The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed their 2010 first-round draft pick, forward Beau Bennett
, to a three-year entry-level contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
The deal begins with the 2012-13 season and runs through the 2014-15 campaign.Full details here. --Sam Kasan
Lots of content in today's Pens Report. If you don't have time to read through it all, Steve Mears has a shortened video version for your viewing pleasure. --Michelle Crechiolo
Coachspeak with Peter Laviolette... On if their defense has improved:
I think a lot of teams are just playing a simple game. More of what I said, just get it out, get it through and get it behind them. So many teams now are playing an aggressive system and an aggressive game. It’s better to play that game on one goal line than the other. I think you see that throughout the league and that’s the objective for most teams, most nights. On having guys like Danny Briere whose performance elevates for playoffs:
Statistically for one game, if somebody does something in one series, that’s great. When somebody does it series after series for his entire career and puts up the numbers that he does, it’s certainly a valuable person to have in your locker room when the playoffs approach. I think the playoffs force teams and players to play at the next level. That’s where you find out who’s got it and who doesn’t, and (Danny Briere) has consistently been a player who has proven that he has it.On if their PK stole momentum in Game 1:
I think special teams always factor into a game, so if you look at it in that sense, it definitely was a factor. I think that we were coming in the end of the second and it got better in the third. I really liked our third period. I’m not sure if that was a direct result of the penalty kills, but if you think about it, on the penalty kills, if they let one through that maybe becomes too big (a deficit to overcome). Big enough as it was, we were sitting 3-0 and we needed to get saves. We needed to execute in that area, but specialty teams often factor into a game. On losing Marc-Andre Bourdon and if he made any special adjustments:
No. We didn’t make any adjustments in regards to losing a player. Everything stayed the same. On if their mobility on the blue line has been impacted with Bourdon out:
I think all players bring different attributes. Matt Carle plays a much different game than (Nicklas Grossmann) does. We have a tremendous amount of faith in all our players regardless of who makes the lineup. Because one player comes out and one player goes in, we don’t change an identity. You’re going to change the look of a power play if you were to lose a player. You have to move things around a little bit. The identity and the system and what’s working for us for the entire year, I don’t believe in blowing that up and changing it just because you lost a person. Even when Chris Pronger went out, we didn’t change our system. We didn’t change how we were going to play or what we were going to do. We are still the same team. On the differences of playing with a lead and playing from behind:
We have had the lead against Pittsburgh and against other teams. The game plan doesn’t change as much. After the first period not only did I realize that we weren’t playing the way we were capable of playing, but we knew we had to play back to that style and that identity. The players also understand that. We’ve had a lot of success this year playing with a certain brand and we did not play with that brand in the first period. I think they know. These are smart guys and they know what we need to do in order to be successful. They deserve the credit because they made the changes in their game. They went out and executed the way they needed to and we were able to come back. We’ve won a lot of different games this year through the course of the regular season. It’s been done different ways. I’m sure there are games that I can go back on through the course of the year when maybe we coughed up a lead, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I don’t remember that being an issue. There is always a stretch of time where something pops up as an issue – your penalty kill, your power play, too many men on the ice, whatever it may be. You shot pucks out of the rink in your defensive zone in three games out of four. There is always something. Usually it happens in cycles. --Brittany Goncar
Sounds heard around the Flyers locker room…Danny BriereOn surrendering an early 3-0 lead in Game 1:
For us that needs to change, there’s no doubt about it. It was the first game, a lot of nerves. A lot of guys didn’t know what to expect in their first playoff games, especially on the road. But now it’s behind us and hopefully we learn from that and we don’t put ourselves in the same position that we did Wednesday night.On how he is able to elevate his game come playoff time:
I don’t know. I don’t really have an answer for that. I approach it as this is the best time of the year. It’s a fun time of the year. You try to live with no regrets. But at the same time, you have good nights. If you don’t win, you don’t get to enjoy them. That’s the beauty of playing hockey and playing a team sport. If you win, everybody enjoys it and that’s what makes it special.On if the possibility of going up 2-0 is a motivating factor:
