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Penguins Report: Kunitz Misses Practice

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins forward Chris Kunitz is absent from his team's Tuesday practice at Mellon Arena. Winger Ruslan Fedotenko took his normal duties alongside Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin.

Kunitz has had a strong postseason two goals and six points in six games against Ottawa in the opening-round series.

"He's dealing with the effects of a physical series," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's day-to-day."

3:27 PM:
Sounds from Dan Bylsma's media conference:

Dan Bylsma

On Evgeni Malkin’s strong performance in the playoffs:
I think that he has played better since the Olympic break. I think that after the break, he had a little bit of a different focus that he brought with him to the rink every day and in the games in the playoffs, as well. The playoffs are a bit of a start-over for everybody. It’s a new season. The focus is a little bit different, and I think that you see Geno playing with one more level. We all know that there seems to be another level with Geno. To see him start the playoffs, I think that he has focused on our team game with a fresh start. He has found a new level, and I think that he can still find another one. He seems to always do that.
On planning this week without knowing who the team will play in the next round:
Today there are certain things and certain habits and certain parts of our game plan that won’t change based on the team that we play. There are parts of the game plan between the two options that we do have that will be the same. It won’t matter which team it is. Some of that today on the ice involved starting to put in their minds how we need to execute against these teams. Some of it will definitely change once we know who our opponent is. You try to get into the habits that involve what you want your team to do, but you also try to start on something that won’t change regardless of who you play. There are a few things that we can continue to do while we don’t know who we’re going to play. As a coaching staff, we’re starting to prepare for both. We won’t have enough time to wait and see. When we know, we’ll deliver that to the players and will show that at practice, as well.
On the value of motion power plays:
I think as coaches you always try to find out what a successful formula is for a power play. There are certain aspects of a power play that probably cannot be taught. That’s why you put skilled players there versus unskilled players. There are some things about power plays that are standard in terms of what a successful power play has. You talk about having a net front presence and shots from the point. We continue to talk about our entry and retrievals and setup and zone time. Just talking with our coaches and even getting some feedback from our players, we found ourselves being a static power play with guys in certain spots doing the same things over and over again and being predictable. I think that it was just in accommodation with the group and staff and Mike Yeo trying to find the strengths of our players to draw up a power play that appealed to those strengths and used those strengths. Sid (Sidney Crosby) walking out of the corner against (Mike) Sutton in Game 3 was not a standard power-play play. That’s attacking the net. It’s not setup. It’s not zone time. It’s not giving back to the point. It’s using the strength of your player. It’s having the mindset to attack the net. We had a net front presence there with Matt Cooke, but that is one of Sidney Crosby’s strengths. Evgeni Malkin cutting the seam and taking a shot was one of Evgeni Malkin’s strengths. That applies on five-on-five – not just on the power play. That’s something that we talked about and tried to stress within our structure. We have to attack and move and not remain stationary. It’s something that Mike Yeo continued to try to drum into our guys. We worked on them in practice in different ways. It wasn’t perfect, but we stuck with it and kept reminding ourselves about those situations. It has turned out that we’re seeing the strength of our guys in the right spots more and more often. It’s a little bit of taking what they do during five-on-five. When you see Sidney Crosby go behind the net and stop and lose a guy on five-on-five, why not see that attack and losing a guy on four-on-five and the man advantage instead of just standing stationary and passing? We took it from what they could do during five-on-five and applied it to the structure of the power play with adding some of that movement and motion.
On having 12 different scorers in the series against Ottawa:
I would like to think that it’s a little more than just chance that some guys are scoring goals. Matt Cooke got two offensive zone goals. One was off a faceoff play that we got a rebound on. He went to the right areas, and the other goals and offensive zone plays involved working to get a point shot. There were guys banging away at the net, and we got a goal. Pascal Dupuis’ game-winner is another offensive zone goal where we were working below the goal line and came off a rush with Mark Eaton in the middle lane drive. We got to the offensive zone that way coming out of D zone. It could have been 9 (Dupuis), 71 (Malkin) or 24 (Cooke) scoring the goal. It’s a good sign of a good team game. It’s not just good players scoring goals and being individuals. It’s about the team, and it’s easy at different times of the year to say that 71 and 87 had an x-amount percentage of the points. They’re out there a lot, and they’re going to be out there for the power-play points. They’re going to get their points, but I think that Matt Cooke quietly added a pretty good offensive year to his career, and Jordan Staal put up 50 points. Our defensemen at different times throughout the year were talked about not being effective, but I think that when you see the numbers that our guys put up, it’s a pretty good offensive team. Being fifth in the league in goals proves that. When you play that well and get to your game in the playoffs, you give everyone a chance to be a hero. I get excited when you win a Game 6 like that, and we got one assist from Crosby or Malkin.
On Montreal defeating Washington in Game 6:
I watched the game as a fan as much as anything during the last game, and I loved seeing 75 (Hal Gill) out there doing his thing. It was awesome from a fan’s perspective. When you have a goal like that, I’m not surprised that it was a close game. We’ll watch again.

