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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Columbus

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens’ lines (10:34 AM).   
  • Coach Bylsma on team defense, fighting, alternate captains and Egyptian protests (12:21 PM).
  • Staal, Talbot and Jeffrey spit knowledge (12:29 PM).
  • Staal is tonight’s player to watch, according to Bill Clement (3:02 PM).
  • PensTV are enlightened by the words of Engelland and Jeffrey (2:30 PM).
  • Listen to Staal and donate blood Sunday, Feb. 27 (2:40 PM).
  • CONSOL Energy Center was voted Best New Concert Venue (2:51 PM).
  • Pens pics (10:53 AM).
  • Blue Jackets pics in the dark – seriously (11:52 AM).
  • Blue Jackets pics in the light (12:25 PM).
  • “I’m gonna fight ‘em off. A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back…” (10:04 AM).

3:02 PM:
Bill Clement picks Jordan Staal as his player to watch tonight.

2:51 PM:
Where's the best new venue to watch a concert? Right here in Pittsburgh. CONSOL Energy Center was voted the nation’s Best New Major Concert Venue for 2010 at the 22nd annual POLLSTAR Concert Industry Awards in Los Angeles

2:40 PM:
The Pittsburgh Penguins and American Red Cross will host a blood drive on Sunday, Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center. 

The Score One for Life Blood Drive has been a Penguins’ commitment to the local community since 1992. Penguins’ drives have yielded over 10,000 registered donors, whose blood donations have helped up to 30,000 patients in need.

Donors will receive a jersey-style t-shirt, while supplies last, and are eligible to win Penguins memorabilia.  Fans will also have the opportunity to meet Penguins’ broadcasters and alumni during the drive.
All donors must schedule an appointment in advance by telephone at 1-800-RED-CROSS
(1-800-733-2767) or online at

Watch Jordan Staal Donate Blood PSA

2:30 PM:
PensTV talks with Engelland and Jeffrey...



12:29 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Jordan Staal

On Columbus:
Every night it is tough to get points no matter who you are playing. It will be another tough challenge for us against Columbus.

On being an alternate captain
Obviously when you have a letter you have to be a leader on and off the ice. You just have to work hard every day at practice and in games and lead as best as you can on the ice.

On the team staying healthy:
It is always important for us to stay healthy but it is not something you can really control. Players that are healthy can’t really worry about getting hurt. We just have to go out and play our game and do our stuff.

Max Talbot

On Evgeni Malkin’s injury:
It is an injury that is always tough. I am sure he is going to come back healthy and come back strong.

On not scoring against the Capitals on Sunday:
We have to keep playing the same way. We don’t have to make any changes. The last game we might not have been as sharp as we would have liked to have been. We might not have finished our checks as much as we would have liked to. You’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, but tonight will be a good test and a big rebound game for us.

Dustin Jeffrey

On being on Pittsburgh’s power-play unit versus Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s
Honestly, it is a lot different. There are a lot of better guys (in the NHL) penalty killing and they have more experience. So I think you have to keep making plays and hopefully get out there and have some success.

On adjusting to being up with the Penguins
Obviously I have had some good games and I have had some games where I haven’t done as well. That is a big part of what they want here. You need to consistently win draws and consistently play at a high level.

Chin-wag: Joe Prince-Wright

12:25 PM:
Let there be light! Columbus morning skate pics with the lights on.

Pittsburgh's RJ Umberger (left)

Rick Nash (left)

12:21 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On getting offense without Crosby and Malkin:
We didn’t generate enough opportunities to get scoring chances (against Washington). The game before we had 19 scoring chances. You may score, you may not score. But those are the opportunities we need to generate. We didn’t do that last game. We seven by our total. We didn’t have a lot of action around their net. We didn’t generate time in the offensive zone. You can’t expect to score goals if that’s the case. We didn’t execute the way we needed to. We didn’t play up to the standard that we need to, to get the opportunities. When you talk about scoring chances or goals, it really comes back to doing the things you need to score. We didn’t do those last game. We’ve been doing those to some degree of success over the past 10. We need to make sure we focus on producing those opportunities tonight by playing the right way.

On the team’s defense
I’ve been trying to convince (the media) that we were interested in playing defense this whole time. It has taken the absence of our star players to have you focus on the fact that we can play defense as well. We are right up their in goals against in the league. The penalty kill, we take a lot of pride in the way we play defense as a group – the five guys on the ice and the six defensemen that we have on a given night are capable of being a very good defensive team. We’re getting a lot of focus now with the absence of Crosby and Malkin. We believe and take pride in playing that defense all year. We want to be a good, hard defensive team, and a tough team to play against. It’s showing up in the last 10 games with the success we’ve had.

On why Engelland and the team is fighting less than the beginning of the year
We have not had a discussion that there was too much (fighting). As far as Deryk Engelland going, most NHL teams watch the highlights, if I watched the highlights I’m not sure I would be fighting him as much. At the end of the game against the Islanders he was right in that scrum, but I don’t think that anyone in that scrum was interested in taking their gloves off with Deryk. It’s not something we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about being a tough team to play against. We’ve taken the opportunities to take exception to the people who have played our team in our face and tried to take our good players off their game. We take pride in that. It’s an identity of our team. I don’t think you’ll see any team that thinks they can push us around. One thing we have talked about is being disciplined within that toughness. That may be taken away from some of the majors. As the year goes on you may see some of the majors dip. From past experience majors dip in the last half of the season, so maybe that’s been the case. We’re trying to be a disciplined team. We’re trying to be a tough team to play against. We’re trying to be a physical team. We still want to be that physical presence. We still want to stay within the boundaries of that rulebook.

