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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Boston

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Dustin Jeffrey recalled to play in place of Asham – illness (11:28 AM).
  • Pens’ lines (10:40 AM).
  • Malkin, Orpik and Conner return to practice (10:25 & 10:31 AM).
  • Pittsburgh native Matt Bartkowski may make his NHL debut tonight (12:17 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Jeffrey, the trap and Malkin (12:07 PM).
  • Quote ‘em, Cooke and Dupuis (12:12 PM).
  • PensTV with Rupp and Letestu (2:40 PM).
  • Rupp & Son (10:22 AM).
  • Viva la pictures (10:46 AM).
  • When birds attack (2:42 PM).
  • “I’m a sailor peg and I lost my leg. I climbed up the topsails, I lost my leg!…” (10:04 AM).

2:42 PM:
I haven't figured out why yet, but there are always a ton of birds in attendance for the morning skates and practices at CONSOL Energy Center. It's not Hichcock-esque or anything, but definitely noticeable. Here are a few of our feathered friends scouting the Pens' line combinations.

2:40 PM:
PensTV talks to Rupp and Letestu



12:17 PM:
Pittsburgh native and Mt. Lebanon graduate Matt Bartkowski was recalled by the Bruins. This is his first recall and if he plays tonight, Bartkowski would make his NHL debut in his hometown against his childhood team - the Penguins.

Bruins finishing up their morning skate.

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

Matt Cooke

On being re-united with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy
We skated yesterday together and a little bit today. I think we’re very familiar with each other. We know where we’re going to be. It’s a comfortable feeling when you’re re-united with guys that you’re used to. I think the strength of the three of us guys being together is that it’s usually nothing fancy, but hopefully it will affect our team energy-wise and momentum-wise.

On getting back on track offensively
You gotta find out what the difference was and fix it. We had a bad game in an area that was usually good. That wasn’t the Pittsburgh Penguins on the ice, and we realize that. And tonight’s the night we have to go out and play our system.

On the Bruins:
They’re stifling defensively. They are really sound that way. They have some pretty big threats offensively and their power play is good. And that’s not even including their goalie, who’s tough to beat most night. So we have to get traffic and force them to play in their zone. We need to play our style.

Pascal Dupuis

On playing with Evgeni Malkin:
I’ve played a lot with Geno before in the past three years. Either Sid, Geno or Staalsy, no matter who you play with, you play with an amazing centerman. Obviously, we didn’t get the result we wanted last game, so maybe Geno at center with me and Kunitz will bring something different.

On bouncing back:
It was one of those games where there’s no other way to bounce back. We didn’t have the focus and the attention to details that we wanted.

On Tim Thomas:
He’s a good goalie. We just have to put traffic on net and go for second and third opportunities. You know he’s going to battle and try every single one of them. It’s just a matter of taking care of our chances.

On Thomas’ goaltending style:
It seems to be working for him, at least.

Double team: Tony Jovenitti and Michelle Crechiollo

12:07 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the sickness spreading through the locker room:

They all ate from the same plate (laughs).

On Jeffrey getting an opportunity:
Dustin acclimated himself well the last time he got called up. Guys got healthy and he went back down. It’s another opportunity for him to show what he can do. It’s similar to the way Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland did last year. They played enough games to prove they were NHL ready. They got that opportunity. Dustin is in the same spot. He’s knocking on the door. He’s played well (in WBS). He’s played well here. He’s getting a good opportunity to play and make his case.

On the Cooke-Staal-Kennedy re-uniting:
There is a similarity in the expectations of how they’re going to play. There is a comfort level they have together. They know what to expect from each other. They know how the game is going to look. They lean on each other to have success. They’ve done that for a long period of time. Yesterday when we put that line together in practice they gave each other a group hug. The reason being is that they all feel like they know what they’re going to get when they go out there from each other, and that’s the kind of success they can have.

On where Jeffrey will play:
Given the fact that we’ve had guys recovering from illness they’ll be juggling of the lines during the game. You’ll see Dustin playing a little bit of the third-line center position. That’s not where he’s penciled in to start the game. You’ll see him there, a little bit on the penalty kill. If he’s doing well in faceoffs you may see him in other spots as well.

