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The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins Report: Practice 12/21/10

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Tuesday final thoughts...

  • Maintenance days for Asham and Goligoski, both are expected back Tuesday (12:27 PM).
  • Malkin soars to third among forwards in NHL All-Star voting (3:04 PM).
  • Dan Bylsma on Matt Cooke and more (1:10 PM).
  • There's 16 Pens that have yet to participate in a Winter Classic (4:34 PM).
  • Insight on Wednesday's game from Crosby, Letang and Orpik (1 P.M.)
  • Pens lines remain the same (11:32 AM).
  • Heinz Field will start becoming transformed on Thursday (2:45 PM).
  • Panthers do their best Vogue impression (1:37 PM).
  • Pens putting the "fun" in fundamental (11:06 AM).
  • More visual evidence of the Pens practice (11:36 AM).
  • The first time we've seen Rob Rossi back down (12:49 PM).

4:34 PM:
Pittsburgh may played in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008. However, there's only six players left from that squad on this year's team. Tony Jovenitti got some great insight from some of the guys who have yet to participate in an NHL outdoor game.

3:04 PM:
Evgeni Malkin has been playing out of his mind his past three games, and the fans have noticed! He's now ranked third among forwards in NHL All-Star Voting!

2:45 PM:
We've got a Winter Classic update! NHL ice guru Dan Craig arrived in Pittsburgh Monday night to begin preparations for turning Heinz Field into a hockey rink!

1:37 PM:
After their 5-0 win in Philadelphia last night, the Panthers are having a pretty fun practice. Here, the team "posed" for a picture, while a Panther pretended to use his glove as a camera mounted on top of a makeshift stick tripod to snap a shot. What a Kodak moment.

1:13 PM:
The Panthers are certainly enjoying themselves out there right now. Coach Peter DeBoer is letting his players go 3-on-3 full-ice.



1:10 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if he heard from the NHL about Matt Cooke’s hit on Keith Yandle:
We encourage players not to finish checks on the penalty kill. So from that standpoint, I didn’t like putting ourselves in that situation. We don’t want that to happen on the penalty kill. The league looks at every game and every hit. I’m sure they’ve looked at that one and played it back. Probably, under replay, it looks worse than it was live. But the player was healthy enough to play on the power play. (The NHL) doesn’t make a habit about calling teams after games or after situations that arise. They are looking at every game. So we can assume they are looking at it and will review it.

On how he coaches Cooke:
Part of Matt Cooke’s job description and the foundation of his game is playing on the edge and physical. If he’s not the first guy on the forecheck, then he’s probably going to get a poor rating on HBO. That’s part of what he does, and he knows it. Part of it isn’t just a finished check. – it’s with authority. He’s a guy that plays with a lot of emotion. Scaling back that emotion probably means him not being on his game. If it gets ramped up too high, he can go over that line, just like a lot of players can. Their emotions can get ramped up, and it’s a tough balance to strike. But that’s part of what he does, he’s a physical presence. We saw that situation a couple games ago that led to a play that was a penalty.

On if he talks to Cooke about that:
I wouldn’t say we talk about it a lot. We did at times this year when he had a chance to finish a check and he didn’t finish and why. We do talk about it because part of his foundation is his physicality. He had six hits in the Philadelphia game and he knows he had six hits. So there are discussions about it and he watches his shifts and clips to see where he does that well.

On if the loss of Jordan Staal affected Cooke:
Matt Cooke is one of the players on our team that is comfortable moving around. If he plays tonight with Evgeni Malkin and the next night with Jordan Staal, he’s one of the guys that has the ability to deal with that situation. So if you’re asking a player if he wants to play with Jordan Staal, then I’m sure he would like that. So that’s a good thing to be able to go over the boards on the PK with that as a part of your mentality. So that hasn’t affected his overall game.

On Jordan Staal:
I’ll relate this to Tyler Kennedy last year. Tyler had an injury, and Tyler Kennedy only knows one thing when he gets on the ice, and it’s a million miles an hour. So to tell Tyler to go out with an injury to kind of see where you’re at and only go 50 percent, he only goes 100 percent, even at 50 percent, he can’t stop. Jordan Staal is in great strength right now. He’s got super-human strength right now for not having really worked out like he probably would have wanted. So getting him on the ice and going full power is showing that he doesn’t have to worry about his strength. Our biggest concern is talking about his hands. Game situations and physicality is going to be the hardest thing for him adjusting.

On if the team is looking forward to the Capitals:

Not really. I mean, are we anxious to play them and do we know it’s a big game? Yeah, for sure. And that game has always got a lot to it for our team – playing against a good team, one of the best teams in the East. But I don’t think (we’ll be thinking about it) last night, and I don’t think today, and I don’t think tomorrow. We’re going to be looking at the Florida Panthers before we get to that game.

