GAME DAY VIDEOSSidney Crosby Marcel Goc Paul Martin Rob Scuderi --Michelle Crechiolo
Defenseman Brooks Orpik was missing from Penguins morning skate the day after leaving practice early, and head coach Dan Bylsma had no update on his status afterward. Except to joke that “Brooks Orpik skated at an undisclosed location with David Backes this morning,” referring to the Blues captain who missed Games 3 and 4 of his series with Chicago due to injury.
In a series that’s been back-and-forth, up-and-down and, well, just all over the place, Orpik has been one of the team’s steadiest, most reliable and all-around best blueliners so far along with D partner Paul Martin.
Orpik’s physical, shutdown style of play translates so well to the postseason, especially against a team like Columbus that tries to grind their opponent down and be tough to play against. And not only that, but Orpik – who is the Penguins' longest-tenured player – is a vocal leader in addition to leading by example with his work ethic, habits and professionalism. So if he can’t go tonight, it’ll be a huge loss both on the ice and in the locker room.
“He’s been the leader back here I think, so obviously it’ll be tough for us if he can’t go,” Martin said. “He’s physical and he can move the puck well and is a big part of the shutdown pair. We’ve developed some chemistry together and he’s easy to play with. He’s one of the veteran guys that knows what it takes and has that, so it’ll be tough. We’ll see.”
"He’s a big loss," added Rob Scuderi. "Physically, he’s our No. 1 leader as far as the hits, the way he can change the momentum with one of them. He kills a lot of penalties. He plays against top lines. So if he’s not able to go, it’s going to be a big loss for us. Unfortunately, it’s something we’ve had to deal with all season. Hopefully, whatever the coaches decide to do with the pairings can step up and play the right way."
If Orpik is unable to play, it looks like either Robert Bortuzzo or Deryk Engelland – who have yet to play in this series – would enter the lineup.
“Everyone knows what Brooks means to our lineup,” Bortuzzo said. “He’s tough, but having said that, it’s an opportunity for myself or Deryk to step up. I’ve been preparing every night like I’m going to play. Last couple days have been no different, so I’m ready to go and excited if I get the opportunity.”
If Bortuzzo does slot in, it would mark his NHL playoff debut – something the 25-year-old has been looking forward to.
“I’ve been told you prepare all year for stuff like this,” he said. “I understand it’s going to be a different atmosphere. The game might be a little quicker, a little more physical. But I think that plays into my skill set if I do happen to get there. It’s pretty exciting. It’s the first playoff game for myself and something I’ve worked for for a long time now.”--Michelle Crechiolo
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Umberger (with a special guest appearance by scholar Rob Mixer)
Bobrovsky--Sam Kasan & Addison Smith
QUOTE 'EM--Sam Kasan, Michelle Crechiolo & Addison Smith
Goc--Sam Kasan & Addison Smith
MORNING SKATE INFO
Brian Gibbons and Brooks Orpik, who left Friday's practice early, were the only two Pens players not at the team's morning skate. Marcel Goc, who missed the last nine regular-season games and first four postseason contests, centered the fourth line. Looks like he could return tonight.
They used the following workflow...
(Pyatt, Megna, Conner)
The defense skated in end-to-end rushes of three.
PP1: Martin, Niskanen on points. Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin down low.
PP2: Maatta, Letang on points. Stempniak, Jokinen, Neal down low. --Sam Kasan
PENS-JACKETS INFOGRAPHIC--Sam Kasan
The Pens had Thursday off following their Game 4 loss on Wednesday. They returned to the ice for practice Friday, and there was a lot of news coming out of the skate. Here are all of the headlines from pittsburghpenguins.com...PENS HEED BYLSMA'S CALL
On Thursday afternoon Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was asked what has been the most concerning thing he’s seen from his team in their opening round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets – which stands even at 2-2.
Bylsma didn’t hesitate to answer.
“The work, compete and battle level has been the most troubling thing from our team,” he said. “That’s got to be raised up to a level that is necessary at this time of year, this type of playoff hockey.”
Bylsma, whose Penguins will host the Blue Jackets in a pivotal Game 5 Saturday night at CONSOL Energy Center, doesn’t typically call out his players publicly in such a fashion.
The message was received.Full story here
.CROSBY, MALKIN KNOW THEY MUST BE BETTER
On Thursday, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said the team needed more from the team’s two superstar centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as Crosby has been held goalless in his last nine playoff games dating back to last year, while Malkin hasn’t scored in his past eight.
They haven’t found a way to find the back of the net in this up-and-down first-round series against Columbus, which has to change as Crosby and Malkin aren’t just the Pens’ best players; they’re two of the best players in the world. And there are responsibilities that come along with that.
Crosby and Malkin are aware of those responsibilities and the expectations surrounding them, and know that they must find a way to rise up and meet them. They’re doing everything they can to make that happen, and will continue to work until they break through.Full story here
.ROUNDUP: GOC CLOSE TO RETURN
The Penguins returned to practice on Friday at Southpointe after having the day off Thursday.
And center Marcel Goc, who missed the last nine regular-season games and has been sidelined for the first four games of this series with a foot injury sustained on March 27 vs. Los Angeles, skated with the team.
Goc centered the fourth line between Tanner Glass and Craig Adams during rushes and also practiced on the penalty kill, a sign his return may be imminent.
Goc said afterward he “feels good” and right now, it’s the coaches’ decision whether or not he returns to the lineup for Game 5 on SaturdayFull story here
START THE DAY
Good morning hockey fans! Tonight the Pens will host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a pivotal Game 5 of their opening round playoff series. Here are some game notes to get you ready for the action...
- Tonight the Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets play Game 5 (TV: ROOT SPORTS; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center.
- Pittsburgh is 23-19 all-time in Game 5, including a 16-7 mark at home.
- The Penguins have gone 4-1 in their last five Game 5s.
- The Penguins are 6-3 in their last nine Game 5s played in Pittsburgh.
- In Pittsburgh’s last four series that have been tied at 2-2 after four games, the Penguins have emerged victorious three times, including last year’s opening-round series against the NY Islanders.
Stick tap: Pens PR--Sam Kasan