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Penguins Report: Training Camp 10/1/11

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby says he does not expect to play in season opener (4:51 PM)
  • October Mustache Boy!!! (2:57 PM)
  • Maintenance day for Malkin; he will not play Sunday per the schedule (3:54 PM)
  • Orpik, Picard and Asham all skating (2:02 PM)
  • Pens skating in color-coded units of five (2:04 PM)
  • Crosby, Orpik, Jeffrey and Sullivan speak (5:57 PM)
  • Bylsma discusses Sid, Geno and no-touch icing (5:38 PM)
  • Bylsma's a prankster (6:17 PM)
  • Practice at the Joe pics (2:45 PM)
  • Reliving the Pens' preseason win over Detroit on Sept. 21 (1:21 PM)

6:17 PM:
Who needs a Zamboni when you have coach Dan?

He used his stick as a makeshift Zamboni to clear the snow off of the path to the net before the Mustache Boy competition began.The best part? He made sure to dump a bunch of it on Flower once he gathered enough of the white stuff.

Little does Flower know what's in store (left); boom! Gotcha (right)

Poor Marc-Andre tries to shake the snow out of his equipment

5:57 PM:
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On how his rehab is progressing:
At this point things keep going well. Even just lightly being involved in scrimmages and stuff, it’s different. You’re spending a little bit more energy and just trying to get used to all of that. All that stuff, it just becomes so routine you get so used to it. When you get back at it, you realize it takes good habits and learning that stuff again.

On if there’s a realistic chance he’ll play in the season opener:
No. I wouldn’t expect it, no. I don’t think so.

On if he has any sense on when he may move to the next level in his rehab:
No. I mean, we’re getting back from our trip here and then we’re going to be going (out West), so when we get back from that trip maybe I’ll go see the doctor then. For me, every day I just try to go as hard as I can and hope that things keep going like they’re going. It’s been really good so far.

On how often he consults with his physicians during camp:
There’s no specific time frame. Sometimes it’s better not to talk every day. You don’t want to really evaluate every single thing about you. I would say I’m average. Every few days. That’s worked pretty well and they’re pretty good with that, so I think that’s more than enough. That’s just me specifically, but I’m sure trainers are in contact with the doctor pretty often too.

Brooks Orpik

On being back on the ice and how things are going:
It’s a little more fun to be out there with everybody instead of just me and (strength coach Mike Kadar), as much as I like ‘Kades.’ Just seems a little more meaningful, has a little more purpose when you’re in a team environment like that. It’s a step in the right direction.

On monitoring his recovery:
I’m probably a little paranoid after the last two summers. I’m just trying to learn from that. As soon as something starts hurting, don’t be stubborn and try to battle through it. Just be smart about it.

On if he can gauge when he’ll be ready to come back or if that’s too far away to tell:
It’s the first practice. Hopefully I’ll come back (Sunday) and feel OK. I’m just going to see how it reacts. Hopefully it’s not too sore and I’ll feel good, and hopefully just kind of progress from there.

Steve Sullivan

On how it felt getting his first game in:
It felt good. It’s good to get some action in there, try to get the systems down pat. It’s a little bit different than what I’m used to, so I’m hoping that another game under my belt here (Sunday) will be good because you don’t want to be thinking out there. You just want to be reacting. (Friday) night in Chicago, I found myself trying to react to plays and thinking too much. So hopefully it will come a little bit more naturally as the games continue on here.

On the play where he scored his goal being perfectly executed:
That was. That was so quick right off the faceoff play on the power play. We had some great net presence there, so I was just able to get the shot on net and it found its way in. Plays like that come naturally. I think it’s just more of the neutral zone play and just more five-on-five. I’m just trying to get some chemistry with my linemates and teammates and just kind of figure out where I need to be on the ice.

Dustin Jeffrey

On getting cleared for full contact in practice:
We’ve been kind of building up to it the last few practices. It’s gradually gotten more and more . I’m getting more involved in line drills, D zone coverage stuff and the stuff we’re doing after practice. I think it’s just been a steady progression for the last week to 10 days.

