Penguins head coach Michel Therrien addressed the team’s recent struggles after practice on Monday. Pittsburgh has lost seven of its last eight games and has a 6-14-0 record since the start of December.
However, Therrien wasn’t as concerned with if
the Penguins would break out of their slump. To him, it’s a matter of when
“I believe in that group; I know we’re going to get through it,” Therrien said. “We have to remain positive and as long as the attitude is right, we’re going to be able to get out of it. One thing for sure, it’s not going to be easy. We have to stick together and keep the faith. I know we will.”
The Penguins have dropped to 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 20-19-4 record for 44 points. The Carolina Hurricanes hold the eighth spot with 47 points while Florida’s 46 points places it ninth.
“The purpose is to try and make the playoffs,” Therrien said. “We’re still in that package to make the playoffs and we’re going to give everything that we can. We have to remain focused. Yes, we’re disappointed after a loss…We have a lot of adversity. It’s easy to be discouraged. I know what I’m dealing with. They’re a good group, good people. So as long as we stick together we’re going to get out of it.”
“We don’t want to slide,” Sidney Crosby
said. “We don’t want to play catch-up. That’s a tough game to play. We do have a good team in here. It’s detailed things that make a difference. You see on winning teams that it’s more than just a handful of guys. You have to find ways to win games (in) different ways. We take it upon ourselves to be the best we can.”
Throughout the recent setbacks, Therrien has worked diligently with his team in an effort to recapture the magic from its early season success - the team tied for the second-best start in franchise history through 19 games.
“He’s handled it pretty well,” Crosby said of his coach. “Nobody likes to lose. The coach is a leader. There’s no doubt that he doesn’t have a smile on his face everyday but he’s maintained that same effort to teach us. That’s what we need. When things are tough you have to work harder. I think that’s what he’s tried to do. It’s never fun for anybody but the lessons and the teachings haven’t changed. So that’s good.”
There’s nothing better than starting from the bottom to get on top again. I’m confident about this team. I’m confident that we’re going to get back on a winning streak. - Petr Sykora
“His message is basically the same,” Petr Sykora said. “He prepares us for every game the same way. It was really working last year so why change.”
Therrien is getting his message to the team. The players have responded with great efforts and hard work, even though they haven’t always gotten the results that they desire.
“I don’t think guys have tuned out the coach,” Crosby said. “You hear a lot of that when teams are losing. I don’t think that’s happened here. It’s a matter of us making sure that we’re doing the right things, we’re listening and we believe. We have to execute out there.”
“This is a stretch that every team goes through during the season,” Petr Sykora said. “It got a little longer than we wanted to have it. There’s nothing better than starting from the bottom to get on top again. I’m confident about this team. I’m confident that we’re going to get back on a winning streak.”
Like their head coach, the players all believe that they will snap out of the struggles. In the end, Therrien believes the Penguins will benefit from having played through the current downturn.
“We’re all disappointed about the result,” he said. “Players are disappointed, the coaching staff is disappointed, our fans are disappointed. This is a good group and they want to get better. With that period that we’re facing right now, it’s going to help us to be better. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. There’s no doubt in the players mind as well. Yes, it’s a difficult time for everyone involved but I don’t mind being challenged.”> Pascal Dupuis
, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury, practiced for the Penguins on Monday afternoon at Mellon Arena. However, his playing status for Tuesday’s matchup in Philadelphia at Wachovia Center at 7 p.m. is unknown.
“We’re not quite sure yet,” Therrien said.
As for practice, Therrien worked with the Penguins in several areas including breakout passes and puck movement through the neutral zone.
I liked the concentration in practice. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a quality practice like we had today. We took some time to review a few things about the way we’re supposed to play and made some adjustments. We believe that is going to help our team get back on the winning track. - Michel Therrien
“I liked the spirit in the players today,” Therrien said. “I liked the concentration in practice. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a quality practice like we had today. We took some time to review a few things about the way we’re supposed to play and made some adjustments. We believe that is going to help our team get back on the winning track.”
Therrien instructed the team on how he wants them to work the puck out of its own zone and into the attacking zone. The Penguins put the drills into action with a five-on-five scrimmage.
“It’s good that we had a great day of practice today,” Maxime Talbot said. “We were sharp on the ice. We practiced a couple of different things and it’s good for everyone. We haven’t had the time lately. In December and January, we had so (many) hockey (games) that we didn’t have time to practice some stuff. I thought it was a great day for us. I think guys know what we haven’t done right and what we need to do. I hope everyone is ready to do it.”>
Therrien kept the “Two-Headed Monster” together at practice with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin
working the top line - with Dupuis. Crosby and Malkin were reunited at Colorado and each player recorded a goal and assist in the game.
“I think if we’re both playing well we make it pretty tough to stop us,” Crosby said. “We like to move the puck to each other. We like to use our speed. I think if we’re on the top of our game, we’re going to get chances. We’re going to score. It’s up to us to execute but we really believe that we can make a lot happen.”Jordan Staal
centered the second unit with Petr Sykora and Matt Cooke
. The remaining lines were: Tyler Kennedy
-Maxime Talbot-Miroslav Satan; Chris Minard-Dustin Jeffrey-Eric Godard.
The defensive pairings remained unchanged: Brooks Orpik
-Ryan Whitney; Mark Eaton-Philippe Boucher; Rob Scuderi-Kris Letang; Alex Goligoski-Hal Gill.
Therrien confirmed that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
will start against the Flyers. It will be his sixth straight appearance in net for the Penguins. >
He said it: Therrien on his discussion with Penguins Co-Owner/Chairman Mario Lemieux following practice:
“We talk a lot with Mario. It’s not the first time. When you get a chance to have a person like this around you, you’re going to have to use him. It’s good advice.”