Penguins Report: Game Day at Minnesota
Monday, 01.11.2010 / 12:23 PM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
3:44 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
AROUND THE RINK (XCEL ENERGEY EDITION)
The entrance to the Wild's dressing room
The Hobey Baker section at Xcel Energy Center
Newspaper articles hang on all the columns featuring high school hockey.
Al Shaver "The Voice of Minnesota Hockey." To the right is Herb Brooks' famous pre-game quote before the US defeated the Soviet Union at the 1980 "Miracle on Ice." To remind you: "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours."
Peanuts play hockey too. And the "Team of 18,000 Hall of Fame" honors those who have contributed to Wild hockey. The wall features fans, arena employees, team employees and players.
Two former Penguins are amongst the "Team of 18,000." Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher (left) and winger Petr Sykora (right).
2:53 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On playing the Wild again
I expect a different team from the first time we played. They played very defensive last game. We had large chunks of time in the offensive zone. They used the majority of their energy playing defense, chipping the puck out and playing defense again. They earned the victory that way. Tonight, just watching them recently, they're starting to get to the game that I know their coach (Todd Richards) is preaching to them. You see larger chunks of what I expect a Todd Richards team to play like in terms of system and different areas of the game. They've done that and had success doing that. They beat some good hockey teams and playing some good hockey. I know right now, they continue to talk about how they like the work ethic of their team. Their guys are going to keep playing so we expect a different game this time around.
On if it's a good matchup for puck battles
If a Todd Richards team and Dan Bylsma team go head-to-head, I talked about it with our scout this morning, it's looking in the mirror. They'll be doing a lot of similar things. They'll be talking about a lot of similar things that we would talk to our team about, and in similar ways. It's about getting to our game, execution, puck management is huge. And forcing a team to get back on their heels and deal with you, both teams are trying to do it.
On facing Richards
He's not a coach that I'd like to go agaisnt eight times in a year. I think it's like playing poker with the same group of guys over and over and over again. You know what he did for two years. You see his team play on tape and you know the things that he's saying to his team. To say hello and see him, catch up, absolutely. To play him over and over again, I don't think that's something I'd like too much, unless it were at the end of the season. I know he's done a good job of getting his team playing in the right direction, the way he wants them to play.
On it being nice that AHL coaches are becoming NHL coaches
Right now as I look around the league and see guys that three or four years ago we were wondering if we would get another job anywhere, talking to each other in the summer time. To see the guys work hard at what they do, try to get better, move up in the ranks and then get a chance to coach in the NHL, it's good to see. It's good to see Todd out there as a head coach.
On being back in Minnesota
It's cool. It will be a little different with a lot of my friends and family and being back here for the first time. I'm just looking forward to it. It might feel a little weird at first. Going against the Wild in the Xcel Center, a team that I grew up watching from the time that they got here, but I'm sure once the puck drops it will feel like a normal game.
His game progressing through the state
I played here at pretty much every stage of my life. It's cool to come back at the professional level and finish off the playing here at all stages.
On his friends and family coming to the game
Yeah, a lot of friends and family. Childhood friends and family and college friends. My parents will be here.
On the strides in his career
It's just growing as a player, getting stronger, getting more mature. You see more things happen. It's just growing as a player and getting comfortable. Seeing things for the second time it becomes easier and easier. It's just a natural progression and I hope to keep building on it.
On being back in Minnesota
It's nice. We don't get here a whole lot. I've only been here once. I spent a year here and it's always nice to come back.
On the first game against the Wild
It was a pretty tight game all the way through, I thought. I remember the third period. We generated a lot of chances but couldn't really get anything in. We created some good chances. That was way back. A lot has changed for both of us. They're playing really good hockey right now and we're trying to get our game back on track.
On a rematch with Zidlicky
I would say no. You probably won't see that happen. It was a rare occurrence for both guys. You never know. That's something that has only happened a few times for me. I don't know how many times for him. I wouldn't hold your breath.
On if he enjoys coming back to the Twin Cities
Hockey is big here and it's a great atmosphere, great building. I came to games here at 16 years old and hoped to be here one day. It's always nice to get on the ice in a place like this where you grew up watching.
11:57 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
11:48 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
No changes from the Penguins' morning skate in preparation for their 8 p.m. showdown Monday night with Minnesota on Versus Network. The forward combinations remain the same.
The only notable is that Brooks Orpik, who left the team's 4-1 victory at Toronto with an undisclosed injury, did not participate in the skate. His status for the game is currently unknown. We will get an update from Bylsma after the skate on his condition.
11:20 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
Some shots of Minnesota's morning skate from Monday.
Former Penguin Petr Sykora now suits up for the Wild.