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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Ottawa

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts:

  • All four of the Pens’ injured players skated prior to the team’s morning skate (9:04 AM).
  • Pens’ lines (10:38 AM).
  • Ottawa’s line combos (11:57 AM).
  • Gonchar talks about returning to PGH (5:50 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma talks goaltenders, Goligoski and Orpik (12:03 PM).
  • Some words from Crosby, Fleury and Goligoski (12:07 PM).
  • Talbot’s visit to Hillman Cancer Center (10:50 AM).
  • A few quotes from former Penguin Alexei Kovalev (12:41 PM).
  • PensTV interviewed Kris Letang and Mark Letestu (12:40 PM).
  • Pens pics (10:57 AM).
  • Ottawa/Gonchar pics (12:00 PM).

Tune in to Jason Seidling’s in-game blog, live from the CONSOL Energy Center medial level at 7 p.m.

5:50 PM:
SensTV with this interview video with Sergei Gonchar.


12:41 PM: talked to former 'guin Alexei Kovalev in the Senators' locker room...

On the new arena keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh
When there was the bankruptcy and everyone said the team would leave. I knew it would never happen because of Mario (Lemieux). I knew that Mario would keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh where they should be.

On Civic Arena
It’s got so much history. A lot of people will probably watch when it goes down. We were walking inside of this building and thinking about the movie that was shot (Sudden Death). A lot of things happened in that building. It’s been there for a long time, but time goes on. Everyone will move on. This team needed a new arena. They finally got it.

On being sad with Civic Arena being demolished:
It’s amazing thing to see. When I was living up in Mount Washington I watched the football stadium go down (Three Rivers Stadium). I’m sure this will be a similar thing. There is a lot of history in the building. You have to move on.

On his time with the Penguins:
I had so much. We had a great team. It’s too bad we weren’t able to win the Stanley Cup, but we played so well. I think it was exciting not just for us, but for the fans too.


12:40 PM:
PensTV spoke with Kris Letang and Mark Letestu...


12:07 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby
On the power play:

The power play usually comes down to execution. You can have four power plays and be in their zone the whole time, but you don’t score and everyone is talking about it. Or you can get one chance to score – and you score – then everything is going great. It’s about putting the puck in the net if you can. It’s timing too. We have gotten some timely power-play goals here, but we still think it is something we can improve.

On taking more shots
No, it’s just execution. You hit posts and you don’t put a puck in or you are not good on your entries sometimes. There are different things all the time. You aren’t going to see things change on the power play unless you are really struggling. The more you don’t have to change the better it usually is.

On the Penguins paying better attention to detail with Johnson in goal:
We are confident with both of them in there. Obviously ‘Johnny’ has put a couple of games together and played really well for us. We are confident with both. Our play doesn’t change. It might be a coincidence that we have played a couple of good games. We don’t change our mentality with either guy in the net.

On wanting to silence Philadelphia fans
It’s a tough place to play. I don’t think I even hear that anymore to be honest with you. When you are at home you hear music, that’s pretty much what I hear there. I’m used to it, what can I say? That hasn’t changed and it probably won’t. It’s always a tough game and I always prepare myself accordingly. Other than that, I’m not worried about it too much.

On Fleury’s confidence:
We have a lot of confidence in him. I think that’s the way it works. Only Marc can control how he plays. I don’t think you can worry about it. That’s part of the game. There are times where guys are having trouble scoring and you pick each other up as a team. That’s typical whether you are a goalie, defenseman or center. Everyone has tough stretches where they have to battle. He is the same as anyone else. You try to help each other out.

Alex Goligoski

On running the power play following Gonchar’s departure:
It’s a role that I am built for. (Sergei) Gonchar was a wonderful player. I’m not going to fill his shoes alone. We have guys here like Kris (Letang) and Paul (Martin) who are good offensively. It’s more of a team effort rather than just having Gonch back there. Everyone is kind of chipping in.

On power-play consistency:
It seems like we have bad power plays and we have good ones. We have to try to find a way to have more consistency. I think it’s just an execution thing. We aren’t coming into the zone very well right now. Once we have gotten set up we’ve been fine. Hopefully we’ll start scoring more goals.