On if everything feels good with both his conditioning and his knee:
Yeah, I think it’s coming. It’s been a lot of time, so there’s obviously trying to get back to the speed of the game. It’s one thing doing drills, but when you start doing five-on-five stuff and you try to find open guys or defend in your own zone, I think that adds a totally different aspect. I think that’s something where I realize that. I have some more work to do before I’m ready to come back to the lineup.

On if there is any timetable for that:
I think it’s progressed over the last week, so I think we’ve got to see how it reacts after the practice today. If it reacts positively, we can move forward with it. I think it’s just something we take day by day and we move forward on how it reacts from here.

5:38 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On if he would agree that Crosby is not ready for the season opener and if things are still optimistic overall:
I think him being on the ice every day and him participating in training camp, to me that’s different then a practice at the end of the year or a morning skate. It’s fatigue for everybody. It’s hard for everybody. It’s conditioning for everybody. So in terms of part of him and his rehab, I think it’s positive and I think that’s right. We play next Thursday and it’s a few short days away. So we haven’t progressed to the next level yet, so it’s safe to say.

On if today was a maintenance day for Evgeni Malkin:

On if they had that planned since Malkin has played a lot of preseason hockey so far:
Yeah. He will not be playing (Sunday) and that is per schedule. He’s played four games, which we have planned for most of the veterans. It was just a maintenance day for Geno.

On if he is in favor of getting rid of the touch-up icing:
I haven’t seen the one from (Friday) night, but I’ve heard there was another injury. I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. But the rule as it stands right now is that there is no contact allowed on an icing. And I think it would definitely remove us all to call that penalty every time. (Friday) night we had one with Kris Letang and Marian Hossa. He had a hand on the back where it’s almost no touching, but he does have the hand on his back. I think players should understand that any contact at all is deemed a penalty. That’s not the way the game is. It’s not the way we’ve called that penalty. Although they did call that during the preseason I think in our game, I think at the very least we need to understand that any touching on icing that’s not for the expressive intent of touching the puck should be a penalty. I think it’s horrible to see an injury happen over and over again. I don’t know if I want a no touch (icing). I don’t want the injury. I definitely think they should call any touching on icing as a penalty. Right now, it’s not necessarily the mindset of the players. Some guys will say, ‘I didn’t know it was an icing. I didn’t know there was no touching.’ I was at the Research and Development Camp with the tag-up rule and I would kind of like to see the tag-up rule maybe in a preseason game so that we can see if it really helps with the situation of the ones that are racing to the puck. I don’t like it at all even if there’s just one injury a year. They’re not good injuries. It’s something that I don’t think we need in the game. It’s not going to add excitement to our game, I don’t think.

On what he liked and didn’t like about Friday’s third period:
I didn’t like our coming out of D zone coverage and puck retrievals. It led to us being too long in the D zone and it led to being tired. When we did get the puck, we had to chip it out and change and they came right back at us. It was a long stretch of hockey where they really came at us and forced us to play D zone against a good team. That’s no way to protect a lead. It was a situation where it almost didn’t work. They don’t take the penalty and the game is five minutes longer and you feel like they’re probably going to get a goal – and that’s just no way to play in the D zone. So dealing with team’s pressure, dealing with teams coming at you, and then even when it does get out of the D zone, getting to the offensive zone. To play in the offensive zone is something we have to get a lot better at. We’re going forward, so I don’t mind having that lesson right now.

On having a pretty spirited practice:
I actually thought the last two practices have been excellent from both an energy standpoint and an execution standpoint. Having that many guys on the ice is a different challenge for a coach then we normally have. I felt kind of like a college coach there with that many guys. But we’ve had a lot of five-on-five and a lot of drills where there’s competition, and I like the way the guys have been practicing.

4:51 PM:
Also, Pens captain Sidney Crosby said that although his rehab keeps going well and that everything has "been really good so far," he confirmed that he will not be playing in the team's season opener at Vancouver on Thursday. Click here for the full story.

"No. I wouldn’t expect it, no," he said when asked if there was a realistic chance he would be ready for Oct. 6. "I don’t think so."

