Scouting the 'Canes (9:50 AM). Coach Bylsma on mathcups, Malkin & more (1:02 PM). Neal & Fleury spit knowledge (12:50 PM). Lalime makes history (10:10 AM). Pens pics (12:22 PM). Canes pics (12:59 PM). “May you one day carry me home…” (9:30 AM).
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…On Carolina:
There are some differences in their team and the way they play, systematically since the change in coach. They come out more aggressively in the neutral zone. It’s a factor we’ll be aware of. Some things are the same. Their captain and leader, (Eric) Staal has 34 points. (Tuomo) Ruutu is the second-leading scorer on his wing. (Jeff) Skinner is back in the lineup. We know the type of dangerous, dynamic player he is. Jussi Jokinen is playing with a lot of speed and is a dangerous player. They’ve scored some shorthanded goals and we’re aware of that, both from (Patrick) Dwyer and (Brett) Sutter. We’re also expecting a team play very aggressively, work really hard and play good hockey. We’ll be ready for that. On his own health:
My voice cracked this morning on the ice. I’m dealing with a gravely voice, but I’m sure I’ll get better tonight. On getting matchups:
It’s a different challenge than on the road. The best thing that can happen on the road is when you get extended shifts in the offensive zone from second, third and fourth lines, you can get better matchups for your team because it forces teams to keep players on the ice longer, it tires them out and then you can look for those matchups better. We were able to do that in Washington in the first and second periods. We had better time in the offensive zone from all of our lines, which allows those situations to happen. We’ve been able to do a better job of that as a team. At home we have the last change and will look for opportunities to do that as well. It still pays off a lot when your team can play in the offensive zone, take a toll on the other team physically, forecheck wise and playing there. You get icing situations and tired guys. You get those types of matchups. On if they’re a better third period team this year:
A lot of the numbers we have are good numbers. Our shot numbers, shots against, scoring chances, we have a lot of good numbers. It hasn’t translated into wins, but we feel like we can play and want to play a style that makes it hard on other teams. You can maybe take advantage of those things in the third period. A lot of times we’ve been able to do that this year. You see that in the last five or six games that we’ve played. Even though we haven’t gotten the wins, we’ve been able to dictate and play in the offensive zone. We keep talking about playing that way will wear a team down and take advantage in the third period. We’ve been able to do that at times this year. On visiting Malkin in Russia a couple summers ago:
I think it was important for me and it was important maybe for Geno, too, to see a different side of Geno and get to know what motivates him a little bit more and what kind of person he is. I think there’s some aspect of dealing with a person from a different culture where you don’t totally understand where they’re from, how they were raised, how they were brought up in terms of playing hockey and what that means to them. I think being there was that for me. But also just to have that communication the other way as well (was important). Coaches aren’t necessarily people that Russian players really like that much with their culture (laughs). I think him being able to see me in a different light as well was big for me and I think it was big for Geno as well. I think it carried over to the next year and this year. On Martin and Michalek:
I think Paul Martin
and ‘Z’ have probably played their best 3-4 games together here this year (in January). Paul Martin
has been playing very well and alongside of Z, they’ve been out there against the other teams’ best players. With three shutdown guys with Brooks Orpik
as well, they’ve been able to really do a good job of eliminating other teams’ opportunities. We haven’t given up a lot to other teams’ good players. The three of them together and that pairing have been a big part of that. It’s also been a big part of us playing the other way – not just defensively or matching up and shutting teams down, but playing back the other way. The last 3-4 games may have been the best they’ve played all year. You see how much we miss when we have just one of two of those guys in the lineup. Hopefully we can add Kris Letang
to that top four soon and see that from our team. Secondary assist: Michelle Crechiolo
Steve Mears pleases the masses by delivering the Verizon Game Day Report.
