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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Florida

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Pens lines (10:36 AM), Johnson in goal (11:33 AM).
  • HBO with some interesting shoots at practice (10:51 AM).
  • 'Geno' gets some national love (3:03 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Panthers, PK and Dustin Jeffrey (12:10 PM).
  • Deep thoughts with Crosby, Letestu, Fleury, Talbot (11:45 AM).
  • Fox Chapel native Bill Thomas talks about the new rink and playing the Pens (12:13 PM).
  • Pittsburgh native Patrick Wey named to Team USA for WJC (11:56 AM).
  • FSN to air Pens classic games marathon X-mas day (11:25 AM).
  • Sid and Ovi on the 'Price is Right' (3:21 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:03 AM).
  • Panthers pics (11:49 AM).
  • Brittany O has stolen my heart (10:29 AM).
  • “Seether is neither loose nor tight. Seether is neither black nor white…” (10:20 AM).

3:21 PM:
In case you missed it, Sid and Ovi were on 'The Price is Right' Monday. Love the obviously fake background.

3:03 PM:
EJ Hradek is on the Evgeni Malkin bandwagon.

12:13 PM:'s Tony Jovenitti caught up with former Pen and Fox Chapel native Bill Thomas:

On if beating Philadelphia helps the team’s confidence coming into Pittsburgh:
We’ve been playing really well lately. We went into Washington and won, and we had three goals in a row there. We came back and were able to beat Buffalo, and the last game against Philadelphia was a big win for us. Obviously, we’re coming in against a real talented team. We just have to work hard and do the best we can against them. As long as you play well against them and limit your mistakes, hopefully you can go out and get a win.

On getting tickets for his family
My friends and family were pretty good about that. They know it’s tough to get tickets sometimes, and they know it’s a holiday game. My best friend works for the team here selling tickets, but they’re doing the best they can here. I think they’ll enjoy watching it.

On being home around the holidays:

It’s definitely good. My family is happy to see me. Obviously, coming here before Christmas is a treat, considering we don’t get much time off.  So to be able to see them around the holidays is really nice.

On if he’s nervous for Wednesday’s game:
I’m not really sure yet, we’ll find out when the first period starts.

On where his latest goal-scoring came from:

I don’t know. I’m just going to the net and getting lucky once in a while.

12:10 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On the flavor and personality of this Florida team
Our past experience for us is that their goaltender is going to be a big factor in the game tonight. He’s a guy that we have had to pepper with shots to get just a couple of goals. So that’s what we’re ready to do tonight. I think really, when I look at their team, I see quick, fast forwards that look to forecheck and set up their offensive zone game. That’s where they have had success, and where they try to have success. They go back for pucks on breakouts. That’s going to be a factor for us in what they’ll try to do tonight. So we’ll have to try to minimize that and try to get to the offensive zone and get that shot count up to 40, 45 to get the chances we need.

On why the Penguins only got 26 shots against them in the last game
The last game against them, our power play got us a goal in four or five seconds right off the hop on a faceoff, and we got another power-play goal. The nature of that game, we probably sat on that cushion and got caught in that game, and had to count on Chris Conner to get the game-winner. We probably didn’t play as well as often as we wanted to in that game. That’s not something we’re looking to do tonight. We’d like to see us get up to 35-plus shots and come right out in that first period. We know they’re coming off some success from the Philly game, so we want to set the tone and dictate early here tonight.

On if the PK regrouped before their perfect 8 for 8 performance on Monday:
We try to have a meeting every month just to reinstate our objectives, what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it. Tony Granato had that the day before (Monday’s) game to reinforce a little bit what we do well, and what we need to keep trying to do in terms of how we’re going to be an aggressive PK. Our positioning of our sticks and blocking shots in that last game was excellent. Sometimes you’re going to give up a goal—the goal we gave up in Philly was off a poor angle, it hits off the butt of a stick and goes in the net. That’s going to happen. That’s happened to us a couple of times in previous games. The guys got back to our foundation of how we want the PK to be last game. It’s a challenge every night. The PK, the power play—it’s a next time over the boards type of thing, and we have to have that mentality every game. It’ll be a challenge tonight.

On if the “We want Pittsburgh” chant from Washington’s game last night, and if the Capitals are more obsessed with the Penguins than vice versa:
I did not see what you’re talking about last night. I was busy watching the Florida game in Philadelphia.

