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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Washington

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
12:57 PM:

Sounds heard throughout the Capitals' locker room:

Bruce Boudreau

On how Ovechkin needs to play against the Penguins and going into the playoffs:
He just has to play the way that he has played the last four years. That’s being physical and being competitive. Sometimes when you want to score, you start waiting for people to get to the puck rather than doing what he does best – going out and competing and getting the puck himself and creating the opportunities and having everybody come after him. We wanted him to get back to what he was doing. Ever since the last two-game suspension, he has taken it very hard. He is not a dirty hockey player, but he has been reluctant to finish checks for fear of what they were thinking.
On facing the Penguins in tonight’s game:
I’m sure that if we want to win anything, we have to go through Pittsburgh. I don’t think that the game is more important to them, because they want to finish second. I think that we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to accomplish. We want to play well. We’re not going to lie down for them. At the same time, it’s more important that we go into the playoffs healthy and rested.
On if the Capitals or the Penguins are the team to beat this year:
I think that the Penguins are the champions. They have to be the team to beat.
On what he thinks about the Capitals’ game throughout the season:
We play well enough for us. We have 52 wins right now. I think for the group that we have, we play the right way. We play hard, and we like to win.
On if he thinks that the Capitals are better than the Penguins:
Of course I don’t think that we are better than the Penguins. I think that they are the Stanley Cup champions. They are the team to beat. We’ve won one game coming from behind and one game in overtime. Every game, I’m looking at three very close games between two good teams.

Alex Ovechkin

On playing the Penguins in the playoffs:
You can see what the standings are, and it seems that we have to play them in the future in the playoffs. I don’t know how many games it will be – seven or six. I hope that it’s going to be four. You never know. It’s the playoffs.
On sweeping the Penguins in the regular season:
In the last three games, we had two games in overtime and one in the shootout. I think that, for fans, it’s always nice to watch this game. We always play hard against each other, and there is a lot of intensity.
On if it is harder to play a game that the team does not have to win:
For me, this kind of game is just to get into the playoffs in good shape and get back on track.
On reaching 50 goals this season:
I think that everybody wants to get 50 goals. Right now, it’s getting pretty hard to get two goals. You just have to use the chance, and that’s it. Every game, I’ll have a couple of chances to score goals.
On how important it is for him to overtake Sidney Crosby in goals this season:
Of course, it’s important, but it’s just the regular season. In my mind and probably in his mind, we’re thinking about the playoffs and not about the scoring leaders or goals. Everybody wants to win.

12:53 PM:
Sounds heard throughout the Penguins' locker room:

Dan Bylsma

On if Chris Kunitz will play in the game tonight against the Washington Capitals:
He will not go out tonight. We still have him listed as day-to-day.
On keeping Kunitz out of the lineup until the start of the playoffs:
There are going to be too many players on both teams that do not play at 100 percent in the playoffs. The concern would be to make sure that he is as healthy as he can be when he gets back on the ice.
On Washington’s ability to outscore the Penguins in the third period:
I think that everybody knows how dangerous their offensive machine can be. The power play is another example of that five-on-five in rushes. They activate their defense, and they try to make plays on the rush an awful lot. When they’re down, that situation is even greater. There are things that we could have done better in the third period at this point with the leads that we’ve had – playing in the offensive zone more and holding onto the puck more. We tend to give them time and space to back off. If we give them any chance in the power play, there are situations that they will take advantage of, and they did in the third periods against us. We’re aware of it, and we need to get better. Those are areas in the game that we need to get better at, as well. It’s not something that I think they are changing too dramatically.
On teams trying to get their better offensive players away from Jordan Staal:
I have not chased that matchup. I typically don’t chase it on the road. Against a team like Washington on the road, when we put out Jordan Staal, they take off Backstrom, Ovechkin and Knuble. In situations where we have tried to get it, there are teams that have gotten away from it. I would say that on the road, it happens quite a bit. About half the time that I try to get Jordan out against their guys, the other team’s coach will make adjustments. I don’t know another forward in the league that I would trust more playing in that defensive role than Jordan Staal.
On certain players performing better in the playoffs:
There are numerous players in the history of the game that seem to have another gear in the playoffs. Some of those players just seem to have it in the playoffs. A few of those players have it in big games. When I played, there were players that did that. I think as players, we know the reasons why, but I don’t know if you can pinpoint that. Ruslan Fedotenko is one of those players. He has elevated his game in the playoffs. He seems to have a different gear and has done it for two Stanley Cup wins. It’s tough to pinpoint why that it is there in the postseason.
On Sidney Crosby reaching 50 goals this season:
I’m not going to put words in his mouth. He has never expressed it out loud. He has never said to anyone at the start of the year that he wanted to get 50 goals. I would have liked to get 50 in my career. I would have joked if I got 50 when I got to that point. It took me 10 years. I think every player wants to get 50 if they’re in and around that. When you get to 40 and you’ve got time, you’re thinking about getting to 50. There are lots of things that I’m hoping for. Do I want to see Sidney Crosby win another Stanley Cup? Absolutely.
On playing the Washington Capitals at the end of the regular season:

I like the pressure. I like the games. That’s why you play. I think that I’d rather be playing against Alex Ovechkin tonight. This game means something to us. We want to play this team well. We have a history. There is animosity. It means something. They’re great to play.