"In terms of him and his rehab, I think it’s positive," Bylsma said. "And I think that’s right -- we play next Thursday and it’s a few short days away. We haven’t progressed to the next level yet, so it’s safe to say (Crosby will not play vs. Vancouver)."

3:54 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma said today was just a scheduled maintenance day for Malkin. Since Geno has played in four of five preseason games already, he will not be in the lineup for Sunday's game vs. Detroit.

"(Malkin) will not be playing (Sunday) and that is per schedule," Bylsma added. "He’s played four games, which we have planned for most of the veterans."

2:57 PM:
It's the first of the month and the season has officially begun, so you know what that means... it's time for Mustache Boy!!!

First coach Bylsma was kind enough to use his stick as a makeshift Zamboni to clear the snow off of the path to the net (but making sure to dump a bunch of it on Flower after he was done).

The shootout actually went really fast, with Mustache Boys of old -- Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz -- eliminating themselves quite quickly. The last two players left standing were new Pen Steve Sullivan and forward Dustin Jeffrey. And in the end, it was the crafty veteran that prevailed, sending a puck past Flower to avoid having to grow some upper lip hair this month.

So it's Dustin Jeffrey who is your October Mustache Boy. Congrats!!!

"There’s a first time for everything," Jeffrey said. "It’s something where it’s always a fun game, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve never had one before and I don’t know how good of facial hair I can grow. It should be interesting."

Sullivan admitted he was lucky to get away from the competition scot-free, as he's come close -- too close -- in the last few shootouts.

"That’s twice now. It’s two competitions we’ve had and I’ve come down to the final two," he said. "I was able to get away. Hopefully next month I’m not cutting it so close."

2:45 PM:
Photographic evidence of the guys at work...

Staalsy kicking a puck with his foot (left); Duper going in for a shot (right)

Orpik is on the ice (left); as is Picard (right)

Asham working in drills

Neal bearing down on 'Flower' (left); Tanger teeing one off (right)

Crosby with some net-front presence (left); Niskanen rounding the lonely glove (right)

Orpik gesturing to Martin (left); Flower pushing Kunitz out of the way (right)

2:04 PM:
The players are wearing color-coded jerseys today. Yay!!!

Here's how the line combos shake down with Geno being absent.






2:02 PM:
As head coach Dan Bylsma stated on Friday, Brooks Orpik and Alexandre Picard are both on the ice practicing with the team. Arron Asham is also back after missing Friday's game due to illness.

Pens captain Sidney Crosby is also skating and is wearing an alternate-colored helmet to signify non-contact. Today he's got a black helmet on while the rest of his teammates are wearing white.

Evgeni Malkin is the only player missing from practice. We'll get an update from coach after the skate.

1:21 PM:
Hello everyone! After an early wakeup call this morning in Chicago (the bus left for the airport at 8:30 a.m. – thankfully we all made it on time), we’ve arrived in Detroit for the Penguins' Sunday afternoon tilt with the Red Wings. Both Brent Johnson (who played out of his mind in Friday night’s 4-2 win over the Blackhawks) and myself are pretty excited to be here, as we’re both from the state of Michigan and can’t wait to see our families and friends.

The Pens are scheduled to have one skate from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. here at Joe Louis Arena (we’re back on Eastern time now). Two players who should be returning to practice with the team are Brooks Orpik (lower abdominal/hernia surgery) and Alexandre Picard (undisclosed), so that’s definitely some good news there. I'll keep you posted on their statuses.

I tried finding a suitable Detroit-related music video for the blog, as it would have been perfect to put in an Eminem and Jay-Z clip since the two rap artists did a pair of sold-out shows last year in their respective hometowns – one at Yankee Stadium, the other at Comerica Park. That would have been quite fitting, seeing as the Tigers and the Yankees are facing off in an American League Division Series and are resuming their rain-delayed playoff opener tonight in the Big Apple.

But I couldn't find anything appropriate, so here are the game highlights from Pittsburgh's 3-2 preseason win over Detroit on Sept. 21 at CONSOL Energy Center instead. Hopefully the Pens can skate to another victory over the Red Wings on Sunday to finish the preseason with a perfect 6-0 record. Enjoy!!!

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