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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Montreal

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins blueliner Kris Letang has been cleared for contact. Letang suffered a shoulder contusion Nov. 7 at San Jose and has been sidelined since. See 11:57 AM entry for details...

12:40 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room, part II.

Dan Bylsma
On Canadiens:
Their coaching staff this year, there are certain things that pop up in (Jacque Martin’s) teams. We’ll be defensive cognizant, especially in the neutral zone taking, taking away time and space, taking away the walls. They want to be a hard working team and they want that as one of their trademarks. You’ll see that repeatedly in his teams. When it’s not there, you’ll see him react as well. You can expect that from their team. They came back last night in a game where they showed work ethic and determination in that game. That’s something that they want to build on as a part of the way they play. We also want to be a hard working team. It will look differently in that we’re trying to be in your face, trying to force the issue and dictate the pace, getting to the offensive zone and staying there repeatedly. The focus may be a little bit different. Both teams are going to try to establish a mentality that they’ll be the harder working team tonight. That’s the challenge of tonight’s game.
On both teams having injuries:
It’s one of the challenges of the National Hockey League. You’re going to deal with injuries. You’re going to deal with those things and particularly with the schedule that we have this year, it’s a little more prevalent. Hopefully you have an identity and a clear picture of how your team should play. If you do, hopefully you should be able to play that way regardless of an injury here or there. Hopefully you can get guys back in a timely fashion and hone that identity. They’ve been able to do that. We’re fighting to keep that identity and play a certain way. I think the last few games, the last three or four, we’ve been able to say that we’ve gotten to our game, gotten to the offensive zone and dictated the game, especially in third periods. That’s the challenge. We’re trying to live up to it. Hopefully tonight we can continue getting to our game.
On Pascal Dupuis:
When the lineup is different each night, it’s been a little sparse in the beginning of the year, Pascal Dupuis has stepped up as well. His speed is always there but he’s been getting goals on the inside. He’s been driving to the net. That’s added to his effectiveness in the offensive end. He’s getting goals and being rewarded for it.
On using Crosby and Malkin on separate lines:
With our team playing well with three centermen (Crosby, Malkin, Staal), we’re a difficult team to deal with. It can be wave after wave and we have a better identity to our team when we have the possibility on every line. Certainly with (Malkin and Crosby) together, they’re dynamic and offer a punch. You’ll still see that at different times and in different games. With three centermen, it’s tough to deal with. And on the road I don’t have to worry as much about matchups knowing that you’re sending over three very good centermen at different times. Each poses a different problem for the other team as well. That’s the way I’d like to see our team be.

Sidney Crosby
On playing through injuries:
It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to go through a lot and we’ve struggled at times and we’ve had to find ways to win games. But that’s what you have to do when you’re faced with that situation. We’ve just tried to stick with the way we need to play and guys have come in and played well and really given us a chance to win every night. That’s one of the most important things.
On carrying Olympic Torch:
I think it’s been fairly easy just to worry about playing here and not getting too far ahead of myself. It’s something that I enjoyed and had a lot of fun participating in, but it’s been easy to focus on things here, just trying to play well.
On how Crosby feels about his game:
Fairly good, the chances are there. Point-wise it’s probably not coming as easy, but I feel like I’m playing well and generating chances. When you’re getting chances like that eventually they add up. It’s just a matter of capitalizing when I get those opportunities.
On Pascal Dupuis:
He’s playing well. He’s a guy with a lot of speed and he can shoot the puck. He’s getting in those scoring areas and burying them when he gets the chance. He’s always had that shot, always been known for that. He’s doing a good job of doing that right now.
On favorite moment in Canadiens’ history:
I would say ’93. I was a fan of Montreal growing up. I remember ’93 when they won the Cup. That’s something I always remember growing up being a fan of Montreal.

12:07 PM:
The Penguins announced the Penguins & Paws 2010 Charity Calendar sale today. Here are some behind-the-scenes shots from the calendar photo shoot. Click here for more information and to purchase online!


12:01 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Brooks Orpik
On building momentum again:
It has been tough here with a lot of the injuries we have had but the young guys, especially (Deryk) Engelland and (Ben) Lovejoy have really come up and done a really good job for us. We are trying to get back to playing the right way and being as consistent as possible. When we (first) had the injuries it was win a game here, lose a game here and stay around .500. We kind of flat-lined a bit but these last two wins here have allowed us to come back home and put a win streak together.
On the Canadiens:
It is a team that has a lot of injuries just like we do. Obviously we aren’t going to feel too bad for them. Playing a team like that can be dangerous because they bring a lot of young guys up to the NHL who want to make a good first impression so you know their work ethic is going to be high. Guys like that are tougher to play against sometimes. It is definitely not a team that we are going to take lightly here but it is a team that played last night so we have to jump on them early.
On getting back to seeing game action:
The conditioning was pretty good. The timing in the Atlanta game I felt a little rusty. The Florida game was a step in the right direction. I think it’s more so just your timing. There’s ways you can keep yourself in good shape and good condition as long as you’re taking care of your body and working out pretty hard. It’s something that’s tough to come back from. But it could have been worse, just try to get back here at 100 percent as soon as possible.
On overcoming injuries:
The guys that come up from Wilkes-Barre have done an unbelievable job. I think Ben Lovejoy only had three games experience and Deryk Engelland didn’t have any experience. Both those guys have played really well for us. Nate Guenin, he played a couple games. He played well. I think a lot of the credit has to go to those guys. They came up and they didn’t miss a beat. I think a lot of it is the guys in the locker room making those guys feel comfortable when they get here.

Sergei Gonchar
On team’s record:
I would say I am satisfied with the way guys have played when the other guys were injured. At the same time, there is room for improvement and we can play better. We are working on it and are sure to get better.
On working his way back:
I am close to 100 percent. There are a few things I want to work on but I am almost there. It was my arm so I had a chance to skate with the team and participate in the drills so it wasn’t as bad as last year. I think that’s why it was easier (to comeback) this year.
On coming back home with a couple wins:
We didn’t play as well on the road, but we showed everybody we can do it the past couple of games when we did a good job.

Martin Skoula
On feeling more comfortable:
I have been here for a while so I have all the tendencies and plays we want to make within the system. I want to keep it going.
On surviving the injuries:
I would say the 23 or so guys each contributing throughout the whole time. We have different guys scoring. It is not just about one line. It is everybody going every game.


11:57 AM:
Kris Letang, who has been sidelined since Nov. 7 with a shoulder contusion, was cleared for contact Wednesday morning. Letang had been practicing wearing a no "no contact" jersey. However, his shoulder has been deemed healthy enough to handle physical battles.

There is no return date set but it is no doubt a positive step towards getting healthier.

Tyler Kennedy, who has missed the team's past nine games with an undisclosed injury, has also been participating in full practice.

Head coach Dan Bylsma ruled both Letang and Kennedy out for Wednesday's showdown with the Canadiens and gave an assessment of the team's injury situation.

"Not available but we're hopefully progressing," he said. "Tyler is day to day as he moves along in his rehab. The other guys are getting close to full practices and contact and testing it in that regard. Hopefully they'll continue to get better. Towards the weekend we'll have a better idea."

11:50 AM:
Here are some shots of the Penguins' morning skate:

Defenseman Kris Letang has been cleared for contact, although there is no indication on a return date.

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