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Penguins Report: Training Camp 9/17/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Crosby pushed himself hard in practice and had no symptoms (2:19 PM).
  • Orpik progressing in his injury, not 100% yet (12:17 PM).
  • The daily wrapup report (3:47 PM).
  • Live blogging the scrimmage (10:45 AM).
  • The fans enjoyed the open practice (6:05 PM).
  • Crosby full transcript (2:24 PM).
  • Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma (2:42 PM).
  • Crosby gets standing ovation (12:07 PM).
  • Fleury, Staal and Letang spit knowledge (2:53 PM).
  • Malkin, Kennedy, Sullivan and Letestu chat with PensTV (3:34 PM).
  • Proof Crosby practiced Saturday (2:28 PM).
  • Scrimmage pics (3:25 PM).
  • Early practice pics (12:43 PM).
  • Fans at the open practice (10:05 AM).
  • “Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again…” (7:30 AM).

6:05 PM:
The fans enjoyed a great morning/afternoon of hockey at CONSOL Energy Center. Katie O caught up with the team's faithful fans.

3:47 PM:
Here is the video wrapup for Day 1 of training camp, brought to you by your favorite Pens Report website writer (or second favorite).

3:34 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room II...

Evgeni Malkin

On what he’s like at 100 percent if this is 90 percent:
I can’t say it’s 90 percent, but it’s pretty close. I had a good line today. I’ve got 20 more days to just work hard and be 100 percent ready for the season.

On his line with Tyler Kennedy and Steve Sullivan:
The team we played had practice before us. We were fresh before the game. We played pretty hard and scored a couple of goals just being fresh.

On the three of them playing well together:
A new line doesn’t always score three goals in a day. Whether we play the same line during the season, who knows. We played good.

On how his timing felt:
Awesome, awesome. I just had fun and thank you fans for coming to practice. Lots of kids. It’s so exciting to play in front of fans for practice.

On where he learned how to do a penalty shot:
I worked on penalty shots in the summer too because it’s my problem in the season. I just work, work every day and try to score in games, too.

On if he’s doing something different:
Not different, just more practice, more shots, more new drills. I don’t know, it’s just working every day. ‘Flower’ is a pretty good goalie, so maybe I’m lucky today.

On playing with Sullivan and Kennedy:
I like it. It’s two small guys, but they work hard and skate hard. They play good hockey. I just support those two guys and they keep us together. They shoot hard.

Tyler Kennedy

On playing well with his line:
I was just trying to get the puck on net and they went in. my main focus right now is trying to get my shot down, getting pucks to the net. I’m playing with two great players, and it makes things easy when you’re playing with those two guys.

On if gelling quickly and if they had a feel for each other or if it’s just the way it unfolded:
I think it’s just the way things unfolded. They’re just two great players and as long as you talk and let each other know where you’re going, it makes things easy.

On Malkin:
He’s a great player. He’s world class and we’re excited to have him back.

On Sullivan:
He’s a fast guy that creates a lot of room for other guys. You can tell he’s a veteran. He makes smart plays and the right plays at the right time. It’s good to see.

Steve Sullivan

On playing with a center like Evgeni Malkin:
Well, I think that 'Geno' and Tyler Kennedy already have a lot of chemistry. I think that they’ve played together quite a bit. I think you can see them on the ice that they read each other very well. Today I just tried to stay out of the way and made sure I let them do their things. If I was able to make some contributions, get them the puck at the right place at the right time. So, I think it’s playing with those two players, it’s pretty easy.

On the scrimmage:
It went really well. I think Tyler had a great game, had some couple good shots, made the best of his opportunities. So it’s great. Like I said, playing with talented players like that, it’s really refreshing.

On if they tried to get him a hat trick at the end:
I was (laughs). I know it’s only training camp in a scrimmage, but it’s always good to try and score three goals. We had a couple set plays we were going to try and do if we could kind spring them late in the game.

On if that’s a veteran move:
Why not, you know what I mean (laughs). The score was 5-1 at the time. So we said, you know, let’s try and get you a hat trick. It didn’t work out, but we tried.

Mark Letestu

On his mentality entering this camp following his impressive performance last year:
It’s pretty similar. It seems like Ray (Shero) and the management assembled a lot of good depth again. Obviously, the competition again, as of they talk of in the media, is going to be pretty competitive. So I think the mindset’s got to be the same. It feels like my spot’s loose, but at the same time a performance like last year can’t do anything but help me.

On his offseason preparation:
I think you take from last year. You take the message they give you at the end of the year. Things to work on, things to improve your game, and you try to apply them starting in training camp throughout the rest of the year. So in terms of the competition, I can only control what I can control. I can only play as well as I can. Hopefully the rest takes care of itself.

On his goals for this season:
Obviously the start. I had a good start (last year), but in the middle part of the season and towards the end, my play tapered off. That’s something I need to improve. It’s a learning experience. Hopefully it takes up from every year you play, and for me I want to be more consistent throughout the entire year.

On working on his face-offs:
It’s something they talked about with me before leaving. It’s something I can bring to the table. You’re always trying to build your strength. With face-offs it seems to be a timing thing. There’s not a lot you can do to really work on it. It’s tough to get guys to come out and stand over a circle for a half-hour in the summer. It’s just something it seems you need repetition and practice and timing. Once you get into a groove hopefully the numbers come.

Goal: Michelle Crechiolo

3:25 PM:
Some more pics for your viewing pleasure...

Samuelsson scores on the near side (left); Skill drills with saucer pass over the stick (right)

Lesson time! (left); Dupuis (right)

Letestu tries to stuff the puck in (left): Thiessen chats with goalie development coach Mike Bales (right)

Bylsma demonstratively pointing his stick for the drill (left); Crosby, 'nuff said

Puck battle in the corner (left); Kennedy, who had 2 goals in the scrimmage shoots on Johnson (right)

Stretching it out (left); Fleury gets into position (right)

Fans take in the action (left); Malkin scores on a penalty shot in the scrimmage (right)

Scrimmage faceoff (left); Fierce puck battle on the boards (right)

2:53 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Marc-Andre Fleury

On Malkin's performance:
It's the old Geno that we know, so it's good to see.

On the new guy's perfromances:
We have a couple new guys and some old guys who we've played against at some point, so it's fun to see them on the ice and on our side and I think it will be nice to see them during camp.

On his outlook for the season:
I think that's pretty much every year that's our goal to get to the finals and to win. Nothing has changed this year. I think with the group of guys that we have this year, it's something we can accomplish.

Jordan Staal

On coming into training camp compared to last year:
It's nice to have a good summer of working out, getting the legs ready, just being prepared for the season, going through the training, going through working on what we do as a team, and not just jumping in in the middle of the season. I'm expecting a lot of good things. I'm just glad to be healthy and hopefully ready to go for the rest of the season.

On his leadership position:
If you look around the room, there are a lot of guys who know what it takes to win games and I'm sure a lot of guys look to share that wealth.

Kris Letang

On how he feels about the team
We have a good core, we have good young kids coming up. I think overall, we have good depth and we're looking for another good season.

On what Steve Sullivan can bring to the power play:
Obviously he's a fast skater, he's got quick hands, he's a good shooter, but I think his first quality is that he's really good with the puck. On the power play, he's been playing the point a lot in Nashville. I think he's got a good shot, he's a great play maker, he sees the ice really well.

On the competition on defense:
It's always like that at training camp. There's always guys that want to make the last one or two spots on the roster, but everybody is really good coming into training camp, everyone's in good shape, you could tell yesterday by the testing and on-ice tests. It's going to be a battle, there is a lot of guys, even up front they have a lot of competition.

On if things are more certain this year in the defensive pairings:
Last year, I played mostly with (Orpik) and Z and Pauly played together, but it's something that we'll see in training camp, if I play with Pauly and it goes pretty well, it might change the pairing. It's just a question of chemistry on the ice right now and getting back together and getting our timing back.

Assist: Kaitlin Zurawsky

2:42 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On how he felt the scrimmage went:
It's tough not to notice Tyler Kennedy, Malkin and Sullivan together. I was hoping to get a hat trick for TK so Malkin could come on the ice and they were particularly good. James Neal scored a goal. We've seen him score 20 of those in the last 5,  6, 7 days, scooping it over the goalies glove, so he gets that goal there. It's a tough pace for the players to keep up practice in and you see some tired folks out there as well.

On Malkin and what he wants to accomplish this year:
Whenever you get a chance to talk to Geno about goals and what he wants, every conversation comes to the Stanley Cup and winning Stanley Cups, winning multiple Stanley Cups. It will always go there when you sit down and talk with him. I think he's looking to get back, not for points, or individual awards, or scoring titles. He wants to get back and help his team be a good hockey team and win a Stanley Cup. I think that's his mindset, I think that was his mindset at the end of last year, trying to get back for the playoffs, if he could, cause he thought he could help us be a good team.

On Matt Cooke's mindset going into the season:
I'm interested in seeing what the product is going to be on the ice for Matt Cooke, where his mind is going to be. I know Matt is in a different position now mentally, he's in a different position in his focus on being a physical player and what he's looking for and aspects of hitting he can still do within the guidelines. At the same time I think Matt has that, he's also ready to come back to our team and help in the areas that make him a good hockey player for our team, being a penalty killer, being a leader in that regard. He's a guy who's an aggressive player for us and leads the charge in the offensive zone, in and around the net, so what the product's going to be we are going to have training camp to figure that out a little bit, but his mindset and preparation going into the season, in terms of being a physical player, is much different than it has been. 

On if he had been surprised by Cooke's candidness:
It's been interesting. We certainly have been in the process with Matt, but I can tell you, he's in a different spot. We've seen him get suspended for a game or 4 games and we are in a different mindset and frame of mind out of this in terms of we have to change, need to approach things differently, want to approach things differently and then the education of how he can still be an aggressive player and still play his game. It's an interesting situation, and again, we've talked about how this is going to work on the ice and I think Matt feels real confident that he can be a good player, be a similar player, but also be within the guidelines of the rules.

On if going through training camp with make James Neal a different player:
I think he scored more goals than Tyler Kennedy, and Tyler Kennedy had a breakout year, but our fans and our feeling isn't that same way. We didn't see him score those goals and he didn't score them in our jersey, so we don't feel that. But James Neal is a 20-plus goal scorer and we think he can get 30. He's a guy who typically has had faster starts to his season than finish and he's ready to come in here and what we see on the ice and before we stepped on the ice today. He is a confident player, real excited about being a part of  this team and the way we play, yeah, I think he's going to be ripping the puck on net here and getting some goals for us and our fans are going to see that, so that will be a change for a few of them, I think, for how they think and feel.

Assist: Kaitlin Zurawsky

2:28 PM:
Here are some pics of Sid in his white helmet...

2:24 PM:
Here are Crosby's full comments to the media...

On how he felt during practice:
I felt good. Glad to be back out there and I felt good out there.

On if that was the hardest he’s gone on the ice:
Yeah, it is. I was at a really good pace. I think it was tough, but fun to feel that again.

On how close he is to 100 percent exertion:
I worked as hard as I possibly could out there.

On if that’s the first time he’s done that:
I mean for that period of time, yeah. I think that’s probably the longest I went at that pace. It felt good.

On if he felt symptom-free:

On when he’ll know that he won’t experience symptoms on a regular basis:
I think it’s going to be a little more than that. It’s one day and I’m glad I felt good, but I think with that being said, I have to see after the next few days here.

On if there’s a sense of normalcy with the fans and the standing ovation at the open practice:
Yeah, that was really nice. I was really happy to be back out there and it was fun to go out there and work hard. Obviously it’s never fun when you’re tired and you’re going through drills like that, but at the same time, you miss that. You miss the fatigue and having to battle through it. So it was nice to go through all of it.

On the standing ovation:
That says a lot about our fans. I appreciate all of that. I miss being out there and appreciate the ovation I got there.

On what he has to say to the fans waiting for his return:
I think just that I’m as eager as hopefully they are to see me out there. I want to get back. I’m doing everything I can in my power to make sure that’s as soon as possible. That being said, I think there are necessary steps to take and I’m going to make sure I do that. I’m excited as hopefully as much as they are.

On if he will skate Sunday:
Yep. That’s the plan. I don’t know what group. I’ll let coach answer that.

On if the plan is for him to be involved in every drill that doesn’t involve contact if he remains symptom-free:
That’s pretty much the plan. It’s going to be a day-to-day thing. I won’t be able to give you a seven-day outlook, really. It’s going to be just day-to-day and talk with the coach and see what he thinks. This is camp too and guys need to work on being physical and have that intensity. If it makes sense for me to be in certain drills and not others, we’ll kind of communicate through that.

On what he learned about this group last year battling through without him and Malkin:
I think I always realized we had character, but you see it through adversity. It wasn’t just myself and Geno. We had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys that were called up. Some tough situations, so it was a different guy having to step up each night. We proved we can do that. There’s a ton of character in this room and I think whatever we’re faced with, we’re pretty confident that we can overcome it.

On if he has to consult with doctors before he returns or if it’s up to him now:
Before contact, yeah. I’ll have to talk to doctors. That’s kind of the typical way to go about things, so that’s how it’s gong to work.

On if there is a division in the perception the doctors have on his condition and who has the final say in his return to contact:
There’s no division. I don’t really know where that came from. I think as far as the final say, that’s going to be our team doctor (Dr. Charles Burke). At the end of the day, he’s got to be the one who clears me to play. It will be up to him. There’s constant communication and everyone will be well aware of everything before each step is made.

Assist: Michelle Crechiolo

2:19 PM:
Crosby finished his first practice with the team and experienced no symptoms. He also mentioned that he pushed himself as hard as he "possibly could," and that it's the hardest he's worked at the pace for that long.

Full details here.

12:51 PM:
Practice is coming to a close. Gotta run down to the locker room to chat with Sid. Stay tuned for any updates.

12:43 PM:
Some pictures from the first practice...

Players congregate at center ice (left); Players congregate at bench (right)

Fans filling up the seats for the first practice (left); Sneep tries to stuff in a rebound (right)

Coach pointing, that's always a great picture (left); Players practicing...on ice (right)

Faceoff time! (left); Bylsma explains the game plan (right)

12:17 PM:
Here's a quick update from Michelle Crechiolo on Brooks Orpik's condition. The gist is that he's not 100 percent, is working his way back into game shape and the plan is to be ready for the start of the regular season. Here's what Brooksy had to say:

"I’m definitely not 100 percent. It’s getting there. It’s definitely probably right on target for where I’m supposed to be, and then it’s more just trying to get my game shape back. I’ve only skated about five times so far, so I’m in great running shape. But you get on the ice and you feel like you’re in really bad shape. It’s just a matter of being patient and just trying to get some good practices in.

"That’s the plan (to be ready for regular season). Hopefully they said by eight weeks I should be good. So just trying to be patient with it and hopefully get some practices in and I’ll feel a little bit better."

Full report here.

12:07 PM:
Huge ovation for Crosby as he hit the ice. Unreal support from the fans for their captain. Unless they were cheering for Dupuis. But I'm pretty sure it was for Sid.

10:45 AM:

The top lines for the two teams:
Black (Group 1): Kunitz-Staal-Neal
White (Group 2): Sullivan-Malkin-Kennedy
The other lines were mixed and matched together throughout the scrimmage.


15:00: Scrimmage is off and running.

14:20: Just 40 seconds into the scrimmage and Team White is on the board. Tyler Kennedy carried the puck down the far side, danced with the puck on his stick before snapping a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder. White 1, Black 0.

13:20: Kennedy gets on the board again! This time thanks to some fancy work with the puck by Malkin. Geno had the puck behind the net, passed it to himself off the back of the net, and then found Kennedy to the side of the cage. Kennedy whipped a shot into the netting. White 2, Black 0.

8:07: Malkin was awarded a penalty shot after being interfered with on the way to the net. On the ensuing shot, he skated in easily and whipped a shot past Fleury glove side. White 3, Black 0.

2:59: Richard Park on the board! Park received a pass in the high slot and blasted a slap shot into the cage. White is rolling right now. White 4, Black 0.

1:25: James Neal breaks the shutout bid. A beautiful display of stick handling, Neal skated through the entire team in the O zone and into the high slot. He snapped a shot high and over the shoulder of Brent Johnson. White 4, Black 1.

1:00: White responds right away as another newcomer Steve Sullivan tallies on a setup play from Malkin and Kennedy. White 5, Black 1.

0:00: That will do it for the first period. Pretty lopsided in terms of the score. Let’s see if Black has a comeback bid up their sleeves.


15:00: Patrick Killeen in net now for White and Scott Munroe for Black. Second period is underway. Game on!

