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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. NY Rangers

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Orpik out; Johnson sick (11:50 AM).
  • Game Day Report (12:43 PM).
  • Pens morning skate lines (10:35 AM).
  • No Orpik, Johnson or Thiessen at skate (10:30 AM).
  • Thiessen recalled from WBS (10:00 AM).
  • Scouting the Rangers (9:40 AM).
  • Crosby skates (10:20 AM).
  • Pens TV spots (12:23 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Rangers, Tangradi, Lovejoy & more (12:16 PM).
  • Fleury, Tangradi & Staal spit wisdom (12:04 PM).
  • Pens History: Snapping Isles’ streak (9:50 AM).
  • Pens pics (11:50 AM).
  • Rangers pics (12:07 PM).
  • “I won’t waste your time with my revelation…” (9:30 AM).

12:43 PM:
Steve Mears rounds up the news from today's skate in the Verizon Game Day Report with guest appearances by coach Bylsma and Fleury.

12:23 PM:
The Pens have launched their new ad campaign. Below are the two 30-second TV spots (PS - I love the choice of "Sail" by AWOLNATION). Here is one about being a fan.

And here is one about what makes hockey great.

12:16 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Rangers:
The best team in the East by nine points, 10 ahead of us. Certainly a team that if we have any ideas of catching them we’re going to have to win all three games against them, starting with the one here tonight. They won a big one in here recently and we’re well aware of that situation. The consistency with the way they’ve played their game has been a determining factor in their success. The penalty kill is tops in the league. They’re well rounded. (Dan) Girardi and his partner have done a great job this year. Certainly (Marian) Gaborik with his 50 points and 27 goals. Brad Richards is providing a lot of offense for their team and a power-play guy. They’re playing well throughout their lineup. They’re an aggressive team. They come at you a lot of different ways. They’ve been playing extremely consistent. We know what (Henrik) Lundqvist has been in the net, particularly the last time in here he was a big factor in them winning that game. We know we’ll be seeing him again.

On having faceoff troubles against the Rangers:
Sometimes it’s just personnel matchups. I know with bigger guys, the bigger matchup has been a concern for us. They have (Brian) Boyle in the middle there. He can take the lion shares of the draw. Sometimes it’s a tactical thing, sometimes a situational thing. This is a team that we haven’t done as well against. Tonight you’ll see, depending on how we start off in the game, Joe (Vitale) has not taken a ton of draws against this team. You may see him take some more penalty kill and 5-on-5 because he has been the guy that’s been good. That may be something we look to do.

On Eric Tangradi:
When Eric played his last time up, really provided a physical element to his game, forechecking presence, good in the offensive zone. The reason why we called him back up, we feel that our third and fourth lines need that presence. We need that size and physicality, which he did very well when he was here last time. He’s getting called up in that role and to do that when he’s on the ice for us. He was getting four or five hits a game and being a factor on the forecheck and well in the offensive zone, something we’re looking for when he’s out there.

On Ben Lovejoy entering the game after not playing for some time:
Ben had a little bit of this experience coming back from his injury. He came back against Chicago. His first three games where his best games when he came back. Ben knows exactly what he needs to do. You’ll see him skate really well, defense really well. His skating is his best asset, to breaking out and going back for pucks. I think that’s where Ben is going to step in. We’re going to need every (defenseman) to play in different situations tonight. We have five rightys, so we’ll have guys playing the off-side as well. We’ll go to Michalek and Niskanen to play their off-sides. I’m sure they’ll all have to do it, considering we have five right shots.

On the Rangers’ success:
They do a few things similar and handful of things different than we do. I just think it’s the consistency with which they play their game both offensively and defensively. That has been the strength of their team. They haven’t gone through bad stretches, they haven’t gotten into losing streaks. They’ve rebounded and played big games. Last year, I didn’t think they had this type of consistency to their game. They’re an aggressive group, aggressive defensively. Their D-men are aggressive. They’re also very structured in how they do that. It allows them to be aggressive. They’ve turned that aggressiveness into good offense the other way, good rushes, good transition, good forechecking. They’ve been a good team in the offensive zone. They make plays behind the net. Now they do that with regularity because their structured both offensively and defensively and playing consistently.

12:07 PM:
Rangers morning skate pics...

12:04 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury
On their success the last time against the Rangers:
I thought we played a full 60-minute game and played the way we wanted to. We had a lot of pressure with a good forecheck and we came out of our D zone pretty quick. Those are little key things we need to keep doing well.
On what he sees from the Rangers:
I think they’re a well-rounded team. Their goalie has been playing well. They have a solid D core that can help out on the offensive side and their forwards are always good around the net. They’ve got some good size, also. I think it’s a really complete team.
On how he feels at this point in the season:
I feel good. Nothing different than how I usually feel.
On why the Rangers are so good offensively:
Different lines chip in every night. They have some key guys like (Brad) Richards, (Marian) Gaborik, (Brandon) Dubinsky and (Ryan) Callahan. I think they can produce from different lines and that’s what makes them so dangerous.