Sounds heard around the locker room...James Neal On coming back from two wins on the road:
Obviously it’s a better atmosphere when you are winning games. Winning is fun. It’s definitely a good feeling around the room right now. A couple good games doesn’t mean anything. We come home and get right back to work tonight. And keep doing the right thing. On Kris Letang:
Well, just the way he skates and shoots the puck. His skill level is obviously very high. He has the ability to make passes whatever position he is in. He’d be a huge boost for us. We’re excited he’s out getting better and getting back to game shape. On being on the road:
Sometimes maybe that’s the best thing for you. We got into Washington, had a good game there. Set us up for the two games in Florida. It was good to get a win against the Panthers and follow it up with another good win in Tampa. Coming home, we can’t get comfortable again. We have to make this building a tough place to play in. Right now it’s a little too easy for teams. So we’ve got to make it hard on Carolina coming in tonight. Marc-Andre Fluery On facing Carolina:
I think they’re a little lower in the standing. They’re a team that we’ve got to be aware of. It seems every time we play them they always play well. It’s always a close game, a lot of overtimes, and shootouts so it’s something we got to expect. On Evgeni Malkin:
I think he keeps amazing me every year with how good he is, how well he can carry the puck around the ice. I get goosebumps.On a sense of urgency in the last couple of games:
Those two wins were definitely nice. It’s good to relax a little bit. That was a tough stretch and it’s good to finally be out of it. Looking forward to tonight to keep it going. Assist: Brittany Goncar
Michelle Crechiolo has all the details on Letang as he progresses
from his concussion. Below is the full transcript of his media scrum... On what he’s gone through:
It’s honestly been a rough time not doing anything and sitting at home watching my teammates play. It’s kind of boring, but I saw some doctors, saw some people that helped me a lot and got back on track and start practicing. On the symptoms he had:
Dizziness, nausea, headaches. My entourage said I was irritable, but I think it was more from the fact that I was not playing hockey. On his understanding of concussions:
It’s a frustrating injury. You can’t do really do anything about it except rest and try to learn from other players that went through it. It’s a big thing. Our game is faster and guys are stronger. So we need to be a little bit more aware on the ice and guys need to be more careful out there. On feeling better:
It feels great just to be back on the ice. And today, the first time with my teammates, it felt really good. On returning this week:
Obviously we don’t want to rush it. I had a lot of discussions with the GM and the coaches. We’re going to make a decision when I’m going to be ready. Obviously I didn’t have the chance to practice a lot with my teammates. Tonight might be too soon, but we’ll see how the week goes. On if he’d like to get in before the All-Star break:
I want to play as quick as I can play. Obviously the sooner the better. I want to get ready for this week. On if he felt like a kid out there today:
Honestly, I’ve been up since 7. Usually I wake up around 8 or 9. I was really excited to go to the rink today and have the chance to practice with the guys. On if he talked to Sidney Crosby during his recovery:
We spend a lot of time together. We’re watching games together. We talked about it, but like every concussion, it’s different for everybody. We were just talking about who he’s got as a reference to go see and who I saw for my concussion. We had small chats. On if he saw Ted Carrick:
No. I saw somebody back home for a week. I brought him here for another week later just to make sure I’m ready for this week. On if he went through setbacks:
It’s really tough. With my concussion, I went through a month with a lot of symptoms and not being able to get out of bed. It was rough times. But as I was getting better and starting to get treated by differentpeople, it just went better and better. When I got symptom-free, that’s the first time I tried to exercise. On if he worries about hesitation:
No, I don’t think so. Obviously I want to be careful, but my game is to go all out. I’m physical, I’m up in the play. I’m trying to bring a different aspect to the game. I was expecting to think about what was going to happen when I got back, so I really worked on the mental side of the game and making sure that when I step in, I’m not afraid to get hit. On returning to play in Montreal:
You can ask our trainer Chris Stewart, I’m somebody kind of rough with injuries. I don’t really pay attention to (them). But the first thing I noticed was my nose was not in place, so we took care of that. After that, it was just a question of being able to function. I was pretty pumped to get back out there. I was excited. The adrenaline was still pumping in my veins. I didn’t feel anything that night. It was the day after when I woke up in the morning that I didn’t feel that great. I saw some doctors and it was the day in New York I started throwing up Oh my sweet: Michelle Crechiolo
Today's picture captions are dedicated to @Tails52
Kunitz throws a temper tantrum and won't get up; Cooke is not amused (left); Coach Bylsma gives the players the first clue in their scavenger hunt (right)
Neal: I thought last night was Jon Huntsman's best debate...get it? (left); Engelland checks his blindspot before switching gears #SafetyFirst (right)
Orpik: This may be a dumb question, but, are smurfs real? (left); Jeffrey sings: All...by...my....self (right)
Pens coach Bylsma said that Asham is not feeling well and isn't expected to be in the lineup tonight against Carolina.
10:35 AM:Kris Letang
, as expected, joins his team at the morning skate. Asham is the only non-IR player missing from the skate.
The 7 Dmen rotated.
It's Tuesday so the time has come for a trip into Pens history with Bob Grove. In today's installment, Grover looks back at Patrick Lalime's silly ridiculous winning streak.
"So you say you want a revolution? Well, we all want to change the world" - John Lennon
I think that's pretty much everything. Somehow overshadowed by all these events is the fact that Michelle Crechiolo has moved from defense to forward in her men's league game. Weird.
Allegheny Badgers youth hockey team wears the C at a tournament over the weekend at RMU Island Sports Center.
Michelle gives you all the details on what to watch for in tonight's matchup against the Hurricanes here
. For a scouting report on the 'Canes, watch below.
Pens GM Ray Shero did a radio interview with Mark Madden Monday afternoon. He said he expects defenseman Kris Letang
, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a concussion Nov. 26, to join his teammates at today's morning skate.
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight the Pens will battle the Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth and final time this season.
Since we are playing Carolina, we'll kick off the day with a wonderful little tune by Ryan Adams "Oh My Sweet Caroline." Enjoy.