Sidney Crosby

On chasing the Devils:
It’s a big one obviously. We thought we played a pretty good game last game. We want to build off that and finish the season well. We want to make sure we are improving. This is a great team to match up with to try to do that.
On getting 50 goals and the Rocket Richard Trophy:
I think it is pretty hard not too but I think you have to realize that those kinds of things come by working hard and doing the right thing. For me, my focus is on finishing the season strong. If that comes along with it – great. If not, that’s OK too.
On being surprised he hasn’t hit 50 yet:
No, that is the way the season is. You can’t predict anything. There are going to be times when it is tougher to score goals than others. This time of year is probably the toughest there is. You don’t predict you just try to play the right way. That doesn’t change.
On a goal-scoring slump:
I would love to score every game and I would love to get two every game but it is tough to score every game. It’s something you have to work through. It’s not going to be perfect. You are not going to get a goal every two games or every game. It is always a work in progress. When it is tough like this you have to find ways and be productive in other ways too.
On it not being easy to get to 50:
No it’s not. You need to be consistent. You need some bounces too. You need some breaks. There are a lot of guys in the league who are goal scorers and are talented in that way. You see it is not easy to do that consistently. That’s not an excuse for anybody but at the same time that’s the challenge.
On how the Penguins match up against the Capitals:
I think pretty well. If you look at both teams, both are very similar with two top lines, a third line that is really productive too – but is really strong defensively – right through a defense where they have (Mike) Green, who you can compare to Gonch (Sergei Gonchar). If you look at the makeup of both teams they are very similar.
On the games between the teams being even:
Both teams usually bring their best into these games. They are always intense, especially with this one occurring so late into the season. They have been extremely close games and we expect the same from this one.
On playing Ovechkin:
It always is. It’s kind of always been like that. We don’t really know the difference since we came in at the same time. I think that is fine. At the end of night we want to win the game.

Maxime Talbot

On not beating the Capitals:
If you look at the three games we have played them – it’s been pretty good hockey. I don’t think we have a complex against them if that’s what you are asking. Tonight should be an interesting game. The first three have been great regular-season games. All the guys are really exciting. We have created a little rivalry against them which is always intense because of what happened last year and the whole Ovechkin-Crosby thing. They are always fun to play.
On wanting to win more with the playoffs right around the corner:
Yes and no. I think what matters is getting two points. You would like to finish second in the conference so that is what we are going for tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On appearing in his 300th NHL game tonight:
It’s a little weird to have played so much. I am pretty proud of it.
On the milestone occurring in a big game:
Not really. It’s a big game because it’s a big game. They are a good team. They are very solid defensively. I have to make sure I play well and try to take care of business.
On stopping the Capitals high-octane offense:
Stop the puck. That is the first thing to think about. I don’t want to change anything because we are playing them. I have to be aware of the big guys and where they are at. They have a lot of depth on their team on the third and fourth lines. I have to take it one shot at a time and try to make the saves.
On how he feels going into the postseason:
It has been going well since the Olympic break other than the Rangers game (on March 4). It has been mostly good so I want to keep that going into the playoffs.
On what the Capitals might do different in the third period:
They are a team that likes to turn it on and create some offensive chances. They love to score goals. I think if we play the way we are supposed to within our system I think we can catch them running around trying to score goals.

Kris Letang

On adding offense from the point:
It’s something you want to bring every game. I think when you play against a team like this the most important thing is to play well defensively, especially against their top-two lines. They have a lot of skill and some good shooters. I think our focus is to play a good defensive game and when you get the chance put your shots on net and create offense.
On balancing offense versus defense:
We won’t change our game. We always play the same game. We try to create turnovers to turn into offensive chances. I don’t think we will change anything. We will try to keep playing our game.

10:35 AM:

All players are present at practice except for Chris Kunitz, who is suffering from an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day by head coach Dan Bylsma. The line workings look like this (along with the normal defensive pairings):

Dupuis - Crosby - Fedotenko
Ponikarovsky - Malkin - Guerin
Cooke - Staal - Kennedy
Rupp - Talbot - Adams

10:31 AM:




10:16 AM:
The Penguins don't hold their home morning skates until 10:30 a.m. so it was a little unusual when players started to take the ice around 10 a.m. this morning. As it turns out, only the power-play units were on the ice, and they used the extra time to work on some things.


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