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Penguins Report: Training Camp 9/26/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Mears brings you the lowdown on today’s happenings (3:40 PM).
  • Orpik may or may not be ready for regular season (12:02 PM).
  • Happy Bday Kunitz and Orpik (10:16 AM).
  • Controlled scrimmage for Dummies (11:23 AM).
  • Last 3 preseason games on the radio (2:32 PM).
  • Williams skates, Asham maintenance day (10:51 AM).
  • Pens’ lines (10:25 AM).
  • Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma (12:59 PM).
  • Crosby and Staal spit knowledge (12:23 PM).
  • PensTV chats up Thiessen and McDonald (2:23 PM).
  • No one controls a scrimmage like the Pens (1:42 PM).
  • Group A roster (12:14 PM).
  • Group B roster (9:50 AM).
  • Humble stars (1:28 PM).
  • Emulsions (10:44 AM).
  • “I’m built to fly away, I never learned how to stay…” (9:30 AM).

3:40 PM:
The consummate pro Steve Mears and his stylish black jacket bring you all the info from Monday's practice as only Mearsy can.

2:32 PM:
Pens fans, don't forget that the final three preseason games can be heard on the radio (click for details). Listen to the exotic vocals of Steve Mears as he calls all the action, along with Phil Bourque. 

2:23 PM:
Michelle Crechiolo chatted with Brad Thiessen and Colin McDonald for PensTV:



1:42 PM:
Ain't no controlled scrimmage like a Penguins controlled scrimmage cause a Penguins controlled scrimmage don't stop (actually it runs for about 20 minutes).

Bylsma explains the drill (left); Puck drops. Game on. Controlled scrimmage underway #Pens (right)

Bylsma going for a bro hug with Craig (left); The classic coach pointing (right)

@jneal_18 (left); @malkin71_ (right)

Kris Letang and Craig Adams share eye contact (left); Crosby watches with amusement (right)

1:28 PM:
Two things I'd really like to note. At the end of the controlled scrimmage, Sidney Crosby gathered all the wayward pucks and put them in their carrier. At the end of the final practice of the day, Evgeni Malkin was the last player on the ice. He collected the pucks and helped Nick Johnson put them in their carrier. It's great to see the Pens' two leaders still burdening some of the toil for their teammates at practice. It's all about the little things.

But before Malkin left the ice there was one last thing he wanted to do. A series of water bottles had been perfectly lined up on the boards in front of the team's bench. Malkin, standing 20 or so feet away, ripped a slap shot that took out three of the water bottles. The puck even popped into the air, over the glass and landed in the stands.

12:59 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if Neal has had any problems adjusting to the right side:
The best he has looked in camp is when he has been playing the right side and in the scrimmage on Day 1, in Wilkes-Barre for that game. At times he’s done very well with his line on the right side. We’re going to get more examples of that over the next three games, so it’s not a real concern at this particular time.

On if there is a particular defensive statistic that determines how well a team is playing:
(Goals against) is a great indicator and one that I look at every year as a coach to see where you are at in the league, rate yourself as a team that is able to defend and doesn’t give up goals. Last year, that was something we looked at a lot within our room and our coaching staff. We wanted to keep the number around 200 and we were able to do that. I think we were a good defending team as a result. Some of it was penalty kill, some of it was goaltending. It’s overall a good team defense, tough to play against, tough to score against.

On what it would take to get their statistics to No. 1:
I think it’s an attention to one side of the game. We want to bring that to status as something we are known for. If we are that number, I still don’t think we are going to be known for that. It takes a mindset from the team. It comes from penalty kill, it comes from the goaltending, it comes from the five guys defending as a group, the way we play rushes, the way we play in the defensive zone, how we are tough to play against, how we are tough to generate. We focus on what the situation is and that’s a lot of how we go out and try to play defensively.

On what his approach is going to be in the next three games:
I think you’ll probably see two more (rounds of) cuts. Game 4 is still a little bit of experimenting with lineups and line combinations, power plays. Not completely setting in units because of the experimentation of the lineups and giving everyone an opportunity. Games 5 and 6 would be more along the lines of line combinations, power play units. Treating those almost like regular season games and trying to get the team focused on the routine of how we play and how we prepare and also how we play as a group of 20 guys. Five and six would be more line combinations and actually what’s going to happen when game time comes around.

On AHL coaches getting a shot in the NHL:
I don’t have a reason why that has been the case. I know starting about four years ago I was all for it. The minor leagues and the ECHL is a significant amount of work and preparation, and a lot of learning as a coach. You see good, young coaches that have gone through that development process as a coach, and gone through essentially the whole game similar to the NHL. You see those coaches get opportunities. You’re seeing good coaches, who are considered to be young, get that opportunity because they have a lot of experience and different avenues. Mike Yeo is a young coach right now, but he has a lot of experience, a lot of work, he has different experiences in the minor leagues. He’s had different coaches. He’s been a head coach in the American Hockey League. He’s been an NHL assistant. He’s a young guy, but there’s a lot of work and development as a coach. He’s put in a long time. There are other coaches like that. They just need the opportunities. I think they’re good coaches that have proven it in the NHL.

On if the success of AHL coaches in the NHL has helped the movement:
I think that has helped. You saw it with Bruce Boudreau. You saw it with myself. You saw it with Davis Payne. You saw it with Guy Boucher. You’ve seen young coaches have success. It’s easier for the next group of guys that are good coaches to have an opportunity to be in the NHL because of what has happened the last few years.

