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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Boston

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Mearsy bling with the Game Day Report (1:15 PM).
  • Injury updates on Michalek, Letang, Engelland & Park (11:39 AM).
  • Pens lines (10:38 AM).
  • Picard recalled; Letang on IR (10:20 AM).
  • Staal talks about his cut and visor (12:18 PM).
  • Clarifying Letang’s IR status (11:25 AM).
  • Scouting out Boston (9:35 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Bruins (1:00 PM).
  • Crosby & Martin spit knowledge (12:52 PM).
  • Toys 4 Tots (1:20 PM).
  • Mike Lange on Fleury’s first game (9:40 AM).
  • Plays of the Week (9:45 AM).
  • Pens pics (12:40 PM).
  • Bruins pics (12:58 PM).
  • “I see my Maryanne walking away…” (9:30 AM).

1:20 PM:
If you're coming to tonight's game don't forget about Toys for Tots.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will work with the United States Marine Corps to provide local children with some holiday cheer. Fans can donate toys or cash for the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program. Fans that make a donation will be eligible to win Penguins’ autographed memorabilia.

Full details here.

1:15 PM:
You want the lowdown on tonight's Pens-Bruins matchup? Steve Mears is here to deliver. Mearsy is rockin' the bling bling on his right hand.

1:00 PM:
Lengthy coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Boston Bruins:
The Boston Bruins, clearly their record stands for itself. They have not lost a regulation game in the last 10. They’ve been playing very, very good hockey. I think what I’ve seen from them is maybe been the best hockey in the league over the last 10 games. Very sound structurally. They’ve been getting great efforts throughout their lineup. They have a physical, net-front presence on the forecheck. (Milan) Lucic and (Nathan) Horton’s line has been having an outstanding season to this point. Tyler Seguin may be – not the biggest surprise offensively – but putting up a lot of numbers with his 24 points and been a factor in a lot of the games. Then their six defensemen – (Zdeno) Chara, (Johnny) Boychuk, (Dennis) Seidenberg, (Joe) Corvo, (Andrew) Ference and (Adam) McQuaid – have been very good for them back there. They’re a tough six to get by. A very physical group as well. You’re also talking about a goaltending tandem that’s maybe the best tandem in the league with their two goaltenders. They’re a very good opponent. We’re expecting a physical game. They spend a lot of time in the offensive zone and are very good in that regard. They have really ground teams down and played shift after shift in the offensive zone. They’ve been playing great hockey.

On the matchup between the two teams:
Our last experience in Boston, we had a great game and played really well against them. Then of course, we watch them finish the season and go on to the success they had winning the Stanley Cup last year. This year, especially in the last 15 games, they’ve been at an elite level – the best record in the league. They’re coming into our building and you definitely look at that as a chance to play the best team in the league, a Stanley Cup champion. There’s a lot about their team that they’ve been doing very well and you have to deal with. We like where we’re at. We like the points we’ve accumulated. But you get tested against good teams. We’ve had a few in the last five games and we’re certainly getting another one with this one. I think you look at this game as a chance to see where you match up and how you can play against a Boston Bruins team that is playing the best hockey in the league right now. As soon as we were done with Carolina, after that game where we got over killing the penalties at the end, we knew we were coming home and playing the Boston Bruins in our building.

On the Bruins’ progress into an elite team:
I don’t think they just got hot in the playoffs last year. I think they were a good team and they were a good team because they don’t give up a lot of mistakes. They don’t give teams a lot. They play very sound structurally and they play very consistent defensively. Then last year, they added a real presence in the offensive zone from all their lines and from all their people and did a real good job of not just playing defense as maybe Claude Julien’s teams were known for. They added a very effective attacking team. Their defense joined the rush. Their defense are active in the offensive zone and they’re very difficult to handle there. I think that’s what they added last year. They saw that in the playoffs with their success. Right now, you see that from their team. They’re almost more of a harder team to handle offensively, both physically and with the puck time that they have, as they are sound defensively. That’s really what’s allowed them to be so consistently good and tough to play against and able to win hockey games.

