Penguins Report: Practice Day 1/4/10
Monday, 01.4.2010 / 12:49 PM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On his decision to hold practice today:
With the time of the year - the schedule being the Olympics and the little amount of practice time - in some areas, little details have started to slip in our system and how we’re playing, and in a minimum amount of practice time you have to find ways to get some of those details into the focus of the players and back into the game. That’s what we did today a little bit and will continue to do.
On the team’s past ability and recent struggle to deal with shifts in momentum:
I think in the past, that’s been a strength of our team - continuing to play and believing even though they get a power play goal or they get a bad break or if they come back and tie the game. We’ve had the mentality that we were able to keep going and keep playing, and we’ve lost that a little bit. Again, sometimes your focus is the wrong direction and those details and how we play in the execution of that gives you the ability to continue to play the right way. If you get away from the details, even if you want to get it back and even though you worked to get it back, if you don’t have those details, if you don’t have the execution and the game plan, it’s tough to get it back. That work can be counterproductive even at times when you want to get it back. Again, we’ll shore up on the details and focus on those things. At the same time, we got to get focused on what we’re good at and how we need to play. I think our guys came out determined in that first period, but those shifts in momentum, the shifts after goals, the goal at the end of the period, sometimes the execution of the power play - we got to focus on making sure that we continue to play, continue to have the same focus and why we’re a good team.
On the Atlanta game being a logical opportunity to get back on track:
We’ll take coming home and playing inside of this arena to get back on track, but again you got to make sure you do the right things. You got to make sure you do the right things in practice and taking care of yourself and working, and you’ve got to make sure you do the right things on the ice. You do those things, and you don’t have to worry about the scoreboard. When you play the right way and you do the right things, you put yourself in a situation to have success. That’s what we need to be focused on. We’re a good team. We know how to play. We need to execute better. We need to pay attention to details, get back to how we play and get our team playing with that swagger and mentality that we need for a good team.
On Coach Yeo’s condition:
As we talked about yesterday, they did some tests again this morning. They’re waiting for the results of those tests, and we’re hoping that he’ll get released from the hospital in Florida and then come home this evening. That’s what he’s going through right now.
On the practice being punitive, instructional or a combination of the two:
We needed to get on the ice. We wanted to address some details and areas that we want to get better at. Again, it’s been a challenge to get the number of practices to work on some of the details, and we needed to work on them, and today’s practice had that in mind.
On what more the coach is looking for with Kunitz:
I think Chris over the past five games has played pretty close to his foundation of how he needs to play - straight lines, physical, has been a presence at the net. He’s shooting the puck more. In the New Jersey game, I believe, you could see he was focused on shooting pucks and getting pucks to the net - the Buffalo game, as well, it’s been more his style. He’s been a factor in and around the net. So, result-wise we’re looking too much from that from all of our team. We need to make sure we have that foundation. I thought he’s been pretty decent at that.
On the coach’s decision to hold practice today:
I don’t think there’s anything to prove or anything like that for us. We want to make sure we get back on track, and getting back to little things during practices is where it starts. So, I don’t think it was a huge surprise, and guys all realize to get a day off is a luxury - it’s not something that is automatic. So, you’ve got to earn those sometimes, and we’ve got to do a better job and get some wins in order to earn those days off.
On if mastering fundamentals is what it comes down to for the team to be successful in upcoming games:
I think if anything it’s probably - as a whole - execution. But, it’s in a lot of different areas when we’re looking at the games we’ve lost. It’s a combination of just making mistakes and paying for them really.
On continuing to lose games:
When you win games and you’re getting big plays, it’s something that everyone maybe takes for granted sometimes. Teams are all good, and there’s a smaller margin for error. When you make those mistakes, you’re not giving yourself a chance to win. We played some good games in these five games. Maybe previously when we won six-seven-eight in a row, we got away with two or three games where we didn’t play that well, and we still won. We’ve played two or three good games over the five we’ve lost. You know, there’s no magic thing here. We’ve got to find a way to win a hockey game and just get back to the things that made us successful. But, there’s not much difference between winning and losing.
On how vital it is to win the upcoming Atlanta game after a losing streak:
When you’re losing games, it’s important just to get back into the win column no matter how you do it. Usually when you’re in a funk like this you just try to grind one out and make sure that you’re doing all those little things. It’s got to be a tough one sometimes, and we’ve got to find a way to get that.
