Penguins Report: Practice 2/5/10
Friday, 02.5.2010 / 10:56 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the Penguins locker room:
Head Coach Dan Bylsma
On the challenges behind adding new players to the team:
The challenges are personality and style and what they grew to be accustomed to in their old teams and their roles in old teams versus what they’re going to be now in the new team. That’s a challenge for any coach with a new player coming in.
On any further determination on Kunitz and if he has any weather concerns for the trip:
We’ve looked into the different scenarios this weekend – obviously concerning the weather and new call-up situations. There is more than one or two on the table in terms of what we might expect, but we expect Chris to play this weekend at some point. We’re waiting for our call-ups and are concerned about the weather for sure based on the fact that we have watches and warnings all over the eastern seaboard.
On Kunitz coming back to play:
I don’t think you saw him ever play his full game. At times, he was offensive. Sometimes, you saw a forecheck from him. But, I think you rarely saw a guy who had it all there for the full 60 minutes for game in and game out, back-to-back games, a tough schedule. He was always that physical forecheck presence – that net presence – but also that speed on the backcheck and quickness to play defense and shooting the puck. They’re all things that are part of his game. That’s what we will look forward to seeing back in our lineup.
On Talbot’s condition and the goaltending situation for this weekend:
The goaltending situation is not going to be announced, and Max is obviously not on the ice again today. We probably won’t see him on the ice this weekend, and we’ll see how he is going forward.
On playing Montreal:
They’re playing very – positionally, defensively – a little more not as aggressive when they don’t have a chance to get a forecheck. You’ll see them back in the neutral zone, and their goaltender is making a lot of saves, and then they’re trying to clear out rebounds in front of them. They’re counting on him to make saves, which he has. He’s playing outstanding. When you play a good confident structure like that, yes, you see a lot of shots, but they’ve had success and are confident in playing that way. Sometimes when your power play is doing well, that can help you out in those situations when you have a good counterattack and can score off those situations. It helps your team build that confidence. They’re playing very structured. Their goaltender is making a lot of saves. They’re putting five guys around him and clearing out those rebounds and then they’re counterattacking, and their special teams have been the key for them. They’ve had success, and we’re just going to have to find ways to make sure we get the shots and the second chances to get goals on this guy.
On Montreal fans and their passion for playoff hockey:
They love their hockey. They love a winning team obviously. Right now, they’re on the edge of not making it. So, I don’t know. It depends.
On the Kovalchuk trade:
He’s a good player. He was there for a while. He was the face of the franchise. Obviously, they couldn’t agree on any terms money-wise, so they moved him.
On the Kovalchuk trade:
I think it will be a bit interesting to see. He’s a very good player.
On if he thinks Kovalchuk will fit in with New Jersey:
I guess we’ll see soon. I think New Jersey has such a tight system with a tight core of guys who always play the same way. We’ll see how it goes.
On playing against Montreal:
It’s been fun. Maybe I’m not as nervous as I was before, but it’s always pretty fun. I see a little bit of my friends and family.
On having a tough time traveling because of the weather:
I guess we’ll see. I’m sure we’ll manage a way to get to Washington somehow.
On how playing two early games might affect his schedule:
We’re always in at night, but I don’t know. I find it weird sometimes. When it’s early, you don’t get to do the morning skate and get loosened up. You get up, eat breakfast and get right in it. It’s the same for both teams.
On the Super Bowl:
I’ll go for the Saints because of all the tough times they’ve been through. It would be nice for the city to have something to cheer about.
On people in Montreal being tense since the Canadiens may not make the playoffs:
Anyone that cares about their team wants to see them do well. With it being a Canadian team, there’s always pressure there. I think when you’re losing, there’s probably more. But, that’s something that may help them in some ways, too. It may push them. They’re playing pretty desperate hockey right now. We’re not that far ahead of teams either. This is the kind of year where you’re going to see teams make pushes, and you’re going to see teams do better. Teams have to be or else they’re not going to survive.
On potential travel complications with the snow this weekend:
I think it’s a good thing. I don’t think you have to get caught up in it. I don’t think it’s something that you have to worry about, but as long as you realize that that could be a situation, it’s always good to be prepared a bit. We have our typical travel. I think if you’re taking a bus or taking a train, it’s good to know.
On the Washington rivalry:
It’s become pretty much an even rivalry between us and Philly and Washington. It’s up there. They are always intense games. They always have kind of a playoff feel to them. Hopefully those are the kind of games that bring out the best of us.
On if games against Washington will ever be more about the two teams than the personal rivalry between him and Ovechkin:
I have no idea. That wouldn’t be a question to ask me.
On having a break before back-to-back games:
It’s good. We get used to playing pretty much every second day now, but we had a few days to rest up and re-energize here before the Olympic break. I think it’s really nice, and we made the most of it. We got some good practice in, got a couple of days off.
On beating Washington and breaking their winning streak:
If it ends tonight, I wouldn’t be disappointed either. I don’t really think about it. We’re worried about Montreal, and when it comes to Washington, I think we’re always expecting a pretty intense game.
On watching the Devils:
I don’t watch them as much. I have played against them over the years and that team doesn’t change much. They play the same system. I don’t think they will change that because Ilya got there. Obviously he is the guy who has to adjust to the style and fit himself in.
On expecting a lot of deals between know and the deadline:
If you look at the history (of teams) since the lockout it is tough to make a lot of moves because of the salary cap. I don’t think there will be a whole lot of them but I am sure there will be some. I don’t expect to see a lot.
On Kovalchuk switching teams hurting his play at the Olympics:
No. I know him well enough to say that he is a strong person mentally.
On why people don’t realize why Kovalchuk is strong mentally:
He played in Atlanta and that is not a big hockey market. People weren’t really watching him closely or they would realize how good he is. They would realize he is good not only physically but mentally too.
On Kovalchuk not taking less money to stay in Atlanta but several Penguins doing so:
Everybody knows what is going on out there. We all know we are playing in a salary-cap system so we all know if you give up a lot of money to one player then it becomes tough to build a team around him.
On who he is rooting for in the Super Bowl:
I would like to see (New Orleans Saints quarterback) Drew Brees win it I guess. I think it has been a while since (Hurricane) Katrina but that would be pretty good for that city to get something else to rally behind. I have always been a Drew Brees fan so I would like to see him win.
On the Penguins getting a chance to watch the Super Bowl:
Hopefully. We have a little gathering plan so hopefully we can get out of Washington with the weather on Sunday. We don’t play again until Wednesday so hopefully we can all get together and enjoy the game.
On the weather affecting the trip:
I know Washington has to play in New York on Saturday so everybody is aware of that stuff. It’s the first thing you hear in the morning when you turn the television on. It may be a little tough on our schedule. It’s hard enough as it is playing at 2 o’clock and then playing again at noon on Sunday with our normal travel. It seems like it is going to be pretty complicated travel, regardless.
On the schedule:
I loved the week we just had off. It couldn’t have come at a better time for a lot of us with injuries. Up until this point, we had played five more games than a lot of teams. We knew it was going to even out eventually. I think for some of the guys who are going to the Olympics this couldn’t come at a better time for us.
Bill Guerin (left) sans mustache; Alex Goligoski (right)
Dan Bylsma and Jordan Staal (right) chat on the ice
Marc-Andre Fleury (left) stretches before practice
Penguins forward Maxime Talbot, who has missed five of the team's last six games with an undisclosed injury, did not practice with his teammates Friday morning. With Talbot out and the lack of manpower at forward, Martin Skoula did some work on the fourth line. The combinations were: