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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Islanders

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

12:50 PM:

Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury tried on a new piece of headwear during the team’s optional morning skate on Wednesday.

Fleury traded his usual Itech mask for a Reebok design, which he also wore for a practice earlier in the season.

“I used it earlier in the year but now I got it painted and I made a couple of changes to it,” Fleury said. “It’s nice to work with (Reebok). You can tell them little things and then they make changes.”

Probably the most noticeable change on Fleury’s mask for fans is the new paint design.

If you were looking directly at Fleury, the left side of the mask would look exactly like his current mask, with a Venus Flytrap exploding through an igloo. The right side is a tribute to the mask worn in the 1980s by then Penguins netminder, and current goaltending coach, Gilles Meloche. It has a huge Penguins logo on the left side, although Fleury’s color scheme resembles the Penguins’ current logo.

“I just like the simplicity of the old-time masks,” Fleury said. “I just think Gillesy’s mask was pretty cool. I saw it online so I decided to put half of it on there.”

So, how long until Fleury debuts the mask in games?

“I don’t know yet,” he said. “It’s a little bit different so we will see. I will practice with it and try to get a feel for it.”

Below are photos of Fleury’s new mask:



12:34 PM:
Sounds from around the Penguins locker room:

Head Coach Dan Bylsma

On it being close to the anniversary of his promotion to Pittsburgh (Feb. 15):
If I remember this anniversary like I do with my (wedding), you’re going to have to tell me about it.
On having struggles getting into the rink:
I was shoveling my driveway this morning at 6:30 and Mike Yeo called me. He was on his way in and asked how the roads were. I thought the roads weren’t that bad. There is some snow on them in certain areas. I came in at slow pace. It was fine but with the amount of snow that’s around, it can be difficult in certain areas. It was beautiful coming in.
On if the snow influenced his decision to make the skate optional:
Yeah, there are areas that haven’t been gotten to yet and are difficult depending on how far away from a main road you are. I thought it was best for the guys to come in once today. Whether they come in and stay at a hotel or come in this afternoon but with this situation, we didn’t want to have to get up and shovel our way out of six inches of snow, get in here and do it again later this afternoon. So I called the optional.
On the Penguins not playing well against teams ahead in the standings:
I think as a team we try to evaluate ourselves on what we do well and what we need to improve on, and where we’re at. I occasionally see that statistic that you’re talking about. I hope that means there are a lot of teams behind us. If there are only five or so ahead of us, there’s only five teams that we can have that record against. It’s not great. I think we’ve been challenged by certain teams in certain games, going into Philly and playing against Washington. Early in the year had a measuring stick against New Jersey. Each one of those games tells us where we’re at, what we’re doing and what we need to improve on. I think we’re aware of those things. We’re trying to get better. We have 23 games left in the season to keep working on that and keep improving. We’re confident in how we need to play and how we’re supposed to play and what that looks like. The challenge is making that a part of what we do every night, no matter who we play, where we play. That’s a challenge when you play the Islanders or Washington in the last game. We’re not where we think we’re going to get. But we have to start focusing on getting there. That’s both sides of the puck.
On the Islanders:
Watching the game last night and what we’ve seen, they’ve made their success as a hard working team. They’re a team that forces you, comes at you, hounds you. Their penalty kill is an indication. They’re a dangerous team on the penalty kill because their forwards work and work and work, up ice. That’s the moniker of their team. They force you into making skilled plays and they force you into errors on the ice with their work ethic. Then they attack after they get that puck. They have tenacious work and skill to compliment that with some younger players. We’ve played them a handful of times. They’ve had some success with that work and tenacity. At the same time, when we’re ready to execute and get to our game we’ve had periods where we’ve put up large shot numbers on them. We have to be ready to execute and be ready to get the puck going north, get to the offensive zone, and eliminate some of that tenacity that they have on the puck and on the forecheck, and in the neutral zone, and get to the offensive zone and play there like we know we can.

