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Penguins Report: Practice 5/7/10

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

2:29 PM:

Head coach Dan Bylsma addressed reporters at the podium on Friday. Here is what he had to say:

On keeping players from becoming too emotional when calls are made during games that do not favor the Penguins:
We have talked about it more than once regarding how we want to play the game and how we want to stay composed. I think that at different times, every team is going to feel like the ref missed a call in an estranged play. Focusing on what we can control and focusing on our game is what we’re trying to do. Sometimes that means dealing with a road building. Sometimes that means dealing with a call or a non-call. We saw that evidenced in the first series where we had a bunch of reviewed calls, and we were waiting for a call about a goal or a non-goal, and it went both ways. Those are things where you just try to maintain your focus and get ready for the next play. We talk about that from series to series and game to game. With the refs and the buildings and the balances – you just have to keep focused on trying to play, and I think that our team has been pretty good at that up to this point. As the series goes on, the team that can get to its game and maintain its focus and composure – that’s something that you need to have.
On Sidney Crosby’s inability to score in recent games during the postseason:
Our team would like to score some more goals with the zone time and the opportunities that we have been getting. It’s not just Sid. We need to get better in certain areas and can get better in certain areas to try to get more opportunities. We need to be focused on getting second chance opportunities, because it feels like that is one of the only ways that we are going to get those opportunities – in and around the net picking up second chances. From a team standpoint, we think that we can manage the puck better to get to our game, and everybody can also get to the inside more and expect the goals to be second chance opportunities. It’s not just trying to shoot and go for home runs, but we have to look for second chances. We need to get to the inside both to create havoc in front of them and to get those second chance opportunities. That’s for every one of our players – not just Sidney.
On Montreal’s ability to stifle Crosby in recent games:
I think that we’re faced with a different type of defense with Montreal. The Ottawa team had guys keyed in on stopping our guys and Sidney and Geno (Evgeni Malkin). This is a little bit different, and we have to adjust a little bit in terms of how we look for offense and how we get offense. We have not had a lot of rush opportunities against this team and odd man chances. They’re not going to give them to us. We need to be focused on different ways to create that offense and get that offense and expect different things from this team. I think that we were good in Game 4 and maybe better than we have been in a couple of the other games in terms of getting to the inside. We were close to second chance opportunities. It’s a change in mentality for our team. We have to continue to get better at that to fight for those chances. I think that the evidence of getting five shots from Sid was evidence that we did and he did get to the inside a little more. We just have to keep fighting to get those opportunities. He did last night, and I think that has to be a focus for him and our team.
On Crosby eventually scoring due to his superb athletic abilities:
That’s not the way that I treat it. That’s not the way that Sid treats it. You have to analyze what they’re doing well, what we can do better and what our power play or Sid can do better. That doesn’t change, because it’s Sidney Crosby. He’s doing that, and we’re doing that and will continue to do that. The game and the result will take care of any storyline that you would like to talk about. We know that we can be better and have to be better to win hockey games. If we do, the storyline will be whatever you would like to make it.
On not having Bill Guerin in the lineup:
In every one of those goals in Game 1, Billy was within a foot or two feet of (Jaroslav) Halak. That’s something that we talk about and need to do more of. That’s part of what Billy brings, especially to our power play – that net front presence. He draws people there and adds traffic and creates second opportunities. In the absence of Billy, we need guys to do that. We got the power-play goal in the last game since Chris Kunitz was in that area and went to the front of the net. He got the goal last night because of it. Hopefully we can get Billy back in there and add to the area that we need to be better at. Our focus needs to be on second chance opportunities. We have to get there with more bodies and more pucks and not look for outside or rush plays and not try to take guys one-on-one. We have to have that mentality that it will be second chances with people at the net.
On the energy, tempo and confidence of the Montreal Canadiens at this point:
It was interesting to see the change of momentum last night in the game with the building and them getting two quick goals and getting the lead. It is a tough place to play, but that was the first time, with the exception of the goal at the beginning of the game, that we got two quick ones after that where we had to deal with that kind of momentum in the building. They have been everything that we have expected with the way that they are playing and the way that they are playing defense and the way that their goaltender is. That was a tough place to play and a tough team to deal with when they had that change in momentum when they came in there during the third period. For anybody who thought that it wouldn’t be a battle, for anybody who thought that it wouldn’t be easy – that certainly wasn’t in our room, and I certainly don’t think that it was in the Canadiens’ room either. They’re playing hard. They’re playing well. Their goaltender is playing well. Their defense is stingy and making it hard for us, and that’s what we expected. We are finding ourselves in a series where both teams are battling hard and looking for an upper hand. You have to give them a lot of credit for playing the way that they have played and defending the way that they have defended and also being opportunistic with getting goals and opportunities whether it be by their power play or last night with the chances that they got and the goals that they got. It’s all that we expected, and we know that it’s going to be difficult and hard. We find ourselves in a best-of-three with a team that is playing stingy, good hockey.
On increasing Jordan Staal’s role in Game 5:
I thought that Jordan played very well. I didn’t see any hesitation in his game or the way that he played or the physicality of it. I thought that he was right in there and played well. That’s why that we anticipated him getting back in there and getting his feet wet so-to-speak and gaining some minutes as the game went along. That’s what happened. Coming back from the surgery five days later, I think he gained some confidence as the game went on, and that was what he needed to do, as well. That should have done it for him. I was pleased with his game and thought that he did some good things. He was confident and increased his role in the third period. That could be the case for Game 5.
On the status of Bill Guerin:
He is day-to-day.
On if he feels any level of concern about winning the series at this point:
Our assessment of the game and our discussions with our team and our approach to Game 4 and to Game 3 and even to Game 2 was that we were doing some good things. We were able to get to the offensive zone for periods of time and get shots, but we can get better in a couple of areas, and we need to. That was our talk today in our dressing room and getting ready for Game 5. Being content with the way that things are going is not good enough. We have done some good things. We have identified what we have done well and what we can do better. There are areas where we think that we can do better, because the status quo right now draws us even with a team that is playing well defensively with a good goalie and with enough skill and a good power play to win hockey games, as well. There is the idea that the status quo or doing what we’re doing now is not good enough. We need to get better at our game and add that to our focus. That’s what we’ll be pushing for in Game 5 and beyond. 