Eric Tangradi

On the stretch run of the season and what the team has told him his role will be:
To be honest, the only news that I’ve gotten is that I was getting called up. I didn’t hear anything about situations or where I’ll be at. I’ll have to wait and see tonight. If I’m in, I’m just going to play my game. That’s the game I need to play to be successful, so I don’t think anything will change pending on the role I’m given.
On the adjustments of the lines at morning skate:
In the past I felt like there were differences, but now I think you have totake the most out of the opportunity you are given. When you are not playing a ton of minutes you don’t have a lot of time to get yourself into it and to be an impact in the game. What I’ve learned from the past with a role being in the bottom six, you just have to make an impact in the game and be an energy guy off the bat.  If you don’t play up to that standard, you won’t play anymore.
On possible trade speculation:
Once you get into pro hockey you realize it’s a business. Part of a business is dealing with different distractions from all over the place. It was an interesting day. I even had my dad calling me asking me what was going on, (as did other) family members and such. It’s just a part of the game and part of the business that whenever something is out of the ordinary, speculation always arises. It’s something I’ve just learned to deal with. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen whether I’m tuned into it or not. All I can really do is focus on the task at hand and focusing on the everyday.
On if he wants to look for a fresh start somewhere else:
No, Pittsburgh is a great organization. If you want to win, reach the highest level then win the Stanley Cup, this is a great place to be a part of. I’d love to get to the level and be able to stick here at some point and further my career.
On turning 23:
I feel like I’m getting old a little bit. I definitely think I’ve matured a lot since I was 20 years old. For a 23-year-old, I think I’ve seen it all in pro hockey so far at this point. Just getting called up, sent down, different situations, injuries. I think I’ve learned a lot. Fortunately I am still 23, which is young in the hockey world, but I try to use that experience to my advantage.


Jordan Staal
On his success after his injury:
I had some good trainers in the back room there that worked me hard and got me prepared and ready to play. It’s just about getting comfortable and I feel good.
On catching the New York Rangers:
Yeah, we still want to catch them. I watched the last game we played in that building and I felt like we had a really solid game. We are right there with them, but we definitely need to play our best to have a good chance for the win tonight.
On how to play against the Rangers:
I think we obviously still want to play the way we need to play and do the right things. Our defensive effort hasn’t been as great as of late. They have a lot of offensive power in front and in the D-core. We have to find a way tostop plays.

On Henrik Lundqvist:
He’s been solid all through out the year. He’s definitely a challenge every night to find ways to get pucks behind him. Just like any goalie, the more you get in front of him, the more you pass through him and the more shots you get, the harder it is on him.

Hello, my friend. I see you're back again: Michelle Crechiolo & Brittany Goncar

11:50 AM:
Pens coach Bylsma said that Orpik (upper-body injury) and Johnson (illness) will not be in the lineup tonight against the Rangers.

"Brent Johnson is not feeling well," Bylsma said. "We called up Brad Thiessen to backup tonight. It will be on a short-term basis.

"Brooks Orpik is not going to play tonight with an upper-body injury. The rest of the lineup will be game time. ... At this time we think it's a short term (injury). It doesn't seem to be a huge problem."

Lovejoy will go into the lineup in place of Orpik.

10:55 AM:
Pens pics...

Letang's hair continues to grow (left); Video coordinator Jim Britt filling in for Johnson/Thiessen at the morning skate (right)

Michalek adjusts his helmet for maximum protection (left); Malkin's never-ending search for the ketchup bottle. He's so close too! (right)

History lessons (left); Dupuis: What's up with Cee Lo's cat on The Voice? (right)

Fleury stares off into the distance (left); Kunitz & Neal watch the sunset (right)

10:35 AM:
The Pens used the following lines at the morning skate...

(Jeffrey, O'Reilly)

The 6 D-men rotated through the drills.

10:30 AM:
The Pens hit the ice for the morning skate. Malkin, Cooke & Neal are all back on the ice (the three players did not skate Monday). Defenseman Brooks Orpik is not skating (he also missed practice Monday). Goalies Brent Johnson and Brad Thiessen are not on the ice. Video coordinator Jim Britt is in net for the morning skate.

10:20 AM:
Pens captain Crosby continues to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar. They were on the ice for about 45 minutes this morning.

10:00 AM:
The Pens make an early-morning roster move, recalling goalie Brad Thiessen from WBS.

Thiessen, 25, has spent the entire season with WBS, helping to lead the Penguins to a current first-place tie with the Norfolk Admirals in the East Division. In 37 games this season, Thiessen has posted a 20-14-2 record with a 2.88 goals-against average. Thiessen’s 20 wins rank fourth (tied) in the AHL.

Last season the 6-foot, 180-pound netminder had a career year for WBS, winning the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender and teaming with partner John Curry to capture the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award as the goaltending duo to allow the fewest goals in the AHL.

Full details here.

(Getty Images)

9:50 AM:
Let's take a peak into Pens History with Bob Grove. In this week's episode, Grover looks at the year the Pens snapped the Islanders' 15-game winning streak (an NHL record that would stand until 1992-93 when Pittsburgh won 16 in a row).

9:40 AM:
The Rangers are 9-2-1 in their last 12 games. In his last 9 starts, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 8-1 with 1.20 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and 3 shutouts. Michelle highlights what to watch for tonight. Below is her scouting report on New York.

9:30 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight the Pens will meet the NY Rangers, the top team in the Eastern Conference.


Today we'll open the day with a groovy tune called "Black and Blue" by Miike Snow. Just your typical indie/pop/electric band from Sweden. Enjoy.

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