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Penguins Report: Training Camp 9/29/11

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Sullivan close to playing, Crosby may make first reg-season road trip (2:14 PM).
  • Orpik’s cardboard copy helps at practice (2:42 PM).
  • Pens lines/pairs at practice (11:04 AM).
  • Exclusive video of Pens vs. LA (10:00 AM).
  • Sullivan vs. Engelland – shootout and comments (2:51 PM).
  • Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma (2:05 PM).
  • Crosby talks (2:07 PM).
  • Controlled scrimmage pics (2:12 PM).
  • Practice pics (12:00 PM).
  • Jamie Dixon recruiting the Pens? (11:30 AM).

2:51 PM:
The Pens held a shootout at the end of practice. The last 2 players were Sullivan and Engelland. After 3 rounds and 6 shots each, Sullivan was able to score on Johnson. As his punishment for losing, Engelland will have to buy a bunch of magazines to stock in the players lounge, locker room and weight room.

Speaking of Sullivan and Engelland, here's what they had to say today.

Steve Sullivan

On getting closer to participating in a game:
I think that if everything goes to plan today and feels good tomorrow, I’ll have to talk to coach, but I’d like to try and get in there. If it feels great then I’d like to get into both (preseason games).

On wanting to play with his new team:
I am (itching to get going). I’m trying to implement all the systems and the different plays that we have, trying to put it in game-like situations so it’d be nice to familiarize myself with the system and go at game speed.

On when he started to feel he was ready for game action:
Today, yesterday, everyday it’s getting a little bit better.

On staying healthy and how many games he would like to play in:
I don’t (have a certain number of games). I’d love to stay healthy and play all the games. I’m not going to set the bar any lower than 82. That’s what every team in the NHL plays and I want to play in every single one of them.

On being 37 years old and missing 30-plus games last season:
Obviously if history repeats itself, yeah I have problems. We can look at the stats anyway you want to. I had a rough year last year, but before that 40-game season was when I was coming back from a back injury. It’s part of missing 170 games in a row. I played 82 games two years ago and I missed half of the year last year. I think it was my own fault, trying to play through it. If I had surgery I would have probably only missed about 15 games, but ended up missing most trying to play through it. That’s all behind me and I’m hoping to play all the games.

On missing preseason games and not being able to get time with his new teammates:
I think that it is a process and that you have to go through. I think that during the year you play with everybody usually. Most guys will get switched back and forth. Lines that start in September and October a lot of times don’t end up the same at the end of the year. You got guys coming in and out. Just injuries all the time so you have to be able to adapt to whom you’re playing with, that being myself playing with other people or me coming into the lineup. So I don’t that should be a factor at all.

Deryk Engelland

On Coach Bylsma’s emphasize on joining the rush:
They really emphasize D getting up to play and creating more opportunities for everyone, make their team make choices. They really emphasize that.  So I’m trying to put that into my game too just to add a little bit. If it’s not me it’s going to be someone else so if it’s another forward going to the net or what not. So just trying to put it into my game a little.

On skating well with the puck:
The really want both D up in the play, join the rush. If it’s a chip in the zone at least you’re up in the play and you’ve already established your gap if they’re coming back so it really helps you out to get up the ice and move your feet. If you get a chance to chip in it’s always a bonus.

On changing if he has changed his mind from to contribute more offensively:
Not really. They’ve had that for the last four years when I was in Wilkes-Barre and everything. It’s one thing I want to get a little better at and do a little more this year so I got to get the confidence up to get up there and I feel pretty good so far doing it.

On his punishment for losing the shootout at the end of practice:
I just have to buy some magazines, but I get my own choices so I’ll get some magazines that I like instead of other ones. It’s not too bad. It sucks losing but it’s alright.

First assist: Justin Criado

2:42 PM:
Brooks Orpik may not have been on the ice for the Pens personally at practice on Thursday, but that doesn't mean he wasn't there in spirit - or in this case cardboard cutout form.

The Pens used an effigy of Orpik, with a strategically placed stick, as a drill prop on the ice. With the cardboard Orpik playing D, the players had to either shoot through his screen or make a move to get through him. All in all, cardboard Brooks Orpik played fairly well considering his circumstances and limitations. 

A scary moment occurred near the end of practice as a heavy Jordan Staal slap shot knocked cardboard Orpik to the ice. His teammates came quickly to his aid and he got back on his skates and appeared to be unfazed - he didn't even change the expression on his face. Now that's toughness.