Unassisted goal by Caitlin Kasunich

1:53 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room:

Sidney Crosby
On if he would rather be preparing for the next game instead of having time off in between the series:
Either way, it’s good. You’re moving on. It doesn’t really matter. For us, we have a couple of guys who are injured, so it’s not a totally bad thing for us to have a few days off to hopefully heal up.
On if he feels better seeing teams like Washington struggle to finish its series:
It’s nice to move on. Obviously we all realize how close things are. A few days ago, everyone was talking about how they couldn’t believe that all of the series were at 3-1. It’s a wakeup call. I think that it shows how tight everything is, and I don’t think anybody would have predicted what has been happening here in the playoffs.
On watching Game 6 between Washington and Montreal:
(Washington) did some good things, but that’s how it goes in the playoffs. Maybe there are games where Washington felt like they probably didn’t play as well, and they found ways to win. There are probably games where they played a great game, and they didn’t win. That’s how it goes in the playoffs. It was one of their better games, and they lost. It shows the importance of being consistent, but I don’t think that we’re looking at it that way. We all know teams pretty well and what their strengths are. That usually doesn’t change a whole lot in the playoffs.
On how the success of the Penguins power play benefits players individually and collectively:
It just has made us a little more less predictable. I think that’s the main thing. We have a lot of skill up there. When you’re moving, you’re reacting. You’re not thinking as much, and that’s usually when you’re able to create things. I would say that’s the biggest thing that it helps with.
On having a mental break from the playoffs for a few days:
It’s really important. That’s probably more important than anything.  That’s the toughest part of the playoffs – mentally dealing with it day to day. To get a few days just to relax and watch other teams and things like that, it’s nice.
On what he tried to accomplish at practice today since the team does not know who it will play in the next round:
After two days off, I think that you just try to get your feet back under you and at least get somewhat of a pace going. We know that the next couple of days will be intense practices and ones that will get us ready for whoever we play. I think that you just try to go out there and make sure that you’re getting back to that pace as best as you can in the next few days.
On cashing in on rebound opportunities against Pascal Leclaire in Game 6:
I think that’s something that we stress all the time, especially in the playoffs. It’s getting guys to the front of the net, but I think that they were there pretty consistently. Ottawa had five guys pretty much right in front of their net all the time, so it was tough to really find those loose pucks. It probably didn’t show until that third period, but we definitely seem to have guys there all the time. That’s an important factor, and you need to have presence there, especially in the playoffs. We’ll look to do that for sure.
On thinking about the Hart Trophy nomination:
I had no idea. I was honestly not even thinking about. We’ll see. It’s up to other people. I’m not too worried about it.

Maxime Talbot
On the time off:
It’s more physical than mental. Physically you can rest a little bit and work out your body to be stronger for the next round. Some guys are hurt in the playoffs. You just take some time to heal injuries. Mentally it’s a matter of getting ready. We don’t know who we’re playing yet but who cares? We’ll get as ready as we can for anybody.
On building up in practice:
Today was a short one. We worked hard. We had a workout after practice. Tomorrow will be a little bit longer. We can work on things. We were happy with the way we did some things in the first series. We’ll try to get better on those little points and try to get better for round two.
On Washington-Montreal going seven games:
Anytime you try to get ready for Game 7 you have to give your body and soul to be the best that you can be. It takes a little bit of energy and emotion out of you. The longer they battle the better it is for everybody else I think.
On how Montreal has been successful:
For the first two periods of every game they played well. (Jaroslav) Halak is a big part of their success right now. He’s been unbelievable in the net. They’re playing with confidence. You look at last night, they played a solid hockey game in front of their fans. It’s pretty crazy out there. I’m sure they’ll get some energy out of this.

