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Penguins Report: Practice 12/10/10

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Malkin will be on the ice for Saturday's morning skate at HSBC Arena, maintenance day for Martin (12:36 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma gave an update on the injury status of Jordan Staal (12:59 PM).
  • The Pens have recalled forward Dustin Jeffrey from Wilkes-Barre Scranton (5:40 PM).
  • As Matthew Wilder would say, "ain't nothin gonna break (the Pens defense) stride" (5:50 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:15 AM).
  • Mario Lemieux and the Pens are hosting an alumni game at the Winter Classic (11:57 AM).
  • Rupp gives PensTV the scoop on his Charlie Brown Christmas tree (3:30 PM).
  • Words of wisdom on Ryan Miller and more from Crosby, Talbot and Michalek (1:29 PM).
  • Pics from the Pens practice at Southpointe (11:28 AM).
  • The HBO cameras are in the building (11:42 AM).

5:40 PM:
The Pens have recalled forward Dustin Jeffrey from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. It was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.

5:05 PM:
It's easy to get caught up in the offensive firepower that the Penguins have, especially when Sidney Crosby is on your team. But what you may not know is that the team's defense, who tends to fly under the radar, has been hitting its stride over the team's incredible 11-game winning streak.

3:30 PM:
Pens TV talked to Mike Rupp about the Charlie Brown Christmas tree next to his stall.


1:49 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On the status of Paul Martin:
Another maintenance day. He is best served not to be on the ice today. He’ll be out there (Saturday).

On how the team matches up with Buffalo in terms of their defensive play:
I always find Buffalo to be a dangerous team to play against. Their D is really active in their offense, always joining the rush, which they do extremely well. But they’re also active in the offensive zone, back on the blue line and also coming down in the slot area. I always feel like they’re a dangerous team to play against because they can score goals from down there and it does pose some problems. So we have to take care of the puck, track back and deal with that, and also be good in our defensive zone. When we have been, it has given us chances to get to our game. I always feel like playing them, it’s going to be how we manage the puck and how we can deal with their D, who can be dangerous. If we can get to the offensive zone, we can make their D play defense, which we need to do.

On Jordan Staal’s recovery timeline:
Jordan continues to progress in the timeline that we had before. He’s scheduled for another x-ray next week after having the pin taken out. Over the last week or so, there was calcification in the bone. We need to continue to see that next week during his scheduled x-ray. He’ll keep rehabbing on his current course.

On a report that there was a setback:
If you’re referencing an Internet report that said there was another break, then that is not true. He’s continuing on the same course. He has the pin out. There is calcification and we have another scheduled x-ray. We hope to continue seeing the healing that’s already taking place. He’s on that rehab program.

On the status of Evgeni Malkin:
Geno is significantly better than we had hoped and planned, and he’ll be on the ice with us (Saturday) at the morning skate.

1:29 PM:
Sounds from around the locker room...


On if the team has a strategy for Ryan Miller:
I think we practice a lot of things that apply to every goalie, and I think it's important not to have to change or adjust too much. We know he’s good. If anything, that should make us focus more on getting pucks and traffic to the net and making sure we execute well when we get a chance. I don’t think you ever want to change too much unless there’s something that jumps out at you with what someone does. I think the habits and the skills that we practice are for that--for good goalies, and making sure we find ways to score.

On how the winning streak has been without having Staal and Malkin for parts:
It’s not easy, and we’ve competed pretty hard. We’ve got some big plays from everyone. That’s something we have to deal with, and we know that. We’re just trying to do our best and make sure that we give ourselves a chance. Knowing those guys will be back at some point, hopefully we’re playing good hockey when they’re ready to come back.

On if the importance is to get Staal back or to get him healthy with the team doing so well:
I think it’s always to be healthy. I think that’s always the first and foremost, it has to be. (And) with what he’s been through, probably more than ever. I think that’s always the priority for everybody involved, and as players, I think you know when a guy’s ready to come back, and when he’s ready, you’re happy to have him back. But I think you want what’s right for him.


