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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Philadelphia (Game 5)

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

3:55 PM:
Cheswick resident Dan McCoy has brought home the gold.

The Fox Chapel High School graduate recently returned home from Hamar, Norway, where he competed for Team USA in the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships.

Team USA defended its title by beating Korea, 5-1, in the gold medal game April 1.

"It was a great experience," said McCoy, a forward on the sled hockey team who earned his Fox Chapel diploma in January

Full story here.

Dan McCoy, center, and his teammates celebrate after winning the gold medal game against Korea.

--Sam Kasan

1:43 PM:
Steve Mears brings you the on-camera wrap from all of today's news.

--Sam Kasan

1:40 PM:
The Pens head coach and captain made a call to arms for their fans for tonight's Game 5.

--Sam Kasan

12:40 PM:
Coachspeak with Peter Laviolette…

On Gustafsson playing tonight:
Gus has done a terrific job for us all year. He’s a player that got sent back to the minors a couple times but it wasn’t based on performance. It was just based on numbers and only being able to dress six defensemen. I think he’s had a good year. He had one tough injury. Short of that I think he’s done a good job of playing at this level. The minutes that he’s played have increased over time. He’s got games where he’s played 18, 20, 22 minutes. He’s done a really nice job for us. We have a lot of confidence in Gus and the way he plays the game.

On if the Flyers are treating tonight like a Game 7:
We just want to go out and play a good hockey game. It’s important to focus and have a good start. There are lots of things we can do better from last game. It should be a great hockey game. I think that our urgency will be better than it was the other night.

On playing against seven defensemen:
It leaves a spot to double up some of their key players, which they did at different times during the course of the game. We’ve done it as well. We’ve taken players, bounced them around and thrown them on extra shifts. For the most part, the seventh defensemen doesn’t affect things, but if you’re seeing double Malkin and Crosby that does impact a little bit. That’s why we double shift some of our guys through the course of the game.

On the home-ice disadvantage:
I can’t speak to that, I’m not sure we wouldn’t like to see that trend continue. I don’t have an answer for why. We’ve been a good road team throughout the course of the year. Our guys respond well to the road. It doesn’t seem to affect them. That’s a credit to the veteran leadership in the room and steady nerves of the young players. Coming into a road game is a more hostile environment for the opponent. For whatever reason our guys shake it off and we do a pretty good job on the road.

On needing Ilya Bryzgalov to have a big game:
We need all of our guys to have big games tonight. I don’t think it’s fair to say Bryz just has to have a big game. He certainly does. All of our players, we have veteran players in the room we need to count on for a big win. We have youth in the locker room, we need to count on them. We have all year. Goaltending as well. It’s a team sport. If we don’t play well in front of Bryzgalov, it’ll make it more difficult to do that. I think our game can be better than what it as the night before. When we’re at our best we’re playing a team game, team concept and we’re rolling the lines over. When you do that you count on all pieces and all parts. I really believe that’s where we’re at tonight. We need big performances out of everybody.

--Sam Kasan

12:29 PM:
Flyers morning skated wrapped up a little while ago. Here's the evidence that they were on the ice...

Talbot looks the exact same in both of these photos

Giroux all smiles (left); faceoff work (right)

Simmonds works on net-front presence with Bobrovsky (left); Leighton (right)

Black and orange

Defensemen Kubina (left) and Coburn (right)

--Michelle Crechiolo

12:16 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On getting off to a good start:
We have one game. That’s all we’re focused on. We have one game and it starts with the first five minutes, first 20 minutes and we need to be at our best. The building needs to be at its best. The fans need to be at their best. The people outside watching need to be at their best. We have to have everybody at their best for the start of this game, the first five minutes, the first 20 minutes, and that’s our focus.

On changing their luck on home ice:
There’s not much thought given to where the game is played right now for whether it’s in Philly or here. I was pretty sure on the way to the rink today that we can’t do it over at Mellon (Arena). We know we have one game. Wherever that is played we don’t have any opportunity to think about anything else. We have to have that focus. Last game we had that focus and it didn’t matter what the score was or what time of the game it was, we wanted to win the next five minutes. We wanted to focus on the next five minutes. That starts on the CONSOL Energy ice tonight for the first shift, first five minutes. That’s where we’re at.

