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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Los Angeles

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby update on his condition (11:52 AM).
  • Kuntiz update; Malkin has surgery (12:24 PM).
  • Cooke on his suspension (1:08 PM).
  • Pens’ lines (10:35 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Cooke, Crosby and style (12:48 PM).
  • Craig and Vitale chat (12:59 PM).
  • Fleury and Goligoski spit knowledge (12:35 PM).
  • The 91-92 Cup Penguins were rated as the 9th best team of all time (5:06 PM).
  • Ben Lovejoy reads to kids (4:53 PM).
  • “Hello My Name Is ____” (1:13 PM).
  • Pics fit for a king (12:55 PM).
  • Newbie speak (11:13 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:10 AM).
  • “Cobain can you hear the spheres singing songs off station to station…” (10:03 AM).

5:06 PM:
The Sporting News released a ranking of the 10 Best NHL Teams of all time. The 1991-92 Penguins were ranked No. 9. The quick synopsis:

"Dealt with the November death of popular coach Bob Johnson, who had led the 1990-91 team to the franchise’s first Cup. Dedicated season to the memory of “Badger Bob,” and, despite third-place finish in their division, won a second consecutive Stanley Cup. Scored a league-high 343 goals, led by Kevin Stevens (54), Mario Lemieux (44), Joe Mullen (42), Mark Recchi (33) and Jaromir Jagr (32). Were led by Lemieux, a Hall of Fame center, who had a league-leading 131 points despite playing only 64 regular-season games because of back problems. Despite playing in 15-of-21 playoff games because of a broken hand, Lemieux was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy with 16 goals and 34 points. Had eight goals in the second period in a December game against San Jose, tied for the second most in one period by any team in NHL history. Reeled off a record-tying 11 consecutive playoff wins after going down 2-1 to the Rangers in the second round. Swept Chicago in the finals behind their potent offense and the play of goalie Tom Barrasso."

4:53 PM:
Ben Lovejoy visited McMurray Elementary School with Trib Total Media Newspapers in Education program Wednesday night. Click here to see photos.

1:13 PM:
Fun note of the day. The Pens staff had some fun with the recent call-ups. Next to the name plates on the player's stalls were sticky name tags: "Hello My Name Is ____ ". The staff filled in the appropriate name.

"Hello My Name Is Marc."
"Hello My Name is Paul."
"Hello My Name is Sid."

1:08 PM:
Here is Matt Cooke's quick take on the four-game suspension:

"That's the league's decision. They assess every play and every hit. That's their ruling.

"I'm glad no one was hurt. It wasn't my intention to put (Tyutin) into the boards violently. I'm glad he isn't hurt. He played the rest of the game and played last night. That's the best-case scenario in this situation.

"I've altered my game, had meetings with the coaches about not hitting a guy coming through the middle. If this becomes more clear, that's what players are asking for."

12:59 PM:
Some new sounds heard around the locker room...

Ryan Craig

On being called up:
It is exciting. It is always fun to be back in here. It was a good long ride from WBS last night.

On the continuity of playing with other WBS:
I think there is continuity throughout the whole organization and the systems in place to make sure that’s the case when guys come up. Guys that have come up this year have done really well. So I’m just trying to keep that going and just trying to be a part.

On having pre-season camp with the Penguins:
There are familiar faces here. We were all in training camp together so it does make it a little easier and we should definitely bring some energy. 

Joe Vitale

On finding out of his call-up:
I found out last night. Coach gave me a call. I thought I was getting traded or something, but he dropped the bomb on me and I’m pretty excited.

On four guys getting the call-up:
It is good to have a couple of faces and see all the guys from camp, and I have actually played with some of the guys so that makes it more comfortable. It definitely will help the players tonight and hopefully I can just concentrate on the way I play.

On the possibility of a call up
You try not to worry about it. Obviously there is the reality of it if when you do get called up. I try not to worry about it personally. I feel like it interferes with my game a little bit. Try not to think about it and just hope for the best and just try to think about game time.

Bloak: Joe Prince-Wright

12:55 PM:
LA Kings morning skate pics...