On if going back to Buffalo so soon will help the team at all:
Yes and no. It’s always a tough place to play, they’re a good team, they’re playing well right now. They’re coming off a big win, and they’re definitely a good team, so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.

On Ryan Miller:
Their other goalie did the job against us last time, he was pretty good. But obviously Miller is one of the best in the league, if not the best. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.

On what his line has been contributing over the streak:
I think everybody’s been contributing pretty good. Whether it’s Conner’s line, Sid’s line, Craig Adams’ line has been pretty good too. As for us, me, Ash, and Cookie, we want to play in the offensive zone a little bit more, get some pucks to the net. Those two guys are definitely crashing to the net, finishing their hits, they’re not easy to play against. So everybody’s going to be in the way, that’s for sure.

On his line being physical and creating space for their teammates:
What Sid is doing right now, he’s not doing it alone. So guys like (Dupuis) and (Kunitz) and all of the defensemen are doing a great job getting us the puck and allowing us to attack with speed. So everybody’s doing their job pretty good, and that’s what gives us success right now.


On whether Saturday will be another defensive duel:
(Thursday), Buffalo scored six goals. So I think they’ve got it going pretty well, they’ve been playing well lately, and so are we. So we expect a pretty good hockey game (Saturday). They have something to prove. They didn’t start their season well and they want to get back in the playoff picture. I’m sure they’re going to throw everything at us (Saturday), so we’ve got to make sure we are ready to go and just play our game. We have to worry about our game first, I believe if we play our game we can play against any team. So we’ve got to make sure we are ready to go, because like I said, they are playing good hockey, probably better than what they were playing when we saw them last time.

On how to deal with a goalie like Ryan Miller:
I think it’s a good challenge for our team to play against a good goalie like that. We know he’s probably one of the best goalies in the league, and we’ve just got to do our best. We’ve got to throw everything on him, go to the net hard like Chris Kunitz is doing, and make it tough for him. Any goalie doesn’t like traffic, so we’ll go hard, throw pucks at him and any goalie is beatable then.

12:59 PM:
Bylsma also provided an update on the status of Jordan Staal.

12:36 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Evgeni Malkin is "significantly better than we had hoped and planned, and he will be on the ice with us (Saturday) for morning skate."

He added that Paul Martin took "a maintenance day. He is best served not to be on the ice today. He'll be out there (Saturday)."

11:57 AM:
The history between the Pens and the Caps gets even richer! In some great news for hockey fans, Mario Lemiex and the Penguins are hosting a Winter Classic alumni game versus the Capitals, who will be led by Peter Bondra, on Heinz Field on Dec. 31.

One $25 ticket will get you in to see the 9:30 a.m. game AND the Penguins 11:30 a.m. practice session that folows. Pretty awesome.

11:54 AM:
The team just started their shootout, and Flower performed some of his trademark antics. The crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed after each big goal and save.

11:42 AM:
The HBO cameras are in the building for their first-ever Southpointe practice. I warned them to bundle up, as it's pretty frigid in here...


11:28 AM:




11:15 AM:
Brooks Orpik and Kris Letang are both back on the ice today after taking Thursday off for maintenance reasons. Evgeni Malkin, however, is still out, and Paul Martin is also missing from the skate. We'll provide updates as soon as we get them from head coach Dan Bylsma.

The Pens are using the same lines as they have been over the past few games:


11:10 AM:
The team has started off practice with some of my favorite drills. They paired up and sent the puck back-and-forth to each other, did a little saucer-passing over sticks, and even scrimmaged a bit.

Even Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson did a little passing to each other...with the coaches hounding them a bit.

10:51 AM:
The players have already started making their way onto the ice, including both goaltenders.

10:35 AM:
Today's practice will be eerily quiet compared to Thursday's 3rd annual "School Open" practice at CONSOL Energy Center.

The team is skating at the Iceoplex at Southpointe this morning, and will head straight to Buffalo from here. They're traveling to New York for the second time in just over two weeks, as the Pens topped the Sabres at HSBC Arena on Nov. 24, 1-0
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