After Wednesday night’s disappointing contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Pittsburgh Penguins focused on putting the pieces of their game back together during this morning’s early bird practice held at Mellon Arena at 8:30 a.m.
Although obviously displeased with their recent performance, many players said that they will continue to move forward in the regular season by putting the loss behind them and concentrating on improving their game for the upcoming playoff season in April.
“I think a lot of it is just accountability and focus with this group,” Brooks Orpik
said. “It’s one of those things where we want to go into the playoffs on a roll. It’s not something where you can just turn the switch on.”
Guerin added that although he was equally concerned with the outcome of Wednesday’s game, he still is not panicking about the team’s ability to perform well in the playoffs.
“We’re going to stay focused and not let things get to us,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it too much lately. We just have to produce. I don’t ever question the effort of our team – maybe our individual mental preparation, but guys work hard every night. It’s just a matter of being there mentally.”Pascal Dupuis
also noted the importance of re-gaining focus on the ice, especially after watching Tampa Bay turn on their game.
“They worked hard, and I don’t think that we were mentally prepared,” he said. “You have to look at yourself and get ready and be accountable to your game. What you can bring to the team and what you can bring to the table – you have to bring that night after night. Individually, you have to think about it and do it.”
Despite the end result of the game, head coach Dan Bylsma said that the team knows exactly what it needs to do to stay consistent in the remaining five games of the season.
“We know that we need to get better,” he said. “What we need to get better at is not a part of the game. It’s being focused and prepared to do it. It’s bringing the right mentality. We can get to that and be consistent with it. That was certainly something that we talked about, and we talked about it today. We worked on those details in practice.”
Captain Sidney Crosby
acknowledged that the practice gave the players an opportunity to re-group and pay attention to the little details of their game.
“We really didn’t play desperate or hard enough last night,” Crosby said. “Today was just to get back and work on good habits and feel like we accomplished something here today. I guess the faster that you can come back and turn the page and focus on the next one, the better it is. It’s good to be able to come in and do some work here.”
Looking to the next home game against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, many of the players said that the best thing to do to prepare for the contest is to remember what they learned from the Tampa Bay game but put it behind them as soon as possible, because the most important game is always the next one.
“It’s important to always turn the page – whether it’s a terrible game or a great one,” Crosby said. “That’s the game that we play. There are a lot of games, and we learn from each one. We hopefully learned a lot from the last game. Usually everyone responds pretty well after a tough game.”
Sounds heard throughout the locker room:
On how last night’s game was different from other games:
I don’t think that we were focused and prepared to play our game. That’s an area that we need to get better at. You have to get better and address your team in certain areas, and it needed to be done.On if the worry factor is fairly low for a team that just won the Stanley Cup last year:
Do I know and believe in the guys in that room and what they’ve done before? Do they know how to play? Yes. It doesn’t mean that you don’t try to get to a level that you need to get to and demand certain things out of your team so that you can be the best team that you can be. We’re not there right now, and we have to keep pushing to get there. Sitting by idle is not something that we’re going to do at this point.On playing Tampa Bay:
I want to focus on our team and what we did. Tampa Bay won a game, 2-0. They played a good game. If we weren’t able to get through a trap or we were bogged down in the neutral zone, it wasn’t due to us playing really well. We didn’t execute our plan. We didn’t have good puck support. We didn’t manage the puck and execute the way that we needed to. We weren’t prepared to do that. That’s where our focus is. There are certainly things that we could have done better, and we need to change things and get better at what we do. We’re focused, and we’re prepared to do it.On the team heading into the playoffs:
There are certainly things that we need to get better at, and we’re addressing them. It is always about moving forward. It’s always about getting better. It’s always about doing the right things and saying the right things and going out and being prepared to do that. We do need to get better. We need to focus our attention and get prepared and go out on the ice and do that with more regularity. We’re going to keep moving forward and do it right until they kick us off the ice.Sidney CrosbyOn what was troubling about the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning:
I think that some guys have tough nights in certain games. It’s pretty hard for everyone have their best game on the same night. You don’t see that happen very often, but you also don’t see too many times where everyone has a bad night at the same time. That’s not the kind of hockey that we accept. On any concerns that he may have with the team right now:
We certainly have to play better. It’s one of those things where we have to know the situation. We’re battling, and we’re in the playoffs, but we have to understand that second would be great for us. That’s what we’re pushing for. You can’t be content with the way that things are right now.On the frustration of last night’s game:
That’s when they’re tough – when you feel like you’re not able to adjust or you’re not able to turn it on when you need to. That’s why you have the feeling that you do after a game. At the same time, those things happen. You don’t like to see them happen, but they do, and it’s about the next one after that.
________________________________________________________________________9:10 AM:Evgeni Malkin
left the ice early. He has missed seven of the last eight games due to his foot injury, but he did not experience any setbacks and hopes to play in the game Saturday against the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Penguins arrived at Mellon Arena bright and early this morning at 7:30 AM. They stepped onto the ice an hour later to begin practice, and all players were present at this time.