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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Phoenix

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Game day final thoughts…

  • Comrie has played all year with an injury, and will see a doctor on the 27th for evaluation (11:34 AM).
  • Pens lines (10:33 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the lines, Fleury and Phoenix (12:05 PM).
  • Thoughtful insight from Crosby, Fleury, Cooke, Goligoski, Talbot (12:00 PM).
  • I miss BizNasty (10:00 AM).
  • The Coyotes go all Mighty Ducks style (12:20 PM).
  • Pens pics (10:49 AM).
  • Coyotes pics (11:48 AM).
  • “They say an end can be a start. Feels like I’ve been buried yet I’m still alive…” (9:00 AM).

12:20 PM:
The Coyotes did a drill that I've never seen before. They lined up a butch of pucks at the blue line on edge. Then three guys shot "knuckle pucks" toward the goal. One player hit the post, but no one scored.

Of course, none of them can compare to the talents of Russ Tyler.

12:05 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On why he announces the starters before games in the locker room
Where it started, I played my first American Hockey League game in Rochester. At that point and time the players read all the players on the Rochester roster. They said No. 35, which I was for those two games, Dan Bylsma. They might add something on there colorful. It might be nice. It might not be nice. They read through the roster before every game. For every team that I’ve coached or played with, we’ve done a version of reading the starting lineup or their starting lineup, some version of it. Sometimes the players do it, sometimes the coaches do it. That’s where that came from. There’s more to that story and instances that I could tell you about. That’s something we’ve continued to do. Every year it takes on a little different flavor.

On how he picks the lineup:
It depends. If you’re playing cards and you have the strongest card in the deck, sometimes you like to play it first. Sometimes when you’re on the road and you’re concerned about a matchup, you may do that. Sometimes you’ll switch up your D pairing depending on if you want to have a matchup right off the hop. Sometimes you want to start the game with a little more energy and jump and a little more pop. We’ve done that this year with starting Matt Cooke’s line or Mike Rupp and Craig Adams and (Arron) Asham have gotten started on occasion. Usually, that’s decided with the opponent in mind and what we’re trying to achieve to start the game.

On Orpik missing this morning’s skate
I think the accident that he was stuck behind was cleared. He’s in here for the scout meeting. He was like the fifth car behind an accident this morning, so he was actually the guy that alerted everybody not to get on the parkway. So he saved about five guys from being late today too.

On how Fleury’s talent and personality shined through even while he struggled at the start of the season:
He’s a guy where I can’t believe the amount of questions he’s had to answer in his career. After all the games he’s won, all the success he’s had, when the weather changes or the leaves drop or something happens, there seems to be another question where people want to ask about this guy. He’s an outstanding goaltender. He’s played awesome games. He’s won big games. He’s made the big save. He’s won the last game of the year. There’s not a lot that he hasn’t done throughout those questions. So when the next question comes, we’re still going to believe in what he’s going to do and what he can do for our team. Marc, this summer coming into training camp, was working on his game and certain parts of practice and he had a great training camp. So when we didn’t play as well for those first 10 games as a team and had him in net, that was maybe a bigger surprise just because he had played so strong in preseason. But it’s not a surprise to see him get to form and play great games, and his numbers for this stretch are as good or better than we’ve ever seen from him. He’s kind of a loose guy, whether it’s good or bad, and he keeps focused on his game and he doesn’t really change his demeanor no matter what questions are asked.

On how Phoenix is no longer considered a sleeper team:
We saw them one time last year, they certainly spanked us around pretty good. They maybe caught us by surprise last year. But going into Phoenix this year, we were fully aware we were going to play a good team. But even still, not seeing them and not seeing them play against opponents we play a lot, they came at us fast. Their D was active and they really posed a problem for us in Phoenix in that game. Tonight, we know we’re playing a sound team, a very good structural team. We know we’re playing a team where their D are going to be active. They try to be dangerous team off the rush, which is something we have to be aware of. I don’t think Ilya Bryzgalov is coming back for this one from Phoenix. So one of their really good players in Ilya Bryzgalov is not going to be in there tonight. The other guy going in his stead is a real big body. We know we’re playing a really good team tonight and it’s going to be a big challenge for us over these last three games starting with Phoenix tonight.

Assist: Michelle Crechiolo

12:00 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room....

Sidney Crosby

On having Chris Kunitz back:
It will be good. We’re not going to be doing anything different, though. It’s important  (to have him). It brings some speed and chemistry there. So it’s a good thing if he’s back and healthy.

On Phoenix:
We played them once already. They’re pretty aggressive, and they’re a team that likes to play pretty fast. They’re very disciplined in the way they play as a team. They’re coming off a big win there on Long Island. This should be a pretty confident group.

On what the team worked on during the four-day break
Nothing specific. Just getting into good habits, and getting in a couple practices with high tempo and getting the most out of it that way. So nothing specific, just the little details.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On if already playing Phoenix helps him out
Yeah, definitely. We always watch video of teams we’re going to face, but to actually have played them and see what it’s like on the ice against them will be good for both teams.

On Ray Whitney:
He’s a good player. He’s skilled and he’s always dangerous on the net. I think we definitely have to be aware of him being on the ice.

On if Phoenix is an opportunistic team:
Actually, I think they play a little bit open. They try to get odd-man rushes a lot and they try to push the play a lot. I think that’s something we have to expect tonight.

On the four-day break:
It was nice. We have played a lot of games in a short amount of time so I think everybody enjoyed it. I did a little Christmas shopping and finished putting lights on the house. So, it’s been good.

Matt Cooke

On if the team would have preferred to have their four-day break later in the season
Whenever it comes, it comes. We were on a pretty good run of games, and it takes its toll. We’re done a good job of getting some rest and healing the body a little bit.

On if opposing teams come to Pittsburgh expecting a physical game:
That’s not a question, for me. Whether they think it or know it, I don’t know. But it’s definitely a focus of ours to make sure we have a physical presence out there.

Alex Goligoski

On the team’s four-day break:
You get your work done, then it’s good. It makes it feel like a longer break than it is.

On what the emphasis has been over the past few days:
We’ve kind of looked at what (Phoenix) has been doing, we’re obviously preparing for this game. And then guys are just getting rest. We’re going out there and we’re working on our neutral zone and things like that. It’s pretty much the same stuff we’ve always been doing.

Maxime Talbot

On the team’s four-day break:
We lost the last two, so it was time for us to take a little break and rest up. See what we’ve been doing right, see what we’ve been doing wrong and improve on it. So that’s what we’ve been doing over these four days.

On if the team would have preferred to have the break later in the season:
You can’t really judge that. We have it now, so we have to make the best of it. Tonight we’re going to be right back on track. We’ve got three games in four nights, so it starts back tonight.

Assists: Tony Jovenitti, Michelle Crechiolo

11:48 AM:
Visual evidence of the 'Yotes morning skate:

11:34 AM:
Coach Bylsma gave an update on the status of Mike Comrie, who is currently on IR. Comrie was initially injured in the second game of the season (Oct. 9 vs. Montreal). He played most of the season while rehabing his hip. His injury got worse, and that's why he has been scratched lately to concentrate on rehab. Comrie will see a doctor on Dec. 27th.

"An update on the Mike Comrie situation," Bylsma said. "Mike injured himself in the second game of the season. He played with it and tried to rehab it for the time he played. He's since been rehabing and trying to strengthen his hip. He is scheduled to continue to do that. On the 27th he'll see a doctor to see his hip and where he is with that. Mike's been rehabing since he hasn't played. He's been dealing with it since the start of the season to the point where he needs to see a doctor and see what he can do.

"He's been rehabing to see how much strength and if the pain will go away. He's had some improvement. But we need to go see a doctor.

"Mike hurt himself early on and didn't play the way he thought he could play or the way he played in preseason. He was trying to battle through and work with the injury he did have. At one point it did get worse. That's when we removed him from the ice, settled it down and started the rehab. The rehab wasn't getting to the point where he was improving."

Bylsma added that Orpik wasn't at the morning skate because he was stuck in traffic following an accident.

10:49 AM:

Malkin (left);

Granato and Dupuis (left)

Letestu (left); Kennedy (right)

Home Box Office (left); Cooke (right)

10:33 AM:
Looks like Kunitz may go tonight. Brooks Orpik is not on the ice. We'll get an update on his status from coach Bylsma.

Pens lines:


10:25 AM:
Pens on the ice. Kunitz is with his teammates. Evgeni Malkin said Kunitz would play tonight against Phoenix, though head coach Dan Bylsma wasn't as sure. I guess we'll find out once they jump into their combos.

10:00 AM:
Former Pen Paul Bissonnette has become a celebrity in the Twitter community with his entertaining accout @BizNasty2point0. Bissonnette's bio for his account reads: "Was Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby's linemate for 8 seconds once. I didn't touch the puck. Weird."

Bissonnette doesn't just tweet. He also plays hockey from time to time. And when he is out there, he tends to use his fists more than his glove.

9:00 AM:
Tonight the Pens host the Phoenix Coyotes at 7 p.m. The Pens are hoping to get back on the winning track after dropping their previous two contests. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders Saturday night, but lost to the Rangers and Devils prior to that during their Atlantic Division swing.

With Phoenix in town, it's only natural to kick things off with the French band of the same name. Here is Phoenix's "If I Ever Feel Better." Amazing song and lyrics, though I haven't quite figured out how the video fits in. Oh well, enjoy anyways.

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