes after practice.

12:36 PM:
All the information you need from today's morning skate wrapped up in a one great segment of viewing pleasure. Plus, Steve Mears makes an appearance: BONUS!

12:25 PM:
What if Goldberg was under that mask?

What if the district lines were never redrawn?

12:16 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Craig Adams

On Anaheim’s Bruce Boudreau:
I don’t think about the coaches too much. Obviously, it’s a different team. They are playing really well right now and they’ve got a lot of really skilled guys, big guys who will make you pay if you turn pucks over and things like that. In that way it’s similar to Washington.

On a different style of hockey for the Ducks:
I don’t know about different style, but it’s a team that we don’t see very often and our coaches do a good job of preparing us with what to expect. Our game is not going to change much and we’re focused on how we play.

On the fourth line getting rearranged with roster changes:
I have no idea. It depends obviously on who comes back in the lineup and how things shake out. That’s a question for Dan (Bylsma). Obviously, there have been a few of us rotating there throughout the year. I think we are all comfortable playing with whomever.

Deryk Engelland

On the depth created in being comfortable playing with all teammates:
When guys come back into the lineup there is going to be more competition. You need depth to go far and be a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup, and I think we have that. 

On Anaheim’s offense:
 They have two great lines, four good lines, but two that will really hurt you offensively. We have to take care of the puck and put it in the right spots and don’t give them anything. Make them work for what they get.

On switching up the defense:
With how practice went I was with “Nisky” so I imagine it will be back to normal and hopefully we play the same way.

On Anaheim:
They’ve got a really good record. Their team is 13-2-3 in the last 18 games. They’ve got a lot of skill up front. Their goalie has been playing really well so we have to get traffic to him and put pucks in.

On any differences with the Ducks:
They’re playing a lot more as a team. They’re not giving up a lot of chances. (Jonas) Hiller, I’ve seen his numbers in the last 17 starts. He’s been under two goals against He’s playing well and obviously they’re playing well in front of him. They’ve got a lot of firepower. You have to limit their opportunities and play in the offensive zone.

On playing against (Bobby) Ryan and (Teemu) Selanne and those guys:
They’ve got a lot of size up front, good hands, speed. You’ve got to keep them in front of you and play physical. Limit time and space in the D zone and get the pucks to our forwards so they can go to work.

On the physical aspect:
You can’t run out of position to try and get a big hit on them because they can make you look awfully bad with the skill they have. You have to try and be physical on them, luckily in the D zone and like I said, get the puck out of our end.

Matt Cooke

On Bruce Boudreau’s style since he’s taken over:
They’re in desperation mode. They are making a push to get into the playoffs. They didn’t have the start that they wanted. They’ve played unbelievable the last 18-20 games. I give Bruce (Boudreau) credit and the team credit for responding to a new coach. We’re going to have to be at our best to beat them.

On what the team is doing well on secondary lines:
Well it’s a lot of the one line. Let’s be honest. They’re unbelievable. They’re playing great, seeing the ice and seeing each other. It’s fun to watch from the bench and be a part of, but it’s just a commitment to playing games and playing the right way. We had poor starts as of late and that’s something we want to correct. I feel like persistence and resilience to stay in the game, keep our emotions in check and play the right way and we’ll be good.

On secondary scoring creeping in:
It’s going to happen. I know it’s a great story for media to complain about secondary scoring, but it’s something that we all want to chip in when we can. I find that it goes in spurts. There is going to be five games where that line is pretty much the only line that gets on the board. Then there are going to be two or three games where it’s pretty much everybody else. I think that’s a sign of a great team.

On Evgeni Malkin’s current performance:
I can’t take away from the way he played in the playoffs in 2009. Obviously, he was huge in those playoffs, but I think over a consistent period of time during a regular season this is the best.

Power-play goal: Brittany Goncar

11:54 AM:
As head coach Dan Bylsma was walking to the podium to address the media, someone said something about him being a "former Duck." Bylsma corrected the claim.

11:49 AM:
Pens pics...

Engelland is about to kill Cooke with a slap shot from point (left); Cooke looks at his blade while coach Bylsma adjusts his pants #ActionPhoto (right)

Vitale skates on the ice (left); Asham reflects on his first day of contact practice (right)

Love at first stride for Adams (left); Fleury adjusts the water bottles while coach Bylsma unleashes pucks on the net (right)

10:36 AM:
Twelve players are on the ice for the Pens morning skate. Forwards Jeffrey, O'Reilly, Vitale, Asham, Cooke, Park and Adams, defensemen Engelland, Niskanen and Lovejoy and goaltenders Johnson and Fleury.

10:28 AM:
All week the Pens website has been highlighting the growth of American hockey in advance of this weekend's Hockey Weekend Across America. One aspect that has really grown in the development of NHL players has been college hockey. More and more players are choosing the college route, and it has opened up opportunities for American players to progress their game. Michelle Crechiolo highlights that fact below:

Four of the Penguins’ seven defensemen (along with forward Joe Vitale) are American-born players. All of them opted to stay in the States and play college hockey, and they all credit it with helping them make it in the National Hockey League.

To be fair, many teenagers decide to forego their eligibility to play major juniors, and that’s what works for them. But Pittsburgh's university alumni believe that more and more young men are choosing to take the same route that they did, and it’s resulting in an elevated profile for college hockey and growth of the sport throughout the country – and more players in the pros.

... In addition, head coach Dan Bylsma (Bowling Green) and assistants Tony Granato (Wisconsin) and Todd Reirden (Bowling Green) all played four years at their respective universities – and couldn’t say enough about choosing the college route.

Full story here.

Joe Vitale of Northeastern (left); Paul Martin of Minnesota (right). Photos: Getty Images

10:20 AM:
It's Wednesday, so it's time to shine the spotlight on a Pens player. Today's lucky victim is Jordan Staal. Take it away Katie O.

10:10 AM:
The Ducks are making a stop in Pittsburgh in the midst of the longest uninterupted road trip in team history (8 games in 15 days). The team had a rough start, but since hiring coach Bruce Boudreau they've slowly started to turn things around. The Ducks have been quietly the best team (outside of Detroit) since Jan. 1st. I've got all the details of what to watch for in tonight's matchup.

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Today the Pens will host the Anaheim Ducks at 7pm. The Ducks played last night in Minnesota. Since they're playing back-to-back games they won't be holding a morning skate. But the Pens will, and we'll bring you all the info.


In yesterday's blog I played The Sundays & Rolling Stones "Wild Horses." Michelle said I should have instead played Gym Class Heroes' "Cupid's Chokehold" for my Valentine's song instead. So to keep her happy and cheery, I'm opening today's blog with her request. I found a pretty cool live performance of the song from the 2006 Woodie Awards.

Anyways, enjoy and happy post-Valentine's Day.

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