Penguins Report: Talbot Back to Practice
Monday, 10.19.2009 / 10:40 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
To add a little fun to the competition, head coach Dan Bylsma mixed things up, ruling that the shootout loser has to wash defenseman Jay McKee's monstrous truck (which makes Mike Rupp's vehicle look small).
"We try to come up for something new for the loser of the (practice) shootout all the time," McKee said. "The head coach decided that the loser would wash my truck. I’ve got a pretty big pickup truck. The loser was going to wash my truck, and I said if I lose I’ll wash everybody’s vehicle. So I was trying hard."
And in an ironic twist Bylsma came up last and thus, will be washing McKee's truck.
"Yeah, I'm washing his truck," Bylsma said.
"I’m looking forward to bringing a toothbrush, some soap and a bucket and have him wash it," McKee joked. "I can’t wait."
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On upcoming games:
The opportunity is there. We’ve got a nice home stand here. This is where you really have to make some hay and establish yourself in your own arena. We’re playing a good team (the St. Louis Blues Tuesday) night. They’re well coached. They’ve got a lot of young talent. They work hard and they’re a confident team. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and game-by-game.
On teammates impressing him:
I think the new guys that have got in here, (Mike) Rupp, Jay McKee, (Chris) Bourque, guys like that, everybody that’s come in that wasn’t here before, they’ve made it a point to jump right in and accept everything the way we do it here. They’ve really impressed me the way they just molded right in. On the ice, sometimes there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but they’ve really meshed nicely with everybody and started contributing in a big way right off the bat.
On things falling into place this season:
We’re working hard. When you’re getting rewarded and you’re working hard it’s fun to play. You’re going to play good hockey games and sometimes not win them, but we’ve been playing some good hockey and it’s been working out well.
On working harder when things are going well:
I think you stick with things and you continue to improve. When you become complacent and you see the results of that, you lose games and then you’re trying to play catch up. It’s not a fun feeling. If we can come here every day and work hard, we’re not going to win every game, but the ones we don’t win we have to make sure that our focus is there and we’re doing a lot of good things. That’s got to be the mindset every day no matter what the result is.
On the St. Louis game:
The biggest thing is to worry about ourselves and what we have to do. I think that’s always the main focus. It’s always a challenge, too. You’re always curious about what other teams are going to bring and how they’re going to play against you. There’s that feeling-out process in the early minutes of the game.
I think we’re lucky that we’re home for a bit. We’ll take advantage of that as much as we can. We’re playing a lot of good hockey teams. I think if anything, you appreciate the fact you’re here and you look to each game one at a time.
On early-season success:
Every game counts. As the season moves on they all become bigger and bigger, but every point adds up eventually. You can’t afford to take nights off, because there are nights where you play well and you’re not going to win. You can’t waste games. I think that’s really something you have to realize. We’ve been playing good hockey and we’re rewarded for it. That feels good and it’s something that we have to be aware of. I think at the start of the season you look at your first 10 games as basically your start. After that you look to the next group of games. It’s not something where you ever really get caught looking ahead to March. You can’t afford to. I don’t think anybody does and we’re not going to start doing that now. We’ve had success. That’s great, but nothing’s automatic. Things can turn as quickly as they’ve been going great. You’ve got to keep that in mind and make sure that you stay on task. It would not be a smart move for us to be looking ahead. We can’t afford to do that. We won’t do that.
On leading the league in blocked shots:
I think it’s part of what I try to bring to the ice. I know our goaltenders enjoy it when we block shots and keep the chances down to a minimum. I think the guys around me have been pushing me as well. We get a lot of good support from our forwards, so it’s allowing the D to do their job. It’s been working so far.
On being a plus-8 so far this season:
I think plus-minus can be a finicky stat. I think if you’re on the ice for a bunch of goals you might not have anything to do with it, but you’re out there when guys are scoring your plus goes up. It’s a stat where players feel more comfortable when they’re on the plus side of it. We’ve been getting a lot of scoring from every line and I just happen to have been out there for some goals. It’s a good thing.
On strong start:
I think the guys here have a quiet confidence to what they do. There’s really not a lot of talk about our record. Guys come to work every day and pay attention to detail. It’s great to have that record but there’s a lot of hard work ahead, a lot of games left. We just have to stick to the program and pay attention to what the coaches are telling us and execute.
