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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. New Jersey

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that defenseman Mark Eaton will not be in the lineup for Pittsburgh when the Penguins face the New Jersey Devils at Mellon Arena at 7:30 p.m.

"Mark Eaton will not be in the lineup tonight. He'll be evaluated by our doctors today. It's not long term at this point but we still need our doctors to take a look at him."

With Eaton's injury, now al of the Penguins' top-six blueliners have missed game action due to injuries this season.

12:42 PM:
More sounds heard around the locker room:

Sidney Crosby
On New Jersey being ‘just another game':
Yes and no, it’s a little bit bigger than normal, but it’s a long season. There are a lot of games. Anytime you can find a little extra motivation it’s always good.
On looking back at New Jersey losses:
I think you can always learn from your mistakes. You don’t want to make a habit of losing. You’ve got to find ways to win. Sometimes that means looking at past games. For us, we know they’re a really stingy team. They don’t give a lot. We’ve got to make sure that we keep it pretty simple and stay patient.
On getting off to a good start during the homestand:
We want to make sure we finish off good before the break. We’ve got a couple games here that are important and we’ve been playing some pretty good hockey lately. We just want to continue that. For the most part, our game has been there.
On New Jersey being a ‘measuring-stick’ game:
Regardless of what place both teams are in, the fact is we’ve lost a couple times. We’ve got to make sure that we’re learning and we’re not allowing ourselves to make the same mistakes and not losing consistently. This is good test for us to makes sure that we’re improving and learning and not letting that be a habit.
On New Jersey keeping scoring down:
I think it’s just the way they play as a team. They’ve all bought into the way they need to play and it’s been like that for a long time. It’s they way they play. They’ve got solid goaltending with Brodeur. They try to play really well in front of him and really tight in front of him. It doesn’t mean that we have to change our game. We have to know what to expect. We have to make sure that we play with a lot of speed and give ourselves a chance to try to change that.
On Monday’s game impacting Fleury, Brodeur on Canadian Olympic roster:
I don’t think one game's going to be a difference. They’re competitive guys. They want to play well. They know that they’re among the best in the league. I think that’s a challenge and any player looks forward to that. Whether it’s something that’s on their mind or not I just think they look forward to that challenge anyway.
On Fleury on Olympic team:
He’s proved this year that he’s among the best. His season last year speaks a lot, too. You’ve got to be hot at the right time and he’s playing well right now.

Mike Rupp
On New Jersey:
It seems like no matter what their injuries are, what guys are there, what guys aren’t, they’re team is right there on top and that’s how it is right now.
On knowing Brodeur’s game from playing in New Jersey:
He’s a solid goaltender. Our best bet to get something by him is to just fire the puck as much as we can whenever we can. We just want to make it tough on any goalie to get some shots in front. You’re going to have to get an ugly goal against Marty Brodeur. It’s just crashing the net and getting rebounds.
On Monday’s New Jersey game:

We need to focus on what we’re going to do. It’s a big game for us, a big two points in the standings. You don’t think about what the opponent does. We are figuring out when we come and we play our way we’re winning hockey games. That’s what our plan is.
On New Jersey’s system:
I don’t think it’s any secret what they do. They’re just good at it. We need to be patient. It very well could be a low-scoring game. We have to be patient and keep clicking away at it and believe in what we do and I like our chances.
On playing in New Jersey’s system:
I saw teams getting frustrated. I saw stars on the other teams get frustrated. It was just a different style to play. It wasn’t hockey that’s up and down, an action-packed game. We all know that here and we’ve talked about it. We understand that over the course of 60 minutes we need to stick to our game and we like what we can do.
On previous New Jersey losses:

They played better than us those two games. They got the big points. I think it puts a little more emphasis on (Monday’s) game.

Martin Skoula
On keeping in shape while being out of the lineup:
I was doing some extra stuff in the weight room, try to keep in shape, some cardio, some extra skating during practices. It’s nothing like a game, so I have to be ready to skate and be sharp right from the first shift.
On New Jersey:
It’s a big game tonight against a division rival. It’ll be a fun game tonight.
On Pittsburgh’s defensive depth:
Down the stretch going into the playoffs you need depth in defense and up front, too. That’s why this team is a Stanley Cup contender. We have four lines that play well every night.
On Eaton being injured:
He was the only one that hasn’t been hurt yet. It’s just the way it happened.

