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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Buffalo

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Should be a sea of Terrible Towels tonight (10:54 AM).
  • Malkin talks about his return (12:18 PM).
  • Pens’ lines and PP (10:35 and 10:48 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma’s Super Bowl XLV prediction (11:34 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Crosby, Buffalo and Letestu’s surgery (11:58 AM).
  • Fleury, Tangradi, Martin, Staal and Dupuis spit knowledge (12:01 PM).
  • EJ Hradek’s player to watch is Malkin (3:48 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:02 AM).
  • Sabres pics (12:05 PM).
  • “I’m protected by everyone, I’m protected from everything…” (10:20 AM).

3:48 PM:
EJ Hradek's player to watch tonight is Evgeni Malkin...

12:18 PM:
Evgeni Malkin talked about getting back in the lineup...

On if he’s excited to be playing tonight:
Yeah, of course. I’m happy to come back and of course I’m excited. I hope I can play very well and help the team win again.

On how important it is for the Penguins not to change too much with him in the lineup
I just play my game. And of course the system will not change, it will not change our game. We’ve just got to play a physical game and play hard. We’ve got to get a good start and pressure (them) all game.

On his knee:
Yeah, the knee is 100 percent ready, it’s not sore or anything. My body is ready too.

On if his sinuses are good:
I hope.

On if he’s been frustrated on not being able to play:
It’s been a little bit tough not being able to play and practice every day. But it’s hockey, you know, all players have injuries. It’s just luck. But I’ve worked hard and I hope I’m ready.

Assists: PensTV and Michelle Crechiolo

12:05 PM:
Sabres pics from their morning skate...

Goaltender Ryan Miller

12:01 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On if he plans to fight Ryan Miller:
No (laughs). I knew Ryan from before a little bit. He’s a good guy. He’s always been nice, so no hard feelings.

On if he plans to fight someone
Maybe in the right time and right place, it could happen, but probably not tonight.

On if he ever fought
Yeah, when I was in juniors, twice. One was kind of a tie but the other one I think I got the best (of him).

On Buffalo:
They have a good goalie to start with, so that always makes it hard on us. But as a team, they play hard and play an intense game. For 60 minutes you can count on them to be in there. It’s always a hard-fought game. There are never any easy points there.

On the key to beating the Sabres
We just need to stick to our game plan and play hard for the whole game. They’re a team that battles hard every night. So, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.

Eric Tangradi

On his new line with Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Conner
Dustin came up to me at the end of the skate and said it’s the WBS Penguins line.  We’ll see how it goes. We have a lot of chemistry and we’ve all played with each other at some point, so it was nice to get out there with them. Tonight will be exciting.

On Evgeni Malkin returning:
You don’t want to change a thing. Geno only adds to the lineup with the way the guys are playing right now, (both) offensively and defensively. Having him back adds another dimension to the lineup.

On playing with Malkin in the beginning of the season:

We had some chemistry together early in the season. I don’t know if we’ll see any time together tonight, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I can grab a shift with him.

Paul Martin

On winning an NCAA championship with Thomas Vanek at the University of Minnesota in 2003:
Well, he almost won it by himself, we were just happy to be on the team. But he was just a big, talented and raw forward. He’s highly skilled, he’s good with the puck around the net and is very crafty. So he had a lot of highlight reel goals for us in college. He’s a good guy, and a big reason we ended up winning the second championship.

On having success against Buffalo:
They’ve had good games but we’ve been able to get the puck in deep behind their net. Our forwards have done a good job of finding ways to create opportunities. The last game we were able to get a couple goals early, so that helped.

On if they can be a surprise team:
They definitely can be. They have a lot of good players and good goaltending so they definitely can sneak up on you. If you’re not ready to play against them, they will beat you.

Jordan Staal

On playing at Washington on Super Bowl Sunday:
Yeah, hopefully we’ll probably make it there this year.  Obviously, we’re trying to get two points, but we’ll hopefully be able to watch the (Steelers) game.

On Washington:
It’s going to be an exciting game against them.

