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Penguins Report: Practice 10/5/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Pens line combos/D-pairs (1:33 PM).
  • Pens top PP unit (2:09 PM).
  • Malkin has a big Hart (4:05 PM).
  • Whatcha gonna do when MalkaMania runs wild on you? (5:25 PM).
  • Bylsma talks Crosby, Crosby and Staal/Sullivan (4:51 PM).
  • Crosby talks Crosby, Crosby and Malkin. Also Orpik, Malkin and Fleury spit knowledge (4:01 PM).
  • Pics baby (2:23 PM).
  • Sites around Vancouver (9:30 AM).
  • “Loose ends tangle down and then take flight…” (9:00 AM).

Are you guys as eager to see Evgeni Malkin's upcoming season as I am? If not, here is a reel of his preseason dominance to get your adrenaline going.

Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On how Crosby looks:
I think he has looked good on the ice. He’s gone through the rigors of training camp and has been taking part in everything but some hard contact on the ice. He’s been in and around and going to the net. He’s been a part of drills, so he looks good. I read an article (Tuesday) about just the way he’s on the ice. You see a smile. I see him competing out there and going after pucks and going fast in drills. He looks good. He’s had good progress and that’s a good sign.

On how important Crosby is to their hockey club:
I think regardless of whether he’s playing in the game or if he’s not on the ice, he’s part of our team. He’s a big part of our team from a leadership standpoint. He’s a big part of our team from a player standpoint. He’s a big part of that room. A lot of those guys have been together for a long time. So just to have him in training camp has been a plus. And he’s progressed nicely, that’s a plus as well. It’s a good thing.

On if he worries that his players might be too concerned with Crosby rather than themselves:
I don’t. I don’t see our players worrying about anything other than getting ready themselves, getting ready for game 1, getting ready in training camp and going about our business that way. Again, we’re eager to have him on the ice and excited to have him on the ice looking good.

On what Crosby’s next step is:
I don’t have a timeline nor a progression in that regard. He’s in contact with the doctors every few days, every other day. It’s not something I know when that (contact with doctors) is. He continues to progress in his rehab. He’s skating and conditioning. There’s no timetable, no progression, no hidden or secret moment where he’s going to get to the next spot. We’re just happy he continues to progress nicely.

On how he likes the feeling of being on a long trip like this to start the year:
I’m liking that the first month. We play a lot of hockey games this month. I like getting on the road. We do that a couple times. And we have a trip out here. I like that trip at the beginning of the year. I think it has a different flavor, a different excitement with the guys getting together early as a team for the first time. It’s something that maybe in March is a little bit of a different feel for the players. So a lot of those things are plusses, but we’ve all left training camp right now and none of us have played a regular-season game. We all haven’t won or lost a game. We’re starting game 1 on the road against a pretty good hockey team. That starts (Thursday) and that’s a heck of a lot different than training camp. So it will be a good test.

On if he could see Jordan Staal’s numbers spike like Ryan Kesler’s because of their similiarities:
Jordan went up – I don’t know the exact number – but around 0.25 points-per-game last year in the second half of the season. I think we’ve seen many players struggle not having a training camp and being out the first half of the year. No one really gives Jordan any credit for that. He got better in his numbers, played a more significant role and he didn’t have a training camp. He didn’t have a summer. He came back and jumped right into that. You’ve seen him have a summer now. I think in training camp, I think he’s had a significant boost in the way he’s played offensively, the way he’s skated, the way he’s driven to the net. I think you’re going to see that kind of player for us this year having had a good summer, having a strong training camp and continuing on. He’s a pretty young kid still, even though he’s played a lot of NHL games and playoff games and won a lot of important games. I think you’re going to see him get better in several different areas. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get maybe 10 more points this year. I wouldn’t be super surprised to see that with the way he’s skated. That’s a real possibility.

On if he’s been surprised by Steve Sullivan and what he likes about him alongside Evgeni Malkin:
I’ve been surprised about a couple different things. I didn’t realize how small 161 pounds is. I knew the numbers that he (measured), but he’s 161-pounds small (laughs). We knew that he’s a very skilled, talented player. We knew where he’d been for some of his teams that he’d played with, but the intelligence with which he plays the game and his hockey sense is real, real high. It’s been beneficial for us on the power play up to this point. It’s been beneficial for us pairing him with certain players. He played almost right away in scrimmages and the Black and Gold Game for a period almost immediately. There was a faceoff play we did in the Black and Gold Game. We’ve ran this faceoff play for seven years, and it wasn’t until Steve Sullivan got the puck in that spot that he found the third option. We haven’t had anyone find the player that’s the third option in seven years, and that was him having done the play just a couple times. He’s just a real smart player with a real good hockey sense. He’s fit right in nicely on Malkin’s wing and in the power play. That’s what we thought, but I’m a little surprised at how intelligent and how good of a hockey sense he’s been able to show in that matchup with Geno and on the power play.