On going on a winning streak:
It feels good to be able to get back to .500. It’s not a good feeling being 1-3 or whatever we were. Now it seems normal again. Everyone is settling in and we are starting to get to our game. We are not quite there yet. We are making some strides.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On what he has been doing:
I’ve talked with Gilles (Meloche) our goaltending coach and we are watching some tape. We are working on some stuff on the ice.

On working through a tough stretch:
I think you have to put it in the back of your mind and just correct whatever has been wrong. I will work hard and I should be alright.

On not playing Saturday:
Brent has been hot. He has gotten some big wins for us.

On the team playing sounder defensively with Johnson in goal:
I think Brent has been doing a great job of keeping the team in games. He has made some big saves and the guys have responded well.

On his first three games:
Actually, they weren’t too bad. In the Philly game, it wasn’t a bad game. The Montreal game was going well until the last goal. That was a tough one against Toronto. There were too many goals given up on not a lot of shots.

Assist: Jason Seidling

12:03 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On who will start in goal Monday night
We’ll go game-time (decision).

On his plan for the goaltenders:
You make a plan at the beginning of the year. And every month, you make a plan for the month. And probably every month it gets adjusted. Sometimes it’s for different reasons, so we’re not far off the plan that we set up.

On seeing Sergei Gonchar running the Ottawa power play
Just watching the video of the Senators, it’s weird seeing him and seeing the numbers and seeing him back in his spot. Gonchar played a lot for the Capitals, too. But it’s going to be tough to not think he’s wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey when we see him out there on the power play. He was a great player for us and he did a lot of great things for us.

On Alex Goligoski’s great start:

I’m not entirely surprised. I was maybe more surprised with last year’s start than this year’s start. But he’s got unique skating ability and offensive ability. I think the thing he’s done the best this year is playing in a new spot on the power play, because of his smarts and ability to read the power play. I think his shot now is a threat, more than where it was three years ago. He really worked on that hard. You might not have said at the beginning of the year that this guy’s got a threat with his shot, but I think now you would. That’s something he’s added to his offense as well.

On the team missing shots
We didn’t think about it last year when you pointed out that Kris Letang missed a lot of shots. It’s probably more attention to detail and our execution. One thing I’m still getting used to, and it’s a little scary out on the ice, is some of the caroms off the boards. They’re lively, even on some of the indirects in the neutral zone. There are some lively bounces. It can give you a break or vice versa. That’s been the one spot during the games that I’ve talked about is those indirects and those hard bounces off the boards. It’s not just behind the goal line. 

On Orpik’s injury:
I don’t have an update on that one. But he’s working out and that’s where he’s at. And I actually mean day-to-day on this one. So I’m hoping he gets back soon.

On how the team is playing:
I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey, we’re not taking advantages of some opportunities with the puck. We can get better in that area, with our scoring opportunities. But that’s pretty much been standard through our first six games. I don’t think there’s a difference in how we’ve played.

On if the team plays more relaxed when Marc-Andre Fleury is in goal:

Maybe I watch the games too closely, but I don’t see that. I just look for the details of our game. But our scoring chances against are close to the same. We’ve given up some quality ones where Brent has had to come up with some big saves. Like in Philly, he comes up with a breakaway save. So I don’t sense that.

Assist: Tony Jovenitt

12:00 PM:
The big story of the day is Sergei Gonchar's return to Pittsburgh.

Some other pics...

Former Pen Jarkko Ruutu (left) with a nice shiner

Long-time Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson (left)

11:57 AM:
The Senators forward combos at their skate were:

11:05 AM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that the starting goalie against the Senators will be a game-time decision.

10:57 AM:


10:50 AM:
The Penguins are holding their annual "Hockey Fights Cancer" game Monday night against Ottawa. Last week, Maxime Talbot, whose mother has battled cancer, visited the Hillman Cancer Center.


10:38 AM:
The Penguins lines at the morning skate Monday (no surprises) were:




10:09 AM:
The Penguins welcome back former teammate Sergei Gonchar for his first return trip to Pittsburgh as a member of the Ottawa Senators. Gonchar's return will be the focal point of the game, but there are a lot of other interesting elements involved. Check out Jason Seidling's game preview for all you need to know about tonight's matchup.


9:04 AM:
The Penguins four injured players are all on the ice. Forwards Jordan Staal and Arron Asham and defensemen Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek all skated at CONSOL Energy Center early Monday morning before the Penguins morning skate.

Brooks Orpik (left); Zbynek Michalek, Arron Asham and Jordan Staal (right)

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