I really believe that there is no momentum in hockey from game to game. There is within the game itself, but from game to game it’s a new chapter. You’ve got to turn the page. Now we’ve got to focus solely on tonight’s game. We can’t dwell on what happened last game. We have to move on and be ready. Obviously the goal now for us is to go home up 2-0. But we have to forget about what happened in Game 1. Claude GirouxOn if their approach to this game has to change:
Yeah, obviously we’re not happy about our first 20 minutes. But at the same time, hopefully we can get that momentum from the last two periods and play a little bit of our game. They come out strong every game. We know that. They’re very dangerous throughout the whole game. I think the start has to be a little better.On if the Pens were the faster team at the start of Game 1:
Yeah, I mean, they have a lot of players that can score goals and make plays. They have a lot of speed, too. I think our defense is our best offense. We’ve got to make sure we keep that mentality and make sure we go back in the zone, reload and kind of help our defense.On how much of a mental edge they feel they have over Pittsburgh with their record here:
That’s just a detail. It doesn’t matter where you play. Our record has been pretty good here, but that’s not a detail we’re worried about. I think they might be a little (upset) about the last game and that’s kind of normal. We have to make sure that we match their intensity quick in the game and just play like we did last game.On if the possibility of going up 2-0 is a motivating factor:
Yeah. Any time you’ve got a chance to get up 2-0 on the road, it’s obviously huge. They played a great game last game and we know what they can do. They can be a very dangerous team. We’ve just got to play like we did. I think we worked hard; we played as a team. When we play our best hockey is when the four lines are rolling and everybody is playing. Any line can play against any line. It’s not about the matchup or anything like that. It’s all about going out there and just doing what we’ve been doing all season. Scott HartnellOn keeping the play between the whistles:
It was fun watching games last night. It looks like they’re taking the first guy out of scrums. You have to be physical and tough during the whistles. After that just skate away, even though there is a big hit and you want to get in their for your teammates. I was glad to see that Danny (Briere) was all right and we scored on the power play. On if it’s easier playing between the whistles on the road than at home:
I get more fired up being on the road. To ruin a city’s night like tonight here in Pittsburgh for Game 2, we’d love to send everybody home wondering what happened to their home team. We can only control what we can control. We have to be fired up. On Sean Couturier’s play in Game 1:
He’s great. I wasn’t sold on him off the bat in training camp and didn’t know if he was going back to junior. Every game he’s impressed me. He’s a 19-year-old kid making the plays that he’s making and being on the first penalty kill unit. He’s playing against the best player in the world right now, Malkin, and shutting him down. He’s doing a great job playing hard and being focused. Every player has a role to fill on a championship team. He’s going to be a big reason if we beat Pittsburgh and move on. Kimmo TimonenOn how difficult it is to sweep the first two games of a series on the road:
It’s hard. I don’t think it’s happened to me, ever. So it’s really hard. That’s why I told you guys before the series, I don’t mind going on the road. It’s easier to play. You start the playoffs and there’s some pressure on you. You want to go into the game and win that Game 1. Then you can go again in Game 2, maybe a little bit easier and you’re not feeling that pressure. It’s going to be a new game. Game 1 doesn’t matter. It’s in the past and now we’ve got to move on.On surrendering an early 3-0 lead in Game 1:
We all realize that getting down 3-0 in Pittsburgh against a really good team (coming back) is not going to happen too many times. We all know the reason why we had a bad start. We’ve got to make sure today we know what to expect. We know the crowd; we know the team. So go out there and execute our system and play our game.On what works on their PK:
Stay out the box, that’s the first thing (laughs). We know they’ve got really good players, they’ve got a really good power play. They can move the puck around really well. So first of all, stay out of the box. But if there is a penalty, we watch a lot of tape and make sure what we do out there, all four guys and (Ilya Bryzgalov), we know what to expect. So going into the games, we talk about it and then we go out there and execute the system. It works against any good player. You have to take away their time and space, whether it’s 5-on-5, 5-on-4, whatever. I thought we did a great job in Game 1 and hopefully we can do that in Game 2.--Michelle Crechiolo & Sam Kasan
