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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Detroit

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Bylsma: Malkin also a game-time decision (11:43 AM).
  • Staal skates and is a game-time decision for tonight (11:24 AM).
  • Malkin, Crosby and Bortuzzo absent (10:28 AM).
  • Mears with today's inside scoop (1:02 PM).
  • Pens' practice lines (10:34 AM).
  • Wings' practice lines (11:41 AM).
  • Pens recall Williams (10:00 AM).
  • Bylsma on the Wings, his depleted lineup and Flower's 200th (12:24 PM).
  • Fleury and Sullivan on Detroit and their winning ways (12:03 PM).
  • Red Wings talk Pens (1:36 PM).
  • Pens practice pics (10:50 AM).
  • Motor City meets Steel City (12:45 PM).
  • "Put your hands up…for Detroit…" (9:45 AM).

1:36 PM:
I stopped by Detroit's locker room to get some of their thoughts on Pittsburgh. It's always kind of cool to see the Pens through the opposition's viewpoint. They obliged...

Niklas Kronwall

On the Pens still being a tough challenge through all the injuries:
Absolutely. I think they showed it pretty good last year, that even though they had their two big guys out they went on to have a hell of a season. They kind of ran out of gas there at the end, but it’s pretty impressive what they did last year. This year again, even without Crosby, Malkin’s been carrying some of the load but at the same time, all the other guys have stepped up and taken more of a leadership role. Guys like (Kris) Letang, (Tyler) Kennedy, (Jordan) Staal and those guys, they just keep getting better and better.

On coming to Pittsburgh:
This building is one of the louder ones in the league, I’d say. It’s always a lot of fun to come here. We’ve been getting more of a rivalry after the two Finals that we had against them, of course. It’s always a big challenge. They’re one of the top teams in the league. We come in here and try to stick with our game plan and hopefully we can come out with a win.

Johan Franzen

On the Pens:
From that ’09 year, it feels like they’ve been such a great team every year. They just know how to win games and make it hard on the other team. They’re finding ways to win even without their big guns. They’ve got a good thing going.

On if the rivalry has heightened with the two Finals:
Yeah, maybe a little bit. We always know what we’re going to get when we get here. It’s a good measuring stick. It always feel a little bit extra when we play them.

On Detroit’s road woes:
I don’t actually know why we’ve been struggling. In previous years, we tend to actually play better on the road. But this year it’s the opposite. It’s hard to put a finger on it, I don’t know why that is. Hopefully we can take a step tonight and get a win.

1:02 PM:
And look what else we have for you...the Verizon Game Day Report, brought to you by the one and only Steve Mears. He's got the breakdown of everything you need to know:

12:58 PM:
How about a little lunchtime research to prepare you for tonight's opponent? I went ahead and scouted this Red Wings squad in a detailed written report and a shorter video version below:

12:45 PM:
Motor City meets the Steel City...

The ageless wonder/perfect human Nick Lidstrom (left); laughing with countryman Niklas Kronwall (right)

"Euro Twins" Henrik Zetterberg (left) and Pavel Datsyuk (right)

Franzen trying his hand at goalie at Todd Bertuzzi prepares to shoot a puck at him (left); can you spot Jimmy Howard? (right)

Brad Stuart was in the midst of pretending to lose his balance (left); coach Mike Babcock (right)

12:24 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Detroit Red Wings:
They’re 8-2 in their last 10 games. They’re power play’s a strong 20 percent, right back up at being the dangerous level they always are. The line of (Johan) Franzen, (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Todd) Bertuzzi is playing extremely well right now. Franzen with his 28 points being the big part of that line, a guy that always drives his team with power play lines and 5-on-5. (Henrik) Zetterberg’s line is playing extremely well as well and added some danger with speed of (Darren) Helm. Chris Conner on that wing as well. They’re playing a quick game right now in the neutral zone; they scored a couple times last game with that quickness. We’re expecting a tough team to play against defensively they don’t give up a lot, but also a team that’s going to come at you pretty hard with speed and skill and dangerous power play as well.

On the potential of having all top three centers out of the lineup:
I can’t really tell you exactly what the lineup’s going to look like so there’s some challenges there. Now Pascal Dupuis is going to be a part of the Big 3. He’ll be most likely in that position tonight playing center again. We’ll probably keep him with (Matt) Cooke and (Tyler) Kennedy to keep some stability defensively there. We’ll see how the rest of it plays out come game time with matchups. It’s going to be difficult if Malkin and Staal don’t play. Our No. 1 center is Joe Vitale or Pascal Dupuis.

On if he still hears Mike Babcock’s voice in his head from back in his playing days in Anaheim:
It’s a loud voice. Yes, I do still. I watched the Red Wings a lot. They’re a team, whether because I grew up in Michigan and being a Red Wings fan or because they’re an elite team, a better team, certainly been playing that way; we’ve watched them a lot. I try to learn something from everybody and I learned a lot from Mike Babcock as a coach. Still watching they’re team, watching what they do to see if there’s not something there and you can hear Mike’s voice through a lot of that.

