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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Islanders

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Malkin out tonight, and will not attend All-Star Game (11:32 AM).
  • Cooke will be in the lineup (11:32 AM).
  • Pens’ lines (10:35 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Orpik, Letang and Malkin (12:16 PM).
  • Staal, Talbot, Fleury and Goligoski spit knowledge (12:06 PM).
  • PensTV chats with Letang (Cinco Ocho) and Michalek (4:00 PM).
  • WBS Pens sign goalie Pechurskiy (10:10 AM).
  • Pens pics (10:51 AM).
  • NY Islanders pics (12:15 PM).
  • “And I feel that time’s a wasted go. So where you going to tomorrow?…” (9:30 AM).

4:00 PM:
PensTV chatted it up with Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek...



12:16 PM:

Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Orpik and Letang:
It’s been an interesting dynamic. They’ve been together and have been on the same team together for a while now. Brooks has taken the older brother role at times and helped him out both on and off the ice. On the ice, he helps him with his game and learning the position. This year, in particular being matched up together I think is good. It’s at a different level this year, last year they were together for a short period of time. This year, it’s a matchup pair. The style of defensive play that Brooks offers, the physical aspect of his game, allows Kris to be a little more offensive and handle the puck and jump in the play a little more. But Kris in his own right has strong defensive play. He’s a physical guy and tough to play against. He’s done a very good job at that, in addition to the offensive puck-moving guy that I think you are probably getting more notice of, the power-play guy. They know going over the boards together that they’re shutting down the other team’s top pair. I think Kris has some confidence in his game, on both sides of it, because of having Brooks as a defensive partner.

On getting Malkin healthy
Evgeni is not healthy enough to return to the ice right now. He needs to get healthy before we can move forward with that. Is that during the break, or is that after the break? We don’t know that. We hope it’s soon, maybe within the next week or so he can think about getting back on the ice again when he’s healthy and the pressure in his head subsides.

On the first half of the season, and the importance of taking a break this week
I don’t feel like this has been a long first half, 50 games tonight. But it certainly feels like a season. There are ups and downs. There are injuries at different parts of the year for teams. We’ve had them and we’ve had the injuries, but that’s not exclusive to our club. We talked about finishing strong here before the break as a challenge for our team, in particular with some of the injuries that we have. We finish here with the Islanders, then it’s five or six days of relaxation, physically, but also a little bit mentally for everybody as well. Then, it’s coming back strong for the next 32 games towards the playoffs. So we’ll take care of business tonight. It’s a challenge for our team, and we’ve accepted that challenge. We won the game against Carolina and rebounded from the New Jersey game. It’s a big one tonight. They beat us in a shootout on Long Island, and we want to win this hockey game and get to the break. Then focus on coming back refreshed and renewed for our last 32.

On how the team is finding ways to win without Crosby and Malkin:
There is a clear understanding in our room, no matter who’s in the lineup, of how well we are playing and what that looks like. There’s an expectation that we’re going to play that way. And when you add guys or add to their roles and what they’re doing to our team, now when you call up guys, the expectation of how we play in our organization is there. I think the challenge for our guys when we lose Crosby or Malkin to an injury is a challenge that we can uphold the expectation of how we can play. You see our guys going over the boards and accepting that challenge. They’ve done a good job of that, and we expect to execute at that level. And we expect to have success doing it. So guys like Dustin Jeffrey coming up, they have that same expectation. There’s no sag in how they’re going to play the game. I think you’re seeing that now and you’ve seen that in the past with guys in our organization. We’ve got a challenge tonight, but we’re prepared for it.

On Michael Grabner:
I think, recently the Islanders have been playing well. The work ethic’s there. They’ve added some guys back to their lineup from injury and added to their explosiveness. They keep being that hard-working team and they’ve gotten some support from different areas that maybe are new names to us, but they’re good hockey players. So we expect that to come out tonight. They gave it to us in Long Island and held us on the scoresheet to one goal. And we have to be ready for that tonight. We’re going to expect it tonight. Their D-men have shown they’ll be active and we have to be ready for that.

Delay of Game: Tony Jovenitti

12:15 PM:
The Islanders are finishing up their morning skate...

Rick DiPietro (right) always play the Pens tough

12:06 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Jordan Staal

On his brother Eric picking teams in the All-Star Game:
He told me a few things about his decisions, and its going to be very exciting and a lot of fun.

On resting during the break:
Rest is definitely key for every team. It’s very important throughout the year, playing 82 games takes a toll on your body. Obviously I’ve been out for a long time, but I’m still going to get some rest in, but other guys in this dressing room need it more than I do. It's an important time for our team and will be good to be off for a few extra days.

On New York Islanders threat:
They work hard no question, and with a young team like that they are going to come out every shift. It’s going to make for a tough task for a team and with a good goaltender in the net you never know what’s going to happen.

On the Steelers success:
Obviously we are very happy with what the Steelers are doing. I know a few of the players, including myself went to the game. It’s very exciting for the city and obviously I’m very happy for their team.

Sitting in the stands, not boxes at Heinz Field
Yeah we were right in the mix, there is no better way to enjoy the game than to be right in the crowd in that cold. It was awesome. We bundled up enough, a lot of the guys wore stuff around their faces so we didn’t get noticed.