Jordan Staal
On the success of road teams in the playoffs:
On the road you’re a lot more focused. You have that extra motivation from the challenge as an underdog in the game. Whether you’re more focused or not ,I don’t know. You can’t really put your finger on it. It makes for interesting hockey.
On re-establishing home dominance:
To be a homer is always a good thing no matter what. We have to be better at home and more prepared, and ready to play. Whether or not it happens, hopefully we can still find ways to win games.
On banging in rebounds in Game 6:
It’s big thing getting to the net and getting those garbage goals. Our D throughout the series did a great job of getting (shots) through and it was up to us to get those rebounds, whether it was right on top of him or they came out a little bit. Cookie likes to go to the net and he did a good job of that.
On his setup of the Pascal Dupuis’ series-clinching overtime goal:
I didn’t get pressured too much. I was trying to make a play, and waiting for guys to get on the ice. Dupper made a nice play getting open

Matt Cooke
 On possibly having home-ice advantage the remainder of the Eastern Conference playoffs:
That is something we don’t have any control over. We did what we had to do and that is win in Ottawa. Regardless of who our opponent is we have to come to work the next couple of days and prepare really well.
On what the Penguins do to get ready for the next series:
I think we just stay on the ice and the couple of rest days just help the body. These days aren’t overly strenuous but you get some work in on the ice.
On his black team winning the three-on-three scrimmage:
Yeah, it was nice.
On what the Canadiens might be showing the rest of the league about how to beat the Capitals:
Montreal has played Washington strong all series. I think they have done a great job of eliminating time and space for their skilled guys, especially in the games where those guys didn’t find the score sheet. You can see (Alex) Ovechkin and (Alexander) Semin frustrated by the lack of time and space to make plays.
On his thoughts on the first round to date:
I think it has been very entertaining. The games have spoken well to the parity in the league, especially 1-8 in the conference. On any given night any team can beat another one. Playoffs bring out the best in people. If you are not prepared you are not going to win the game. You have seen that throughout the playoffs.
On the parity being a reason why roads teams are winning more:
Probably. I think it might have something to do with simplicity of a road game as opposed to playing at home sometimes. I also think with the exception of a few arenas these days, road arenas are pretty nice to go into.
Sergei Gonchar
On having a few days off:
I think if you have a day off it is good for everybody. You don’t want to have too many days in between. You have a chance to take care of your injuries. I don’t want to sit down for a week straight but a few days are good.
On who they face:
When you are playing in the playoffs you know every team is good. Obviously we have seen two upsets so any team can beat anybody. You can’t worry about who you are going to face you have to worry about yourself.
On what the Canadiens have been able to do to the Captials:
I think their goalie (Jaroslav Halak) is really hot right now. They are playing very well defensively as a team.
On the Capitals having the pressure:
They were definitely the favorite going into the series and everybody expected them to take care of Montreal very easily.
On what has made the Penguins tough on the road:
I would say the way we are playing. We are playing well system-wise and sticking to the plan. We are doing a good job on the little things we are supposed to do. It seems like on the road we focus on those things more and that is why we are successful.
On why the Minnesota game Jan. 11 was a turning point for the power play:
I would say it’s an adjustment we made. It seems like we are moving more and shooting the puck a little bit more. All of the little things, when you add them together, it seems like it helps us to be the most successful power play we can be. We have to make sure we continue to do that in the playoffs.
On constant motion on the power play:
We have guys moving a bit and helping each other. Obviously that is important because every team is ready to jump you if you are standing still.
Marc-Andre Fleury
On what he enjoys more – Halak being the star or watching the Capitals lose:
It’s a little bit of a mixture. I think it’s going to be an interesting game (on Wednesday) and it’s going to be fun.
On starting round two at home:
I think we always like to play here. We have always been successful here – maybe not this year but the last two seasons. It’s always fun to play in front of your fans and get that good vibe.
On possibly playing Montreal being a French-Canadian:
I think it would be interesting. I don’t know though, we will see.
On dreaming of playing the Canadiens in the playoffs as a kid:
When I was young I would root for them not to play them. It doesn’t matter that much who we play.
On the rest:
I think it was good. Some guys have bruises so they got time to relax and be fresh heading into the next round.

Assists Caitlin Kasunich and Jason Seidling

11:35 AM:
The Penguins will have to wait until the conclusion of the Washington-Montreal series Wednesday night to find who they will play in the conference semifinals round. The one thing that the team knows for sure is that in this year's second round, unlike last year's championship run, the Penguins will have home-ice advantage.

If Washington wins then Pittsburgh will host Boston. If Montreal wins, then the Penguins will welcome the Habs in the second round.

11:30 AM:

Maxime Talbot (right)

Sergei Gonchar rips a slap shot

Evgeni Malkin (left) and Alex Goligoski (right) stretch

Ruslan Fedotenko (left) takes a shot while the coaches (right) go over drills
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