On defending the Flyers’ power play:
It’s been easier said than done but staying out of the box would be one factor for that. It seems like in every game, maybe minus the first game, the penalties have been a factor and early on in the first periods. It is a little bit mental more than anything. We know exactly what the Flyers have done all year long. There are other teams that have power plays that are very similar. We know what to expect. They’ve found ways to get goals on rushes, they’ve gotten goals on scrambles, coming out of scrambles and their set up. A little bit of that is more mental than anything. Our penalty kill is going to have to win us a game. They’ve done that for us all year long in different situations. Special teams have been a big factor in every game. The penalty kill is going to have to win us a game. Our power play is not too far behind theirs in terms of creating havoc on the ice with their team. We have to do the same thing with our power play. We have to keep the momentum and win a game special teams-wise here tonight.

On not allowing even-strength goals:
We know not giving up a goal for the last 40 minutes (of Game 4) was big for our team. I thought we did well in that situation, both how we played with the puck and managed the puck, and how we played defensively. That was something missed in last game because of the score and situation. We’re expecting at least one of these games to coincide with playoff-type of hockey and be that type of game. We’re intending to play that way in this match tonight. A lot of that happened in the last 40 minutes. We’ll draw upon confidence for that game.

On if the Pens will dress seven defensemen:
I think in this situation that we had last game, we have it again tonight with Paul Martin not playing – that is one bit of information I will give you – the second power-play guy that Paul has been and his minutes and situations, with seven defenemen last game we were able to use guys in different spots. We used Brian Strait in some of those minutes and have Simon Despres for the second power-play unit, which he filled in for and did a good job. The seven last game were able to do that. That’s why it was a positive thing and could be tonight.

On if the Pens will focus on matchups against the Flyers’ defensive subs:
They’ve done a good job of having (Nicklas) Grossmann and (Braydon) Coburn play in defensive situations. That was a factor here at home. It wasn’t the (Sean) Couturier line against Malkin, which didn’t happen all that much. They had Coburn and Grossmann on the ice a lot in those situations. Without that matchup for them, if that’s the case, there may be circumstances where you look to have that in your favor and have the last change tonight. That’s not just with Malkin’s line, but Crosby and those situations. The focus has been on playing seven games, it always is, and grinding down, wearing down people. That’s still the case. It’s still the focus. It’s no longer a series. It’s just one game. So we’re focused on winning that one game here tonight in Game 5.

--Sam Kasan

12:09 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On the Flyers’ record here:
We’ve played some good hockey here in those games. Probably not a lot of explanation for this whole series, the way it’s gone. Hopefully we can find a way here tonight.

On playing a road-like game even at home:
I think both teams are trying to do that. I think in our case, we need to make sure we play a full game. That’s really our focus whether we’re here or in Philadelphia. It doesn’t matter. We need to put a full game together. That’s our focus and we’re not worried about anything else.

On if they can carry the momentum from Game 4 into Game 5:
I think we showed our identity at different points in those previous games. We put it together for a full game (in Game 4), so that was good to see that we’re able to do it consistently. Even with some of the power-play goals we gave up and them having some momentum in the game, we stuck with things. That’s really our focus, sticking with things and believing in our game. We showed we got the result we wanted when we did that. That’s all we need to do.

On if it matters who is in goal for Philly:
No. We worry about us and all those habits and all those things you work on during the year. You don’t change anything because of the goalie you’re playing. You hope that those things will pay off and the good habits will kind of show through.

On if they can capitalize on an opposing goalie’s struggles:
I don’t think about it a whole lot. Whether a goalie is playing really well or not to where he needs to be in his mind, as a shooter and as a team, you can’t change what you’re doing out there. That means you’re thinking and not reacting, and that’s usually when you get in trouble. You’ve just got to trust the habits that you have and those things usually end up showing through.

On if that means the game plan doesn’t change:
When you’re in the position we’re in, it’s desperation. It doesn’t matter what’s going on.

On the Flyers’ PP:
They’ve got a lot of skill. They’ve got a lot of dangerous guys out there. They’ve obviously capitalized and been very good at making the most of their opportunities. I think for us, our PK has always been a strong point for us all year. Every team kind of goes through tough stints where it feels like every chance a team gets, it goes in your net. I think the PK still has a lot of confidence in what it needs to do. They know when the time comes, it’s the timing of the penalty kills that are the most important sometimes. We know we can depend on them for a big kill when we need it.

Jordan Staal

On picking up the desperation a notch for Game 5:
(The Flyers) wanted to finish it last game. We have to come out with an even better effort if we want to keep this rolling.