Cardboard Orpik was completely fooled by Crosby, and was caught looking the wrong way

Cardboard Orpik keeps a watchful eye

Cardboard Orpik rests in the runway after a taxing practice (right)

2:14 PM:
A couple quick locker room notes: Sullivan hoping to play in the last 2 preseason games, but the decision will be made by the coaches; and Crosby may fly with the Pens on the Western Canada trip.

2:12 PM:
The hot phrase in 2011 training camp is controlled scrimmage. Get ya some.

Controlled srimmage opening faceoff: Crosby vs. Malkin - steal cage match

Sid and Geno skating out of the gate (left); Johnson with the save as Z clears the rebound (right)

Fleury under attack (left); Fleury turns aside a wayward puck (right)

Big Mac - Intyre (left); Kennedy and Engelland battle on the boards (right)

2:07 PM:
Sidney Crosby talks shop with the media...

On the NHL keeping a close eye on boarding penalties and what he thinks of what Brendan Shanahan has been doing so far:
I think it’s a good thing. Hopefully (Brendan Shanahan) isn’t doing that everyday like we’ve seen in the preseason. He’s had to do that pretty often. Hopefully it slows down. But even in preseason, you’ve seen guys adjust and seen some examples of guys kind of learning from that. So that’s a good sign and I expect it to keep getting better.

On the NHL enforcing suspensions for such penalties and if it’s refreshing to see that transparency:
Yeah. I think it’s tougher on Brendan than anyone to go through each and every situation. I think that’s a great thing that they’re doing. Hopefully he’s not too busy doing it. But yeah, I think anything to clarify and make sure everyone understands, it’s only going to help things.

On wanting to go on the opening trip to stay around the team even if he can’t play:
Obviously I’d love to go but that’s something I’ll talk to Dan (Bylsma) and everyone involved about to make sure that whatever it is that I end up doing is the best for everyone. So I think that’s the discussion we’ll have here pretty soon. I enjoy being around the team and would like to be there.

On how staying in that environment and practicing is important for his recovery:
It’s more just staying in shape and timing and stuff like that. I think that yeah, for sure, I’d love to keep that as consistent as possible. We’ll see how things go. The more I can do that the better it’ll be as far as adjusting.

On Evgeni Malkin’s determination and great play thus far:
Yeah, he’s hungry, you can see that. Coming off of last year and having some time away, I’m sure he’s been really anxious to get going. It’s showing in his play. He’s using the preseason to prepare for the season and he looks great out there, so it’s going to help in the transition.

On how the team is looking up to this point:
I think we look good. I didn’t see the Kansas City game, but the games that I’ve seen, I think we’ve done a good job paying attention to the details. It’s never easy in the preseason. Sometimes it gets tough out there with guys playing a new position and some things like that, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of trying to maintain the system we want to play and it’s gone pretty well so far.

On how the rest of his body feels, like legs, timing, vision, etc:
Everything seems to be coming slowly, but I think with each day all of that gets better and better. It’s tough. I’m kind of going based on December of last year and how I felt. I’m not going to get to that level this week. So it’s just a matter of being realistic with how much you want to improve each day, but also paying attention to everything that’s important to make that transition as smooth as possible.

On what Steve Sullivan brings to the table:
Even before he got here I think you can see he’s a guy with a lot of speed and smarts out there. He’s shown that when I skate with him, a lot of the things that I saw when he wasn’t here. He’s going to create a lot. He’s a right-hand shot too so it’s always nice. I think when he gets 100 percent here he’s going to create things.

Assists: Justin Criado & Michelle Crechiolo

2:05 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if he envisions Sidney Crosby making the opening trip just to be around the team:
We’ll be starting with everybody going on the trip that’s part of our group that’s with us at that time. Unless their rehab needs to be at a facility that’s not a part of the trip, they’ll be going on the trip with us. So I anticipate that to be the case for Sid.

On if he is disappointed that Nick Johnson was claimed off waivers by Minnesota:
Yeah, I am. I think Nick is a player who I think can play in the National Hockey League. He’s got skating ability, he can shoot it, he’s a bigger body. It’s a good opportunity for Nick. But it’s disappointing to see some of the depth that you have in the organization leave in that situation.

On how much significant contact Crosby will need to have before he’s put into a game once he’s cleared:
I don’t have any idea what that is in terms of the rehab and the doctors saying what that might be. I don’t know the timetable. I don’t know a timetable after he would begin contact. I don’t know that at all, so I haven’t made that anticipation and I don’t have any idea when that might be.

