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Penguins Report: Practice 4/13/10

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins

4:50 PM:
Earlier on Tuesday the Penguins announced they have re-signed goaltender Brent Johnson to a two-year contract extension.

"I am so happy," Johnson said. "I couldn’t have done it without these guys here in the dressing room. I am happy to be a Pittsburgh Penguin."

Johnson said one of the factors which helped his decision to re-up with the Penguins was the relationship he has built throughout the course of the season with fellow netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

"Obviously our friendship is a fantastic one," Johnson said. "I think we have a good rapport. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be his partner."

4:45 PM:
Sounds heard around the Penguins locker room at Southpointe:

Head Coach Dan Bylsma

On the team staying hungry:
I think one of the things we have talked throughout the year is not being satisfied with past accomplishments in past years. This has been a unique year in terms of energy level with teams around the league with a lot of players playing a lot of hockey and also with going to the Olympics. That has always been a concern for our team. We have had to manage that. This is a group of guys from our top guy on down that is not satisfied with the things we have done in the past. We have worked to get back into the playoffs to have another chance to play for the Stanley Cup. Our guys are ready to go.
On Malkin and Crosby playing together:
The past two games I have used them together. Some of that was injury related. In the past there have been times when they have played together. Those have been specific examples in the game like after icings and after timeouts. It will happen, but probably not as often as it did during the last game.
On what keeps the players motivated:
In the past, young skilled guys who get the accolades are guys get, they don’t come into form as early as our guys have shown they have. They have been to the finals at a very young age and then went back and won. Almost immediately after we won – our young guys in particular – were focused on putting it behind them because they want to do it again as many times as possible. They haven’t moved on to other things or individual things. They are still focused. We have dealt with a lot of things this year but I believe in this group being ready for this time of year. The way they have acted the past few days and the stride in their step – we are ready to go.
On playing it one shift at a time:
The key to the playoffs is managing your emotions and dealing with your opponent. We have a tough one in front of us. We can’t thing about anything other than what we have in front of us. They have played well against us and have done some things against us in the offensive zone and off the rush. The games that we played against them are proof. We know we have to get ready for this team. We have to get to our game and we have to be able to get better at is ourselves. We know that we have to put everything we have into this series against Ottawa right now.
On the defense looking vulnerable:
I think that is the key to hockey. Some of the best defensemen I played with were minus some years because we made them play defense too much. When you play defense too often and you are forced to deal with players coming at you in the offensive zone and you get tired, you become susceptible. That is one thing Ottawa has been good at doing to us. That is going to be a key in this series for us – minimizing that zone time, puck retrievals and being quick at getting out of the defensive zone. That is going to be a big key for the series.

Sidney Crosby

On what to expect from the Senators:
I think these are two teams which know each other pretty well. Over time things change and systems change and things like that but player-wise I think there is a lot of familiarity with both teams. I don’t think that is something that is an advantage for either team at this point.
On playing with Malkin in the playoffs:
You’ll have to ask the coach that one. I think part of the reason was probably to help me out but those kinds of matchups are going to happen I’m sure. When we are together we try to make the most of it.
On how the Penguins finished the season:
I think like any team we had some good points and then some tougher ones. If anything, I think the experiences you go through in the regular season are something that can help you in the playoffs – both good and bad. I feel like we have gained a lot of experience over the last little while.
On keeping motivated:
I think just mentally knowing that each night you are going to see the other team’s best – I think that’s the toughest thing. You can’t really afford a night off because they are throwing their best game at you. There are no surprises for our team because we have had to be at our best to win games.
On how the rivalry with Ottawa compares to Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit:
I think it’s pretty similar. I think that is natural when you play a team that many times for it to build up a bit – especially in the playoffs. With Philadelphia, that is typical because we play them six times a year and we play them in the playoffs, but we have played Ottawa a ton as well. I think that is pretty natural.
On playing so much hockey the past three seasons:
No, I don’t think we are worried about that. We are playing to win games. When you win, you seem to find more energy. I don’t think that is something we are worried about. We know what we have to do. Nobody has to put pressure on themselves. We are a group here. I think everybody is excited.
On starting a long playoff run:
I think it is important to understand that there are adjustments that have to be made. You have to learn and get better as you go along. I think we understand that. It’s nice to have gone through the playoffs a few times now to know that our level is going to have to be higher and that the game is going to be quicker. There is no element of surprise getting started.
On how the team feels:
I think we feel good. I don’t know if it’s normal to be playing the way we were last year. If we expected that every stretch run that would be pretty high expectations. The fact is we were hoping to play a little bit better down the stretch but it didn’t happen.
On almost earning sole possession of the Rocket Richard Trophy on that great move in overtime:
On the video you can’t really see how close the shot was. I thought I had a little bit of room there. It ended up hitting the other side of the net. It was close so it wasn’t meant to be.

Jordan Staal

On playing the Senators:
It is going to be a tough battle and a lot of hard work. I obviously like that kind of game and a lot of the guys in this room do too. I think that compliments us.
On stepping up:
It’s not about when you think you have to step up – it’s going to happen. Every team has their players that are going to make a difference. Not everybody is going to have their best night every night so different people are going to have to step up.
On the way Malkin has stepped up the last couple games:
That is the Geno we want. He is playing hard and he is competing. He has so much talent that when he wants to he can be unstoppable. He is a player who is a lot of fun to watch and you love having on your team. I am not too worried about him.
On how a healthy Malkin helps everybody:
It helps a lot of players – Sid, me. He is an exceptional player. We are glad to have him on our team.
On how the team played during the regular season:
It’s a long a season. I thought this season was typical with the Olympics and the amount of games we played in a short period of time. I thought we handled it well throughout the season and I think we are playing well heading into the playoffs. This team keeps taking on new challenges. This is another one.

1:06 PM:
Here are pictures of the Penguins' practice at Southpointe:





12:59 PM:
Here are the combinations head coach Dan Bylsma used today:

Rupp, Talbot, Kunitz, Adams and Godard rotated through the fourth line


12:55 PM:

The Penguins just completed their first practice heading into the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. All three players who missed Sunday's season-finale against the New York Islanders - Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz - took part in the workout. Head coach Dan Bylsma described all three as "game-time decisions" for Game 1 Wednesday night. Bylsma said "they all have injuries that are getting better day-to-day."

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