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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Tampa Bay (Game 2)

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Pens lines (10:35 AM).
  • Mearsy's Game 2 preview (1:26 PM).
  • Banner unveiled (10:19 AM).
  • History (and Fleury) stops everything (12:25 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on penalties, morning skates and guarding the net front (12:52 PM).
  • Orpik, Fleury, Kunitz and Letestu spit knowledge (12:22 PM).
  • Coach Boucher on Bylsma’s style, the Pens system and being SH (1:14 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:05 AM).
  • Bolts pics (1:11 PM).
  • “If they listened to the words they'd find the message that's beneath…” (10:00 AM).

1:26 PM:
Steve Mears brings you his daily update on everything you need to know heading into Pens-Bolts Game 2. Good stuff from Mearsy, although the highlight of the video is the kid in the background sliding down the railing at the 1:40 mark. Classic. Seriously, I laughed for three solid minutes. It's worth the watch.

1:14 PM:
Coachspeak with Guy Boucher...

On how Dan Bylsma says he is more of a manager than a coach, and knowing that, how he would describe his coaching style:
Well first of all I just think I am just a part of a group of people who are trying to manage individuals. I always think of a team first as individuals and not a collective group. I would tend to agree with Mr. Bylsma. When you come to the NHL it is a new society, basically where players are aware of a lot of things. They know everything and they want to know everything. It might be a little different way to manage than it used to be. I know that when I played when I was younger the managing style was a bit different. But that’s not just hockey, I think that’s society in general. It is the “why” generation. They want to know why about everything. That is ok because it pushes us to our limits as coaches and as managers. We also find out and then learn about the players and their perspectives on things too. We get better as individuals too.

On how they played shorthanded for long periods without their top guys on the ice on Wednesday:
Obviously we don’t want to spend 12 minutes in the box, especially so condensed at the end of the first and the entire second period. It keeps our best players on the bench. All year we have played in a way where we give everybody a role. We have our penalty kill guys, we have our power play guys and it is our job to control what we can control. I don’t think last game was a 6-1 game at all in terms of penalties. I certainly won’t blame the refs for giving us six penalties. We deserved penalties and we have to control that so that we stay out of the box. 

On the Penguins’ system and how Tampa can try to beat it:
We have looked at it quite a bit. I am sure that they have looked at us quite a bit too. They are playing the same way they did during the year. Like I said the other day, I don’t think they surprised us and I don’t think we surprised them either. We know quite a lot about their players and the way they play and the same for them. I think last game was a grind for both teams and basically they won the patience game. If you look at the other games in the league right now there are shutouts and tight, tight games. That’s why people say the playoffs are such a grind and it is tough to beat the opponent. That’s why it is a seven-game series, it is going to go back and forth. There is some systems work there and you do adjust. They will adjust tonight, we will adjust tonight. But in the end when you look at the video and the puck is two inches away from your player’s stick or theirs, you can make all you want about your own systems or whether they work or if they don’t work. But in the end it comes down to your own individuals executing whatever system that’s asked (of them) and more. The players make the difference really on the ice. I certainly don’t want to take any credit for the players playing well because of our system. Those are the ones who go to war and go to fight on the ice and they deserve all the credit for the success that they get.

On any lineup changes for tonight:
Most probably no lineup changes. But I still have one decision to make.

On the fine line between being physical and wearing themselves out:
Last game I looked at the stats on the TV and we had 44 hits compared to 20-something for them. So obviously we came to fight and came to certainly put our bodies on the line. But at the same time I think when you throw in a body that often you forget the puck sometimes. We might have made that mistake a bit but that is normal when there are 17 guys who have never played a playoff game. They are nervous and they certainly want to show what they can do. But I think after the one game of playoffs now they get the idea of what it is going to be about and hopefully we can learn fast. We will have to be physical and we are physical. We have some big boys in there. We’ve got guys in there who have a lot of character and we have bounced back all year long. So I am expecting our players to continue to be physical whether it is along the boards or in front of the net. We are not going to change that. We have worked like that all year long.

On Teddy Purcell stepping up his game towards the end of the season:
Yeah, I was happily surprised last game. Teddy is not overly aggressive or a physical guy. He is a real smart player. He has got tremendous skill and a great shot. He can play with the top players. We have just had to work this year on his aggressiveness. It is not that you want to make a skilled guy a grinder, but all the top skill guys at one point or another have to be at a competitive level that makes the play in those big games whether that’s during the year or during the playoffs. We feel he has made tremendous leaps in that direction, and as you saw in that last game he certainly wasn’t one of our worst players. He played really well with Vinny (Lecavalier) and (Martin) St. Louis. What I like about him is that I can spot him anywhere. If he keeps that grinding going his skills will come out of it in this series for sure.

Trousers: Joe Prince-Wright

1:11 PM:
The Lightning held an optional morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center.

Lightning coach points (left); the most exotic name in the world: Mike Smith (right)

Lightning strategy for scoring goals: two nets! (left); Bugsy! (right)

12:52 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Lightning coach Guy Boucher talking about the Pens lack of penalties:
I was aware of the comments yesterday. We told our guys three days ago that we needed to be aware of the way we play the game, physicality, discipline-wise. We were aware of some of the situations, like them trying to go to the net and get after ‘Flower.’ We’re aware of those situations. We think they’ll try to continue to do that. We are aware in the game that given we had six power plays and only one (penalty against), we talked repeatedly on the ice about how we’re playing stick-wise and not letting those opportunities in. I’m not sure talking to the media has an effect on the referees or not and I’m not sure (Boucher) was doing that. We are aware that we need to play a disciplined game. It’s a real factor for us, keeping their power play off the ice. We’re going to go into the game with that awareness.

On his philosophy on morning skates:
I favor them more in the playoffs than the regular season. The rest in between games, a full day of rest and not being on the ice is better than trying to rest in the morning of a game, considering how in-depth the morning skate is, it’s not too strenuous. I’ve thought a lot about it. Past experience for me plays into our decision. For a lot of our guys, we had five, six, seven guys that had a full day of rest yesterday, which we think is important given the type of games in the playoffs and how strenuous it is on the body. A full day of rest is what we focus on for some guys. Going out and getting loose in a morning skate is important after a full day of rest.

On the term “player’s coach”:
If you didn’t know before I’m not a huge fan of that term. It has changed. Before the majority of the coaches were a certain way. If there was a coach that wasn’t the norm then he was labeled a “player’s coach” and I don’t think that’s the case now. I don’t think most of the coaches now are screamers. A player’s coach is not in the minority. I think there are different facets and different types of coaches now. There are different aspects of coaching than there were a long time ago. I’m not a big fan of the term player’s coach, and I’m not exactly sure what it means anymore.

On critical points in the series:
I’m pretty confident that last year every series was tied at 1-1. Game 2s are a response game from teams. Tampa Bay did some good things. There are some aspects of their game I think they can focus on and do better for 60 (minutes). I think they’re looking at this game as a response game, one they can do better things at. A few of their guys were in their first game. They’ve experienced Game 1 now and they can put a better game out there. That’s something that we’ll be ready for. We’ll be ready for that response. We expect it from them and we expect this to be a harder fought, better game from Tampa.

On possibly getting Engelland in the game to get Tampa out from in front of the net:
That is one of Engelland’s strengths, his physical play in front of the net. It’s something we’ll contemplate for getting him back in (the lineup). There are a couple things you can do differently. Playing defense early is something we’re focused on. We’ve been focused on it for a while with other teams we played against with a strong net presence. It’s something we focus on against the Detroit Red Wings, who like to establish themselves in the paint and be factors there. Playing defense early, not letting a player go unimpeded from the corner to the front of the net and then try to play defense. Trying to play defense or pushing Malone out of the crease once he gets there is not an option. He’s going to put the tripod up. He’s going to be there, and be a factor. Being aware of those situations within our scheme about boxing out or paying defense early is some of the focus we have for our defensemen. Then being aware of their ability and willingness to get the puck there at all times from the wall, from the rush. They blindly throw pucks there because they know guys will be there. Being aware of stick position and those instances to prevent the puck from getting there, and they will have guys in that area. Those are things that we’ll focus on. We knew coming in and we have to better in those situations, especially right at the start of the game because they’re a team that likes to grab momentum. They’re a team that likes to start the game that way.

On home-ice advantage:
I’ll always take it, but I think at times it is overstated. Our previous history says that it’s overstated. Every game in the Stanley Cup playoffs, momentum is a big part of it. You know the atmosphere and you get the last change (at home), but we’re comfortable winning games on the road too. It’s not as much of a factor as it was years and years ago. We think we’re going to have to win a game on the road even if we are the home team, which we are. We still feel that way and have that mindset. We’re not so uncomfortable going into Tampa Bay and thinking we’ll win a game there as well. It’s something we’ve done as well. (Home-ice) is overstated, but we’ll take it every time.

On if the win doesn’t pressure Crosby to return:
I have not sensed any kind of pressure on Sid that he feels based on it being the playoffs to get back or get back earlier. He’s more in tune with watching the games and what we can do, adjustments and those types of things. I haven’t sensed anything to do with coming back earlier, feeling that pressure at all. Not one bit.

12:25 PM:
History stops everything...and so does Fleury!

12:22 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Brooks Orpik

On what the team needs to do heading into tonight’s game:
We need to stay focused and keep the same approach as we have been.

On how to stop Tampa’s big three:
We did a good job of staying out of the box the other day, that was probably the most dangerous thing.  Also we need to be disciplined and be physical on them when we can. Not turning pucks over against those first two lines is big as well.

