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Penguins Report: U.S. Soldier Visits Pens

Tuesday, 10.06.2009 / 1:38 PM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
7:32 PM: Following are outtakes from the Penguins after practice Tuesday in advance of Wednesday's matchup at Mellon Arena with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Ruslan Fedotenko
On Phoenix game:
We’ll have a meeting tomorrow. We’ll address what we need to do and what their tendencies are. We’ll figure it out tomorrow.
On teammates having his back against the New York Islanders:
That was great. I mean too bad we took penalties. So that put us in a five-on-three, but it’s nice that guys stood up for the players. I think that was great.
On earning respect in the locker room with these actions:
Yeah, it’s part of it. We know we have great character in the dressing room. We brought in a couple players who are good characters, too. So I think everybody’s easing in really good and we have good chemistry right now.

Jay McKee
On standing up for Fedotenko:
It was a clean hit. There’s no question about that. But I think when guys take runs like that, where your teammate is vulnerable, I think it’s right that guys stick up for each other. That’s a penalty that I know when I’m killing a penalty if one of my teammates takes that kind of a penalty I’m going to do my best to kill it off. I think we play them enough during the season that you want to send a message that you can’t run around with our players and not expect something back. So maybe somebody thinks twice a little bit about doing it next time. We’ve got some good young players on this team that we need to protect, and we don’t want other teams thinking they can run around. I remember seeing earlier in my career guys sticking up for each other, and I gained a lot of respect for those players. It’s just something a lot of guys in this league will do for each other.
On crossing a line, putting the team in penalty trouble:
I didn’t know that Geno was going to get a penalty on that one. I expect that we’re going to end up short handed. But it’s certainly not something I would do in the playoffs or towards the end of the season. It’s something that players do this time of year just to stand up for their teammates. It’s like seeing your friend get hurt on the schoolyard. You stick up for them. It’s part of the game. It’s been around for a long time. I’ve been jumped a number of times after laying guys out. So what comes around goes around, I guess.
On Phoenix game:
I think they’re underrated. Those guys work hard every night. They’ve had some tough years and a lot of off-ice issues that you can’t just put aside without thinking about. There’s a lot on their plate right now. But the bottom line is they come to work every night and they come hungry to win every night. We’ve got to expect a tough game from them.
On getting an unusually high number of penalty minutes against the Islanders:
I think there was one game years ago where I got in a couple fights in one game and ended up with 21 (penalty minutes). But getting 19 last game, I was in the penalty box more than I was on the ice. That was different for me, but it happens once in a while. Fights are part of the game. I think it’s entertaining for fans, and the players and the team respect that part of the game because of the tradition of it. But I don’t think you’ll be seeing that too much. I’d much rather be on the ice playing.

Brooks Orpik
On Islanders game:
It was their home opener. (We knew) they were going to come out strong, especially with (John) Tavares. That was the first time I’ve ever seen that building sold out and as loud as it was. They’re a pretty good young team. I think they’re going to do a lot better this year. They had a lot of injuries last year, too. But both those young guys, Tavares and (Kyle) Okposo, I though they were really good, too.
On other teams gunning for the Penguins:
I think the biggest thing is you’re not going to sneak up on anyone. Everyone looks at their schedule and probably checks off the day we’re going to their building or they’re coming here to play us. The way the league is now, there are not too many easy games. And that just complicates it.

Sidney Crosby
On Phoenix game:
I think we’ll watch video like we always do. I don’t think we ever focus a whole lot on what other teams do. We try to do what we need to do. But it’s always good to have some tendencies. Their new coach, he coached in Dallas so I’m sure he’s going to bring some of those things over to this team. If we can pick up a few tendencies then we’ll try to read off it.
On picking up where he left off goal scoring:
I’m trying to shoot more. I feel like my shot is a little bit harder with my sticks, might be a little more confidence there to use it more. It’s one of those things. Goals, sometimes they come in bunches like that and you just try to keep shooting when they’re going in. That’s basically my mindset right now, try to put the puck on net and kind of keep things simple.

