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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Islanders

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Mears delivers the goods on Game Day Report (4:27 PM).
  • Malkin in; Fleury in net; rest of lineup is game-time decision (11:39 AM).
  • Pens lines (10:35 AM).
  • Nabokov in net for NYI; Jurcina in; Mottau out (12:21 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Islanders, the draft and Tavares (12:32 PM).
  • Dupuis & Fleury spit knowledge (11:45 AM).
  • PensTV shows you the Pens purple warmup jerseys (2:41 PM).
  • Players wearing purple for cause of fighting cancer (10:47 AM).
  • Pens purple people eater pics (11:51 AM).
  • Cooke PSA for Hockey Fights Cancer (9:55 AM).
  • My little hero cowgirl. I love you Kenna (9:00 AM).
  • Draft officially returns to Pittsburgh in 2012 (3:31 PM).
  • Quick quote takeaways about the Draft (4:02 PM).
  • Matt Cooke reflects on being drafted in Pittsburgh in ’97 (4:15 PM).
  • BLAST FROM PAST: Thornton picked No. 1 in ’97 draft in Pitt (4:34 PM).
  • The backdrop that gave away the secret…sort of (2:37 PM).

4:34 PM:
Check out the 1997 draft in Pittsburgh when Boston selected Joe Thornton's mullet No. 1 overall. 

4:27 PM:
Lots of stuff going on today with the purple "Hockey Fights Cancer" jerseys and the announcement that the Pens will be hosting the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Oh, and by the way, there is a game tonight at 7pm. Steve Mears breaks down tonight's matchup with the Islanders.

4:15 PM:
The last time Pittsburgh hosted the NHL Entry Draft was in 1997. The first-overall pick was Joe Thornton to Boston. Second was Patrick Marleau to San Jose. Here is a photo gallery taking a look back at that draft.

Oh, another player picked in that draft was current Pens forward Matt Cooke. Here's what he had to say about his draft day in Pittsburgh. (Look at that stud conducting the interview!! I never realized how much I bob my head during an interview. Now I'm going to be so self-conscious ha)

4:02 PM:
Some quick takeaways from the draft announcement. This also appears here.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:

"Let me start by formally confirming something I believe you've already figured out. The National Hockey League is extremely pleased to announce that our 2012 Draft will be hosted by the Penguins and the city of Pittsburgh here at CONSOL Energy Center."

"Today is about the great hockey tradition in this city. The increasing impact of grass roots hockey here in Pittsburgh. This spectacular venue which will serve as the showcase for the selection of our next generation of great players. And the importance that this event has to the league."

"Before Mario Lemieux was drafted in 1984 there were six indoor rinks in the greater Pittsburgh area. Now there are 24."

Pens CEO/President David Morehouse:

"The commissioner now knows that that since we've hosted the Winter Classic last year and the Draft this year, I'm going to be bugging him about the All-Star Game soon. We're looking to get that too commissioner."

"We're very proud of the partnership we have with Dick's Sporting Goods, Reebok, the Penguins and Sidney Crosby called "Sidney Crosby's Little Penguins." Last year we provided 1,000 kids with free hockey equipment ages 5-7. That's 1,000 kids with free skates, free helmets, free shoulder pads. It's the third year of program. There have been 2,500 kids that have recieved free equipment. We continue to grow that program. There is more and more demand."

"Visit Pittsburgh tells us that the draft will generate $9.1 million dollars in direct spending. The Winter Classic produced $22 million in spending. In the last couple years we've brought a lot of revenue to Pittsburgh."

"CONSOL Energy Center is living up to its promise. We said we'd have a world-class facility and we do. We said we would host world-class events and we are. We have the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament, the 2012 NHL Draft and the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament. We'll continue to try and attract more and more events."

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:

"The promise of this building delivering. There were questions about should we build a new building? Should there be public financing involved? What's the benefit to the community. The benefit is there. It's clear from a tax-revenue perspective. It's clear from an events perspective. We're here today to announce the draft. This is more than just a venue where the Pittsburgh Penguins play hockey. This is a place where people come. it's a destination and it's a place where activities take place in."

Penguins General Manager Ray Shero:

"This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people here."

"The Entry Draft really is a hockey convention. What you'll see are future star players, broadcasters, general managers, scouts. It's a great day for the fans. They can see the next up-and-coming players."

"I want to give a shout out for the scouting staffs around the league. There will be over 350 scouts in attendance. These guys work over 365 days a year for these two days. A very important time for scouting staffs around the NHL."