On if it seems like Evgeni Malkin is playing with a chip on his shoulder or point to prove:
I think the motivation factor comes a little bit from watching last year at the end of the season and then in the playoffs, and wanting to help us be a good team and wanting to get out there on the ice and working hard to do that. Now, missing that opportunity because of the injury, he had the strong summer continuing the rehab, really wanting to get back, get back at that form and be motivated in that regard. I’m not sure he’s out to prove a point or has a chip on his shoulder other than he wants to get back out there, help our team be a good team and be in that situation again. But he is motivated in that regard.

On if Joseph Morrow has a legitimate chance to make the team out of training camp:
Right now, we don’t have Brooks Orpik on the ice. So there is an opportunity that wasn’t there before. That opportunity may be there at the start of the season, it may not be there. That means a guy like Brian Strait, who’s played very well in camp, has a different opportunity right now than he did if Brooks Orpik was there. In terms of Joe Morrow, he’s played very well. I think we’ve seen a lot of good things from him at camp and he probably continues to get another opportunity because of the fact that we have defensemen that are not in the lineup right now. He’s getting an opportunity because of his play, he’s getting an opportunity because of what he’s done on the ice and he’s also gaining an opportunity because we have players that haven’t been able to participate in the games and in training camp. Right now, that’s gotten him into more time and another game, and we’ll see where that goes (Friday).

On addressing the players about spending so much time on the PK and being more disciplined:
It is something we talked about and had a focus on last year, especially the second half of the season. When we were talking, we realized we were getting penalized a lot. We don’t need to tax and rely on our PK. You want to minimize that situation for other teams to get opportunities to get back in games and to get goals. So being a disciplined team, not taking unnecessary penalties – while we felt confident on the PK last year, we don’t want to get in that situation where we give other teams’ best players opportunities to get on the power play.

On if he’ll be able to dress Steve Sullivan for the Chicago game:
Right now, we don’t know. He looked good today on the ice. He felt good going into practice today, but I don’t know that right now.

Power-play goal: Michelle Crechiolo

12:00 PM:
Pictures, pictures, pictures...

Adams and Park with asst coach Tony Granato (left); The ol' boy Tyler Kennedy (right)

Meloche prefers shooting with a glove on his blade (left); Bylsma point (right)

Asst coach Reirden gets low in a drill (left); Goaltenders are a secluded posse (right)

Vitale works with the rubber (left); Player stretch (right)

Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy wearing gray, or is it grey? (left); Engelland rockin' the yellow (right)

11:30 AM:
Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon was at CONSOL Energy Center earlier this morning. There was a gathering for the Red Cross at the arena, and Dixon was one of the key speakers. There is no truth to the rumors that Dixon is recruiting the Pens to join the ACC.

11:22 AM:
Pens fans, tune in to Penguins Radio 24/7 from 11am to 1pm today with host/patriot Steve Mears. On the show Thursday are Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi, PensTV vet Katie O'Malley and the Pens most overrated website writer (Sam Kasan). Don't miss it, or your ears will never forgive you.

11:04 AM:
The Pens are on the ice for practice. Here are the lines/pairings:

Sullivan-Malkin-Neal (white)
Cooke-Crosby-Dupuis (black)
Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy (gray)
Adams-Vitale-Park (yellow)
MacIntyre-Letestu-Asham (green)

Niskanen-Engelland (yellow)
Letang-Morrow (black)
Strait-Lovejoy (gray)
Martin-Michalek (white)


10:32 AM:
We are perched in our usual spot at CONSOL Energy Center waiting for practice to begin. The Pens will be on the ice from 11am to 1pm.

10:00 AM:
The Pens made 7 roster cuts on Wednesday, trimming the roster to 32 players (18 forwards, 12 defensemen, 2 goaltenders).

But 4 of the players re-assigned (Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson, Colin McDonald and Scott Munroe) will have to clear waivers by noon before arriving at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. We’ll keep you posted on if those players clear, once we get the info.

The Pens still need to make 9 more moves to get down to the 23-man lineup that will open the regular season in Vancouver Oct. 6. They’re also entering the stretch run of the preseason with their 2 remaining games coming up Friday in Chicago and Sunday in Detroit.

In their most recent contest, Pittsburgh topped Los Angeles, 3-2 shootout, at neutral site Kansas City. PensTV was there to capture exclusive footage. The highlights are below.

Assist: Mark Cottington
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