Maxime Talbot

On Crosby and Malkin being out:
Geno and Sid are an important part of the squad, but we have guys stepping up like Jordan (Staal),  (Mark) Letestu and Chris Conner and Dustin Jeffrey coming back from the WBS playing good hockey. Everyone is giving a little bit more and is seems to work because of the system we have and we have been doing the same things for a while together.

On younger players stepping up and the need to win
For sure, we have proved the last couple of years that there is an expectation when you start the year to get some wins here. Whether you come from WBS or you’re a fourth liner and you are asked to play in the second you have to do your role for the team.

On the Super Bowl:
Steelers by five I think! Hopefully for the city it would be great. And the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl we won the Cup.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On the Islanders’ top line:
I think most teams have a very strong first line and a group of guys that are always dangerous around the net. We have to be aware of where they’re at.

On getting a win before the break:
Yeah, it just makes the time off a little easier and a little more fun when you go in with a win. It will be a hard game, but it should be good after that.

On the All-Star weekend:
I’m just looking forward to being there and seeing what it’s like. I’m really excited about it.

On how tough it is for goalies in All-Star Games:
There’s so much talent and skills around the league that I don’t think I’m going to keep my save percentage up during the game.

Alex Goligoski

On the Islanders:
It seems like we always have close games with them. They’re a young team and they’re good. They work hard, and it’s always a tough game against them. That’s what we expect tonight.

On how important it is for the defense to step up in the absence of Crosby and Malkin:
We have to be good defensively right now. It definitely takes a little something away from our team when Sid and Geno are gone. We need to simplify our game and make sure we aren’t turning the puck over. That’s our focus.

On drawing penalties:
It seems like we haven’t really drawn a lot of penalties lately for whatever reason. But that’s something we definitely want to get back to. That’s just working hard and making the other guys make mistakes.

On Orpik’s leadership:
I don’t think it matters who’s out. He’s definitely one of the leaders on this team no matter who’s here. He leads by example out there and he’s solid every game. He ‘s definitely a guy that other guys look to for leadership. 

Too many men on the ice: Tony Jovenitti & Joe Prince-Wright

11:32 AM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma announced that Evgeni Malkin will not be in the lineup tonight vs. NY Islanders, and that he will not attend the All-Star Game due to his sinus infection/illness. That means both Crosby and Malkin will be absent in the All-Star Game.

"Evgeni Malkin was not out on the ice today and will not be in the game tonight," Bylsma said. "He will also not be going to the All-Star Game this coming week due to the sinus infection, illness - he has symptoms that prevent him from going on the ice at this time. We'll continue to keep him off the ice.

"The symptoms from the sinus infection and pressure in his head are preventing him from going on the ice right now."

Bylsma added that Cooke will be in the lineup tonight. He missed the morning skate due to a personal matter.

"Matt Cooke will be with us this evening," Bylsma said. "He had family matters to take care of this morning."

10:51 AM:
Pens ice hockey visualized...

Asham (left); Godard (right)

Bylsma (left); Jeffrey (right)

Engelland (left); Martin (right)

10:35 AM:
While Kunitz and Letang are back, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cooke are not on the ice for the Pens. We'll try to get an update from head coach Dan Bylsma after the skate on their status. Eric Godard took Cooke's spot in the line combos:


10:26 AM:
Kunitz and Letang are both on the ice right now warming up for the Pens morning skate. That's a good sign as both players missed practice yesterday.

10:10 AM:
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed goalie Alexander Pechurskiy to a PTO. If you remember last season, Pechurskiy was thrown into the fire in his first NHL game in Vancouver and really played well despite the adverse circumstances.

Pechurskiy appeared on the Penguins Russian HD Radio Show last February. If you want to hear the interview (or read the transcript if you do not speak Russian), click here for more.

9:45 AM:
Pittsburgh was missing a few key players from Monday's practice - Malkin, Kunitz and Letang.

Head coach Dan Bylsma said that he expects Kunitz and Letang - both of whom missed practice with illness - to be in the lineup tonight. Bylsma was less optimistic about Malkin - who is dealing with a sinus infection and knee injury, though he did meet with doctors yesterday. Bylsma said Malkin was "not likely" to play.

The Pens have a morning skate at 10:30 a.m. We'll see if any of those three are back on the ice and get updates on their status after practice.

9:30 AM:
It's a hockey night (morning right now) in Pittsburgh. The Pens will battle Atlantic Division rival NY Islanders tonight at 7 p.m. at CONSOL Energy Center. These two teams always play tough games head-to-head, although the Pens have owned the series when playing in Pittsburgh with a 15-2-2 mark since the lockout.

We're going to kickoff the day with the musical stylings of Stone Temple Pilots. The band has had quite a history (just Google them if you're curious). The California group broke on the scene in 1992 with the album, "Core." STP has always been loved by fans, but hated by critics. In Rolling Stone they were voted as the Best New Band by readers, and the Worst New Band by critics (thanks Wikipedia).

We'll open the day with what my friend Danny called "the greatest acoustic song ever." It's STP's performance of "Plush" en vivo "Headbangers Ball."

BONUS! While I do like STP's "hit" songs, I think they have a lot of hidden gems on their albums. "Pretty Penny" is a great song. My favorite Pilot's song, and their most underrated, is "Still Remains." So I had to include it in today's melodies. Enjoy.

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