Bryzgalove (left); Bobrovsky (right)
Hartnell (left); Couturier and Talbot (right)
Briere (left); Rinaldo (right)--Brittany Goncar
Sounds heard around the locker room...Sidney CrosbyOn the confidence the players have that they’ll ‘get to their game’ in Game 2:
I think that’s something you gain throughout the season. I think we’ve done that more than enough to have confidence in that. There’s no question that at playoff time, that becomes more and more important. You can’t take a shift off. I think we’re confident we’re going to be able to bounce back.On the adversity this team has gone through and continues to experience:
You know what, whether the game went the way it did (or not), it doesn’t really matter. You lose a game, you have to bounce back. In the regular season, we’ve had to do that. The playoffs aren’t any different. You have to have a short memory and forget it and move on. The way you play doesn’t change. If anything, you should be even more desperate coming off a loss. I don’t see that really being an issue.On if their sense of urgency is heightened heading into Game 2:
Yeah, I think there’s a sense of that in any game. Everyone always talks about the scenarios and the way a series works out, that kind of thing. The reality is everyone’s desperate every game. That’s the way it is. There’s obviously more emphasis on when you’ve lost a game to make sure you bounce back and get momentum and things like that. That’s the case in every series; that’s the case here tonight. We want to make sure we bounce back and that’s really where our mind is at.On if their approach is any different for a Game 2 versus a Game 1:
I don’t think so. I think our approach was pretty good in Game 1. Just a matter of maintaining that throughout the game. Other than that, I think we know what our game looks like. It’s just a matter of applying it for however long it takes. Marc-Andre FleuryOn adjustments the Penguins have made:
We just have to keep playing the way we did in the first (period). We were aggressive and had a good forecheck. We just have to do that for 60 minutes.On keeping the puck in the offensive zone:
We’re a fast team. When we get the puck deep behind their defensemen, playing in the offensive zone, we can create a lot of chances. We have to keep doing the same things.On bouncing back from losses:
Experience from games before. The best thing is to forget about it. The quicker the better. Learn from your mistakes but the next day is a new day. Get ready for the next game. We have another shot at it tonight.On goalies having a short memory:
We do it. After goals we always try to put it behind us and stay focused to save the next one. Games are different. It’s frustrating when you lose like that. You need a little more time to forget about it. Matt CookeOn if the team is looking back on Game 1 going into tonight:
I don’t think anything is ever forgotten and obviously it’s something we need to correct. We know how to do it. The guys in here are confident in our abilities. Tonight’s a new game. On if he wonders why Game 1 turned the way it did:
There is no wonder why. We watched video and analyzed. We caused it ourselves and that’s something that I think is something for us to look forward to moving forward. We control how we play, and that’s what we have to control. On the importance of getting behind the Flyers defense:
We did it for the first 10 minutes. You saw the success that we had. We got away from that as the game wore on. Some of that is due to us wanting to get that fourth goal and being focused on that as opposed to the seven-game series. That is something we have to focus on moving forward.On being able to limit the Giroux line:
I think that they didn’t have that many shifts in the offensive zone. We were able to get out of our end fairly quickly and limit their rush chances by having a good F3. I think those are the two keys for us. They are a dangerous line. They create off the rush and as long as we can have a responsible F3 in the offensive zone that can track back and help our D, then we should be fine. On how they were able to get out of their zone efficiently:
I think that we had better success earlier on in the year against them getting out of our zone. They forechecked hard last game and pushed our D to go back a lot. I think that that’s something from the way that we manage the puck through the neutral zone and in the offensive zone to try and help defeat that and not allow them to get in on our defense as much. --Michelle Crechiolo & Brittany Goncar
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…On their defense being better in tighter games and replicating that with multiple-goal leads:
I think last game, coming out in the second period, I think we needed to have that mentality a little more. I think the toughest thing to understand is our placement of the puck and then how continuing to play in the offensive zone was the best way to limit what they did well and what they’re trying to do. They put 46 pucks behind our defense with a purpose. The only way to prevent them from doing that is by not letting them have the puck and to play in the offensive zone.