On Buffalo:
They always give us a tough challenge every night. I feel like they’re very exciting games – usually a lot of up and down hockey. So far we’ve had their number, but again, there have always been pretty close games. And we’re excited about this one tonight.

Pascal Dupuis

On getting Malkin back in the lineup:
It’s huge. We miss him. We miss Sid. We miss Letestu. We’re missing some key players, and now to get one of them back it helps quite a bit.

On playing with rotating centers:
I don’t think we change the way we play no matter who is at center. Whether it’s Sid, Geno, Letestu, Jeffrey, they’re all good players. Some are younger than others, but we can’t change our game. I think that’s why things have kept rolling.

On Buffalo:
Their D joins the rush. They sit back when they don’t have the puck, but when they do have the puck they’re good. They’re young. They’re speedy. They have a good goaltender. We’ll need to get traffic in front of the net and go for second and third opportunities.

Hat Trick: Tony Jovenitti

11:58 AM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if he’ll ask the guys to be extra feisty against Buffalo:
Feisty is not the word that I’ve used to this point. Playing hard, with speed, pace and physicality early on in the first period is something we try to do in all of our games. But the focus tonight where we want to come out and have two games under our belt, we want to dictate the speed and pace, and try to have that be a moniker for the first period.

On if he knows when Letestu will have surgery
Not at this time.

On Crosby going home to Nova Scotia:
If you’ve seen Sid around the rink he’s still thinking about hockey – even more now, and looking at games. This was an opportunity to take a step back from that and get some rest and relaxation for the mind and body as well, and try to take his mind off hockey a little bit.

On Buffalo’s style without Roy:

They’re a good team. Their goaltender is a big factor. Their power play has been a good factor and their defense being active is how they give teams trouble. Roy is a part of that. Their defense being active and (Tyler) Myers is a part of that. To have success against them, you’ve got to stay discipline in the game and win the special teams battle. We’ve been able to do that. We’ve been able to keep the score down by limiting their opportunities in those regards. A big part of that again is dictating the game, the pace, the speed, making those defensemen that are active to play defense, wear them down. Hopefully we can take advantage of having played two games and this being their first. If you can do those things you tilt it in your favor, and we’re going to have to do those things tonight.

11:34 AM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma on Super Bowl XLV:

"Special teams is always a big factor for the Steelers success. It'll be interesting to see what Green Bay does with their offense, if they spread out like the Jets did in the second half to make it difficult for the Steelers. It seems like in big games, you need big plays. The Steelers have to come up with it from their either their quarterback or their defense."

And his prediction?

"27-24 black and gold."

11:02 AM:
Pens morning skate pics...

Fleury and Martin (left); Malkin returns tonight (right)

Lovejoy (left); Tangradi (right)

Assistant to the GM Tom Fitzgerald joined the team for practice

10:54 AM:
We are only two days away from Super Bowl XLV between the Steelers and Packers. And in the spirit of support, the Pens are asking fans that attend tonight's contest against the Sabres to bring their Terrible Towels.

10:48 AM:
The first power-play unit featured: Staal, Malkin and Kunitz up front with Letang and Goligoski on the back end.

10:35 AM:
Pens are on the ice for their morning skate. Here is the new line combinations:


10:20 AM:
Welcome to CONSOL Energy Center, the site of the Pens-Sabres clash tonight at 7 p.m. Pittsburgh is rolling with four straight wins, and triumphing in seven of its past eight. We'll see if they can keep it going against Buffalo - always a tough opponent. But the Penguins will be getting Evgeni Malkin back tonight!

Let's start the blog with a happy little-diddy from Ruth Ruth. I admit that I don't know or remember much about the band, other than their song "Uninvited." The irony is that the song is about loneliness, isolation and depression, yet the tune is kinda upbeat and poppy. Or maybe it's not irony, maybe that's the genius of it.

And how often do you get to see a guy in an astronaut costume skating boarding? And he does a kickflip and ollies a garbage can. I remember when I used to ollie garbage cans back in the day. Well, I remember crashing hard attempting to ollie garbage cans, I should say. Anyways, enjoy.

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