Sidney Crosby

On what he thinks of the snow:
Yeah, that’s the way it is. I enjoy the snow. We typically don’t get that here every winter. You take advantage of it.
On having any trouble getting around town:
No, it has been OK. The roads aren’t the best but I’m sure the city isn’t used to this. They are doing their best. I see plows everywhere. It’s a little different than Canada. They are usually more prepared for this kind of stuff.
On the Islanders:
They have played some good hockey. There are times when you are going to lose games when you are playing well. Last night I watched the game and I thought they played a pretty strong game. They generated some scoring chances. That is what we expect from them. That is what we have seen from them since the start of the year here. We want to build off that. We have to make sure that we are focused on playing three good games here.
On the Islanders bringing extra intensity:
No, it’s that time. Everyone is going to play desperate and raise their game. We have to do the same. It’s nice that the break is coming here. Most of the guys are going to get a chance to rest and re-energize. You don’t want to save anything going into that. We want to make sure we are strong ourselves.
On scoring more goals:
I think different things. I think I am shooting the puck more. I am getting some bounces too. You need some bounces. Every year it is different – some years they go in, some they don’t. They have been going in. It is not something I try to think about a whole lot. I just try to create things out there whether it is setting up guys or shooting the puck. I’ve had opportunities to shoot it and it’s gone in.
On what this winter storm would rate in Nova Scotia:
This is a good one. This is probably a four or five.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On dealing with the snow:
I have great neighbors. They have helped out a lot with their snow plow. It’s been great that they have been helping to take care of my driveway. That’s real nice of them.
On the Islanders ending their losing streak before coming into Pittsburgh:
I don’t know. It doesn’t matter much. I think we have to just worry about our side and our game.
On thinking about the Olympics:
Well, the fact that you guys remind me every day makes it a little bit harder. It has been alright. I am really excited. At the same time we still have three more games here and that is what matters the most right now.
On the pressure to skate for an optional skate:
Actually I like to go out to get break a little sweat and get stretched. That is just my preference.
On how much skipping a morning skate affects a team:
I think everybody is different. We all have different needs. I don’t think it is a worry for everybody.
On playing in an all-star game in Pittsburgh next year:
That would be pretty cool I think to have a game here. I think our fans have been so awesome, so for them to have a chance to watch a game with all the best players in the NHL would be pretty cool.

Mark Letestu

On what’s different each trip to Pittsburgh:
Just a different car. It’s the same way. The weather was a little more fun this time but it’s the same old boring trip.
On the weather making it difficult:

The last couple of trips have been hectic, especially getting into Washington and then coming home from Washington. The snow has definitely been playing tricks on us.
On the system:
The system is exactly the same as in the minors. I just have to work hard, move my feet, provide some energy to the lineup. A lot of the guess work and Xs and Os is gone. I just have to focus on playing my game.
On feeling more comfortable in Pittsburgh:
It’s a new team every time up here so it’s kind of interesting seeing the opponents. I don’t get so wide eyed with the guys in here. I’m pretty comfortable with my teammates. The confidence is starting to come with every game.
On knowing all the good spots to stop on the turnpike:
Just about all of them. It’s been three recalls this month. I’m really getting used to that same route. I’d do it every day this month if it got me up here. That’s what I got to do.
On the constant moving:
I’ll do it. Tedious, not so much. It’s probably hard on the equipment guys, getting stuff packed up every couple of days. I’m just happy to be here and contribute. I’d make that trip a million more times if I had to.

12:05 PM:
Here are photos from Wednesday's optional skate:





10:35 PM:

The Penguins have hit the ice for an optional morning skate at Mellon Arena. Following are the 15 players who participated:

Mark Letestu, Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Mike Rupp, Brent Johnson, Martin Skoula, Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy, Jay McKee, Alex Goligoski, Mark Eaton, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Matt Cooke and Marc-Andre Fleury.
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