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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Carolina

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Staal skated prior to the Pens morning skate (9:44 AM)
  • Pens’ lines (10:35 AM)
  • Dan Bylsma talks Staal skating, Carolina and pracice – we’re talking about practice! (12:22 PM)
  • Words of wisdom from Crosby, Fleury and Martin (12:00 PM)
  • Former Pen/US gold medalist Mark Johnson brought his Badgers to the skate (10:26 AM)
  • Hurricanes still wearing red (12:03 PM)
  • Pens pics (10:52 AM)
  • “I said maybe, I don’t really wanna know how your garden grows cause I just want to fly…” (9:40 AM)
That’s a wrap from the pre-game activities. Check back at 7 p.m. for Tony Jovenitti’s live in-game blog. I’m sure it will be quite epic. 


12:22 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On Jordan Staal:
With the procedure he had, working out has to wait until he progresses two weeks or around that time period. He’s there and we’re pretty happy to get him on the ice, but we’re not going to jinx him too much in talking about him being on the ice. We’ll see, he’ll get better. He’s starting to work out now, which is a good thing for him. He’s got good spirits because he’s heading down the right road.

On the scores of Carolina’s games:
A lot of goals to none, with changing sides.

On assessing a team using video:
I think you look more at what they do well to get to the seven and the eight goals. They’re a dangerous team, they’re a fast team and they come at you with a hard forecheck, and it’s tough keeping some of their groups of players away from the front of the net. They crash it really well and that’s how they picked up that win. That 7-1 win against Ottawa, they crashed down low, but they also got it back to the point and some of their bodies are tough to keep away from the net. We saw that last game we played against them, so we’ll worry about that tonight.

On feeling if his hockey team is getting to its game:
I do feel our team has a good understanding of how we need to play on both sides of the puck, and what we need to do in both of those situations when we have it. We’re trying to execute with it, but also on the defensive end, we’re getting better in both of those scenarios and we’re seeing that in both in the results of our games, but also the scoring chances against, we kept Vancouver under 10, and that’s three consecutive games in a row where we’ve kept the (opposing) team under 11 scoring chances, which is outstanding. But at the same time we’re putting teams back on their heels with our speed and getting into their offensive zone, so that’s something going into the next 20 games we have to keep going.

On summing up the team’s game in three sentences:
We talk about tilting the ice 70-30. We want to play the game 70 percent in the offensive zone, and we want to stay there. We play good defense in the offensive zone for 70 percent of the time, and that also prevents them from getting into the offensive zone themselves. We want to be quick and physical, get the puck out of the defensive zone as quickly as possible. We talk about tilting the ice, we do that with our work, we do that with our defense, and we do that with how we execute in the offensive zone.

On Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek:
I think they’re a little bit of the way our team’s played in the last five games or so as well. They’re both good puck-moving defensemen and can get out of there with their skating and passing, but they’re two different guys defending. One’s more positional and has a good stick, and the other one’s a little more tenacious, and battle level. Put together, we have two pairs of guys that can on any given night, be against the team’s top lines and in situations where, you know, last game, we saw 44 (Orpik) and 4 (Michalek) go together. So it’s a good mix for those four defensemen. And Alex Goligoski is a guy that you can put in there as well. So those guys are coming into shape, in their battle level and in the games, and as a result our defense and our team game is looking a lot like it should.

On the biggest challenge when the team has a stretch of games like its recently had:
I think the theme that we continue to talk about is the standard, the work ethic, the battle level, the physicality. When you play a (team like) Vancouver, your senses are heightened, you’re playing a good team, you have a couple talented players on either side, your penalty killing has to be sharp. But we want to keep and maintain that standard of work, and add the work ethic and physicality to our game. I think that’s the real challenge for a team. We’ve set that standard now for 5-6 games dating back to the Anaheim game, and every night, that’s what we talk about. Every night, we set a standard, and we have a work ethic we bring to our game to be effective.

On practice being adjusted:
Absolutely. Yesterday’s practice was skill-focused and oriented, very small details of our game versus up-and-down, systematic review of our game. It was needed work. It was very small details that we’re trying to work on in our game that we can add to our game, but it wasn’t a lot of work in practice yesterday. That was because of the work we’ve been—the workload of games every other day, and three and four in the previous two weeks we’ve had. So there’s been a lot of games, and practice has been adjusted.

Assist: Michelle Crechiolo

12:03 PM:
The Carolina Hurricanes are finishing up their morning skate right now. Here is photo proof that they are here.

Goalie Cam Ward (right)

Eric Staal (left)

12:00 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room....

Sidney Crosby

On the Hurricanes
They have a lot of speed. They’re coming off of a big game. They’re going to be confident. That’s something that we should be ready for.

On how well he knows Eric Staal
I got to know him at the Olympics. We played together there for half the Olympics. He’s a competitor and a leader on their team. He’s a great guy and well respected guy.

On Staal’s recent hot streak:
It happens. It’s confidence and getting bounces, but you have to play well. He’s been really consistent. It’s big for them. He’s hard to stop. He’s big, has a lot of speed and can shoot the puck. We definitely have to be aware of him.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On gaining confidence
It definitely feels better to get some wins and get some points. I’m feeling more comfortable and more relaxed, not thinking about stuff as much. I’m starting to have a lot more fun.

On if he changed anything:

I haven’t really changed my style of playing. I still play pretty much the same. I just tried to work hard in practices.

On Eric Staal:
He’s good. I definitely have to be aware when he’s on the ice and know where he’s at. They’re a dangerous team. It’s a team we have to be ready and focused for.

On how well he got to know Eric Staal over the years, and being on the Olympic team with him
We got drafted in the same year, so I know him a little bit from there, and then I got to practice and see him every day at the Olympics. I think he’s a lot like Jordan, similar personality and he’s a very talented hockey player. So I have to keep an eye on him.

Paul Martin

On stringing a few good games together

We know the way that we’re playing, and we recognize how successful we are when we do the things that we do there. It makes it easier on us to realize that we have to continue to do that to win and to put up points. Hopefully we continue to play that way.

On playing with Zbynek Michalek:
It’s been good. He’s a solid defenseman and he knows where he needs to be to make some good plays. He’s smart, he’s physical and he has a good shot. He does everything pretty well. It makes it easy to complement each other.

Assist: Tony Joveinitti

10:52 AM:


10:35 AM:
No changes to the Pens' lines at Friday's morning skate:


10:29 AM:
The team is on ice and getting ready to start the skate.

10:26 AM:
Former Penguin and 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal winner Mark Johnson is at the morning skate. He is currently the head coach of Wisconsin's Women's Team. He brought along his squad for the skate.

Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato is a former Badger.

Photos coming shortly. Tony Jovenitti is on the prowl with the camera.


9:44 AM:
Penguins center Jordan Staal was on the ice early this morning. Staal has been out of the lineup after breaking his hand in practice and having surgery in early November. Steve Mears of Penguins Live had the scoop. We tip our hat to Mearsy with the assist.

9:40 AM:
Let's start the morning with a little British invasion, Oasis "Live Forever." It's a shame Liam Gallagher's unibrow never became a fashion trend. Every other trend in the 90s did.

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