On if Engelland’s reputation helps him get in the lineup:
I do think it is, it’s a deterrent. They know he’s out there. Not only is he capable, but he plays a tough game. He holds people accountable by playing tough in the D-zone around the net. You saw that this past week with some of the Islanders players getting out of the net. They tend to get out of there quicker once they’ve been knocked around. That’s something we talk about in and around our net, being strong in that area.

On Orpik, Staal and Kunitz wearing “A”s and their influence with young guys getting call-ups:
First of all, I don’t think it’s odd to see an “A” on their jerseys – Orpik and Staal. Orpik and Staal are alternate captains. Kunitz has had the “A” on, he’s had it a lot this year in the absence of some of our players. But he had it on in training camp when these young guys were around. I do think there is a little bit more influence and a looking to those guys in the absence of some skilled players or some of our bigger players. There’s a bigger voice for them. At times you wonder where the voice is going to come from because there are some players out of the room. It’s not just Sid and Geno, Arron Asham’s been out now, he’s a guy who talks in our room. I think there is an opportunity and people who are looking maybe around the room to see where that voice is going to come from, and (it’s) an opportunity for Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik to step up in that role.

On Bruce Boudreau’s comments about Matt Cooke and how Crosby’s absence changes the locker room:
Sid not being around is actually less work for me. He had questions about our power play and neutral zone transitions, so I was putting together bunches of clips from previous games and other team’s games to have discussions about what adjustments we could add to what we do now. So now I’m not doing that now that he’s not in town at this present moment. My comments (on Cooke) remain the same. I don’t think Cooke made a lot of contact with (Alex Ovechkin). I know their skates came together. But I’ve been watching the Columbus tape the last day and a half, so I’m focused on this game tonight and not back there.

On what he’s seen from Dustin Jeffrey in terms of a top-six role and how that will benefit him:
Dustin, in his games, has gotten a unique opportunity. He’s played pretty much in every position that he can play in. He’s played the point on the power play in his call-ups, he’s played the half wall, he’s played the penalty kill, he’s taking draws, he’s played fourth-line center and he’s played between Kunitz and Dupuis where Crosby has normally gone in a first-line role. So (Jeffrey) has been all up and down the lineup playing against different types of players and in different situations, so you don’t get that kind of an opportunity very often as a call-up guy. In the large part, he’s made the most of it. He’s been a welcome addition to our power play. He’s done an admirable job between Kunitz and Dupuis. He’s scored some goals, he’s added power-play goals, he’s been pretty decent in the faceoff circle at times. And our PK is such that that’s probably the best thing he could do for us and he hasn’t had a huge opportunity because we have five healthy penalty killers, which is right now a pretty good penalty kill unit. So he’s getting a real good look and it’s a great opportunity much like we saw with Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland last year – to really prove (himself) and to get a look and say this guy can play in this league and be a factor for our team and be a guy we can put out here now after the deadline (and) maybe in the summertime. He’s getting that look.

On if he had to talk to the players when Crosby went down or if they banded together on their own:
There has not been a conversation or words talking about holding the fort, putting the finger in the dike or trying to get by. We have talked all along about we play a certain way and the expectations are to play that way no matter who’s in the lineup or where we’re at no matter what the score is. The guys in that room have developed that standard and the standard is the same whether Sidney Crosby’s in or not. We didn’t play so well the first couple games without Sid and I think there was a not-stated recognition in the room that if we just keep playing the right way and we keep going here, this team and the players in this room can have success. A lot of credit goes to those guys in there. They don’t talk about the absence of players – we go out and expect to do well. We expect to play a certain way, and when we don’t, the guys on the team are talking about it. And when we do, we know we give ourselves a chance to have great success. And a lot of that credit goes to the guys in that room.

Primary assist: Michelle Crechiolo

11:52 AM:
The Blue Jackets are on the ice for their morning skate.

Interesting note: the lights on one end of the arena went out for some reasons as the team hit the ice. The players all gathered at the left end of the ice (from our perspective) when the lights went to black. The players whistled and had some fun, while the coaching staff looked confused at center ice.

The left side of the ice is still dimly lit, while the other end is still bright. Columbus played through the elements and the lights are slowly returning to full blast.

"When the lights, go down, in the city...."

10:53 AM:
Pens pics that don't disappoint.

Coach Bylsma (left); Michalek (right)

Godard, Lovejoy, Tangradi (left); Goligoski (right)

Martin (left); Dupuis (right)

Staal (left); Fleury (right)

10:34 AM:
Pens are on the ice and no apparent changes to the line combinations:


10:04 AM:
The Pens are gearing up for their 10:30 a.m. morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center. In a few hours Pittsburgh will host the Columbus Blue Jackets. This starts a stretch in which the Pens will play four games in six days.

To really jump start the day we'll go with "Seven Nation Army" in memory of The White Stripes (RIP Feb. 2, 2011). The duo of Jack and Meg White formed in 1997, but it wasn't until the release of "Fell in Love with a Girl" on the 2001 album "White Blood Cells" that the band attained some mainstream success. Jack White went on to do a number of side projects during the 2000s.

Last week, The White Stripes officially announced they were finished with music for good. My first reaction to their breakup was: I didn't know they were still together.

Anyways, let's get it going with "Seven Nation Army." This song always fires me up. Enjoy.

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