Assist Caitlin Kasunich

2:07 PM:
Sounds from the Penguins media conferences. Head coach Dan Bylsma, Jordan Staal, Matt Cooke, Mark Eaton and Alex Goligoski were available for the Penguins.

Jordan Staal
On what Crosby has to do to break out:
I think it can be frustrating for any player, especially one of his caliber. It’s never a lack of effort. He is always the hardest working guy at practice and in the games. It’s just like any other thing – you have to stick with it. It’s the playoffs and it’s tough to score. He knows and understands that. It’s not a time to get frustrated but one to keep moving forward and working that much harder.
Matt Cooke (left); Jordan Staal (right)
On the Canadiens being stifling:
They are a tough defensive team – there is no question. They are a much different team than Ottawa. They almost let you play in their end but they keep it tight. They get in front of shots and they have a lot of bodies in front which makes it tough to get rebounds. It’s not going to be easy to score goals but we have to find a way.
On how he felt in Game 4:
It was good to be back, there is no question. As a player you are obviously nervous about jumping in after missing a couple of games and having an injury. All those questions kind of shoo away after the first couple of shifts. I felt pretty comfortable throughout the game. It was obviously pretty disappointing to lose the game, but personally I thought I had a solid game and I want to keep getting better.
On what they have to do to score more:
We felt like it was a pretty solid effort, but sometimes that is just not enough. You are going to lose some games and have some ups and downs. We are going to stick to our game and what we know works best. We know that will be enough. Hopefully we can come up with a more desperate level (Saturday) night.
On being able to get to their game:
I felt like in the first period we had a great start. We had a lot of opportunities and held them to very minimal chances. They do a great job in the neutral zone of slowing you up. They are a trapping team that makes it difficult to get through the neutral zone. Once we are in their end I feel like we played really well. We kind of lost it in the third when we gave up those two quick goals and got down by one. It’s tough but it’s something where we have to stick with it. I thought we had a pretty solid game (Thursday) night.
On when he knew during the game he was going to be OK:
Really after the first shift I felt good. I got hit pretty good and didn’t feel a whole lot. Skating around it felt fine. Once you get that first shift or couple shifts under your belt you feel a whole lot more confident with what you can do out there. It got better as the game went on.