"It's an exciting two days for everybody. We look forward to seeing everybody. Hopefully, we'll fill this building. The excitement of Pittsburgh hockey will be in full effect."

3:31 PM:
Well, it's official. The Pens are hosting the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at CONSOL Energy Center June 22-23.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announces Pittsburgh will host the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (left); Pittsburgh mayor Ravenstahl, Pens CEO/Pres Morehouse, Bettman and Pens GM Shero with amateur hockey kids Jackson Morehouse (Arctic Foxes), Mario Williams (Little Penguins), Marc Slomiany (Bishop Canevin) and Arthur Birman (Pittsburgh Hornet).

2:41 PM:
Speaking of those purple jerseys, Katie O provides you with a video visual.

2:37 PM:
Curious about what the NHL and Pens are announcing at 3pm? Here's a hint. Figure it out yet?

12:32 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Islanders:
We played them two nights ago. I think they did a lot of good things. They played fairly well, played well in the offensive zone and gave us problems there. They had five chances on the rush. They gave us some problems there as well. Their speed and skill upfront were factors and we’re going to have to be concerned with their D as well getting up the ice. Especially in the third period we saw Streit’s chance there.  There were situations they did really well and have been good at so far this year. That’s what we need to be aware of in tonight’s game for the Islanders.  I think special teams will be key again. We view their power play as being very dangerous. There are some different options that they run and that will be a factor for us in tonight’s game.

On the NHL Draft being held in Pittsburgh:
I’m curious to know how you know that’s the case. That would be great. I think attending the draft in other cities, seeing other cities you see the excitement it brings about, hockey in a summertime type of atmosphere. If that were the case, I know I would look forward to the draft being here in Pittsburgh, especially to showcase our fans, our city. I think what hockey is in Pittsburgh now is really an amazing thing from what it was 30 years ago, 25 years ago. The amount of hockey in this city is fantastic. It has grown immensely from ’90 on. It’s evident in a lot of ways, one of them would be also showcased by getting the draft here.

On the team getting into a rhythm early in the season:
They’re not words that I would have used, but we talk a lot about playing the game a certain way and the way we play it. It involves a certain tempo to the game pace and to how the game’s played. It requires a large amount of work but it also requires smart work and when we play that way there is a pace and tempo to the game and speed to the game that we dictate. We’re playing well if it happens that way. You can see it immediately when our team is playing well and in a groove and we have a rhythm to the way we play. That goes from game to game as well as within a game and sometimes when you talk about not being on our game we’re disjointed and we lose that. I think our teams developed that. We know what that is and have been good at getting into those rhythms so to speak.

On planning his practices so that he can achieve that “rhythm” in a game:
I think there’s a lot of what we do is planned out and designed to have that rhythm and sometimes its different from year to year, but with our team the expectation on how we approach each day, each game and even our structure within the day is pretty planned out. Sometimes I think the players are laughing at me or joking about they can predict what I do as much as I can sometimes. Sometimes I give them the chance to predict practice and what our days going to be. It’s a process for us, a process of getting better whether we’re 7-2-2, we’d be approaching it the same way if our record was closer to .500. We’d still have that same approach and preparation it terms of getting better as a team and how we approach each day. That goes right into game day. I think it transcribes into our game as well.

On John Tavares:
He certainty did several things in the game that were very dangerous and very good. In the offensive zone we saw him cutting the seam and coming right in the middle and being very dangerous, coming up on rushes and looking for late defenseman. His line in particular was very dangerous in the game and good of possibly gotten them on the board a couple of times.  We saw Matt Moulson at the beginning of the third period with the chances at the net that were created by T getting the puck there for him. Tonight it gives us a chance to get a little closer match up on him than we could have on the road. We had defensive pairing out there in Long Island. Tonight in a perfect world you see Jordan Staal out there a lot. Either with his wings (Chris Kunitz) and (Pascal Dupuis) or (Jordan Staal), (Craig Adams) and maybe (Dustin Jeffrey) in that rotation too. We’ll get closer on the match up, but there are areas as well that everyone has to be aware of areas he was very effective.

Game face: J-Crew (Justin Criado)

12:21 PM:
According to the New York Islanders twitter account (@NYIslanders) Evgeni Nabokov will be in net and Jurcina will be in the lineup. Mottau will be scratched.

11:51 AM:
Here are some pics from the Pens at practice in purple. Cancer doesn't stand a chance. (For even more pics click here for a photo gallery.)

11:45 AM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Pascal Dupuis

On the purple jerseys:
The guys looked good in them today.  It’s for a good cause so it’s a good little touch for the team the trainers put together.

