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Penguins Report: Practice 12/19/10

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Kunitz practices, Pens lines (11:12 AM).
  • One HBO highlight was the hotel prank (10:58 AM).
  • Bylsma and Crosby share their insight (1:21 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:23 AM).
  • 'Yotes pics (1:31 PM).
  • "I feel good when things are going wrong. I only listen to the sad, sad songs..." (10:45 AM).

1:31 PM:
The Coyotes are on the ice at CONSOL Energy Center right now for practice. Emperical evidence below:

Former Pen Paul "BizNasty" Bissonnette (left)

1:21 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On Malkin saying Chris Kunitz will play Monday:
It’s nice to see Geno come out of his shell. Sometimes, you look for a guy to open up and then you want him to shut his mouth after. Chris took some time, obviously, with missing the two games and practices this week. He did skate yesterday and participated in a full practice today.  I have not talked to the trainer yet, but apparently Geno has. We’ll see how he reacts tomorrow morning. We hope he’s in there tomorrow, so does Geno.

On Phoenix missing Zbynek Michalek:
They expressed that when we were in Phoenix as well, and we’re not surprised that they miss Z. There’s not and will not be a lot of firecrackers and booms with his game, but he’s a great defender. He’s great, PK-wise and with his intensity and battle level he brings to the defensive side. In addition, he skates well and can move the puck and shoots it a ton. We haven’t seen that a lot this year, but we saw that quite a bit last game.

On the different mentality for brothers choosing different position:
You have gone to an area of life that I don’t have an education in. But I was the fourth boy, and because of that position in the family, I tend to be the hard-working pest kind of player in pretty much every sport I’ve played. I don’t have an answer, but you can read some books on that.

On the fine line between winning and losing:
That’s a great question. Because if you watched our last game without volume, the second time through you see us do a lot of really good things. You see a lot of the things we’re trying to do as a team, and we end up not getting the second goal when there were a couple chances to do that. We take the penalty and give up the power-play goal, and it’s 1-1. The next shift it’s 2-1 and we end up losing that game. However, I think if you turn up the volume, and I mean listen and see what’s really happening in the game, we were playing a game in which we’d given up five or six chances through two periods. We started to turn the puck over a little bit in the second period and took our foot off the way we wanted to play. We stopped putting pressure on them and let them back into a 50-50 game. Now you bring in a penalty, and give up a power-play goal. The next shift they get a goal. And you can talk about those specific instances, but we want to play in a way that takes that out of the game. When you play that type of game I don’t know what the score is going to be, what the storyline is or what you’re going to write about on paper. But on the bench, with the volume turned up, you know you’re dictating the pace and the how the game is played. If you play 60 minutes or a seven-game series like that, you know what the result is going to be. With the volume turned down, we did some good things in that game up until they scored their second goal. But with the volume turned up, we stopped managing the puck and stopped putting pressure on them. We made it a 50-50 game. You could feel that was a possibility because that of the way we were playing. It is a fine line, but when you play a certain way and you’re on that page and apply pressure to your execution where it’s played and physicality, going to the net and pushing them back on their heels, that’s going to take all of those fine lines out of the situations, and you know what’s going to happen.

On the four-day break:
We haven’t had one of these this year. It’s been a time where we’ve judged where our team is at, health-wise and how many games we’ve played. It’s also the first time, Friday, that we had a work day – to get some work with pace and speed and et that tempo and work in the practice that we can use in the game. We did that Friday. The next day was more of an opportunity to have a meeting and still work on things for Phoenix.  We had an option in between for guys to get some work in, if there were situations where guys needed it. Or got some rest for guys that needed that. We got some work and got some rest. Hopefully we’ll be focused for there (games) in four (nights).

On if Staal is skating and his timeline:

He continues to work on both on and off the ice at times. He’ll get further evaluation this upcoming week to see on a timeline and progression would be for him.

On if Staal’s injury isn’t progressing as originally thought
Mid-December was six weeks post surgery. That’s the time for a bone to heal. He has healing in his hand, but the particular spot and the wrong pressure, we have to continue we don’t get in a situation where we hurt it once he’s skating full time. He continues to show progress. He’ll be evaluated this week. Hopefully, we’ll get a timeline to see him back in practice and a game coming up shortly.

On Staal missing a lot of work:

He’s missed a lot now. At least with practice and competition is something that he hasn’t seen. We’ll make that timeline once we know that he’s back in practice. He’s in pretty good shape right now. Certainly not playing shape, but he’s in pretty good shape right now.

Sidney Crosby

On if he plans to keep pounding away until the end of his streak comes:
It’s not a bad thing. I think even with our winning streak, you still have to evaluate your game. Even though you get points, sometimes you don’t always play the greatest. The last few games, I haven’t really been too happy. I don’t think I’ve gotten a shot in the last two games. I’ve got to be better. Certainly, when they’re going in and you’re capitalizing, you’ve got to make sure you’re at your best and make the most of it.

On how he personally re-evaluates his game:
I don’t really write things down, but if there’s things that you need to go over or shifts you need to look at, I think whether you’re playing good or bad there’s always mistakes you want to learn from in games. I’m always able to evaluate myself pretty critically after a game, and I think that’s how you need to be. That doesn’t change whether you’re getting on a streak like I am. If not, I’d still do the same thing.

On if he says at times, ‘I got away with that one’:
That happens a lot. You have to be pretty honest with yourself. There are times when the puck’s not going in and you’re playing well. You look back and say ‘I wouldn’t have done a lot of things differently.’ The last few games, guys have put some passes in, but there’s lots of chances where I didn’t get pucks through and didn’t create enough. I’ve got to be honest there, and expect more too.

On what he remembers from the last time the Penguins played the Coyotes:
I felt like we got through a lot of adversity that game, that’s for sure. It felt like every chance Phoenix would get against us would go in. In Phoenix, we got off to a decent start. They came back; we ended up winning in a shootout. That was a gutsy win and a tough game, and we expect another tough game (Monday).

Assists: Michelle Crechiolo, Tony Jovenitti

11:23 AM:

Malkin (right)

Fleury (right)

Talbot (left); Kennedy puttin' on the foil (right)

Cooke working on his net-front re-directions

Asst. coach Todd Reirden (left)

11:12 AM:
Pens' lines: same as it ever was:



10:58 AM:
We talked to some of the guys after the premiere of the first episode of HBO Sports "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic." One of the best scenes came when Marc-Andre Fleury and a crew of Pens players pranked Ben Lovejoy and Mark Letestu in their hotel in Buffalo. Here's what they all had to say afterwards.

10:50 AM:
Some of the players have already started taking the ice for their 11 a.m. practice at CONSOL Energy Center. Matt Cooke is posted up in front of Brent Johnson, working on tips courtesy of shots from Deryk Engelland.

10:45 AM:
After a day off Saturday, the Penguins are back on the ice to prepare for their 7 p.m. tilt against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes on Monday.

We're going to kick the day off with Shirley Manson and Garbage, "I'm Only Happy When It Rains," an ode to Trib Total Media Rob Rossi's outlook on life.

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