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Penguins Report: Practice 4/9/11

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Per coach Bylsma, it was a maintenance day for Staal, no update on Neal (2:35 PM).
  • Neal, Staal not at the Pens' practice (12:59 PM).
  • Crosby on the ice with the team due to time constraints and structure of practice (1:07 PM).
  • Dupuis, Martin and Letestu chat it up (3:01 PM).
  • Playin' a little soccer in the Georgia sunshine (12:43 PM).
  • Pens pics (1:31 PM).
  • Thrashers pics (12:15 PM).
  • "Georgia ... Georgia ..." (11:00 AM).

3:01 PM:
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...

Pascal Dupuis

On what the team wants to tighten up heading into Sunday’s game:
We obviously have to play our style of game. We can’t make it a 50-50 game and go chance for chance against a team that’s got nothing to lose. They’ll want to score goals, but at the same time, we have to tilt the ice in our favor and play our style of play.

On playing teams that are out of playoff contention:
Yeah, they’re maybe loose. And like I said, we can’t really go chance for chance against a team that’s got nothing to lose.

On the Thrashers playing the spoiler role against the New York Rangers last week:
They did, they did. They have a good bunch of guys. They play hard, they skate hard and they have good goaltending, so it’ll be a good game tomorrow.

On finally being at Game 82:
Yeah, it’s had it’s ups and downs. A lot of injuries, a lot of different things happened this year. A new building, the Winter Classic, HBO stuff – a lot of stuff was in our way to get to 82 games. But we’re at 82 right now for our next game, and we’re almost ready for the playoffs, so it’s an exciting time of year.

Paul Martin

On what the team wants to tighten up heading into Sunday’s game:
Just, I think we want to make sure we manage the puck well. We’re just kind of clicking on all cylinders and getting pucks to the net, getting the puck in deep, and not trying to turn over too much. So hopefully we do that for the last game and be ready to open the playoffs.

On how important it is to be building momentum on special teams heading into the playoffs:
Yeah, that’s big. Our PK has been good all year for us, and our PP hasn't been that great for bits and pieces and now we’re starting to figure out, I think, how to get it going. So hopefully we can continue that in playoff time.

On finally being at Game 82:
Yeah, it went by fast. Now that it’s over, it was a long year. A lot of adversity, the guys handled it well. It goes by fast.

On playing teams that are out of playoff contention:
It’s always a tough thing at the end of the year when you face teams that are out of it. They don’t have anything to lose, so they can become spoilers. So that can be tough, you have to make sure you’re ready to play no matter who it is.

Mark Letestu

On how good it was to get a dirty goal on Friday:
I think it was due. I kind of needed one. I had a couple of wretched turnovers on the shift before, and it was a good play by (Arron Asham) and (Mike Rupp), just forcing it to be on the back end a bit and it found the back of the net. It’s good to get on the board going into the playoffs, get a little bit of confidence going.

On playing teams that are out of playoff contention:
I think at times, some opponents we’ve played recently haven’t had playoffs on the line and they play a little bit more wide open, a little bit less repercussions for their mistakes. So they like to open up the game, and we’ve been kind of getting into some tendencies to trade chances with teams. It’s not our game. It’s something where we’ve just got to stay within ourselves and hopefully just play an offensive zone game rather than an up-and-down, north-south game.

On the Thrashers playing the spoiler role against the New York Rangers on April 7 then losing to Carolina the next day:
We’ve played a few teams like them, I think. They’ve got a lot of skill up front, obviously their back end has been scoring quite a bit. But they’re a dangerous team. I’m sure they’re going to want to help play the role of spoiler. I’m sure they’re not looking at this as the last game of the year. There’s probably some guys over there with pride and they’re going to play hard from the start.

2:35 PM:
According to head coach Dan Bylsma, "It was a maintenance day for Staal, and no update on Neal."

1:31 PM:
Pens at work in the Peach State...

Flower had to do pushups after letting someone score during the shootout (right)

Max watching the shootout unfold...(left) and it looks like he can't believe what he saw (right)

1:07 PM:
Crosby is participating in the skate, but only because the Pens are allotted just an hour of ice time and they're only doing flow drills and non-contact drills.

12:59 PM:
The Pens are making their way onto the ice for practice. James Neal and Jordan Staal are not on the ice. We'll provide updates on them if we can. Everyone else that skated Friday is accounted for.

12:43 PM:
While the Thrashers were at work inside the arena, the Pens were taking advantage of the beautiful weather by going outdoors for their pre-practice soccer game.

12:15 PM:
We've arrived at the Thrashers practice facility, which is about 25 minutes outside of Atlanta. We got here just in time to see the Thrashers on the ice for their skate.

11:00 AM:
Welcome all! We're currently in gorgeous Atlanta, Georgia – where it's supposed to reach a high of 84 degrees today (although we may see some P.M. thunderstorms, but it's all good). The Pens are in town to take on the Thrashers on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m for Game No. 82 – their final contest of the 2010-11 campaign. We have an 11:15 a.m. bus to the Thrashers practice facility in Duluth for the Pens' 1 p.m. practice.

The Pens officially clinched home-ice advantage on Friday in Long Island with their gritty 4-3 shootout victory over the Islanders. It was down to the wire, but thanks to goals from Mike Rupp, Zbynek Michalek, Mark Letestu and Chris Kunitz's nifty shootout score, Pittsburgh will be opening the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the beautiful CONSOL Energy Center. It's time to break in the new barn for the postseason!

I'm almost positive I started my last Pens-Thrashers in-game blog with this song, but it's such a classic and so fitting that I'm going to use it again.

And what are the odds?! – I just discovered a Michael Buble version of this song. I was thinking about playing his song "Home" in honor of the Pens clinching home ice for the first round of the playoffs, but this works in terms of our opening theme. (To be honest, I really, really wanted to play P. Diddy's "Coming Home," but couldn't find a suitable version. I'll try to play a more up-tempo song later in the blog).

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