Former Pen Rob Scuderi (left)

12:48 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On Matt Cooke’s suspension:
In terms of Matt Cooke and the ruling by the league, they look at those hits and have rules in place and deemed a pretty substantial penalty for Matt, which we’re going to accept. Matt Cooke, for us, is a physical player. It’s how we want to play the game as a team and he’s a big part of that. He’s a guy who’s added to us being a successful team in being that way, and he’s going to continue being a physical part of our team when he does get back in the lineup. We accept the ruling by the league. They look at all the hits. There’s been ones in games against us that put some of our players out that they didn’t rule this way. So they deem it and Matt’s going to accept it, and he’ll get ready for the Chicago game.

On if it scared him to see Crosby dealing with this injury and if he had two concussions
I’m not really sure about your timeline there. It was not deemed a concussion until after the Tampa Bay game. In terms of going through this, it has been – when we first got that diagnosis from the doctor that it was a “mild” concussion, which is a doctor’s term – this has kind of gone to a point where him having symptoms and not being symptom-free has dragged out a little bit and has been a situation where it’s a little scary (using Sid’s words) as to how he would progress. It’s good to see him back here in town, it’s good to see his smiling face and know that he’s doing better. That was something good for everyone to see today.

On if the Penguins’ approach to games has changed
When we made our call-ups usually we get a car service for the players to get from Wilkes-Barre to here, and we couldn’t do that. We had to get a larger vehicle, which is a first for me. In terms of how we want to play, in our organization with the players that we call up, they are playing the same way with the same words, same system, same practices, same drills. And so when we talk about our schemes and how we want to play, we’re going to be using the exact same words a lot of these guys have been using all year long. And we’ve had a lot of success in call-ups being real comfortable and confident in how we execute, how we play, how we want to play and the standard that we want for our team. And we’ve had some good success in that. Does it look the same as if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were on a line? No, it does not. No one’s going to try to convince you that. And the challenge – and one that our players have done a good job with – is they’re not trying to be Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. They’re trying to be Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. When Dustin Jeffrey gets called up, he’s trying to be Dustin Jeffrey within how we play the game, of which they know and are confident in which to play. So it doesn’t look the same, but our attention to detail and how we want to play on both sides of the puck – offensively and defensively – is something that everyone in our organization knows and we go out to play that way every night, same execution, same standard level. It does look a little different. We’ve been good defensively, that’s been accented by the fact that we’ve missed a goal a game without Sidney Crosby. But we’re playing the same way. It just looks a little bit different.

On changing style without Crosby and Malkin:
We don’t talk much about how Max Talbot plays when Sid is in the lineup. We don’t talk about how Mike Rupp plays when Geno is in our lineup. They should not try to be Geno or Sid, and if they do we get away from producing situations where we can be effective as a team. They need to go out and be a Max Talbot, Mike Rupp or Chris Conner, the line that has been playing effectively the last 15 games for us. The same goes for Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. They need to go out and be an effective line that they have been for us with or without our top players in the lineup. If we do that we get in situations where our team’s playing in the offensive zone and we can produce a situation where we can get scoring chances. They are going to be and they should be in and around the blue paint. They may be a little more dirty. That’s where we need to concentrate our game and get in the offensive zone grind teams down and get pucks to the net and have net-front presence and score those types of goals. That’s probably how you’re going to see us have success.

On speaking to Matt Cooke:
I think Matt Cooke has made adjustments to where he looks for hits or where at times he gets out of hits in that area, players unsuspecting blindside. He has adjusted his game. He has said that I didn’t take that hit because that’s one of those situations where I didn’t want to be called on hitting a player that was unsuspecting or it was a blindside. I think he has adjusted that and he is still trying to play his physical game and do that for our team which he does really well. He is a factor for us. I think because of the clarification by the league he has adjusted his play as have other players around the league.

On the league’s take on hits against his team:
We understand the league at looking at these scenarios looking at every hit. This particular situation they decided it was an illegal hit and gave the appropriate suspension, which we are going to accept. 

On their goals for the next stretch of games:
I think the success that we have had over the past 12 games has come from the mindset of the players that are going over, this is how we’re going to play, this is how we are going to have success. It has been very good for belief that in terms of being 0-0 in a game or being tied in the game. We need to continue to play our style of hockey. Maybe in the last two we have deviated from that. We have gotten away from that. In the next stretch of games, regardless of what the score is, what the referees call is or if we are getting power plays or not, we need to make sure we set the tone of how we play how we execute so that we can be an effective team. Forcing other teams to play defense and then get to the offensive zone and that is what we want to do in the next four games coming up starting with LA tonight. 