Dan Bylsma
On Steve Mitrisin:
You’re talking about a story of what he missed when he was over there. It certainly underlines the sacrifice that our men and women make serving for our country, but also to know where they’re flying our colors and watching what we’re doing here, and using that as something of a distraction. It’s emotional to think that playing a game out here is something that is used to keep morale high. And to have his family here today, knowing he missed the birth of his son, missed the Stanley Cup championship, a chance for us to kind of bring him in to our family and what we did last year. It’s kind of neat for everybody.
On Phoenix game:
In some aspects you don’t know what to expect, because it’s a new coach. I think the coaching staff here knows Dave Tippett pretty well. So I think we can expect the team to play a fast game, an aggressive game. Once they get a hold of his kind of hockey they’ll be playing a structured game. Their individual players offer speed, an attack that we have to be aware of. They’re a team that could be overlooked. But their start, their game and what they can be and what they can grow into, we have to be ready for a pretty quick game.
On speed of game at the beginning of the season:
For me, training camp and the first 20 games are the foundation part of your season. What we look like at game 60 should look much better than it is right now. But everyone’s going through that situation right now, in terms of getting up to speed in their system. I do really believe that, not only is there a system in place, but your team has to develop an identity of how it’s going to play. The players have to buy into that. They have to find out what it means, what it’s going to look like on the ice. That takes a bit of work. It takes 20 games or so. I watched the video from the first two games and it’s certainly not the level of expectation that I would have at a Game 50 mark. When I watch I get excited, but we have a ways to go to improve both individually and as a team. And that’s what the first month’s about.
On getting games in rhythm:
I think just opening up the season and turning the page on training camp and turning the page on some of the extra-curricular activities, and getting to that normal game-day routine and expecting that even in the practice for a few days is a welcome routine to get into. You feel normal. It feels like an old pair of jeans versus training camp. That’ll happen even more here as we get going. And then we play every other day here for a little bit and get on the road, get in the routine of road games as well. I think everyone’s eager to settle into that.
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4:46 PM:
Penguins center Sidney Crosby got a little love from AskMen.com. The captain was listed by the website as one the Top 49 Most Influential Men in the world. Crosby, the only hockey player to top the list, came in at No. 34.

Getty Images

Other athletes on the list are Lance Armstrong (49), Dwayne Wade (43), LeBron James (42), Andy Roddick (35), Kobe Bryant (33), Tiger Woods (30), Cristiano Ronadlo (28), Manny Pacquiao (24), Lionel Messi (22), Peyton Manning (9), Roger Federer (8) and Usain Bolt (2). 

My personal favorites: Conan O'Brian (16) and Jon Stewart (13). See full list here.
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1:39 PM:
The Penguins had a special visitor at Mellon Arena afternoon practice. Steve Mitrisin, a member of the National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade, and his wife, Kristin, watched the team's practice, met head coach Dan Bylsma and the team on the ice after practice, visited the locker room, were given a tour of the Penguins' facility and received an autographed Penguins jersey with "Mitrisin" on the back and the No. 56, as well as two tickets to the Penguins' game Wednesday night when the team hosts Phoenix.

Mitrisin, a Pittsburgh police officer in his citizen life, missed the birth of his son, Tyler, as well as the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship while serving in Iraq. So the Penguins invited him in for the day. Read more here.


Mitrisin with his new autographed Penguins jersey


Mitrisin shakes hands with Penguins players and coaching staff at the conclusion of practice
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The Penguins wore their blue equipment for the second straight practice. The team will breakout their alternate blue jerseys for the Oct. 17 home contest against Tampa Bay. The Penguins are wearing the equipment a few weeks early to break them in for that game.

Here are some practice shots in the blue gear:







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The Penguins added a new locker room chart that marks the team's wins this season. After a win, the game puck will be placed in its slot with the player(s) of the game written on it.





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