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Penguins Report: Maintenance Day

by Tom Mast / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins took the ice for a Sunday-morning practice after defeating the Tamp Bay Lightning 4-1 Saturday night.

Every player skated, except for centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal. Here’s what head coach Dan Bylsma had to say about their absence:

"Just bumps and bruises, a maintenance day, expect both of them to be on the ice (Monday)," Bylsma said. "That’s how we treat it today. There’s two days between games. Today was going to be hard for the short duration we were on the ice. Anybody that had an injury that didn’t need to be skating hard stayed off. It was just maintenance."

Here are some of Bylsma’s other quotes from the locker room:

On using Jay McKee to help scout Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues:
I actually talk to the Blues team more than most teams in the Western Conference. I know some of the coaches. But yes we always will talk to the players that played there for years. You try to anticipate what the coach is telling the team when you do a scout. (Things) like what is their coach saying? What are their instructions? There’s no better place to get that than people who’ve been given the instructions for a couple years. We did that with Billy Guerin in Long Island. We had what we thought their coach was saying, but if you get it from a player who’s been there you hear the exact words and your scout’s a little bit more accurate and the idea of how they’re going to play is a little bit more intuitive.
On commitment, sacrifice, team building:

I think it’s something that your team builds, that your players build. When one guy, two guys, three guys do it, the next three, four, five, six guys are more likely to do. We have players like Craig Adams, in particular the shot block he had in Carolina on the penalty kill was a real big shot block on the back-door play. Jay McKee the last couple games, last game in particular, taking some heavy shots from some good players and not flinching and getting pucks down the ice, Mark Eaton taking a big shot last night and for the most part bouncing right back up and ready to go. That breeds that kind of commitment from your team. That’s players building on each other and feeding off each other. Like I said, you do it with hits, Matt Cooke with a hit, Rupp with a hit, Brooks Orpik with a hit. You do it with driving the net, getting rebounds. You do it with offensive-zone play. You do it with taking a hit to make a play and you do it with blocking shots. That’s something these guys in this room are committed to having done. You see it in different statistics, in hits and blocked shots. That’s a great way to build a team.

The locker room was unusually quiet after practice. The large media group that normally follows the team off the ice was largely absent, with the Steelers playing a 1 p.m. game in Pittsburgh.

This gave captain Sidney Crosby a break from the throngs of reporters that normally would gather around him at his locker. He took this free time to have a little fun with a special locker-room guest. Penguins’ radio analyst Phil Bourque brought his 3-year-old son, Dylan, to practice with him, and the youngster had a field day with the guys in the room.

Dylan took an instant liking to one of Crosby’s sticks, grabbing a hold of it while Crosby relaxed, still wearing his equipment. The two played tug-of-war with stick.

Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke decide to jump in on the fun, and they convinced Dylan to give Crosby a little slash on his shin guards.

“Tell (Crosby) to cut that stick down for you,” Dupuis joked.

Crosby hopped up from his seat and disappeared into the locker room runway area. He returned shortly with another one of his sticks.

“Here I’ll trade you,” Crosby said. “This one can be yours to keep.”

Crosby has been trying out new sticks this season, and the one Dylan originally picked up must have been one that he liked. Dupuis knew this and took the opportunity to prod his captain again.

“Tell him you want that one, the other one,” Dupuis joked, trying to get Dylan not to accept the new stick.

But Dylan was thrilled with the stick, and it wasn’t long before he wandered over to the tape rack with his new prize.

“What’s this dad?” Dylan asked his father.

“That’s hockey tape,” Bourque replied.

Dylan wrapped a little tape on his stick and practiced some poke checks and stick work with Crosby.

Dupuis invited Dylan to give his shin guard a playful slash. Every one in the locker room got a good laugh out of the whole situation. For the players it was a welcome break from the media circus.

And Dylan had a great time. Here’s what Phil Bourque had to say to the team after the visit:

“Thanks for allowing him to hang out today. He hasn’t stopped telling people how much fun he had.”

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