Penguins Report: Dec. 28, 2009
Monday, 12.28.2009 / 11:24 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On upcoming games against Buffalo and New Jersey:
It should be exciting. I think as you go on in the season and you try to establish yourself as a good team, an elite team in the league, you’re going to have these matchups where you play teams at the top, teams that have also established themselves. Those are a great test. As we go on here we’ll get more and more of those. It’s a great challenge for our team to see where we’re at, to see how we’re playing and how we stack up.
On defensive scoring being a problem:
You look at our play and how we want to play and those are the things that we get concerned about, not necessarily the numbers that are easy to pull up. In the last while we haven’t done as good a job of getting to our game, which allows our defense to be in the rush and up on the play and in the offensive zone. As a result, I think you haven’t seen contributions from the blue line like that.
But the other thing that is taken away from the numbers that you are looking at is you haven’t factored in the goals and assists that Evgeni Malkin has got on the power play. That’s a defenseman in a defensive position. So you take (Goligoski) and (Letang) out of there and you add (Malkin), you’re not counting him as a defenseman. We would be. So we have got production from that spot on the power play. So we have had it at the point position, so to speak.
On Tyler Kennedy:
He’s a factor with his speed and his aggressiveness, how he manages the puck, putting the puck behind the defense, forcing them to deal with his speed. His zone time in the offensive zone starts with his forecheck, establishing a forecheck, then maintaining possession in the offensive zone. Good games shouldn’t be quantified by points and assists. Playing against other teams good lines, they should be in the offensive zone a lot. Everything they do should be getting to that point where they’re in that offensive zone, having 30-, 40-second shifts there. That’s what he needs to get back to doing. A lot of that is puck management. A lot of that is paying attention to the details on the forecheck and setup.
A lot of his game should look a lot like Matt Cooke’s, in terms of puck management, physical presence, getting the pucks in the offensive zone, being a force at the net. Getting it together and playing well with Jordan (Staal), it’s a formidable line. That’s a big part of our team and that’s what we need from those three guys.
On Brent Johnson starting in Buffalo:
I haven’t made a decision there yet.
On Malkin taking penalties:
The penalties that Geno takes typically come after a lost possession of the puck, where he’s trying to get it back, maybe coming from behind the play. Doing a better job of managing the puck would keep him out of those positions. Sometimes you lose that puck and you’re frustrated and want to get it back and he’s a in a situation where he’s now behind the play. The one scenario we don’t want to take away from the guy is when he’s on the forecheck, when he’s pursuing the puck from a good defensive position he’s one of the best in the league at taking pucks away. It’s a fine line, but a lot of it has to do with just managing the puck and maintaining possession versus turning it over and then having to check from behind.
On Jay McKee’s moves in the practice shootout:
Allowing him to have those moves was the result of being one of the two last place finishers there. I don’t know if you should put too much credence on what he did at the end. He had to work to get to that point.
On the back-to-backs against Buffalo and New Jersey:
It's a good test. We want to bounce back from last game too. We'll face a couple of really good hockey teams, strong and discipline with the way they play. It will be a good matchup for us.
On Ryan Miller:
He's a big guy. He takes up a lot of net. He's pretty athletic, pretty quick. It's a matter of doing the same things. The last time we played there, (Patrick) Lalime played great. He made some big saves. You just try to do the things you always would and trust the puck will go in.
On the 4-3 Toronto loss being due to being off for Christmas break:
Our execution wasn't there. We wanted to work hard and we did work hard. Maybe we didn't work as smart. Probably because it had a little to do with the break but also because, for whatever reason, we just didn't execute well. We need to find a way to do that.
On playing right away after a tough loss:
Even some times when you go on the road it's good. You don't want to change the way you play but I think that you can get into a routine and simplify things.
On bouncing back from 4-3 loss to Toronto:
We didn't play we wanted to last night. We did some good things. The consistency wasn't there that we needed during the 60 minutes and we paid for it.
On the back-to-backs against Buffalo and New Jersey:
We are facing good teams and good goalies. It's not an easy week. It's not an easy trip for us. None of them are easy. Right now I think the most important thing is for us to focus on our game, what we do to make ourselves successful.
On the back-to-backs being a measuring stick:
It's definitely a measuring stick. We know how good we can be. But thinking one thing and actually going out and proving it is another thing. This is a big couple of games for us and we're up for it.
Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, who has missed the past three games with a knee injury, feels that he is healthy enough to return to the lineup Tuesday night at Buffalo when the Penguins play the Sabres.
"I'll make myself available," he said.
"(Monday) was another step in battle level," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "Competitions one-on-one, he did some battling in the corner. ... It looked like he was 100 percent in practice, so we’ll see how he responds."
If Eaton does return against the Sabres at HSBC Arena, then he will be getting back into game action in the place that he fell out of the lineup. Eaton left Pittsburghs' 2-1 shootout victory at Buffalo Dec. 19 with the injury.
Eaton returned to practice on Saturday and has been progressively testing his knee to make sure it holds up under the normal rigors of a game.
"You ease your way into it," Eaton said. "The first day was just skating. The second day was more and (Monday) we tested it out in all situations you would face in a game, along the boards, containing guys in front of the net, one-on-ones. It held up well. I feel good."
Eaton feels like his knee is strong enough to resume his normal duties and log his normal workload, which would include playing in Pittsburgh's upcoming back-to-back games at Buffalo and New Jersey.
"It's about testing it out and making sure it can deal with the physical play and the skating," he said. "I've tested it out a lot the last three days and it's held up well. It feels good. I feel like I'm ready to go. I feel like I'm ready to get back into the full swing and play a full schedule. If it's up to me, I'd say I'm ready for back-to-backs. But a lot of times it's not up to me."
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Chris Kunitz and Alex Goligoski were both held out of practice for a maintenance days. Bylsma expects both of them to be in the lineup Tuesday night at Buffalo.
The Penguins have hit the ice at Mellon Arena as they prepare to travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at HSBC Arena. Forward Chris Kunitz and defenseman Alex Goligoski are not on the ice this morning. Head coach Dan Bylsma will provide an update on their status following practice.