Matt Cooke
On what the Penguins need to do:
I think we need to stay along the same lines. We know what gives us success and that is playing in the offensive zone. We have spent long periods of time there. We came very close to second-chance goals last night. I think that we have to maintain our patience. Like Staalsy said, the playoffs are a tough time to score. Everyone is battling. Montreal is a good team defensively. We are getting our chances, we just have to believe they will go in the net.
On what they have to do to score more:
It’s the playoffs. There is always a desperation level, but I would hesitate to say there is a concern. We feel like we are doing the right things and playing the right way. If anything, we have to be a little more desperate when we have the puck and when we are playing in the offensive zone to get those opportunities.

Alex Goligoski

On having nightmares of having a puck go off your skate and into the net:
It’s a tough break. It’s something a lot of defensemen can relate to. It’s probably happened to everybody at some point. It’s just one of those things. It’s a tough bounce. It’s just one of those breaks in a game.
On raising his game in the postseason:
I don’t think it’s anything too different. The intensity level is higher in the playoffs with everybody. The game is a little faster. Pucks are just going in and I’m the benefactor. I can’t really point to anything being that much different.
On guarding against Jaroslav Halak getting in their heads:
I don’t know if it’s so much him as it is their defense as a whole and the way they’re playing. It’s things we’ve talked about. We’re not going to get frustrated. We’ll stick to our game. We’ll throw pucks at him, crash the net and things like that. That’s our focus. I don’t think this group of guys gets frustrated too much. We’re pretty good at sticking to our game, and that’s the plan moving forward.

Mark Eaton

On having nightmares of having a puck go off your skate and into the net:
It’s not something you think about too much. When it happens you have to get it out of your mind as quickly as possible because it is a bad break. You have to give them credit as well. They were throwing pucks into dangerous areas. You see what can happen when you do that.
Mark Eaton (left); Alex Goligoski (right)
Our focus is to try and not let pucks get to that area. Sometimes they do and that’s what happens.
On what changed in the third period in covering Montreal when it had 16 shots:
I don’t think there were any breakdowns. It was something that we talked about after the second period. We knew that it was a situation where they didn’t want to go down 3-1. They were going to come out desperate and play their best hockey of the series. They did that. I just don’t think we matched their desperation in the third period. You have to tip your hat to them. They came out and did what they had to do to create some offense in the third.
On the team’s level of desperation in Game 5:
I think we should be very desperate and play with as much urgency as we’ve played with all the playoffs. We’ve taken a positive out of what happened. We got home-ice advantage back. It’s up to us to take advantage of that. I expect us to come out with our best effort (in Game 5) because you don’t want to go down 3-2 and go back to their building.
On guarding against Jaroslav Halak getting in their heads:
One, you have to make sure the way a goalie is playing change the way you play, or change what makes you successful. We aren’t going to change too much. I hate to throw clichés out there, but we’ll just keep plugging along and not let the frustration set in. When you do that you’re giving in. You cannot do that, especially in the playoffs. In the playoffs most of the time you’re not going to win games 6-4. They’re not going to be high-scoring games. If we have to win games like Game 3 2-0, or 2-1, we’re fine with winning games that way.

Assist Jason Seidling

12:49 PM:

Mike Rupp was back on the ice after missing Game 4

Bill Guerin skated for the second straight day

Craig Adams (left); Jay McKee (right)

Alexei Ponikarovsky (left); Brad Thiessen (right)

12:29 PM:
Penguins forward Mike Rupp, who missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury, has taken the ice for the team's optional practice. This is a good sign that the team is slowly getting healthier. Veteran Bill Guerin, who also missed Game 4 but did practice in the Thursday morning skate, was also on the ice.

In all 12 players took part in the optional skate. Guerin and Rupp were joined by Mark Letestu, Eric Godard, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Chris Conner, Craig Adams, Jay McKee, Ben Lovejoy, Deryk Engelland, Brent Johnson and Brad Theissen.

11:53 AM:
The Penguins are at Mellon Arena for an optional practice at 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon. The team is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 3-2 setback in Game 4 at Montreal that evened the series at 2-2. Pittsburgh was the victim of some unfortunate bounces and deflection in the loss but can rebound and take control of the series with a triumph in Game 5 at Mellon Arena on Saturday night.
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