If you get it back to them, they were going to put it behind our defense and go in on the forecheck. There were too many opportunities with a fresh group, whether they won draws and did it or got pucks and put it behind our defense. That was effective for them last game, especially in the second and third periods – even more so than the first. That’s something that by playing with the puck and where we play with the puck and how we play with the puck can prevent them from being able to play that game.On the play of Malkin’s line in Game 1 and what he expects from them tonight:
I think more time in the offensive zone is something that they’ve done very well as a line. A lot of their shots were on the rush last game and on the power play. I think establishing a presence in the offensive zone, where they’ve been so good, is a big factor for them and our team.
We didn’t have that presence in the offensive zone with that line and we needed that, especially in the second and third period when we had the lead.On the Flyers chipping 46 pucks behind the D and what number he’d like to see them have:
We don’t have a number we’re trying to minimize a team to, but that was a real focus by their team and something they did well. They forced our defense to go back under that pressure. Those are the situations where you want to minimize your retrievals and minimize your time in the defensive zone by breaking the puck out and not letting that be a factor in the game, and it certainly was.On the possibility of double shifting Crosby and Malkin with the fourth line:Twenty-one minutes is, depending on how the game goes, a good number for both those guys.
If they get over that number of minutes, it starts to be too much, especially with the way they play. The score dictates that as well. If you’re up or down in a game, it dictates getting them out in offensive situations or putting defensive lines out there more often. Last game, Matt Cooke
played with Jordan mostly against (Claude) Giroux. So that dictates them being on the ice in those 5-on-5 situations.On if Crosby has been increasingly more willing to get in high-traffic areas:
I would say the last half of the 15 games he’s played he’s gone there. I think where he goes and how he plays is not so much where he feels he’s getting up to speed as much as the natural part of the game for him. In some of those areas, there is a checklist. And going through a checklist when you’re on the ice is not natural. He sees that, he feels that, but you don’t. But he goes to the net-front area and he’s going to the same areas where I think we’ve seen him be successful, and I think the more he’s played, the more natural and comfortable some of those thoughts are as he processes the game. --Michelle Crechiolo
Head coach Dan Bylsma said defenseman Matt Niskanen
did not skate today. It was a scheduled day off for him.--Sam Kasan
Jeffrey (left); Park (right)
Lovejoy (left); Adams (right)
Goalies (left); Fleury does a swan dance (right)--Sam Kasan
The Pens are holding an optional morning skate. Nine skaters and the two goalies practiced. The following players took part: Jeffrey; Engelland; Strait; Park; Tangradi; Vitale; Kennedy; Johnson; Lovejoy; Fleury; and Adams.--Sam Kasan
The NHL announced the 32 finalists for the cover of EA Sports NHL 13
. Representing the district of Pittsburgh will be current NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin
. Fan voting will determine this year's winner. So Pens fans, here is your rally cry to make Malkin the cover player for the upcoming NHL 13 game.
Voting ends April 22. So rock the vote!! Click here to vote!!
(Getty Images)--Sam Kasan
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight the Pens and Flyers battle in a pivotal contest. The Pens are hoping to even the series after dropping Game 1 4-3 in overtime. Pittsburgh will hit the ice at 10:30 a.m. for their morning skate, followed by the Flyers at 11:30 a.m. Stay tuned for all the day's updates.
Today we'll kick off the day with a little Two Door Cinema Club. The opening lyrics to their song "Something Good Can Work" seem appropriate for tonight's contest. "You've got to step up your game to make it to the top. So go. Got a little competition now..."
Anyways, enjoy. --Sam Kasan