On how to handle the Flyers’ power play:
We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. It’s been little mistakes here and there. They’ve done a good job of capitalizing on it. We just have to limit those mistakes and we’ll find a way to keep killing. It can become challenging when they’re doing a good job and moving the puck well. We’ve seen it done before throughout the season with killing penalties. We just have to find our groove again.

On if the Pens found their game in Game 4:
There were a lot of good things that happened last game. There were a lot of players that stepped up. We controlled the puck and the play of the game. That’s the way we like to play. Hopefully we can do that again tonight.

Kris Letang

On the importance of the power play:
We’ve done a good job. It’s something we’ve been working on all year to get better at. It’s been doing a good job in the playoffs. It’s been scoring important goals, but we have to keep working on it. We have a lot of personnel so we rotate everyone in. In the game it’s going to be the same thing.

On the message to each other before the game:

Just to play your game individually. You have to focus on yourself doing the right thing. Don’t try to do too much out there. Take a shift at a time and if you have a bad shift, look at the next one. You’ve got to play the right way. That’s how you have to see it. You can’t look back.

On the oddities of the series:

It’s unusual, especially for us. We try to play a tight game every night during the regular season. Those blowouts, they’re tough to handle. But at the same time, you have to adjust. Good teams adjust and that’s what we did.

On he has the Flyers' record here in his mind:

No. I’m going to come to the rink, I’m going to dress up for the game that’s never been played and I’m not going to think about the previous one.

Matt Niskanen

On the importance of the power play:

We’ve scored some power-play goals this series, but we’ve also given up some shorties too. We didn’t give up a shorty Game 4, so that’s a start there. You’ve got to have good special teams in the playoffs if you want to win. If they’re going to take a lot of penalties and play a rough-style game like they were trying to do, then if you have a good power play you should kind of negate that.

On the team that scores first losing each game of this series:

That’s kind of a joke we’ve kind of been saying too. Maybe we should just let them score one (laughs). No, we want to have a good start and learn from our first couple of games. We just want to keep our momentum that we felt in Game 4.

On if they have to take the desperation up a notch:
I don’t think this could be any different. We’re still in the same situation. We have to win one game to see tomorrow. Our focus and desperation was high in Game 4 and it’s going to be at its highest level again tonight. The guys will be determined to bring their best effort.

--Michelle Crechiolo, Brittany Goncar and Sam Kasan

11:44 AM:
Ilya Bryzgalov was the first player on the ice for Flyers morning skate and was also the first goalie off the ice. After he went to the dressing room about 15 minutes after the skate began, Michael Leighton joined practice as an extra goalie with Sergei Bobrovsky.

A couple other notes: forward James van Riemsdyk was not on the ice. He rejoined team practice for the first time on April 14 after breaking a bone in his left foot on March 1 and had been skating with the Flyers the last few days.

Injured defenseman Nicklas Grossmann was also absent. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced on Wednesday that Grossmann suffered an upper-body injury in Game 4 and is listed as day-to-day.

Looks like it was an optional skate as a few other players, including Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr, were also missing.

--Michelle Crechiolo

11:39 AM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma confirmed that defenseman Paul Martin will not play in Game 5 tonight.

--Sam Kasan

10:52 AM:
Pens pics...

Park (left); Fitzgerald, Bylsma and Letang (right)

Niskanen (left); Cooke (right)

Neal (left); Crosby (right)

--Brittany Goncar

10:42 AM:
The Pens used the following power play units at practice...
Sullivan and Letang at points, Kunitz, Crosby and Malkin up front (in second round of drills Neal replaced Kunitz on the net-front spot).

Despres Niskanen at points, Staal, Kennedy, Cooke up front on second unit.

--Sam Kasan

10:35 AM:
Pens using the following lines combos at morning skate...


The eight defensemen rotated at each end.

--Sam Kasan

10:30 AM:
All the Pens have hit the ice for the morning skate. The only absent player is defenseman Paul Martin (undisclosed injury).

--Sam Kasan

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Centetr! Tonight the Pens and Flyers battle in Game 5 of their opening round series. Once again, the Pens are facing elimination. Their 10-3 triumph in Game 4 in Philadelphia kept their Stanley Cup hopes alive.

Now the Pens are hoping to push their stay of execution to another 48 hours with their best effort tonight. There's no doubt the Pens will be at their best. They have no choice. But so will the Flyers. Philly doesn't want this series to drag on any longer than five games. Two championship-caliber hockey teams playing desperate hockey. This is what the playoffs are all about.


Since the Pens continue their defiant quest to stay alive, I figure a great way to start the day is with Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." Believe.

--Sam Kasan
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