On Marc-Andre Fleury approaching his 200th career win and becoming a force in net:
About this time last year he probably had won eight or so games in a row after a tough start. One of the amazing things about last year was his consistency, which he maybe never had as a trademark he had of his playing career, happened from about Nov. 14 or so on. He was as consistent as he’s every been at a high level. He backstopped us in many of the games. Gave us chances to win in a bunch of others. He was still the dynamic goalie with the knack for the big save or big game as he always was. That consistency was a big part of why he was goaltenders in the league last year. He’s doing that for us now. His play’s been outstanding, it’s consistent. Even in a game like last game in Long Island. The first or second shot goes in, maybe not the greatest goal for him. Once we get to even in that game, there’s a feeling they’re not going to be able to get another goal to win a game from us. That consistency level has been a real backstop for our team right now. It helps our penalty kill. It’s been a real confidence booster for guys on our team. He’s been over a year now at that consistent high-level of play.

12:03 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On playing the Red Wings:
It’s always fun since the two Finals in a row. There are a lot of battles. For both teams it’s always fun to play against each other.

On having a rivalry with Detroit:
It’s not like the Flyers where no one likes anyone. There is respect on both sides. It’s tough to get there. We battled each other twice. It’s still fun and intense games to play.

On thinking of those playoff games when he faces Detroit:
They’re memories, but it’s a different scenario in the middle of the season. It doesn’t matter what happened then. We have to get two points tonight. That’s all that matters.

Steve Sullivan

On why the Red Wings have been so good over the years:
It’s a lot of things. You can’t just do one thing well to be a successful hockey club. You have to do a lot of things well. Detroit does it. They play a sound system. They play with pace. They’re a good forechecking team and they have a lot of talent. When you get good players that play a system like that you should have success.

On what the Pens need to do to have success against Detroit:
We’re not waiting for them to make mistakes. We have to push the pace. We have to make sure we’re playing our system for us to be successful. We have to play within our system and not worry about the Detroit Red Wings or any team are doing. It’s all about what we do. If we play the way we’re supposed to play and play within our system we’ll have success.

11:43 AM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said Malkin is a game-time decision and gave no other details.

He also confirmed that Staal is a game-time decision as well.

11:41 AM:
Detroit's lines at their morning skate:


11:24 AM:
Pens center Jordan Staal, who missed Saturday's game vs. NYI, said following the morning skate that he feels good, but wants to see how his lower-body injury reacts this afternoon and go from there. He's unsure if he will play vs. Detroit, confirming he would be a game-time decision.

"I’m still not quite sure," he said. "It felt good, but again, I want to see how it feels once I’m out of the skates and off the ice for a bit and if it starts to flare up. Then we’ll see from there."

Here’s more from Staal...

On the injury:
It feels good. I want to see how it reacts this afternoon and go from there. I went through practice and it wasn’t too bad. We’ll see how it goes.

On dealing with so many injuries:
It’s been frustrating. There have been quite a few injuries throughout the past couple years. It hasn’t gotten much better, but hopefully we’re getting them out of the way now.

On coming back too soon because of all the injuries:
It’s tough with that many guys out. We’re still a great team. We played a great game in the last game so there’s no reason to force myself into the lineup.

10:50 AM:
Everybody's workin' on a Tuesday...

Wings staff takes in their opponent's morning skate (left); Pens gather at center ice (right)

Jordan Staal on the ice for morning skate; Cooke with some dangles (right)

When Penguins attack!!!

Pascal Dupuis = Mr. Versatile (left); stretchin' it out (right)

Neal working on his netfront presence (left); Fleury with some acrobatics (right)

10:34 AM:
Pens' lines:


10:28 AM:
Pens' morning skate is underway. Jordan Staal, who's day to day with a lower-body injury, is on the ice, as are D-men Michalek and Strait. However, Malkin, Crosby and Bortuzzo are not.

As reported Monday, Crosby said that he’s experienced concussion-like symptoms the past few days after taking several hits against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 5 and is being careful about his health before returning to the lineup. Get the full story here.

10:00 AM:
The Pens made a roster move, recalling Jason Williams from WBS. Williams, 31, made his Pittsburgh debut against the New York Islanders on Saturday night with 11:28 minutes of ice time.

Williams actually started his career with the Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002.

9:45 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! The Pens host playoff rival Detroit tonight for the only meeting of the season between these two talented teams. When these clubs meet, it's always an exciting battle and tonight's sure to be no different.


As many of you may know, I was born and raised in suburban Detroit and was an intern reporter for the Red Wings for almost a year before moving to Pittsburgh. So whenever the Pens play the Red Wings it's definitely a special game for me. Sam has graciously allowed me to do today's Pens Report, and I'm going to start the day with a little Detroit techno to get everyone going this morning. It's a song that even if you're not from Michigan, I'm sure you've heard at some point...and no, it's not "It's So Cold in the D..."

BONUS: When I went to the Motor City during the preseason, I got an email from one of my bosses asking why I didn't play any KISS. He then said it may be too retro for us. I say no way! "Detroit Rock City" is an absolute classic, and I'm going to play that as well.

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