12:27 PM:
Some shots of New Jersey's morning skate at Mellon Arena:

Martin Brodeur is battling with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the starting job with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

12:24 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Dan Bylsma
On what they learned from the first two games against New Jersey:
I think patience will be a virtue tonight. Staying with our game and not getting frustrated at the middle of the ice being clogged up. I think it is more important to figure that out before hand and even if we do get situations where we can’t get to our game we have to stay with it, stay patient and get to the offensive zone. The way New Jersey goes back for pucks and come out of their defensive zone. They are very good at it. That is going to be a key as well, our forecheck, making sure we put the puck in the right area away from their goaltender. When we do go in we can’t just be physical but having good sticks because they have shown they like to go to the middle of the ice to their net-front D coming out of the zone.
On what New Jersey doesn’t get enough credit for:
I think they have a lot key elements to their game right now that allows them to have success night in and night out. They go back for pucks well, their goaltender plays a lot of pucks to prevent other teams from getting a forecheck, they come out of the defensive zone very well executing with the puck on their tape. They do a good job of getting to the offensive zone and hanging onto the puck there. Those are some key elements to sustaining success over 40 games. If you do that you give yourself a chance. You tilt the ice in your favor. You add a quality goaltender and some skill players that are dynamic you have the recipe for a really good team. I think we immediately think of defense but I don’t necessarily think that is the case on why they are successful. They are doing it in a lot of different areas to give themselves a chance to be a good team.
On the zone time established by the power play on Saturday:
The last game was probably our most zone time in terms of percentage of the power play. We were in the zone a lot, we moved the puck a lot and we had possession. We moved the puck around and recovered pucks. We then got back into our set and had great chances and looks at the net. I think the biggest tell-tell of how our power play was came in the second period after the first power play our team started to gain momentum. We had a shift by the Staal line right after and you could see our team gain momentum. We didn’t score the goal but we did a lot of great things. We had the zone time we are looking for and the chances. Our team gained a positive momentum because of the power play. You are not always going to score goals but those are the ingredients you need to have. We built momentum, we had great execution and it set the table for us building momentum in the second period.
On winning the division:
I do think you need to evaluate yourself against other elite teams. I think we are playing one tonight. They have been consistent throughout the year with the way they have played and how they have won games. When you want to be one of those teams you have to match up against them. This is our third game (against New Jersey). We know how the first two went. We might be in their division and might be in their conference. Tonight these are two teams butting heads that are elite teams in our conference and our division. I put a lot of importance on how that goes.
On the excitement of the game:
I think our guys out on the ice this morning know exactly who they are playing, where they are at and where we are at. It is a chance to butt heads with a really good team.
On Fleury vs. Brodeur:
I think there is a pretty good reason for both people. I think we all have been fans of Marty Brodeur’s career and what he has done. We have watched him over the years in different scenarios. We keep watching him now as he tries to grab more records. Marc-Andre Fleury is an up-and-coming goalie. He has been in the spotlight for eight-plus years now as a goalie. He continues to do different things. He has played great hockey this year. It’s tough not to talk about those two guys when you talk the respective teams, the position and the Olympics coming up. Where the teams are at and the way each player is playing it’s an interesting matchup. I know our goalie looks forward to being on the ice with the other guy. I can’t speak for Marty. To be out there with a guy you watched growing up, one of the great goaltenders of all-time, not just for Marc but for our team too. We will look forward to it.

Marc-Andre Fleury
On being named NHL No. 2 Star:
I think it feels pretty good. I think as long as the team wins that is all that matters.
On giving up two goals or less:
Usually our chances are pretty good with the team and the players we have. We know we can score some goals so if I can do the job our odds are good.
On the first two games versus the Devils:
They are a pretty good team. They have some pretty good forwards. They play a very patient system, especially on the road. We just have to be patient out there.
On going into the Christmas break with a good feeling:
It doesn’t matter what time of year. You always want to get some wins so it doesn’t matter if it is Christmas or New Year’s or Easter. We still have to win.
On Brodeur getting pulled in his last game:
It’s good to see a guy like him get pulled once in a while. I think he is one of the best. If it can happen to him it can happen to anyone else.
On facing Brodeur:
It is fun just to be on the ice with him. Just to watch him play and see what he does.
On the Olympics:
Yeah, maybe I guess. I don’t think about that really. I just have to worry about the Penguins right now and getting two points tonight.


12:10 PM:
Here are some shots of Pittsburgh's morning skate:

Sergei Gonchar (left) and Bill Guerin (right) steal a drink from Marc-Andre Fleury's water bottle.

Matt Cooke (left) then steals Fleury's water bottle and Sidney Crosby (right) plays "keep away" with that water bottle.

10:35 AM:
Mark Eaton, who left Pittsburgh's game at Buffalo on Saturday and did not return, was missing from the team's Saturday morning skate.

The Penguins skated in their usual line combinations with Maxime Talbot and Eric Godard alternating positions. The lineup looked as follows:


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