Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Tampa Bay
Saturday, 10.17.2009 / 11:25 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Make sure to check out Jason Seidling's in-game blog against Tampa starting at 7:30 p.m.
We are just a few hours away from Pittsburgh breaking out the blue unis against the Lightning.
A blue storm approaching.
Pens and referee jerseys for the game.
The Pens wins...and counting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, which arrived to Pittsburgh late Friday and held a dinner-time practice at Mellon Arena, conducted an optional morning skate Saturday. One of the players opting not to skate was former Penguin Ryan Malone, who instead caught up with some old teammates.
Head coach Dan Bylsma addressed the media following the morning skate. Here's what the coach had to say:
On going for 25th win:
You knew it was my 25th. I didn’t know. That’s how much I know about it. I thought when you talked about jinxes you were talking about the blue (jerseys). We’re focused on coming back off the road and trying to continue to improve on the game that we played in Carolina. I think it was our best game of the road trip. You want to take strides in how your team’s going to play and how it should look every night. I’m looking forward to building on that game in Carolina.
On wingers getting scoring chances:
If you look at our chances that we take every game, I think you’re going to expect to see our center-men have a majority of them. They’re our better players and players we count on in power-play situations. They go on the power play for the majority of the time together. They’re going to get some more there. But last game Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz were a part of five scoring chances, and when you get to five you’re having a pretty good game around the net and a pretty good chance to score a goal. Sidney had part of 10. Geno was a part of seven. So yeah those players got some more, but as wingers, when you get five or six scoring chances, that’s the number we shoot for a lot when you talk about guys who want to put up goals and points. You should be looking at not ‘did I score, but did I get five, six chances.’ Right now, our last game in particular, we got that from our wingers. It has not been consistent through the first seven (games) as it has been the last three.
On spread-out schedule, other players getting time:
We sit down early on in the year and each month, and talk about the number of games we want our goaltender to play or what we think is a good number. We do deviate from it in certain circumstances, but right now we’re seeing a lot of Marc-Andre Fleury. But we’re prepared to meet the number that we talked about at the beginning of the month. You’ll see Brent (Johnson) again here in the near future, but with the space between the games Marc-Andre will be in tonight again. And with the other players, each has different circumstances. Chris Bourque has got in a couple different games. And we haven’t seen Martin (Skoula) yet. It happens every year in the beginning of the year. There’s a player who probably deserves to play, you’d like to see play, but he is not getting in because it’s somewhere in the first five, 10 games of the year. You try to wait to see how the injuries shake out and so forth. So Martin hasn’t got in yet, but we’re real confident about when he does get in and what he can add. That probably will change after the first 10 to 15 games. You’ll see more of a change in the lineup.
It’s much like blocking a shot for me. You really have got to want to win it, first off. If you don’t really want to win it, it’s not that important to you, you probably aren’t going to be that good. It doesn’t guarantee success, but you go in there with a certain expectation and battle level and importance on the face offs, and you’re talking to your wingers and your D-men about helping you out and what you’re trying to accomplish, I think you’re going to have a greater success versus going in there like ‘I’m not very good at this’ or ‘oh I’m going against Brind’Amour tonight.’ You talk yourself out of having success. But then I think you need to know if you’re going against a lefty or a righty. You need to know A-move, B-move. You need to have something to go to if you’re not having success with a certain move. I think those are some of the things that you need to have, and then there’s a certain amount of practice that the face off doesn’t get. I think we try to give that importance to our center-men here, in trying to help them improve with different tools, different moves, different things to expect, and then having scouts on the players that they’re going against, all going into trying to gain an edge in the face-off circle.
On penalty-killing philosophy:
About at the end of my penalty-killing career, a coach introduced a more aggressive penalty kill that was probably against my strengths. I was a shot blocker, kind of a passive penalty-kill guy, let them shoot it and I’ll block it. The style that the coach changed to was an aggressive style and dictated where the play’s made from, and pushing it into certain areas of the ice. And I have a ton respect, and you need shot blockers, but I think you can be aggressive in your style and where you push them to make a play, guiding them into certain areas, and when you do that you have a much better chance of breaking up plays and then being aggressive on those loose pucks. That’s what we do now. I have a little bit of both in my experience as a player and I think a lot of what I do now is taking from that particular coach. You made me say it. Mike Babcock was the guy that introduced that in Anaheim.
(Props to Tom Mast)
Reporters await the arrival of Dan Bylsma for his post-morning skate media session. Among those waiting were FSN's Dan Potash, who appears to be occupying his time with his BlackBerry.
The entrance door to the Penguins locker room
Head coach Dan Bylsma did some goaltending in the locker room after the team's morning skate. Bylsma, protecting the kitchen cabinets in the players lounge area, stared down sharpshooters Liam Guerin, Bill Guerin's son, and Cody Dupuis, Pascal Dupuis' son. Despite his best efforts Bylsma got burned for three goals by Cody, as the young hockey player flashed his skills by with the puck (or in this case a soft rubber soccer ball).
"Take a lap, you're the No. 1 star," Bylsma told Cody after the competition.
Here are some post-morning skate thoughts from Sidney Crosby:
On things the team improved on during the trip:
I think we especially improved on the penalty kill. Our numbers weren’t the greatest but I think we still did a good job. We got a couple of bad breaks. Special teams are always going to play a big part. I think guys really stuck with things on the penalty kill and made sure that a bad break or a tough goal didn’t change that. For a four-game trip, for guys to really pick up on that quickly and stick with things, I think that is a good sign for us.
On having only one assist on the season:
I would love to have more, trust me. It hasn’t worked out that way. That’s not the norm for me to have more goals than assists, but it’s early on. Hopefully we will keep going here and create things. Don’t get me wrong, I want to score too. However it works out, as long as we are creating things.
Here are some morning skate shots courtesy of Erik Heasley:
Left is the Penguins' travel bucket of practice pucks; Right FSN color analyst Bob Errey tapes a segment for PensTV.
No new news from the Penguins morning skate as far as the lineup goes. Head coach Dan Bylsma continues to skate the same lines at the drill session as he has all year:
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net for Pittsburgh.