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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Islanders

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Injury updates and starting goalie (5:09 PM).
  • Staal will play despite the match penalty call (1:19 PM).
  • Bylsma and Staal discuss the match penalty call (5:24 PM).
  • Staal spits knowledge (5:46 PM).
  • Malkin and Lovejoy had a rough skate (11:04 AM).
  • Blackberry show takes a look at the Pens-Isles matchup (4:07 PM).
  • Pens pics (10:59 AM).
  • Isles pics (11:49 AM).
  • “Did you hear the distant cry calling me back to my sins?…” (10:32 AM).

5:46 PM:
Player perspective with Jordan Staal...

On the way this team has been able to win without Crosby and Malkin:
Yeah, I hope so. Obviously we want those guys back as soon as possible, but again, it just goes to show the depth we have in this room and what the players that are playing right now can do. It’s very nice to see and hopefully we can keep doing it.

On how he’s seen this team come together in this past two weeks
I think just like any team, when you hit adversity, it’s when you really need to step deep in the hole and dig down for our teammates. I think this group has done a great job of that so far. Obviously with a lot of guys out and the way that we’re still playing hard and doing the right things, it’s really nice to see.

On where he would put his game at now compared to where he would normally like it to be after the first month of the season:
I still feel like I’m not quite there yet, but at the same time, I’m feeling more and more comfortable every game, and I still want to get better and keep improving and that’s all you can ask for.

On if his legs are back:
Pretty darn close. Again, sometimes it’s great one game and terrible the next. Right now it’s tough to string a few of those games together, but I’m sure that’ll come with some more time and more skating and hopefully it comes soon enough.

On if being thrust into a Crosby and Malkin-less situation has shaken off the rust by default:

Yeah, I think so. I basically stepped into the fire there with all those minutes. I definitely don’t mind, the more I play the better, that’s the way I like it. It’s definitely sped up the process for sure, coming back.

On Eric Tangradi getting a chance:
He’s a great hockey player, no question. He had  apretty solid camp with us, and it’s tough to find room on this team, but he’s definitely a solid hockey player to play in this group. We’re excited to have him, another big body on the forward end, and hopefully he can make his presence known.

Breakout pass: Michelle Crechiolo

5:24 PM:
Bylsma and Jordan Staal also discussed the match penalty assessed to the Pens center against the Islanders.

Bylsma: "I think what happened on the ice was reactionary. He went in to take exception to the hit on (Tyler Kennedy). (Staal and Prust) both kind of engage. And knowing Jordan and knowing the situation, he was reacting to a confrontation. It was certainly unfortunate. He does take a penalty for sure, but I didn’t think there was intent, and I didn’t think there would be a suspension. The league is looking at that, and they have the rule in place. I certainly was relieved to see they interpreted it in that way."

Staal on the incident: "Stuff like that happens in hockey, and obviously the way it ended up, I just reacted to a few plays that happened. It was obviously not what I wanted to do, but that’s how it happens in hockey.

Staal on if Prust embelished: "I don’t know. Again, it was one of those spur-of-the-moment things you’re not really sure what happened. The next thing you know, I’m going to the box. So it’s a part of hockey, and obviously you don’t want to see that kind of stuff but it was just more of a reaction than anything."

5:09 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma just addressed the media. Some key points of note:
  • Arron Asham is out with an upper-body injury (day-to-day)
  • Mark Letestu is out and getting an MRI
  • Malkin is progressing and could play later this week
  • No new news on Crosby
  • Brent Johnson starting in goal
"Arron Asham has an upper-body injury. He's day-to-day and won't be in the lineup tonight," Bylsma said. "Mark Letestu is getting an MRI today and hopefully no later than tomorrow we should have an update on that situation. Evgeni Malkin had a good day today skating. He appears to be getting better and hopefully is progressing towards playing later this week."

Bylsma added on Malkin:

"He's at the point right now that if he continues with where he's at, he should be ready to play soon. It's not like he has to get better anymore. He's had a couple good days. He's skated and looks like he should be ready to go to the next level - which is just playing."

4:07 PM:
The Versus crew takes a look at tonight's Pens-Islanders contest.

1:19 PM:
The Pens have announced that center Jordan Staal will be in the lineup tonight against the Islanders, and no further action will be taken by the league regarding his match penalty.

11:49 AM:
The Islanders also had an optional skate. Only participants are goalie Kevin Poulin, Ty Wishart, Milan Jurcina and Trevor Gillies.

Trevor Gillies (left) with the epic mustache!; Poulin (right) was strong in net for the Isles last time they played in CONSOL Energy Center. That was way back in the day - a week ago.

11:04 AM:
Strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar and head coach Dan Bylsma are skating Lovejoy and Malkin hard, some heavy bag skates - crossovers, Herbies, etc. They are absolutely gassed right now.

Malkin and Lovejoy hating life right now

10:59 AM:
The Pens cancelled their morning skate, as they usually do on the second day of a back-to-back. (By the way, the Pens are 6-1-2 this year in the second game of back-to-back contests). The only players to take the ice for Pittsburgh were Evgeni Malkin, Eric Tangradi, Tyler Kennedy and Ben Lovejoy.

Tangradi (left); Kennedy (right)

Bylsma (right)


10:32 AM:
Well, back again for another game-day blog. Feels like we just did this yesterday. Pittsburgh put together a gutsy effort last night in New York with their top-four centermen missing action to top the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with a 4-3 shootout victory.

Tonight the Pens host the Islanders, who are coming off a 4-1 triumph over Atlanta last night.

For today's musical selection, we're going with Screaming Trees "Nearly Lost You." They were one of the pioneers of the early 90s grunge movement. Though they didn't attain the success and status of the Nirvanas or Alice in Chains, they were hugely popular and had a dedicated following.

Nothing dramatic about the video - a couple guys playing in an empty race track and a tour of a junk yard. Best part of the video is when their guitarist and bass player start rolling around in the dirt. I don't know why, but it makes me giggle. Plus, lead singer Mark Lanegan has better hair than Michelle Crechiolo.

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