Gold medal: Michelle Crechiolo

Last season goalie Marc-Andre Fleury put in a good argument that he should have been considered a Hart Trophy candidate as NHL MVP. This season though, according to EJ Hradek, the trophy will belong to his teammate... Evgeni Malkin.

Sidney Crosby couldn't escape Vancouver without talking to the media. Here's what he had to say:

On how he felt on the ice today:
I felt good. It’s nice to be on the trip and looking forward to the start of the season.

On having good memories on this ice surface:
Yeah, great memories. It looks a little different without the tables and the media set-up, but it’s full of great memories. This being the first time back, it’s pretty easy to kind of go through that in your head.

On if he recognizes where he had his overtime game-winner celebration:
Oh, yeah. Great memories, and like I said, I’m happy to be back.

On how close he thinks he is to being back:
You know what, I really don’t know. I’ve been feeling good the last few weeks here and have kind of ramped it up. I haven’t had any issues, and I’ve been happy with the way things have gone.

On what has to happen before he’s cleared for contact in practice:
I think they’re just going to try and keep an eye on me here as far as communicating with the doctors. I’ll just continue to do that. It’s kind of more where they’ll let me know then anything. I’m just basically updating them every day and that’s where it stands right now.

On if he feels closer when he’s on the road with his teammates:
Yeah, it’s much nicer. I mean, any guy who’s hurt will tell you that you kind of feel separate from the team a little bit when you’re coming in early, you’re not skating with them every day sometimes and not traveling with them all the time. So yeah, it’s nice to be on the trip, especially now – everyone’s pretty excited to get the season started. And to be part of that, I’m pretty anxious as well.

On if he has a different feeling heading into opening night not being in the lineup:
I’d typically say yes, but when you’ve gone through something for this long, I think you appreciate the little victories and having the opportunity to just go out there and go as hard as you can and feel good. You go into each day and hope you feel better. It’s been really good so far, so I think more or less, that has just been something that I’ve been happy about. I’m not happy about missing the first game, but I’m happy with the improvement and happy to be going hard.

On if he sees a light at the end of the tunnel now:
It’s just a day at a time. I know it’s cliché, but I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated just being able to do this every day as much as I do lately, because for a long time I wasn’t able to. So you just get up every day and try to go as hard as you can and hope you feel good. For me, the last few weeks have been great, so no complaints.

On if he wondered during those moments if he would get better:
I think you’re always as positive as you can be. There’s going to be a time, but you just don’t know the timeframe. That’s kind of the frustrating thing about these types of injuries. Sometimes you feel like you’re close and then something happens and you’re not. That’s why I think it’s been great to be going this long of a period of time without any setbacks.

On how much he worries about getting hit again:
I can’t control it. I’m going to get hit again. I think if anything, you try to prepare yourself. Mentally, if you know you’re healthy and you know you take the necessary steps to get ready, I think you’re not going to fear that nearly as much as you would if you were rushing things and knowing that there’s still something wrong. I’m happy with the way things have gone.

On if he’s been symptom-free for a month:
Less than that. But it’s been a pretty long period of time considering the months prior to that. So yeah, it’s been a good chunk of time.

On what Brendan Shanahan has been doing policing headshots:
I think he’s doing a great job. It’s not easy, but I think the best thing he’s probably done is treat each individual case differently. I think he’s really going over each part and making sure he explains it well. I think everyone’s been pretty well-educated on the decisions he’s made. If anything, people are learning and hopefully, with time, they’ll go down. I don’t think anybody is out there expecting that headshots are going to be totally gone. I mean, they’re going to happen. But I think they’re going to be a lot less if we keep doing the same things we’re doing.

On if he feels it took his own injury to perk the league’s interest:
I think it was a bit of a subject leading up to that. You can name a few hits leading up to that, that kind of brought on the discussion. But I’m sure (my injury) added to it. (Head shots have) been top of the conversation in hockey and in football – a lot of different areas. So it’s something we’re all being more educated about, but at the same time, everyone’s trying to do their part and trying to get rid of it as much as we can.

On Evgeni Malkin:
He’s looked awesome. He’s in great shape. He’s flying out there. He’s dominated each game he’s played in. he’s more than ready to start the year and we expect him to be flying out there (Thursday).

And here are some sounds heard around the Rogers Arena visitors locker room...