On where Crosby is in his recovery:
I saw Sid today. I didn’t have a chance to talk with him or the trainers about where he is symptoms-wise. He is progressing. He is getting better.

On the neutral zone trap:
I’d love to have a long conversation about this one, because we’ve been talking about it the last couple days like it’s something new that teams are trying against us. There are teams that play different styles and different types. But everyone’s neutral zone is designed to do similar things in different ways. The way Boston has done it is similar to the way the Wild did it. There’s not 10 ways to do the neutral zone forecheck and to play a clogging system that tries to limit your space. So it’s not new. The one thing you’ll see tonight is their F1 and their 1-2-2 will probably be used to trap. Their F1 is passive and their D stay inside the dots. So we will be able to pass to our post guy, our winger, and he will be able to carry the puck in tonight. That’s something we need to take advantage of tonight and the execution of that scenario is the important part for us to have success and move the puck through and being able to get a good forecheck and possession in the zone.

On Malkin’s consistency:
He keeps getting scoring chances. With the stats that we take, he’s playing hard and well. And he has not finished at times when he gets those opportunities. That may be the one area that he hasn’t done with the proficiency which we’ve seen him do in the past. We keep talking about scenarios and getting to that area of the ice and getting shots on net. He consistently leads our team in that category. He’s right up there with Sidney’s numbers in those categories, but he has not gotten the finished result.

On what Malkin can do to get the finished result:
I wouldn’t suggest not trying to get those scoring chances and getting in those scenarios. I think sometimes the mental part of that is staying focused and being confident in getting those scenarios and staying with that is what you need to keep getting. And you’ll get the result. Sometimes you get distracted because you don’t get the result. But his focus has got to be on the things that he does well and where he gets those opportunities for us and how he creates them. If he keeps getting those, then that’s how you’re going to get those results. That’s where he’s got to be.

On if injuries affected Malkin’s confidence:
Geno is an emotional player. Sometimes coming off injuries or not being able to practice does affect his mindset going to into the game. That’s something he’s working on and trying to get better at. His focus level and staying in his game and in our team game is something that he’s working on, and I think he’s getting better at it. That’s an area where I think he can make improvements and will result in him burying some opportunities.

Assist: Tony Jovenitti

11:28 AM:
The Pens have recalled Dustin Jeffrey from WBS. Arron Asham will not be in the lineup tonight due to an illness.

10:46 AM:

Kunitz (left); Engelland (right)

Conner (left); Cooke (right)

Malkin (right)

Dupuis (left)

10:40 AM:
Crosby still not with the Pens as he recovers from his mild concussion. The Pens reworked all their line combinations. Malkin will take Crosby's spot with Kunitz and Dupuis. Meanwhile, Cooke-Staal-Kennedy have been re-united.


10:31 AM:
Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik are now on the ice for the Pens. That's a great sign as Malkin, Orpik and Conner all missed Sunday's practice with an illness. We'll wait for an official update, but it appears that the three are a strong possibility to play against the Bruins.

10:25 AM:
Chris Conner is on the ice for Pittsburgh. He missed Sunday's practice with an illness and his status isn't known for tonight's game.

10:22 AM:
Forward Mike Rupp was on the ice before the Pens morning skate with his son.

10:04 AM:
The Pens are back in action tonight at CONSOL Energy Center. The team will take on the Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh suffered a 7-4 loss to Boston last time these two teams met. But that game kick started the Pens on to a 15-game unbeaten streak (14-0-1) and a 12-game winning streak.

It's only appropriate to start the day off with the Boston band Dropkick Murphys since the Bruins are in town. Dropkick has been a personal favorite of mine since they released their debut album "Do or Die" in 1998. While there are many songs to choose from, it's hard not to love "Shipping Up to Boston," a song made famous by its feature in the film "The Departed." But the band has many more great tunes that are worth checking out.

(And I know this song would make more sense for a Pens Report in Boston, but with the way the schedule works out, it looks like there may not be a Report either time when we go to Boston. And I wanted to get this song in the blog).

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