11:40: Not a lot to write about in this second period. Both teams having trouble scoring. The defenses are starting to find their groove. It’s always harder for the defensemen and goalies to get their timing back than the forwards.

9:20: Michalek with his patented wicked blast from the point. Munroe stands tall on his crease and absorbs the shot.

6:40: Black had the puck in the O zone for an extended shift but couldn’t score. Killeen made a couple nice saves.

2:23: Still no score in the second and the clock is winding down.

0:00: That's it for the scrimmage. Group B (White) wins the game, 5-1.

Gotta run to the locker room. Stay tuned for more camp updates.

10:05 AM:
We're are getting ready for the scrimmage. In the meantime, here are some pics from earlier today.

Fans got to the rink early to get a good seat

Team gathers for teaching lessons

Fleury and Neal somehow climbed into the jumbotron (left); HC Bylsma practicing drawing

Fans continue to fill the seats

9:02 AM:
Practice is underway. Starting off with defensive zone faceoffs and breakouts.

8:54 AM:
The crowd went crazy as head coach Dan Bylsma hit the ice. Not to be outshined, assistant coach Todd Reirden was given a round of applause by the media section. 

8:45 AM:
The players are starting come out from the locker room. Joseph Morrow, Pittsburgh's 2011 first-round draft pick (23rd overall) is the first to hit the ice.

8:40 AM:
Pens fans are starting to filter into CONSOL Energy Center. Dave Matthews Band is playing on the sound system. It must be hockey season!!

7:30 AM:
“We in here talkin’ bout practice. How silly is that? We talkin’ bout practice, man.”

After a busy day on Friday with head shots and medical/fitness testing, the Pens hit the ice Saturday and Sunday for practice at CONSOL Energy Center. Both practices are open to the public.

For all the details on this weekend's open practices click here. Below are the cliff notes on the open practices:
  • Both practices are free of charge. Free > not free
  • Gates open at 8:30 am
  • Parking is free at surrounding lots on first come basis
  • Practice starts at 9 am, intra-squad scrimmage at 10 am
  • Concession stands, PensGear store and Dick’s Box Office will be open and ready to offer you goods and services in exchange for American dollar
  • Those not in attendance can watch at home online as will be live streaming the entire practice. You. Are. Welcome.

The complete training camp schedule is click here. The 55-man training camp roster can be downloaded here.

Saturday’s itinerary:
9 am – Group A practice
10 am – Group A and Group B scrimmage
11 am – Group B practice
12 noon – Group C practice

Below are the groupings:

Group A

11 Jordan Staal
14 Chris Kunitz
18 James Neal
28 Nick Johnson
42 Keven Veilleux
46 Joe Vitale
62 Ben Street
64 Tom Kuhnhackl
69 Bryan Lerg

37 Brian Strait
44 Brooks Orpik
55 Philip Samuelsson
58 Kris Letang
59 Carl Sneep
70 Joseph Morrow

29 Marc-Andre Fleury
33 Scott Munroe

Group B

12 Richard Park
19 Jason Williams
25 Eric Tangradi
26 Steve Sullivan
48 Tyler Kennedy
56 Paul Thompson
57 Brian Gibbons
71 Evgeni Malkin
76 Dominik Uher

4 Zbynek Michalek
7 Paul Martin
47 Simon Despres
52 Alex Grant
53 Joey Mormina
67 Geoff Walker

1 Brent Johnson
61 Patrick Killeen

Group C

9 Pascal Dupuis
10 Mark Letestu
15 Dustin Jeffrey
23 Ryan Craig
24 Matt Cooke
27 Craig Adams
38 Colin McDonald
45 Arron Asham
51 Zach Sill
87 Sidney Crosby

2 Matt Niskanen
5 Deryk Engelland
54 Alexandre Picard
74 Brandon DeFazio
78 Scott Harrington

39 Brad Thiessen
(Thiessen is so confident he doesn't need a backup)


It’s time to get this training camp going, and there’s no better way than with two days of practice in front of Pens fans at CONSOL Energy Center. Tape those sticks. Sharpen those skate blades. Chill those pucks. Shine those goalposts. Febreze those jerseys, please. It’s time for a little live ice hockey action.

And there’s no better song to open what will be the first of many practices this season than OK, Go’s “Here It Goes Again.”


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