On his strategy for the defense with three call-ups:
When you start the season with your top six, even your top seven, you typically have standard pairings together. I think in situations like we’ve been in the last two weeks or so, you can expect to see a lot of different pairings. You’ll see Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik playing with a lot of different guys and Matt Niskanen playing with different partners as well in an effort to get guys in a situation with a veteran player and a solid defensive player – which all three of those guys are. You’ll see different pairings throughout the game. Simon Despres may step up and play a lot more minutes. You just kind of look for those situations in a game. Robert Bortuzzo is playing well, he may play more minutes. In a penalty kill situation, you look to get Robert Bortuzzo a little more (ice time) so he can be effective there. You’ll see a lot more pairings and a lot more situations. If (Orpik and Letang) are together in a game, you’re going to see them out together a lot. You won’t necessarily see that with the situations tonight.

On protecting his D in a situation like this:
Our philosophy in how we want to play the game is not going to change. If we play that way, we will allow our defense to be standing on the blue line more in an offensive situation than playing in the other end in a defensive situation. But puck management is a part of that as well as execution and knowing the situations on the ice, knowing who you’re out against and knowing the situation your D are in. Last game we got to down to five (defensemen). On the road trip we were down to four. You need to manage the puck in those situations to allow your D to not get taxed, not force them to have to go back for pucks and play defensive zone coverage too often. That coincides with how we want to play the game. We want to play quick. We want to be in the offensive zone and we want to dominate in that area of the game, which would allow our defensemen to feel comfortable standing there in the offensive zone.

On Letang returning to the Montreal game after getting hit:
That’s completely by the doctors. It’s not anything to do with our training staff. We saw Dr. (David) Mulder in Montreal, I think he has the longest tenure in the league. He’s well respected. He went and saw Kris and at that time, Kris didn’t have any issues other than they rearranged his nose. He was fine and ready to go back on the ice. Dr. Mulder went through the series of steps in that to clear him to go back on. Dr. Mulder is one of the most respected guys in our league and one of the most tenured doctors.

On Jordan Staal:
I don’t know how many stitches it was, but it was a significant cut that we saw him get in the Carolina game at the end. He’s been through seeing the doctor and had X-rays and there’s no structural damage there. He’s putting the shield on there for protection’s sake right now.

I closed my eyes and she slipped away: Michelle Crechiolo

12:58 PM:
Bruins pics...

Coach Julien preps the squad (left); Thomas goes for the karate chop (right)

Seguin (left); Bergeron (right)

More Julien QT (left); "They call me Tuukka. Seriously."

12:52 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On playing the Cup champions:
Anytime you get matchups like this you use it for the extra motivation and a measuring stick for where you are at. We know they are playing really well and we think we are playing pretty well too right now. It will be a good matchup tonight.

On how they will be a challenge on faceoffs:
They’ve got some good centermen, so it will be a challenge for us. The last few games we haven’t been as good as we usually would be. For sure it will be a good challenge, but that’s something we pride ourselves on and make sure we are doing a good job there.

On what he thinks about the faceoffs in the past few games:
I think when you’re talking about being over 50 percent it’s a pretty fine line, so it’s different thing every game. It comes down to just finding ways to win whether it be pucks that are laying there and getting help or being more diligent as a centerman and just winning cleaner. There are always things you can do to kind of help and we’ll look at that, but I think for the most part those habits are the same. You try to work on those. They’re what makes everything successful. We’ll continue to try to do that better.

On what makes Boston a good team to play:
They’re pretty good defensively. They play a team game. I think it’s just their discipline and their confidence in the way they play. When you have won previously playing a certain way, you have confidence that that’s going to help you win consistently. I think it’s just their confidence and the way they play and trusting that. Any successful team has that. 

On if he is excited to see how the Penguins matchup against the Bruins:
They are obviously Stanley Cup Champions and they are always confident in how they play. You always like those matchups and those kinds of games within a game. I think that’s only going to bring out the best in us.

Paul Martin

On playing Boston tonight:
They’ve done a good job. They’ve matched up well against us and played similar to the way that we play. It should be a good game.

On the Wilkes-Barre call ups:
The guys have stepped in and done a really good job. They stick to the system and I think that’s what makes it a little bit of a better transition. You are used to playing something down in Wilkes-Barre they get accustomed to it and put it to work up here.