On what’s being said among players in the locker room right now:
We know what we have to do. We just got to make sure that we put it together for a full game. We started off great. Last game, we had a great first period. We got the lead. But, I think right now we’ve just got to focus on our task – not the result. When you’re playing well, there’s times where you’re not leading games, and you’re still confident with your game. And, right now when you lose a few it’s easy to kind of hang your head a bit and start to worry. But, that hasn’t been the identity of our team for a long time now. We’ve got to make sure that we all believe in what we need to do and make sure that we are doing it.
On pinpointing what has gone wrong:
You can’t just pinpoint one thing and say ‘OK, it’s gone we are going to start winning now.’ We have to get on the ice, stick to our systems and play hard and we will do the job like we are supposed to. We got away from that a little and there has been some frustration here and there. Not with each other but just with the way some of the things have gone on the ice. That is what adversity is all about. We are going through it right now and we are going to get through it.
On how guys are handling struggling for the first time this year:
I think these guys went through a lot last year. I wasn’t here but I know they went through a lot and found a way through it. They grew together and gained a lot of experience. We have to carry that over to what we are going through right now. Every team goes through this and we are no different. We are working hard and looking forward to the next game.
On possible letdowns during the game:
I don’t think so. A couple things haven’t gone on our way. I remember back to Buffalo when they got the penalty-shot goal and that probably created some momentum. I don’t think there is any doubt in what we can do. I know we are a good, strong team with the lead. We are not going to win every game where we have the lead and that hasn’t happened recently. We are just looking over the video and seeing where we are going wrong and where we can do better.
On the long practice:
I don’t think anyone thought we were going to get a day off just because it was on the schedule after losing five (games) in a row, especially after the Buffalo game when we were up 3-0 and then the game (Sunday).
On whether they need to focus more in practice or in games:
I think it has a little bit of carryover from practice. I think if you watch the first 10 minutes of practice it was a little sloppy. Something needs to be said and then it is fine after that. I guess if you watch the goals from (Sunday) night it has nothing to do with effort. A lot of the goals we have numbers back – we have four or five guys getting back. We are doing the hard part, which is getting back to our zone and working hard. It is just missed assignments. Those are just little details really.
On the reaction in the locker room:
Nobody is happy. There is no finger pointing or anything like that. We have a team that is used to winning so it is a little bit different for us. There are no trades coming I don’t think. There is nothing else outside of this room that is going to change anything. It is going to come from within here. Like I said, you can’t point fingers. It has to come from within here. The coaches can give us all they have and it comes to a point where it just falls on us.
On knowing what is wrong:
Guys know right away. If you watch some of the goals from (Sunday), you can probably just watch from the body language that when guys make mistakes and they know right away what they did wrong. It is nothing too complicated. It is mental focus and missed assignments.
On whether players are hesitant to say something because of all the success they have had:
I think maybe three years ago you needed guys to say something. I think now we are not a young team anymore. I think maybe numbers-wise we have some kids who are still young but even those guys have played in the league five years already. I think it is one of those things where guys just have to take it upon themselves. We really don’t have a lot of guys who are new to the league in this room.
On Atlanta being a good team to get a win against:
Yeah but so was Toronto and Tampa Bay and Florida when we had a two-goal lead. It’s not going to be easy. It’s something where everyone has us marked off on the schedule and with the parity in the league these days there is not really an easy game. You look at some of the teams in the league that have beaten us this year like Carolina and Toronto, they were some of the teams at the bottom. Anyone can beat anyone.
Assists: Caitlin Kasunich and Jason Seidling
Pittsburgh's Monday practice wrapped up around 1:30 p.m. The Penguins practiced for well over an hour, one of their longer practices of the season.
Mike Rupp was struck in the face during practice. He left the ice with a towel on his mouth. That one had to hurt.
Assist Caitlin Kasunich
The Penguins have taken the ice at Mellon Arena. The team was originally had this Monday marked as a day off for the team. But with the lack of practice and the recent struggles, the team decided to practice and try to work out the kinks in their game.
The only player not on the ice for Pittsburgh is defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who has missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury.