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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. New Jersey

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Malkin out, other injury updates (11:49 AM).
  • Mears with the Game Day Report (1:47 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:49 AM).
  • Game-time decision on the 6 D-men (11:51 AM).
  • Neal & Sullivan back for practice (10:29 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Devils, DeBoer and the power play (12:38 PM).
  • Crosby, Martin & Orpik (12:11 PM).
  • Scouting the Devil (10:15 AM).
  • Pictures from heaven (12:06 PM).
  • Pictures from hell (12:18 PM).
  • “I got my bell, I’m gonna take you to hell…” (10:00 AM).

1:47 PM:
Steve Mears gives you today's Game Dizzle Repizzle.

12:38 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On the Devils:
We’re playing New Jersey and (Johan) Hedberg is in goal, possibly. He’s been playing very well and has very good numbers. We’ve seen him before. We’re also playing a couple dangerous guys in (Ilya Kovalchuk), who’s playing a ton of minutes right now – he played over 30 last night. He’s a big part of their team in all aspects of the game and that’s something we’ll have to watch. Zach Parise has stepped back into their team as their captain and immediately this year has been scoring goals and getting points for his team. We also get to see Petr Sykora, an old friend and teammate. He played a little bit at center (Friday), so we’ll see that. Obviously they’ve had some success early on, going 3-1-1. We’re expecting more of the type of games reminiscent of the rivalry that we’ve had in the past with this team in being tight checking and tough to play against. They’ll counter back and be dangerous with their skilled players.

On if the Devils are similar to Peter DeBoer’s old team, the Panthers:
A little bit. Personnel will change that. There are some things that they do that are similar to what we saw in Florida. Their transition is very quick and there’s not a lot of disguise in what they’re doing. They’ll be quick, they’ll be D to D and the puck will be going north quickly. That can set up their forecheck, so that’s something we see from them. In terms of their breakouts and what they try to accomplish there, a lot of that is the same as well. I think at least on tape in the games that I’ve watched, (Kovalchuk) really throws a wrinkle and makes it a lot different than what you’ve seen with Florida. He’s five-on-five, power play and penalty kill, four-on-four. He adds a different dimension. I think (Parise) also adds a little bit of a different look than what we’ve seen from Florida. There are some tendencies and some things that you can see the coaches want them to do that are similar (to Florida).

On his plan for the defense:
We’ll go game-time with our decision on that. Brooks (Orpik) will be playing tonight and we’re going to have (Kris Letang) return.

On if he’s still trying to find the right combination for the power play:
I think the jockeying of the power play and the guys out there has really been just a factor of the personnel we have available. Paul (Martin) stepped into maybe more of a prominent role on the first unit in the absence of some players and with Kris being out for two games. But when you see Pascal Dupuis go to the point on the power play and possibly Richard Park tonight, we’re trying to find fits for players to add where they can add. In training camp, you try a lot of different things. I don’t think we tried Richard Park at the point on the power play, nor Pascal Dupuis. But with injuries and players being out, we’ve had to try to find different spots for guys. I think right now, Sullivan is probably our best guy on the half wall running the power play. So we’re taking him away from the point and moving him to that spot there. Paul Martin figures more prominently into the two defenseman position when ‘Sully’ moves to the half wall.

On what he likes about Sullivan being on the half wall:
With (Sidney Crosby), (Evgeni Malkin) and a full complement, one of our units would have (Sullivan) down in the position you’ll see him in tonight. You look at four left-handers, so we’d have four one-timers to pass pucks to. He reads the play well, finds space and is adept to passing the puck. That’s what he really is doing there. Not so much of an attacking spot like we’d see (Tyler Kennedy) do and shoot the puck, but more of a guy who finds space and passes the puck. Trying to give him one-timers from that spot is what we’re doing tonight. We’ll have (James Neal), (Paul Martin) and (Chris Kunitz) out there with him to try and give him those opportunities to create that space and find shooters to get the puck to the net.

On facing a team who played the night before:
Sometimes I think it’s the opponent more than the fact that a team is playing the night before. But having said that, today we haven’t told them that (New Jersey) played last night. I’m sure a few of them know, but we haven’t made a point of it – nor are we going to make a point of it – that they played last night and that they might be tired or that it’s something we can take advantage of. Every year is different. Sometimes if you warn a team that we’re coming off the road and this is going to be a tough game, you’re predicting the future. So far, we’re 0 for 1. (With Buffalo), we told them we had a team that played the night before and we need to come out and start hard, and the opposite happened. So we’re not going to try to predict it tonight.

You got me ringing: Michelle Crechiolo

12:18 PM:
Pictures of the Devil in his many forms...

Beelzebub (left); Lucifer (right)

Serpent (left); Morning Star (right)

Leviathan (right); Beast (right)

12:11 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On how close he is to being ready for game action:
Nothing has really changed since (Friday), so I don’t know what to tell you.