On what you have to do to keep them away from the front of the net:
With the new rules once they get there you can’t really do anything about it. Because once you get tied up with guys like that your really asking for a penalty. Before the lockout with the way the rules were you could hack those guys, but now its pretty hard not to get a penalty if you get tied up with those guys.  Especially guys like Malone.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On the Eastern Conference playoff games all being low scoring games:
It is tough to say if it’s just a coincidence for the first game. I am sure there will be more goals going in during all these games. Hopefully, not against us though. Hopefully, it will stay at 0 for us.

On if he felt Tampa Bay got frustrated when they could not score:
Not really. I think they are a team that doesn’t quit. They played hard until the end and they kept throwing pucks at me and coming to the net. They have so much talent and experience. I don’t think they panic.

On how he remains calm when they are throwing everything they have at him:
I just try to stay relaxed and stay calm. It was pretty close for the whole game so I just tried to make the next stop, make the next saves and give the team a chance to win it.

On how he feels after making a big save:
Usually if I let in a goal I try to forget about it really quick. But if it’s a good save it makes you feel better and a little more confident. I try not to stay happy for 10 minutes though. It is fun to make a save, but then you have to move on and be calm and composed to make the next save.

Chris Kunitz

On how great it was to only have one penalty to kill in the first game:
You need your key players to play in certain situations and if you take too many penalties sometimes they get tired out. Then chances for the other team kind of raise in the second and third period. We did a great job of being disciplined and it is something we need to get better at and in the regular season we weren’t too good at it. We took a lot of needless penalties.

On if his is expecting a big response from Tampa after losing in Game 1:
Definitely, anytime you need to get back a game that maybe didn’t go so well for you the first time. I think that maybe we had a bit of a false sense of achievement in the game. They had a lot of scoring chances early on when we didn’t play to our game. I think our goalie got us to stay in the game 0-0 and we found a way in the third. We have got to be ready for them to go. We got to wrap it up and be ready to get our best shifts to start the game to get the snowball effect rolling.

On how important the atmosphere is tonight before heading to Tampa for the next two games:
It is real important. It means a lot in a series if you can get up 2-0. It is kind of that pivotal point you only need to steal one in their rink to come home and finish it. You need to be able to close out teams late in games. I think we did a good job of that. But we also have to remember that they are a highly skilled team that can be dangerous at any point of the game with their talented forwards.

Mark Letestu

On how tight the first round of playoff games have been in the East:
I don’t know if its just Game 1 where everybody is all tight. But shutouts were kind of a theme this year in the regular season for a lot of goalies. I think it is just a defensive style of hockey right now. ‘Flower’ has been great for a long time. He deserved that shutout last time.

On having to keep working on the power play to make it better:
I mean 0-6 you can look at the big picture and be disappointed about it. But I think the power play was probably the turning point of the game. There was one around the 16:00 mark of the second period that really swung momentum our way. We got a lot of shots on net and a lot of chances. From that point on we really took over the game. Although we didn’t score on the power play we built some momentum and that’s what we’re looking for.

On the atmosphere tonight and looking ahead to Games 3 and 4:
Playoff atmosphere is like nothing else. I am sure their fans are pretty rabid down there and are ready for playoff hockey. I am sure Game 3 will be just as loud as it was here. The energy is something cool to feed off of. But there is nothing better than silencing thousands of people with a goal.

Wide-Boy: Joe Prince-Wright

11:05 AM:
Still images...

Crosby and tongue (left); Asham's GQ pose (right)

Kunitz with the blast (left); Orpik and Dupuis discuss politics (right)

Coach Bylsma (left); Martin (right)

Staal and Godard like jokes (left)

Kennedy ready for a drill (left); Kovalev talks airplanes to ass't coach Reirden (right)

Dupuis switches position to goalie (left); Engelland and Reirden (right)

10:35 AM:
The Pens are skating in thier morning skate lines. Looks to be status quo:


10:19 AM:
The mystery of the new CONSOL Energy Center wall photo has been solved! Alas, my prediction of Josef Beranek was incorrect. Scroll down for the dramatic unveiling....

It's Jordan Staal....yay!

OK so it's not quite finished yet, unless Staal plans on playing without shoulders. Although I believe that is biologically and physically impossible. But I've been wrong before.

10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center. We are a few hours away from puck drop in Game 2 of the opening round series between the Pens and Bolts. The electric crowd in Game 1 helped ignite the Pens to a 3-0 win and early series lead. Pittsburgh is hoping to tap into that energy once again for Game 2.

Let's rachet up the energy on this game day edition of the Pens Report with a jam by Cage the Elephant. The band is just starting to gain some popularity in the U.S. after building a strong following in England. I love their blend of old school rock 'n roll with a new wave attitude.

Here is "In One Ear." Crank this song up to 11 and get fired up.


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