In if Malkin’s personality emerges more when he plays well:
Maybe a little bit more. I probably have been telling you for a long time that you’re going to see it emerge. And we continue to see it all the time, whether he’s playing well, not playing well or injured. You saw him on the bike there on HBO a little bit, and in the Flip video, the commercial. That’s not staged. He came up with that line on his own. They didn’t give him that line. He’s quick-witted and he’s got a sharp tongue. We see it a lot, and hopefully you’re going to see it a lot more.

On why the team doesn’t finish checks on penalty kill:

It’s not about the fear of taking a penalty. It’s a recovery issue. You’re taking yourself out of position and out of line when you’re down a man by finishing your checks.  So we talk about trying not to finish your check on the penalty kill.

Bank shot off the goalie's head: Tony Jovenitti

1:00 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...


On the key to Tuesday’s game and how to beat Tomas Vokoun:
He’s always played well against us. He’s an elite goalie in the league. I don’t think we want to change much. All those habits we work on are for that reason, to create offense and score goals. So I don’t think we’re going to try to change anything. We’ve got to make sure we compete though. They work really hard, they’re a skating team. We’ve got to be ready to make sure we’re doing the same.

On Vokoun’s righthanded glove presenting more of a challenge:
I think it’s something to be aware of for shooters. I don’t think you want to think about it too much, but it’s something that’s in the back of your mind. You’ve got to know when you’re coming down each side what you’re looking at. He’s a silly-sider, that’s what we like to call it. He’s one of those guys that we’ve come to be aware of, but you don’t want to change how you approach anything. Our mindset I think is just as a shooter, it’s good to be aware of it.

On what was behind the power play’s success:
I think just competing. We have a lot of skill. It seems like when we compete and work hard and outwork their penalty kill, then the plays and the execution come with that. As long as you’re out there with the right mindset that we’ve got to go out there and work hard and outwork them, then the skill and the plays will take care of themselves.


On how to deal with a team that just topped the Flyers 5-0 on Monday:
I don’t think we prepare differently. We know they’re a hardworking team. They skate really well, they’re very fast on the ice. It’s important to have a good gap, to make sure we deny the middle of the ice and make them chip the puck in and retrieve it.

On how to prepare for a defense that starts with Tomas Vokoun:
They’re playing well defensively. They’re really fast coming back in their zone and they protect the puck really well there. Overall, I think it’s going to be important to make sure they don’t gain speed through the neutral zone.

On the importance of the Pens defense getting shots on Vokoun:
I think it’s really important. They play really deep in their zone. The points are going to be open, so it’s going to be important to put the puck on the net and make sure we get some shots through.

On what Florida’s offense brings to the game and how to prepare for them:
Their speed. They’re really fast and skilled, and they’re really good on the rush. I think it’s going to be important to have a good gap and play well in front of Flower.


12:59 PM:
The Panthers are already in town and are on the ice for practice. Visual evidence soon to come.

12:49 PM:
Hilarious sequence of events. The staff here at CONSOL Energy Center just set off the goal horn twice here at the arena, scaring the daylights out of Tony Jovenitti and I. Then as Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi protested, the staff fired back by playing the horn three more times. Rossi was forced to wave a white envelope of surrender. Goal Horn 1, Rossi 0

12:27 PM:
Bylsma said Asham and Goligoski were taking maintenance days, and both are expected back Tuesday.

11:36 AM:

More photographic proof of the Pens' practice.




11:32 AM:
Pens lines:


11:20 AM:

Arron Asham and Alex Goligoski are not in attendance at today's practice. We'll provide updates on their respective statuses as soon we get them from head coach Dan Bylsma. (Seriously).

11:06 AM:

The players have taken to the ice for their skate. They're starting practice off with a few fundamental drills: passing back-and-forth, working on tight turns, and my personal favorite, saucer passing over sticks.



10:39 AM:
Lots of coverage from the Pens' resounding 6-1 victory over Phoenix here on Monday night to start the day.

First, the two-headed monster that is Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin left the Coyotes howling, while the Pens stymied eight Phoenix power plays to give them the No. 1 PK unit in the league. Huge game all-around for Pittsburgh.

10:37 AM:
Our director of content, Sam Kasan, is day-to-day with an upper-respiratory injury. We'll provide an update on his status from head coach Dan Bylsma following practice. Just kidding. He's home sick.

10:35 AM:
With the holiday season upon us, here's a catchy Christmas ditty to get you in the spirit. The game-night entertainment staff played this classic song during the Holiday Shuffle here at CONSOL Energy Center last night.

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