On how good it is to see some of his teammates return:
We’ve kind of dealt with this a little bit to start the year. I think we’ve handled it really well. Obviously the more guys we get healthy, the better. But I think whatever’s happened, we seem to respond really well. So I think we just want to keep playing the same way.

On James Neal and his goal scoring streak:
Yeah, he’s played great. He’s got a great shot and he’s been using it. He’s been making every one count. When guys are out, other guys need to step up and he’s done a great job of that.

On possibly playing with Neal when he’s healthy:
I’ve been watching them for a long time now, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of the way he plays. (I’ll be) excited if that opportunity comes to play with him. But I think when a guy’s scoring like that, I don’t think you want to think about playing with him. Whoever he’s playing with, keep him with them and he’ll keep it going.

On how he determines he’s ready for game action:
I think I need to get in some contact – more than just one bump in a morning skate. I think it’s got to be a few days of that. So whenever we can get some of those days together and hopefully I respond well to that, then I’ll be much closer than I am right now.

On if the opponent factors into that:
No. It’s been a long time, so I’m just looking forward to whenever that is.

Paul Martin

On how to counter the Devils and their defensive identity:
They’ve always kind of patterned their game that way. For us, I think the most important thing is just to stick to our game and keep getting pucks in behind them and being in on the forecheck. For us, it’s being patient as well. Controlling the puck and trying not to turn it over in key areas of the ice. So if we can do that, we’ll have good chance.

On the emotions of playing a team he spent six seasons with:
I still know a couple guys over there and I spent a lot of time there, so it is a little different. But each game that goes by, it gets less and less of a feeling like that. It’s been a year past, so by now I don’t feel too much.

Brooks Orpik
On how he felt after practice:
I feel pretty good. I feel a little more sore than usual. It’s tough to see what’s going to happen in a game. I’m kind of sore everywhere, so that’s probably a good thing. It’s not just one little spot where there was the injury.
On if he expects to have more ice time:
I don’t know, that’s up to coach. I just play when they tell me to go out. I don’t dictate how much I play. You just try to play your best. Obviously if you play well, you’ll play a little bit more.
On if he has watched film of the Devils:
I just watched the game last night at home. They don’t look too much different, a lot of the same guys. They’re healthy. I think just from reading about them, they want to play a little more aggressive than they have in the past. They’re off to a good start, so we know their goalie is playing really well.
On how the team has kept it together with all the injuries:
Everybody’s been contributing, especially (James Neal).  I think collectively guys have just bonded to the system. It’s tough with the amount of guys that we’ve had out. I think the guys have done a really good job playing games already. It’s been a grind for the guys, but there is unselfishness with the guys just coming in and doingtheir job.
On the defense:
We’ve been lucky. We have six healthy guys. With the (Kris) Letang suspension missing a couple of games, he was the only guy missing. We’ve been all right on the back end, it’s just with the forwards. We’ve had good depth and some of these guys that have come up have had a chance they probably normally wouldn’t have had. The guys are healthy and have done a really good job.

Rolling Thunder/Pouring Rain: Michelle Crechiolo & Kaitlin Zurawsky

12:06 PM:
Picture time!

Sidney "Full Contact" Crosby (left); Staalsy yells "Pay attention to me!!!" (right)

Kris Letang returns tonight (left); And an extra pic of Tanger solving the world's smallest rubik's cube for @stoopid4letang (right)

Sullivan will move to the halfwall on the PP (left); Malkin will not play tonight (right)

Marc-Andre Fleury tries to make himself invisible - not working out so well (left); Crosby and Malkin - girls love (right)

The Pens try to gain an edge on the Devils through prayer (left); HC Bylsma: "What does an evil chicken lay? Deviled eggs." Neal laughs (right)

11:51 AM:
Pens coach said the six dressed defensemen will be a game-time decision.

11:49 AM:
A few updates from coach Bylsma...

"Evgeni will not be playing in tonight's game

"(Kennedy) needs to progress to being symptom free before he can go any further.

"To clarify on Brian Strait. I said a couple of weeks. It was misconstrued as 2. It's going to be a minimum of 4-6 weeks for Brian Strait to see how his rehab goes."

10:33 AM:
Pens lines from the morning skate...


The seven defensemen worked in rotation.

10:29 AM:
The Pens are making their way onto the ice for the morning skate. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Steve Sullivan and Sidney Crosby are skating.

10:15 AM:
Michelle Crechiolo is all over the Devils. Here's the scoop on the Pens' Garden State rivals.

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight Pens take on the New Jersey Devils in their first Atlantic Division showdown of the season.


Since the Devils are in town, it only seems fitting to open the day with AC/DC's "Hells Bells." Enjoy.

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