Secondary assist: Kaitlin Zurowsky

12:23 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On his health:
Everything has been good. I’m happy with it.

On not being able to take part in the physical part of the game:
When you go through this for a while you just want to feel good out there. Right now I feel good. When it’s ready to get to that point, I want to make sure I’m comfortable and confident. Obviously, the more good days you have, the nearer you get, and hopefully we’ll get there shortly.

On his conditioning:
It’s getting better. Conditioning just takes time. I think it’s gotten a lot better over the last week and a half. It’ll continue to get better. It’s more the timing and things like that you have to pay attention to.

On if he’s ever missed this much time with an injury:
No, never this much. I’ve never gone this much time without playing a game or anything. It’s new. You try to learn from everything. Hopefully you take something from it.

On simulating the speed:
The speed yes, I think our practices are pretty intense. That’s just one aspect. You throw physicality in there and it’s a little different. It’s a little bit more fatiguing. It definitely changes things a bit. I’m just happy to be getting through this. When the time comes, I’ll be ready to make that next step.

Jordan Staal

On starting to play against other teams:
It’s great obviously. We’ve been skating for a pretty long time now and it’s great to get some game action in and get well prepared. We’ve practiced so long and all of the games are a lot different out there, so it will be good for our team to get closer and better on the ice.

On if he feels like he is getting closer to game mode:
I think everyone came to this camp in really good shape. We are practicing really hard, skating everyday and getting used to the routine of working your body. The guys are getting ready to start playing some more games.

On being 3-0 in the exhibition games:
No one likes to lose. We obviously want to win. I personally think we’re just playing the system really well and a lot of the guys with our AHL team last year knew the system well. It’s nice to see every game we’re doing all those things right and it’s helping us win all these preseason games.

On having Crosby around:
Sid’s here every morning, so it’s nice to see him. Whether it’s on the ice or just in the locker room it’s nice to have him back in action. Hopefully, he’ll get here in practice soon enough.

Secondary assist: Kaitlin Zurawsky

12:14 PM:
The second practice group is on the ice at CONSOL Energy Center. Here is the lineup:

4 Zbynek Michalek
7 Paul Martin
9 Pascal Dupuis
10 Mark Letestu
15 Dustin Jeffrey
18 James Neal
19 Jason Williams
23 Ryan Craig
24 Matt Cooke
26 Steve Sullivan
28 Nick Johnson
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
30 Scott Munroe
58 Kris Letang
70 Joseph Morrow
71 Evgeni Malkin
87 Sidney Crosby

Alexandre Picard and Brooks Orpik, who were listed in the group, are not on the ice.

12:02 PM:
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that he couldn't say one way or the other if Orpik will be ready for the start of the regular season.

"I don't (know) one way or the other right now. Still preparing like he could be there for us at the start of the season."

11:31 AM:
To hear the latest from practice and the scrimmages, tune in to Penguins 24/7 Radio. Steve Mears is broadcasting from 11am-1pm. On the show today are Hall of Famer Mike Lange and Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi.

11:23 AM:
The Pens are running a controlled scrimmage right now. In an open scrimmage the coaches drop the puck and you play like a normal game. In a controlled scrimmage, the coaches are setting up certain situations that they are emulating from a game that they want the team to work on.

So if the team is working on a faceoff play, they'll line up in their positions in one of the circles. Instead of taking the faceoff though, Bylsma will toss the puck onto which ever side he chooses. The players then spring into action. If it's the defending team, they'll work on breaking the puck out, if it's the offense they'll work on setting up a shot. As soon as the shot is taken or cleared from the zone, the whistle blows and they do it all over again.

10:51 AM:
2 notes of interest:
  • Jason Williams, who has been limited to practice with an injury, skated prior to the team's practice.
  • Arron Asham, who was scheduled with the 10am group, is absent. Update: Dan Bylsma said that Asham was given a maintenance day.

10:44 AM:
Emulsoins for your eyes...

The second-ever Korean-born player in the NHL tries to score on Johnny

Kennedy works on his balance (left); Lovejoy corrals the rubber (right)

Learning time! (left); Coach Bylsma with the whistle at the ready (right)

Staal cuts on the edges (left); Engelland protects the paint (right)

Goalies, two of them in fact (left); Niskanen dominates the lower circle (right)

10:25 AM:
Pens line combos:


10:16 AM:
A couple of birthdays to announce: Chris Kunitz turns 32 and Brooks Orpik is now 31 years old. Happy birthday boys!

9:50 AM:
The 10am practice group is starting to filter onto the ice. Here is their lineup:

1 Brent Johnson
2 Matt Niskanen
5 Deryk Engelland
6 Ben Lovejoy
11 Jordan Staal
12 Richard Park
14 Chris Kunitz
25 Eric Tangradi
27 Craig Adams
33 Steve MacIntyre
37 Brian Strait
38 Colin McDonald
39 Brad Thiessen
46 Joe Vitale
48 Tyler Kennedy
78 Scott Harrington

9:30 AM:
The Pens will hold two practices and a controlled scrimmage Monday at CONSOL Energy Center. The first practice group will hit the ice at 10am, while the second group will practice at 11:45am. The two squads will hold a controlled scrimmage from 11-11:20am.

The big event on Sunday was a special town hall meeting held at CONSOL Energy Center exclusively for season ticket holders. There were many memorable moments and one-liners from the town hall meeting (click here for photo gallery).

Since it is early Monday, let's open the day with Death Cab for Cutie's mellow tune "Monday Morning." Enjoy.

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