Brooks Orpik

On having lower abdominal/hernia surgery two consecutive summers:
I wish I could say I was used to it, but not really. I’ve had both sides done in consecutive summers. Most of the guys that have it done, it kind of seems (they have it done) within a couple years. Unless you’re lucky, the other side is usually the next to go. Hopefully if we rehab right this time, it’s the last of my visits to that area. If you rehab it right, they say it’s supposed to be stronger than it was before you hurt it. So hopefully that’s the case. Hopefully I don’t have to re-visit that.

On if he will play Thursday night:
It’s kind of up to (the coaches), really. I’m kind of just going day-by-day, seeing how it reacts to a couple hard practices. I haven’t really had that much practice time and I didn’t play in any preseason games, so it’s definitely a little catch-up. As much as you hear some guys complaining about preseason games, you’ve got to get a few in just to get used to that speed, because no matter how ready you think you are, it’s tough to simulate that speed in practice.

Evgeni Malkin

On finally getting the season underway:
I’m happy because it’s been a long time not playing. The season opener has finally come. We have a great team and I’m excited.

On his expectations for the year:
I have great motivation. I haven’t played for a long time. I know how I can play. It’s tough, but I had a great summer and worked hard. I played four preseason games. I’m ready.

On how anxious they are to get Sidney Crosby back:
Yeah, we all hope he plays soon. He skates with us and we see how he’s progressed. We hope he plays soon. We have a great team and we’re ready to play.

On if they’re starting to wonder when Crosby will come back:
I don’t think about it. I think about my game. I know how I can play and we know how we can play. We have great coaches and great systems. We just play our game.

On how Crosby looks from what he’s seen:
Sid always looks good. He’s the best player ever.

Marc-Andre Fleury

On his mentality heading into the season opener:
It seems like we had a bit of a longer summer than we’ve been used to having the past couple years, but I’m just excited to be back at it and play some hockey.

On if Thursday means more because of both teams’ Cup aspirations:
I don’t know. I think for us, these are always fun games and a good challenge to see where we’re at right now and what we’re starting the season with. They’re a good team, so it will be fun to see that and play the game (Thursday).

On how Sidney Crosby looks:
He looks pretty good. He’s just like himself, what we’re used to seeing from him. Good hands, good shot, fast. Hopefully he can be back soon.

Hat trick: Michelle Crechiolo

Pictures to occupy your ADD:

The Pens gather uner the Canucks symbol at Rogers Arena

Staal was back at practice after taking a maintenance day Tuesday(left); Orpik's status for Thursday night is still unknown (right)

Malkin does a Russian stretch (left); Crosby skates with the media always lurking over his shoulder (right)

Fleury does a spin-o-rama moonwalk, as far as you know (left); Johnson no longer needs a B. placed in front of his name. I'm sure it's a huge weight off his shoulders (right)

NHL FACE-OFF (left); Guess the mystery Penguin above. If you guessed Cooke, then you're wrong (right)

Fleury came out before practice and appears to be playing XBox on the jumbotron (assist: @_CakeEater).

The Pens first-team PP put in a little work at practice. Kunitz, Malkin and Neal were working up front with Letang and Sullivan manning the points.


Pens are in their line combos at practice. Here's how they look:



Note: Orpik and Jeffrey were running shifts as D-partners.

The Pens took a noon bus to Rogers Arena for a 1:30 p.m. scheduled practice. The players are a few minutes away from taking the ice here in Vancouver.

Unfortunately it was an overcast day upon our arrival in the city scholars refer to as Vancouver. I was hoping to fill the blog with some beautiful, scenic shots of the city, but the threat of rain curtailed that wish. I did get a few pics in though before a few rain drops scared me and my new expensive camera away.

Lonely plane has no friends (left); Save the Clock Tower - Great Scott! (right)

The mountains (left); Boats have many friends (right)

View from the highway (left); Look up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane... (right)'s Super... no wait, it is a plane. And it's about to make an awesome water landing.

Glass buildings everywhere (left); This guy looks like a club bouncer protecting the water (right)

An interesting monument I stumbed upon (left); These guys are so disciplined that they don't even move!! Impressive (right)

"Silence is the Mother of Truth" (left); O' Canada (right)

Good morning from Vancouver!! (Or afternoon if you're back in Pittsburgh). The team took a 5-hour flight from Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon, arriving in Vancouver at roughly 3 o'clock Pacific Time.

The Pens open the season Thursday night against Vancouver. We are less than 48 hours away from the start of the 2011-12 season! Today the Pens must submit their official 23-man opening day playing roster to the NHL by 3 p.m. (Eastern Time). The Pens are already at 23 active players, but I'll keep you posted on if there are any changes. 

For the morning song, since we took a long, long, long, long flight yesterday, I want to open the day with Greg Laswell's "Off I Go," which includes the fitting lyric "Off I go, where I fall is where I land." The Pens landed in Vancouver! And have a date with the Canucks Thursday night to open the 2011-12 season! #getexcited

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