On if it impresses him how well they have done:
It does. They are young defensemen and some of them are just getting games under their belt. To them the biggest thing is just that they play. They work hard; they have fun and it’s just impressive. They’ve done a really good job.

On if he is ready to play more time with all the injuries:
You just have to make sure that you are ready to play no matter what. For me, I’m used to that before, so it shouldn’t be any different. At the same time we have a lot of guys who can defer those minutes and have stepped up.

Lost in a familiar song: Kaitlin Zurawsky

12:40 PM:
Pens pics...

Staal is looking at the world with clear colored glasses (left); Dupuis just realizes his fly is down - or Kennywood is open for you locals (right)

Johnson was so outrageously good against Carolina that Fleury was "gettin' that dirt off his shoulder" (left); Gather around ye nobles (right)

Cooke and Orpik discuss the ethics of killing penalties. Cooke: "Of course penalties are bad, but should they be killed or reformed?" (left); Be careful TK. Big Brother is watching from behind (right)

12:18 PM:
Pens center Jordan Staal is good to go tonight against the Bruins, but is sporting a visor protecting a stitched cut under his left eye.

“It’s a little swollen, but everything feels good,” said Staal, who estimated he has 7 or 8 stitches. “It’s more or less a cut. Other than that there is nothing too crazy. It feels good. Feels better than it looks.”

Staal had an ugly scare in the third period of Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win at Carolina Saturday night. With three minutes left in the third period, Tomas Kaberle’s pass attempt was deflected off of Staal’s stick and hit him right below the left eye. Staal fell to the ice and stomped his skates in pain. He did not return to the game.

Fortunately for Staal, who does not wear a visor, saw it coming and braced himself.

“I was worried about getting (my eye) closed. Right away I knew it was close,” Staal said. “It’s never a fun thing when it happens. It was unfortunate. I’m glad nothing worse came of it.”

Staal will wear a visor tonight. It’s something he hasn’t worn since entering the NHL, other than for a few games after an errant puck broke his nose. He said he is considering keeping, but hasn’t decided yet.

“I had a visor in juniors and when I broke my nose for a little bit,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

11:39 AM:
Pens coach Bylsma updated some of the injured players
  • Michalek & Letang were diagnosed with concussions
  • Engelland has lower-body injury, day-to-day
  • Park has lower-body injury, game-time decision
  • Staal had no structural damage
"Update on our injured players and players not on the ice today," Bylsma said, "Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang both now have been diagnosed as having concussions. Deryk Engelland has a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Richard Park has a lower-body injury, was not out there on the ice today and is a game-time decision."

11:25 AM:
To clarify since some have asked on Twitter: Letang is placed on IR retroactive to the date of his injury (Nov. 26). A player must remain on IR for seven days and then can be removed at anytime after that point. Since Letang has already surpassed the seven-day mark, he can be removed from IR at any time. The move was made to clear a roster spot so the team could recall Picard.

Waiting for coach Bylsma to update his status. See above entry for updates

10:38 AM:
Pens on the ice. Staal is wearing a visor. No Engelland or Park. Picard is on his way. Here are the lines (still no Letang or Michalek).


The 5 D rotated (Picard is on his way).

10:20 AM:
An early morning roster move, the Pens have recalled defenseman Alexander Picard. Letang has been placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 26.

9:45 AM:
Before we start a new week of Pens action, let's take a look back at the best plays from the previous 7 days.

9:40 AM:
It's Monday, so time to hear some of Mike Lange's thoughts about the Pens. Today he talks about Marc-Andre Fleury's first career game as an 18-year-old rookie in 2003. If you'll recall, he made 46 saves, which included a penalty shot stop.

9:35 AM:
As noted, the Bruins haven't lost a game in regulation in over a month. Why is the team playing so well? Michelle Crechiolo has them scouted out for ya.

9:30 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Today the Pens will host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. It's a showdown between the top two teams in the NHL standings. The Bruins are by far the hottest team in the league right now, entering the contest on a 13-0-1 run.


With the Bruins in town we'll start the day with Boston "More Than a Feeling." A little shout out to my old college friend Maryanne. She walked away to Washington, DC, but is still a huge Pens fan. Enjoy.

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