On what they will do with them to support ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’:
We’re going to wear them in warm-ups then auction them off after we sign them.

On playing the Islanders twice in three days:
We saw them a couple days ago, they actually played a good game. Their power play played great. We’ll definitely need a better effort from us. Better odd man rushes from the wingers and the forwards coming back. Hopefully ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury) plays the same way.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On the purple warm-up jerseys:
A little different, but it’s for a good cause so it doesn’t matter.

On seeing the Islanders just two days ago:
I think we kind of know what to expect a little more than we did coming into that first game. Even though we won that game there’s still a team we’ve got to take seriously and we’ve got to be ready from the start for them.

On shutting out the Islanders Tuesday night and playing them again tonight:
It doesn’t happen too often. I’ve just got to deal with it.

On if personal pride is involved for him:
A little bit (of pride). It would be nice to keep it going.

Assist: J-Crew (Justin Criado)

11:39 AM:
Pens coach Dan Bylsma said that Evgeni Malkin will be in the lineup for Pittsburgh and that Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net. He added that the rest of the lineup will be a game-time decision.

10:47 AM:
These are some sweet jerseys. Honestly, they look really sharp. You can click here to hear from the players about wearing purple for the cause.

10:35 AM:
Pens lines from the morning skate:


The six defensemen rotated in the drills.

9:55 AM:
The Pens are teaming together to help fight cancer today. Forward Matt Cooke give you the deets on how you can help in this noble cause.

9:00 AM:
The Pens will take on the NY Islanders tonight at CONSOL Energy Center in the backend of a home-and-home series. Pittsburgh rode goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's 33-save shutout to a 3-0 victory at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. Pittsburgh hopes to sweep the series wtih a win tonight.

The Pens will show their support for "Hockey Fights Cancer" tonight during the game. The players will wear purple jerseys at the morning skate and pregame warmups. The jerseys will be autographed and auctioned off. For more details on the night's events click here.


This is typically the part of the Pens Report where I play a song. But today, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to do something a little different.

Many of you that frequent the Pens Report know that Michelle Crechiolo and myself like to have some fun with comments, random observations and witty (and sometimes just plain dumb) photo captions.

But all quips and witticisms aside, I do want to talk about something that is very serious. As I stated above, the Penguins will do their part to support “Hockey Fights Cancer” tonight.

Cancer is something that touches all of our lives. So I’d like to share a personal story with you about a brave little girl. She is my little cousin and her name is Makenna.

Makenna was born with Retinoblastoma – a form of cancer that develops in the cells of the eye. One of her eyes was infected.

Doctors weren’t sure if the cancer would spread and also weren’t sure if her infant body could handle chemotherapy. It was a very scary period for my family. The last resort was for the eye to removed – something we all feared.

Makenna the cowgirl at her 5th birthday party
Makenna underwent chemotherapy and was severely sick from the treatment. We hoped that this would eliminate the cancer so that she could just be a kid again, playing and laughing, full of hope and innocence.

But when the cancer returned, so did our dismay. After all other options were exhausted, doctors surgically removed Makenna’s eye. The sight of her wearing a patch over her eye was just heart breaking. Every member of my family would have gladly given up our own eyesight if only she could be whole. And maybe that was the hardest part to accept, that an innocent little baby had to suffer. But she was alive, and that was the greatest gift of all.

All this took place five years ago. Today, Makenna is a happy and healthy child that loves to read, swim and sing. She especially loves to sing, whether it’s to herself or to an overjoyed audience.

Makenna wears a prosthetic eye, an ever present reminder of what she struggled through and how blessed we are that she is still around to sing to us. Last month she attended her first day of kindergarten.

I admit some part of me still aches for her. My heart pains whenever she asks, “Why can’t I have two eyes like everyone else?” or “When will I see out of both my eyes like my brother?” But I know she’ll become a stronger person because of going through these experiences. After all, this is one tough little girl. I mean, she defeated cancer.

But unfortunately cancer still claims the lives of thousands every year. My family was extremely fortunate we have Makenna to bring us joy everyday with a simple smile and childish giggle. Other families aren’t as lucky.

So please do whatever you can to help in the fight against cancer. Donate to Susan G. Koman and help us rid the world of this disease. Visit or Everyone has a role to play whether you’re the top-wing sniper or penalty killing role player. Together we can conquer cancer. We can’t lose if we never give up.

Today I am dedicating the music selection to Makenna. In fact, I’m going to play her favorite song – Taylor Swift’s “Back to December.” This is for my family’s hero, the girl who fearlessly confronted cancer as an infant and came out alive. The little girl who continues to inspire and awe.

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