The Pens open the First Round the 2016-17 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Here are some of the hot topic items the Pens players addressed before the big game.
Mike Sullivan on Columbus: "I think there is familiarity on both sides. Playing in the same division I think they know what our team is about and our team knows what their team is about. They are going to try to play their style of play and we are going to try to play our style of play. The last game we played was an example of that. They are a physical team. They play a straight edge game. They are a deep team and are very good. We expect it to be a hard fought series. I am sure on their side they expected the same from us. I don't think there are any secrets as far as how this series will be played out. Both teams are really familiar."
Sidney Crosby on his impending head-to-head with Brandon Dubinsky: "I think he is a guy that takes pride in playing against other centers and trying to shut them down, so I think you need to be ready for that challenge. He creates offensively too, so he is not out there trying to defend all night. He wants to create. Just knowing who you are out there with and playing against-at this point in the year you got to compete no matter who is on the other side. I don't think that it is something as far as the way you approach things-you need to be ready to compete."
Crosby on if the playoffs are as exciting these days as the first time: "Yeah I think so. I think it is different. You have no idea what to expect when you go into your first playoff. You are probably a little bit more nervous not knowing what it is going to be like. I think now you know how to prepare, but the excitement level doesn't change. It is exciting to play this time of year."
Evgeni Malkin on the Jackets: "We know after the whistle they won't stop. We need to be smart. If they touch our goalie we need to answer. If they touch our defensemen we need to answer. But don't take penalties. Be smart and play our game."
Ron Hainsey on his playoff debut:"I certainly would have loved to play 100 playoff games by now, won three Stanley Cups, but it just hasn't been the way it has worked out for me. This opportunity, these next couple of months, hopefully we can string together a good run and what would be another championship run for these guys."
Matt Murray on walking down the runway before a playoff game: "Everything goes silent and you just play the game. You do your best to block out the noise and at that moment, everything just kind of fades away and you play hockey."
Phil Kessel on the playoffs: "Yeah, you are always excited for the playoffs. Obviously it should be a great series. It is the best time of the year."
Forty-year-old Matt Cullen: "I have never felt any other way. I think it is in all of us, we just love this time of year. Coming off of last season, we know how special it can be and what lies ahead if you put things together the right way. I think we all feel that excitement."
Patric Hornqvist on the series: "I think everyone in this room loves the playoffs. It is obviously going to be a physical series and we have to get physical. I think they are doing a great job from a week ago when we played them. They tried to come really hard at us and we held them up and they used their speed. I am looking forward to this series for sure."
Nick Bonino on facing Columbus: "We are excited to go. I think this is the part of the year that we look forward to. We have known for a week now who we were going to play, got the regular season out of the way. I am excited to get going tomorrow."