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Penguins Report: Home Sweet Home

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

3:44 PM:

The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently on the ice at Mellon Arena conducting a practice session. And head coach Dan Bylsma, assistant coach Mike Yeo and goaltending coach Gilles Meloche are in the seats scouting Saturday's opponent.

1:48 PM:
Here is more from Dan Bylsma from today's media scrum:
On being back at home
This is our first chance to come home after a road trip. We’ve had a successful road trip, so hopefully we can bring that back home and build on the success that we’ve had. It’s always about coming out with the mentality that we have to get to our game and work here. On the road sometimes you have that. You’re focused on playing a simple game. We’ve got to come back here at home and set the tempo in that first period with that mentality of that’s how we’re going to play, and that’s how hopefully we approach tomorrow’s first period.

On evaluating the season:

Every 20 games, for me, is a good indication of separate parts of the season. The first 20 and training camp are the foundation and laying the foundation, the team developing, the identity of your team. A mistake made in the first five games is different than a mistake made in the last five games of the season. We’ve made some mistakes systematically-wise. We’re working out those bugs. We may not know exactly what it looks like so we make a mistake, where in the last 20 games that will be treated as a different kind of mistake. Yes, we’re building a foundation. We’re also trying to build a way our team’s going to play and what other teams can expect from us in terms of ‘hey we play the Penguins, this is what you’re going to see, this is what it’s going to look like.’ I think we’ve started to do that a little bit. We’ve been a team that’s finished checks and blocked shots and paid the price so far in the first seven games of the season. If you do that for another 15 or so, you’re going to start to think that’s the way your team plays. We started to develop that. There are different segments in the season, and evaluations are made differently based on what type of mistake and different times in the year. We’re going through that foundation, building our identity in the first 20 games right now.

On successful road trip:
Going to Toronto, to a building that we haven’t played well in, we played a strong game in there. We had a test coming off the Phoenix loss at home. Going into Philly was a unique test against a very good team, an improved team. Ottawa’s been playing well, and were starting to string along games in a row. We had to go in there and play well. I thought Carolina played a really fast game, really aggressive game early on. That was probably the team that was playing the fastest and most physical. We had to answer some questions in that game. I thought we played our best game in that game. Several different tests, it’s good to see early in the year. Road trips early in the year can be a time when you tell a lot about your team and where they’re at. I think we answered some questions.

1:47 PM:
The Penguins will bust out their blue third jersey for their home game against Tampa Bay Saturday night. Pittsburgh went 3-5-2 last year in the jersey but the Penguins aren't concerned about any bad luck.

"I think it's a coincidence, I guess," Marc-Andre Fleury said. "Maybe I will try wearing a black shirt underneath. Maybe a black shirt would be good luck."

But combined with the fact that teams usually struggle at home following a long road trip, head coach Dan Bylsma jokingly suggested the team can benefit from the third jersey.

"That’s why we’ve planned to wear the light blue jerseys (laughs). We figure two negatives make a positive. There is some evidence that coming back from a road trip, you’re back home, you take a deep breath and come out not as hard, not as focused. We’re talking about the mental side of it. Certainly different teams are different in that regard."

1:17 PM:
After a grueling (yet unbelievably successful) four-game road trip, the Penguins return to Pittsburgh the next two weeks. Pittsburgh will play six of its next seven games at home, including five consecutive games over the next two weeks.

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"We want to be a tough team to play here," Sidney Crosby said. "We want to make it tough on teams to come in.

"It's up to the individual when you're at home to prepare yourself. Everyone is responsible for that however that is for each guy. There is something to be said about being familiar with your surroundings and not having to travel. That helps as far as energy goes, combine that with playing in front of your own crowd and getting that boost is something you can use to your advantage over a long period of time."

"I think it will be nice to be back home," Marc-Andre Fleury said. "I kind of forgot what it's like after a long road trip so we will see. It's also nice to be back in Pittsburgh in front of our fans"

Pittsburgh spent the past week in four different cities while ringing up victories in Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa and Carolina, a perfect sweep of the road swing.

"It's a pretty high standard to start the season," Crosby said. "It's good that we proved to ourselves early on that we can be successful on the road with the way we play. If we take it one game at a time, that was the main focus of our trip, preparing for each game and then moving on. We did a good job of that."

"It's big," Alex Goligoski said. "You look at a trip like that early in the year, they can be really good or really bad. 4-0, you can't do any better than that."

1:12 PM:
The Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi shares his thoughts on the team following it's franchise record fifth straight road victory in his blog Chipped Ice. Some good stuff on Marc-Andre Fleury and an encounter with veteran jokester Bill Guerin.
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