On the St. Louis coaching staff watching the Penguins practice:
(St. Louis head coach) Andy Murray, he’s a detail guy, a hardworking guy, a coach I like to talk to. (St. Louis assistant) coach Brad Shaw is out there as well. He’s a guy I coached with for two years, some familiar faces. They’re guys who work hard and do their homework, who are detail oriented and it brought a smile to see them in the stands.
On strong start, focus:
I’m pleased with the record. I think the guys are pleased with the record. But I think we would say we haven’t been at our best yet or haven’t put together a game like we think we can or expect we will. There are areas we know we have to improve on if we want to be a good hockey team. We talked about before practiced today how we know we have to get better and know what’s going to make us a good team. Then we have to go about talking care of those details, and we have a long way to go. Our players know that. We’re happy we’ve won seven games, but we know there’s a lot of work to be done to be where we want to be as a team. If we were 7-1 and our team played really well and our team thought we played really well and our players were acting that way, I would be concerned. We know we have to get better. We know some of the reasons why we’ve had success as a team so far. Some of the details we want to get in our game are not as sharp as we know they can be. We talked about paying attention to those details when we got on the ice today. Yesterday we addressed some things in terms of work and trying to play at our pace. Today was more detail. Those are things we have to focus on. It’s not our record or how many wins we have or what our points are. We need to get better, and these are areas we have to get better at. The details have to be in our game if we’re going to be good and expect to be good. We’re working towards it.
On winning games when not playing your best:
I look at our team when we’ve laid it on the line in a battle situation. When we’ve been going to the net, we’ve gotten goals at the net, playing dirty. We’ve done a very good job of finishing our checks and playing a physical style of hockey. When it’s penalty-kill time or defensive time we’ve done a good job laying it on the line and blocking shots and coming up on penalty kills. Our goaltending’s been good. So there are reasons why we’re playing well or getting wins, but we know we can get a lot better. The guys in the room are not focused on ‘hey we got seven wins, this is great and this is going to be easy.’ It’s ‘my line’s got to be better. The power play’s got to be better. We can be better in this area.’ That’s our focus.
On Jay McKee:
We did our homework and knew we were getting a great teammate and a good guy on the bench, a veteran guy. We knew we were getting a shot-blocking guy. The one thing that’s impressed me most is, you wonder if a guy’s going to come in and still be ready to learn or still be ready to do things differently maybe than the last team he’s played for, the last coach he’s played for. Jay has been, from day one, trying to learn how we want to play here. If there were things or details that we wanted to change about the way he’d played, he’s been more that willing and eager to learn and do extra video and try to get better at his game, in addition to what we knew he was going to bring with his blocking of shots, seven last game, diving in front of pucks and how he is as a teammate on the bench. That’s the thing that has impressed me most.
Media scrum with Marc-Andre Fleury:
On wanting to face Ty Conklin in the opposing net Tuesday:
Yeah, sure. I think he has done great. He got a shutout last game. I’m sure he will be back in net. He is a great goalie.
On keeping track of former teammates around the league:
Yeah, I like to look around a little bit at what they are doing and where they are at. When you play with somebody, especially goalies, you become good friends. I think we can talk and discuss goalie stuff. He was an awesome guy, too.
On the team picking up where they left off last season:
It’s something we have heard a lot coming into training camp and the regular season. I think we have talked about it. We knew every night was going to be a tough night because every team wants to beat us. I think we are ready.
On the danger in over-confidence with such a good record:
I think it is always good to be confident. You don’t want to get over confident because that is not as good. We all believe in our team. Even if we are down or up, we can get the lead. That is good for our team.
On Conklin helping improve his puck handling:
When I was out for a while I got to watch him play and see how he was playing the puck. I think I got some tips from him. I could talk to him and ask him questions and stuff. He helped me out.
On what he knows about St. Louis:
We haven’t scouted them with video. We will do that tomorrow. We know they are a young team. They will be a good challenge for us tomorrow.
Talbot practicing with the Penguins:
Penguins forward Maxime Talbot, who has been sidelined this season following offseason shoulder surgery, practiced with his teammates for the first time this year.
Talbot, who wore the red "no contact" jersey, has been skating and working on his own since Sept. 29. But today marked the first time he went through a portion of practice with the rest of the team.