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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Florida

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Today is the anniversary of Team USA's "Miracle on Ice." In honor, we've put together a photo gallery of all the Pens that were associated with the miracle (click here). Below were head coach Herb Brooks and assistant coach Craig Patrick. "Again."

--Sam Kasan


--Sam Kasan


Dan Bylsma

Marc-Andre Fleury

Dustin Jeffrey

Simon Despres

Tanner Glass

Jonathan Huberdeau

--Sam Kasan

It can be tough to scout NHL rookies, especially the first time facing them. But with 19-year-old center Jonathon Huberdeau, the Pens will turn to his junior teammate Simon Despres to get the report on the rookie sensation.

“Always when we have ex-teammates,” coach Bylsma responded when asked if he would be picking Despres’ brain on Huberdeau. “And especially in this case when we’re talking about a kid we’ve only seen a little bit on the highlights. Certainly saw him last night in the highlights that he was a part of. Pretty confident move on the (penalty shot). Great goal. Simon will definitely give some insight on the player and his tendencies.”

Huberdeau had a four-point night (tying a Panthers rookie record) against the Flyers on Thursday in Philadelphia, and comes to Pittsburgh leading the Panthers with eight goals and 13 points in 16 games.

As Bylsma mentioned, the skilled center scored one of his two goals last night on a penalty shot against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov – watch below:

“I won’t say,” Huberdeau teased when asked if that was his go-to move. “Maybe I have another one. You never know when you go. But for sure I have more than one. In the NHL we know they watch a lot of video, so I think I’ve got to pull more than one.”

Despres and Huberdeau were teammates for two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, winning the Memorial Cup together in 2011. Despres had already been there for two full seasons when Huberdeau came in. He was impressed with the player he was then and is impressed with what he’s been able to do in the NHL so far.

“We lived right next to each other in juniors and we lived close to each other in the summertime, so I know him pretty well,” Despres said. “I met him when he was 16 and I was 18. He’s come a long way since he got drafted in Saint John. Every year he got better and he’s a very solid player.

“It’s incredible what he’s doing right now. He’s having a lot of good games. He’s very good. He’s very smart. He’s going to be a very good player in the NHL for a long time, for sure.”

Huberdeau spoke highly of Despres and the impact he had on him during their time together with Saint John.

“When I came to Saint John, he was the guy who was driving me every day,” Huberdeau said. “I was only 16. He took me under his wing. It was great to have him as a teammate. Winning the Memorial Cup with him, too, he’s a great defenseman. A lot of skills. He’s a good defenseman in the NHL as well. I’m excited to see him tonight.”

--Michelle Crechiolo

Though the Panthers got a big 5-2 win in Philly last night, they still had a decent turnout for their skate this morning in Pittsburgh.

19-year-old rookie sensation Jonathan Huberdeau, a close friend of Simon Despres (well, every other night but tonight)

Erik Gudbranson chats with his goalie

Wow, that mustache doesn't even look real. Epic.

Jack Skille

--Michelle Crechiolo and Wes Crosby


--Sam Kasan


The captain, Sidney Crosby

Niskanen carries the puck in the corner while Fleury stretches

Malkin readies a shot

Granato chats with Fleury

Group gathering

Malkin eyes a shot. Fleury gets ready to make a save

--Sam Kasan & Wes Crosby


There appear to be a few lineup changes for tonight's game. Although coach Bylsma could change his mind at any point, the morning skate lineup had Jeffrey centering the fourth line and Despres skating with Engelland.

(Boychuk, Vitale)


--Sam Kasan

Here's a PensTV SnapShot from Beau Bennett's first career NHL game in Winnipeg. I love all the guys yelling "Beau" and the embarrassed/happy smile on his face. I can only imagine what he was thinking right before he stepped on the ice for the first time.

--Sam Kasan

You asked them, Kunitz answered them. Here is his Twitter Q&A.

--Sam Kasan

Pens' James Neal is tied for the NHL lead in goals with 12. If this were a normal 82-game season, he would be currently on pace to score 57. And ironically, Bill Guerin is partly responsible for Neal's success.

James Neal attended his first NHL training in 2005 with the Dallas Stars as a wide-eyed 18-year-old. And what Neal learned at that first camp has forever shaped his career.

As the young winger watched veteran snipers like Bill Guerin and Jason Arnott snapping pucks from all over the ice, he had a revelation.

“When I saw those guys whipping the puck around I knew I needed to work on a few things,” Neal said. “Right from that day on I knew I had to get a better shot, harder shot, quicker release, if I wanted to play in the NHL.”

Full story on Neal's success here.

--Sam Kasan


In their past five games, the Panthers have netted five goals twice just to give up six in return, while they couldn’t score anything in the other three. If there is anything that is for sure about the Panthers at this point, it is that nothing is for sure.

On any given night Florida can explode for several goals or fail to light the lamps at all. But one aspect that has been undeniable this season is that Florida pairs one of the league’s lowest ranked defenses with an offense that hasn’t been much better. The Panthers have netted a conference-low 35 goals, while it has potted one goal or less on seven occasions.

Full preview here.

--Sam Kasan

The Pens host the Florida Panthers tonight at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh will hit the ice at 10:30 a.m. for their morning skate. The Panthers are on the second half of back-to-back contests, topping Philadelphia, 5-2, Thursday night. So they'll likely hold an optional skate.

Stay tuned here for all the lineup and game day info.


So, Bon Jovi was in Pittsburgh last night at CONSOL Energy Center. Myself, Michelle, Katie O'Malley and a few other Pens staff may or may not have gone to the show to check it out. I only know four songs by the band, but still had a lot of fun with our group. And we weren't the only ones who enjoyed the show.

So in honor of Bon Jovi still playing concerts for 50 years (roughly), we'll open the day with "Livin' on a Prayer." They ended their set with it. We're halfway there.


--Sam Kasan

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