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Penguins Report: Practice 10/4/10

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Sidney Crosby (12:40 PM) and Brooks Orpik (12:33 PM) both practiced Monday and each expects to play Thursday in the season opener against Philadelphia.
  • Arron Asham (1:26 PM) is being re-evaluated Monday; while Ryan Craig skated (9:30 AM) for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury Sept. 25.
  • Dustin Jeffrey was sent to WBS (11:31 AM).
  • Practice pics (11:47 AM).
  • The lines and D are starting to come together as the season draws near (11:34 AM).
  • Dan Bylsma discussed cuts, the power play and faceoff strategies (1:46 PM).
  • PensTV also chatted with Zbynek Michalek and Mike Comrie (2:21 PM).
  • Some interesting stats from the preseason (2:03 PM).
  • The Penguins ran an awesome drill Monday (12:06 PM).
  • CONSOL Energy Center is gearing up for the home opener and official unveiling (10:49 AM).


2:21 PM:
PensTV caught up with Zbynek Michalek and Mike Comrie.




2:03 PM:
Here are some interesting stat bits from the 2010 preseason:
  • Evgeni Malkin (4 gp, 3G-3A), Alex Goligoski (4 gp, 2G-4A) and Mark Letestu (5 gp, 1G-5A) each led the team in scoring, though Malkin is the official winner because of his three goals.
  • Mike Comrie led the team in goals with four in four games. Two of Comrie's goals were game-winners. Comrie also paced the club with 19 shots.
  • Malkin and Arron Asham tied for the team lead with each netting a plus-4 rating.
  • Brooks Orpik led the club in penalty minutes (22) with Kris Letang right behind him (20).
  • Marc-Andre Fleury's impressive stat line: 4 gp, 3-0-0 record, 1.80 GAA, .936 save percentage.


1:46 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On making cuts to prepare for opening night:
The circumstances will dictate if there’s one cut or one (player) a day, and we are anticipating our opening night roster. We cut Dustin Jeffrey (Monday), so he’s not going to be in our opening night roster. Waivers is not an issue, so he was sent back down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

On implementing the power play:
I think we’ve had one game with Sid and Geno out there together. But the fundamentals and the ideas and some of the concepts in terms of how we want to attack and move and recover pucks in motion for our power play, I think the guys have a pretty good understanding of that. And there are interchangeable parts, so to not have a player in there just proves that point a little more. So it doesn’t matter if it’s (Hutchinson), (Goligoski), (Malkin), (Crosby), (Comrie) or (Letestu) it doesn’t matter which, and that’s the way it’s been for our training camp. I think we’ll see, given the different lineups, that the regular season is always a different story.

On the team’s set plays on faceoffs:
I think we all should know what’s going to happen whether you win or lose (the faceoff), no matter what your responsibilities are. And I also think that whether you’re on the offensive side of the puck or the defensive side of the puck, if you have a plan and you can adjust that plan – with different plays and different faceoffs and different routes – it’s unpredictable so you keep the other team on their toes. If you’re running a play that’s unpredictable, then the other team is worried about it and that’s the type of unpredictability that I like and our team likes to be able to put on another team. If the other players are coming back to the bench and the coach has to worry about faceoff plays in the neutral zone, the offensive zone or the defensive zone, that’s the kind of coaching I would like the other team to have to go through.

On other teams using that approach:
I would say that we do (set faceoff plays) more than the average team in the NHL. There are lots of other teams in the NHL that run faceoff plays, and we’re aware of that going into games. But as a rule, our centermen on every faceoff are calling a play and everyone on the ice should know it. That’s probably a little different than some.

On where he learned that style of play:
It’s just from coaching with Todd Richards in Wilkes-Barre, we wanted to be unpredictable to the other team and we wanted to be predictable in our room. We know what’s going to happen at the drop of the puck, and they don’t. And that’s the position we want to be in. That’s something that Todd brought to our team and we developed, and we’re still trying to develop it.

On disguising the play names:
We change the names based on who scored the goal last. We have a Duper, a Crosby and a Malkin. So if (other) players know what that means, they might not know it the next time. We try to change them. Yesterday, the guys were having a little fun and were starting to give indicators, so the sign meant nothing until you had the indicator.