Give-and-go: Michelle Crechiolo and Joe Prince-Wright

12:35 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On how the Penguins have to quickly absorb all they can about the Kings:
We’re going to have meetings now after practice. We’ve just got to view a lot of things about how they’ve been playing lately. It’s something we don’t see a lot, we don’t know as much about the Kings as we do about the Flyers. But I think (the Kings) are a good team. They’re strong. They’ve been playing well, they don’t give up many goals and they have guys that can score a lot of goals. So it will be a good challenge.

On if teams from the West have a different mentality and a different way of playing:
I think every team’s different; it doesn’t matter if it’s the Eastern or Western Conference. I think every team has their own style. We’ve just got to be ready for whatever they bring tonight.

On Rob Scuderi and what it was like playing with him:
Scuds is a great guy. I played with him in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton many years ago now. He’s just a solid defenseman that maybe almost doesn’t get noticed as much because he’s so steady and doesn’t get many points. But for a goalie, he’s always great to have around. He plays so well defensively, blocks shots, and was always around the crease helping me out. He was fun to have around.

Alex Goligoski

On how to stifle the Kings’ offensive defensemen:
I think just not giving them a chance to wheel to the net and get their legs going. I think our forwards are pretty good at finishing checks. When they finish checks, it’s tough for guys to keep their speed. So they’re definitely guys we’re aware of.

On how to prepare for a team they don’t see often:
You watch the tape and the coaches will have us ready with everything that they’re going to do. From there, it’s just us going out and executing our game plan.

On facing the Kings’ talented forwards, especially Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown:
They’re guys we don’t see a lot, so it’s always kind of different. We don’t know their players’ tendencies as much and things like that. We know Kopitar especially is a really dynamic player, and Brown’s kind of up and down and is a shooter and plays hard. We know a little bit about the guys, we’ve seen them play, so we’ll be aware when they’re out there.

On if Kopitar is an underrated player or if the guys in the league know what he’s capable of:
I think guys definitely know. He’s definitely top-end talent, that’s for sure. He’s got great hands, a great shot and is just a big skilled forward. He’s one of those guys that is hard to play against. I think guys are aware that he’s a top-notch player.

On seeing Scuderi in Pittsburgh:
It’ll be weird playing against him, but he’s a great guy, a great player. He’s always fun to see.

Assist: Michelle Crechiolo

12:24 PM:
Crosby wasn't the only injury update of the day. Head coach Dan Bylsma had some news on Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz.

"I would say say (Kunitz) is not quite day-to-day in where he's at," Bylsma said. "He has a lower-body injury and he's in, I would say, a 4-to-6 day time period, hopefully.

"(Malkin) this morning, he had successful surgery."

11:52 AM:
Sidney Crosby spoke with the media in the locker room moments ago. Here is the takeaway from what the captain had to say:
  • He left town to get away from hockey and the everyday questions about his health. and see his parents.
  • He's getting better, but it's just slow. Everything is improving, but at a slow rate.
  • There is no timetable on a return. "It's impossible to gage or put a number."
  • He's expecting to play this year, but realizes there's no way to be sure
For full details on Crosby's condition, click here.

11:13 AM:

Joe Vitale (left) and Nick Johnson (right) were called up early this morning.

11:10 AM:
Pens pics...

Letang (left); Jeffrey (right)

Adams (right)

Former Pen Scuderi chats with Dupuis before the morning skate (left)

10:48 AM:
Chris Kunitz, who missed the Pens' previous game as a last-minute scratch with a lower-body injury, is not on the ice for practice. Arron Asham is also absent.

10:35 AM:
Here are the Pittsburgh/WBS Pens' line combinations from their morning skate.


10:03 AM:
We're at CONSOL Energy Center and the Pens will hit the ice at 10:30 a.m. for their morning skate. Tonight Pittsburgh will host Rob Scuderi and the Angeles Kings. Scuderi, who was a key component as "The Piece" in the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup run, will make his first return to Pittsburgh since Game 6 of '09 Cup Final when he made two game-saving saves in the crease.

Also, the Pens started the day by recalling four players from WBS. Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson, Brett Sterling and Joe Vitale will join the Pens this morning.

The most well-known LA band I can think of is Red Hot Chili Peppers. So it's fitting to open the day with some Chili Peppers, "Californication." And that's also the name of an awesome TV show. Plus, the video for "Californication" finally answers the age old question of what Anthony Kiedis and Flea look like in video game form.

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