On Dustin Jeffrey:
I’ll start by saying what he showed us in camp. He took a considerable step in physical attributes. Skating-wise, he’s improved and has picked up a step. He was here in Pittsburgh for almost a month and a half working on his game, working on his skating. That’s what he showed. His game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has gone to another level on top of the points he got last year as a part of that team. When he was here, he showed those things. It was a brief number of games, but he showed that he had a step. He showed that he had skating ability, especially in the game in Buffalo. PK-wise, he showed his smarts and hockey sense, something we think he can do. He was counted on to take a couple of draws in those situations, so that’s a bigger jump for Dustin than he had showed previously in his games in the National Hockey League. We saw it in training camp. He’s been playing very well and got his chance and showed it again. It seems like he’s taken that next step, and for Dustin, he hopes to get in some more games to be able to make that jump.

Unassisted goal: Michelle Crechiolo

11:56 AM:
Team USA unveiled its roster for the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY on Sunday. Pittsburgh defenseman product Patrick Wey made the team. Wey is attending Boston College and was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

11:49 AM:
Panthers on ice.

Silly-sider Tomas Vokoun (left) has always frustrated the Pens.

11:45 AM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On if the game at Washington will be preliminary game for the Winter Classic
Yeah. I don’t think the rivalry has changed. It’s been like that for a little bit. I don’t expect it to be any different. It’s pretty intense, and it’s probably going to stay that way.

On if Washington is more concerned with Pittsburgh than the Penguins are about the Capitals:
I don’t know. We try to worry about our team and what we have to do. (24/7) is a show about both the two teams. So maybe that’s why, but I don’t really know. I haven’t paid attention to that too much.  I think we know what we have to do and we know how to prepare. Usually, we prepare the same way no matter who it is. We’re confident in our game and I don’t think that changes no matter who we play.

On Evgeni Malkin:
I’d say he’s pretty hot – five points in one game. He’s playing some really good hockey. When he’s playing like that, I think it raises everybody’s play. We just want to keep going. Everything comes with creating chances and putting them in.

On the four-day break last weekend:

We’ve probably had a couple games before that where we weren’t that good.  We had those days off, and hopefully that’s time that will pay off now down the stretch. Last game was a really good game for us. So we want to continue to build off that.

Mark Letestu

On how the third line keeps buzzing:
I think it’s important any night. With our line, that’s something we focus on – holding the puck in the offensive zone and trying to get momentum for the guys and wearing down the opposition D – hopefully softening them up for Crosby and Malkin. So it’s something we focus on right now and it’s something we take pride in. Hopefully that continues tonight.

On the key to slowing down the Panthers:
I think it’s keeping the puck out of their hands. Obviously, getting into the forecheck and finishing some D and take their legs out of them will be important. We know they’re a fast team and they’re going to bring four, sometimes five guys on the rush. The backcheck will be key tonight – having forwards come back and help out.

On how the team stays focused against Florida with the Washington game tomorrow:
It’s pretty far from the guys’ minds, I think. Outside of the media and HBO being here, there hasn’t been much talk about Washington at all. I think we’ll focus on them tomorrow and take care of business tonight

Marc-Andre Fleury

On Florida:
We’re mostly worried about our play. We know what they can do, but we just want to worry about our system and do what we can., and we should be in good shape.

On Washington fans chanting “we want Pittsburgh":
We’re not worried about it. We’re excited to go to Washington, but we have a game tonight and we have to focus on that first. Then we will enjoy the game tomorrow.

Max Talbot

Power-play goal: Tony Jovenitti

11:33 AM:
Brent Johnson in goal tonight for Pittsburgh. The rest of the lineup will be game-time decisions, according to head coach Dan Bylsma.

11:25 AM:
FSN Pittsburgh/ROOT Sports announced that it will air a Penguins Classic Marathon of games on Dec. 25 from 1 p.m. to midnight.

11:21 AM:
Pens GM Ray Shero will be on NHL Live! today at 12:40 p.m. Make sure you tune in to hear what the architect of the Pens has to say.

11:03 AM:
Empirical proof of the Pens' skate:

10:51 AM:
HBO pulls out all the bells and whistles for practice.

10:36 AM:
Asham and Goligoski are back on the ice after taking a maintenance day on Tuesday. All players are accounted for, and looks like no line changes. As the Talking Heads once said, "Same as it ever was."



10:29 AM:
The Pens take on the Florida Panthers tonight at 7 p.m. Florida is coming off an impressive 5-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night on the road. But the most jaw-dropping aspect of the Panthers isn't found on their roster. (Brittany O  is my fave).

10:20 AM:
I'm back from my one-day hiatus - my first missed work day due to sickness in my career snapping my ironman streak that started in 2005. However, my upper-respiratory injury is not enough to keep me out of the lineup for a game.

To open the day we'll go with Veruca Salt, "Seether." Rocker chicks are awesome!

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