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Penguins Report: Practice 4/21/10

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Bylsma listed Tyler Kennedy as having a lower-body injury. His status is day-to-day. Kennedy was injured in the first period of Pittsburgh's 7-4 Game 4 victory at Ottawa on Tuesday.

Kennedy did not return but he did keep his equipment on for the rest of the game.

"Tyler Kennedy has a lower body injury and is being evaluated and is day-to-day," Bylsma said. "He got off the ice and obviously did not come back after he played his three-and-a-half minutes of ice time. He stayed in his gear the whole game hoping to get back out there, but he’s day-to-day."

6:00 PM:
The Penguins sent four players to the podium during this afternoon's optional skate:

Alex Goligoski
On wrapping up the series:
Yeah, obviously we would like to win tomorrow, especially at home. Rest would always be nice – it would be nice for any team at this time of year. At the same time it is always the hardest trying to end a team’s season. We know that. It’s definitely going to be a tough game tomorrow.
On tweaks made to better break out from their own end:
I think it all kind of ties together. I think we are executing a little better coming out of our D-zone and making the smart play, the north play. Our wingers and forwards are doing a great job of getting those pucks out and putting pressure on them in the offensive zone. It’s tougher for Ottawa to get on the forecheck a lot of times. I think we are looking to get the puck and get it up the ice. That’s our goal. We want to get out of the zone as quick as I can.

Maxime Talbot
On tweaks made to better break out from their own end:
Our D have been doing a great job. Give them a lot of credit because we break out the puck really, really good. That is a strength of our team right now. The faster we can get out of our zone the more offensive time we can get. That’s the way we want to play. I feel our team has been moving the puck north really good. That is a key for our game. The less time you play in the D-zone the more you can play on their D. That’s how we want to play.
On maybe being overconfident against Philadelphia in Game 5 last season:
I can’t say overconfidence because any time you have a chance to beat a team you want to do it. Yes, we failed to do that last year. This year is obviously a new year. You learn from it. That is the good thing about the experience we have gained in the last couple years where we have been playing a lot of playoff games. If it was our first year then we might feel overconfident here wanting to end their season but we know they are going to come to play. We have learned from it. We can definitely say that we will be at our best and be ready to win this.

Jordan Staal
On getting better every game:
I think a sort of hatred kind of grew after that first game. The competitiveness in all the players really came through towards the last couple games. It’s building and hopefully we can really build on that.

Pascal Dupuis
On wrapping the series up:
Rest is huge in the playoffs. We said in the locker room that rest would be a weapon. As much rest as we can get. Obviously we want to finish the series tomorrow.
On getting better every game:
Maybe the dislike wasn’t there the first game. There was a long time (since we played the Senators) between games but I think if we just play our game the way we have been doing we will play well.

2:20 PM:

Sounds heard from Dan Bylsma's press conference:

Dan Bylsma
On the contributions that the team has received from players throughout the lineup:
I think that we certainly have gotten strong support from Geno (Evgeni Malkin) and Sid (Sidney Crosby), but our team game has been good in a lot of what we are getting in the offensive categories coming from good, solid team playing and doing things the right way with the way that we are executing. It is allowing everybody to be a factor in the game. Jay McKee stepped in and played well defensively and added to the way that we needed to execute. You see Max Talbot, and you see chances coming through good defensive players with a good structure and a good team play. It’s turning into pucks going quickly in the other direction toward north. It’s turning into offense and chances and putting Ottawa under pressure. That’s what our team is designed to do. If we play the right way and execute – our guys are doing a great job of that. You see different people getting chances at the other end of the rink because of it. We have to keep getting better and better by focusing on doing the right things and turning that into offensive zone time.

On Sidney Crosby’s exceptional play in the postseason:
We’ve talked about this in our room, and he has been a leader in that regard with his focus. I think the focus from Sidney is doing the right thing and playing all of the areas in the game and the ice and him being a leader and our team being focused on playing that way. He has been exemplary in that regard. We got some scoring chances, and we worked to get them, but they have not come carelessly. They have come from structure. The goal that Chris Kunitz scored is a perfect example of going back under heavy pressure that Ottawa brought – they were being physical on D – but three guys went back, and we were physical coming out of the D zone. We executed north. Sidney tipped it on net, and then he made the play to Chris Kunitz. We’ve done it the right way, and other goals were examples of that, as well. The goal in Game 2 is an example – the game-winning goal. It’s not done through taking chances or exchanging changes. It’s getting in the offensive zone and working and getting guys in front of the net and using our defense and getting the puck through. He has been a leader in that regard with the determination and focus of playing the right way. It has been clearly evident, and it seems to me that he has a great focus right now.  

On Tyler Kennedy’s status and how important it is to wrap things up tomorrow to gain extra days for him and Leopold to rest up for the remainder of the postseason:
Tyler Kennedy has a lower body injury and is being evaluated and is day-to-day. He got off the ice and obviously did not come back after he played his three-and-a-half minutes of ice time. He stayed in his gear the whole game hoping to get back out there, but he’s day-to-day. Playoff series are all about getting four wins and trying to get there as quickly as you possibly can. We went to Ottawa and won two games and put ourselves up 3-1. I think that we have a clear understanding of a couple of things. They are playing very hard. They are coming at us physically, and it has been demanding that way. We are going to expect more of that. We still think that we can play better. There are areas of our game that we are talking about where we can get better, and we want to make sure that we are doing that. We want to make sure that we take care of our game and the details of our game and get better at it. We expect a team that will play very hard right until the end. They’re going to come in and play hard again, and we expect that. We want to make sure that we’re ready for that and taking care of our game and doing everything that we can to play our very best and race to that fourth win.

On the team having a toughness factor in the postseason:
I think that throughout the year we have proven to have a group of guys who are willing to be a physical group. I think that we are third in the league in hits throughout the year. Why you add Mike Rupp to the lineup at the beginning of the season is because of that grit factor. I do think that there are game plans to try to get to us and our defense and grind us down. The way that our defense has responded in particular with Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski, Mark Eaton, Sergei Gonchar and Brooks Orpik – they have been battling. We’ve been able to deal with the heavy forecheck that the Sens have brought and keep bringing right until the end. Being able to go back and execute and deal with that and minimize its effect and get out of the D zone has been big for us to date. When you look at our grit factor from this series, that has been a big part of it – not just with the guys like Matt Cooke or Mike Rupp – but with guys like Kris Letang who have been the grit factor in this series. They don’t just give hits. You saw that first shift last night with Kris Letang and (Mike) Fisher running into each other. It’s also with the way that we combat for pucks and handle that, as well. That has been a big factor for us so far in our wins.

On Ruslan Fedotenko covering for Kennedy and what a player can learn from watching the game in the stands:
Ruslan Fedotenko would be the guy who would be in a similar position and plays that role on the team if Kennedy cannot go. I think that Ruslan Fedotenko knows quite a bit about playoff hockey and what it takes, but watching the game from the stands means watching the price that you have to pay and the way that you have to do it. Ruslan Fedotenko has been working his butt off when he is off the ice, because he knows that at some point in time he is going to get a chance to play for our team and knows what playoff hockey is all about. He’ll be ready to go in there and pay that price and play the way that he can and the way that he has for us in the past when he gets his chance to go in there. I’m confident in that.

On ending the series against Ottawa at home tomorrow night:
I think that the details and execution of our game are extremely important. They are not going to hand it over, and it will be probably the most difficult game to win. But I think just the mentality which we have tried to establish in the last three games – our execution north as quickly as possible and the grind down factor with containing the play in the offensive zone and the physicality that was especially evident in Games 2 and 3 from our team – we need to make sure that that is our focus for the game. We need to play our very best and be ready for their physical forecheck which is going to come again and has been a factor in every game. Our execution and getting there north and our grind down factor and physicality – we have to make sure that we take care of details and do those things and be ready to play our very best in Game 5.
On Jordan Leopold’s status:
He is progressing and doing well. I spoke with Jordan today. He is bright and bubbly and eager to get back on the ice and eager to get back and help us out. We’ll see how he keeps going. It was good to talk with him, and I know that he is eager to get his gear back on and get on the ice. He is day-to-day but progressing.


1:39 PM:
Seven Penguins participated in the optional practice at Mellon Arena. Those that laced up the skates are Matt Cooke, Ben Lovejoy, Eric Godard, Ruslan Fedotenko, Deryk Engelland, Brent Johnson and Brad Thiessen.

1:09 PM:
Bylsma listed Tyler Kennedy as having a lower-body injury. His status is day-to-day. Kennedy was injured in the first period of Pittsburgh's 7-4 Game 4 victory at Ottawa on Tuesday.

Kennedy did not return but he did keep his equipment on for the rest of the game.

12:41 PM:
Two Pittsburgh area players are playing key roles for the USA national team that defeated Finland, 5-0, Wednesday in the semifinals for the World Under-18 Championships in Belarus.

Forward Brandon Saad (Gibsonia, Pa.) and defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) will try to help the U.S. win its second straight gold medal in Friday’s championship game against the Sweden-Russia semifinal winner at noon.

Read more here.

12:35 PM:
After a rainy day during Game 2 cancelled some of the normal festivities at Mellon Arena, they are all back on for Game 5. The big outdoor screen, the tailgate on the terrace and the white out will be in full effect Thursday night.

12:20 PM:
The Penguins have a 1 p.m. optional practice today at Mellon Arena. Head coach Dan Bylsma will address the media at 12:55. We'll try to update Tyler Kennedy's status and keep you posted on any developments from the day.
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