On Malkin’s goal against Cam Ward in the 2009 playoffs being a set play:
Initially the faceoff is giving a name like D-one-timer or whatever. It’s nothing really secretive, so if you heard them you would probably figure out what the faceoff was and what we’re going to do. So a faceoff like a push through – which is what Geno scored on in the playoffs – turned into the Geno because of that goal.

On who impressed him in camp:
Dustin Jeffrey would be one for sure. He’s a guy who we’ve had in our organization for a while and he really stepped up his game and picked up some steam. He had a really good summer and it showed in camp, and he was a surprise. Surprises come in a lot of different ways. Chris Kunitz surprised me leadership-wise on the bench, and in practice. He’s been a surprise, he’s been very good. So that’s been great. And Zbynek (surprised me), not having coached him before, I’ve only watched him play on video. The battle element of his game and the work ethic of his game was a pleasant surprise. There are other ones for sure. Mark Letestu has been given an opportunity and he’s made good with that opportunity with every game. There are probably a few more guys that I’m failing to mention, but there’s been a lot of guys who have been a pleasant surprise. And there hasn’t been someone who’s fallen off the map or didn’t do particularly well.

Assist: Tony Jovenitti


1:26 PM:
Bylsma said the Marc-Andre Fleury had the day off for "maintenance." He also touched upon the injuries of Crosby, Orpik and Arron Asham.

"Arron is seeing our doctors in Pittsburgh (Monday), so he’s being re-evaluated on his status," Bylsma said. "We know he wants to play against Philly."


12:40 PM:
Sidney Crosby, who sat out the last two preseason games with tightness in his hip, was back on the ice for the Penguins at practice.

"I feel better; those couple of days (off) were good," Crosby said. "I was glad to go through a full practice."

Crosby said, as did Brooks Orpik in the below entry, that he expects to play in Thursday's home season/home opener.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "Hopefully, I won't have to deal with it anymore."


12:33 PM:
Brooks Orpik talked to the media about his recent absence from practices and games, but assured everyone that he'll be in the lineup Thursday for the home/CONSOL Energy Center opener against Philadelphia.

"I felt better as the practice went on," Orpik said. "Thursday won't be a problem at all. It definitely needed a few days off to get back to this point. Hopefully, there are no more setbacks."


12:06 PM:
The Penguins did some odd-man rush and late change drills at practice. The players were divided by black and white jerseys. Three Black forwards would carry the puck into the offensive zone against two white defenders. Once Black gained the blue line, three white forwards raced from their bench to join the play. Then the reverse would happen at the other end of the ice.

The drill helps the offense by forcing the attacking players to make quick decisions and get an opportunity on net. It also helps the defenders by giving them proper assignments on a late change, rather than having them chaotically backchecking. And the up-and-down constant motion will help the players improve their conditioning. Overall, a pretty good drill by head coach Dan Bylsma and the coaching staff.

11:47 AM:
Practice pics

Sidney Crosby (left); Mark Letestu (right)

Brooks Orpik (left); Pascal Dupuis (right)

Video coordinator Jim Britt (left); Simon Despres (right)

Michalek (left); Kris Letang (right)


11:34 AM:
The Penguins are on the ice at CONSOL Energy Center for practice. The only players not at practice are goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and forwards Arron Asham and Ryan Craig (though Craig did skate: see 9:30 AM). Sidney Crosby and Brooks Orpik are back at practice. Video coordinator Jim Britt is filled in for Fleury in net - something he has done before.

The combos and pairings were:


The Pens also used to the following D pairs:


11:31 AM:
The Penguins assigned forward Dustin Jeffrey to WBS.

The move leaves 29 players on the team's training camp roster. However, only 26 will count when the season starts as Jordan Staal, Casey-Pierro Zabotel and Alex Grant will be placed on IR (they don't need designation until the regular-season starts).

Pittsburgh will have to assign three more players to get down to the normal 23-man roster. The team has until 3 p.m. on Wednesday to finalize the lineup for the start of the regular season.

10:49 AM:
The Penguins will officially open the CONSOL Energy Center and the 2010-11 regular season Oct. 7 against inter-state rival Philadelphia. The ice is already getting prepped for the big day.


9:30 AM:
Penguins forward Ryan Craig, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury Sept. 25 at Columbus, was on the ice early Monday morning with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

It's a good sign for Craig, who is hoping to land a spot on Pittsburgh's roster to start the season. He scored two goals in a 5-1 victory over Detroit Sept. 22 in the first-ever game played at CONSOL Energy Center.

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