Penguins Report: Practice 2/9/10
Tuesday, 02.9.2010 / 10:39 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On keeping the players focused leading into the break:
I actually feel invigorated that we have three big (games) here at home before the break. I think when you are 15 (games) before the break, 10 before the break, but now we have three games at home so I feel like the guys are ready to look at these as a push before the break.
On how it affects the five guys playing in the Olympics:
I think for those guys it is a great challenge because they are being reminded often of one of the unique times in their career to play for their country and for a gold medal. That is a special time and a time where they want to be at their absolute best. The hard part is staying focused on these three games with the reminders you see on the commercials on TV and the talk about them going there. Pretty much everything they put their eyes on that is not here is going to have some talk about the Olympics. That would be tough for them. Again, they have three games and then they can focus on their country and playing in the Olympics.
|Max Talbot/ Pittsburgh Penguins|
I don’t know exactly what his chances are. Giving you a number wouldn’t be accurate on my part. I don’t have an answer for you either way. He is day-to-day in terms of how our approach is going to be. He is seeing improvement but we also have to weigh the fact that we do have rest coming up after that. He continues to do a lot of off-ice stuff. 50-50, 60-40, 70-30 – I don’t have a number. There is a chance.
On hits to the head:
I think it is very easy to analyze a hit when you slow it down and watch it five times. It is much tougher to analyze a hit in the game when it happens. It is easy to say or give an explanation on a hit to a guy after the fact. It is much harder to go onto the ice and put on the jersey and the equipment and as you are seeing a guy cross the middle or the corner, those things are happening very quickly. I don’t think there is less respect in the game than there used to be. Do we need to be concerned about head injuries? Yes, it’s clearly an area where we would like to minimize those in the game. It’s a tough one to impose or say that any contact to the head is a penalty or should be deal with. Every situation seems to be a little bit different. I wish I had a great explanation or an easy answer. Those answers are usually easier after the fact than they are before the fact.
On the goaltending rotation:
I know the plan. We will go game-by-game.
On how he feels about players from the Penguins facing each other at the Olympics:
I am going to root for Brooks Orpik. I am a USA guy. I will always be cheering for Team USA in this situation. I think if it is Canada-Russia in a game I would be like Jordan Staal’s mom in a Carolina-Pittsburgh game – you are going to be cheering for both guys to do well and you are going to want both guys to do well. You are not picking sides. It will be interesting. It will be interesting to see them compete against each other. Having brothers and competing against friends in different situations going from Los Angeles to Anaheim, it makes it more intriguing. When a play a guy I know well and consider a good friend I want to get a better piece of him than if I did know him. It makes for interesting fodder and watching but I will go with Brooks Orpik every time.
On enjoying the Olympics as a fan or coach:
I think more as a fan. You don’t get that very often where you get to watch as a fan. After the season ends and you are watching hockey, then you watch more as a fan than as a coach. This will be a unique time during the season where you watch as a fan. You aren’t worried about systems or what the other team is trying to do. It will be strictly on the coach with my red, white and blue on as a fan.
On finishing strong before the Olympic break:
Yeah we do. We have three games left now. We have time to rest and prepare for those games because we want to finish strong here.
On playing well against the Islanders:
We have had a little bit of success but they work really, really hard. They have some guys who can score up front. They are a solid team like a lot of the teams we are playing these days. That seems to be a common thing throughout the league. A lot of teams want to play a fast-paced game. We have to be ready for that.
On the travel over the weekend:
I don’t think it was terrible. It was not what we are used to, obviously. We have all at some point taken a bus or had to deal with certain things when you are talking about travel. You don’t love it but at the same time you work through it. You don’t use it as an excuse. It’s not typical to see that, especially with the way things were with the back-to-back games in less than 24 hours. That didn’t help things, but I don’t think it affected things out there.
On head shots and Jeff Carter’s hit:
I didn’t see it but I heard about it. We have all talked about this a number of times. It is something that has to be addressed. The league is doing their best to do that. It is up to players out there that when opportunities present themselves, guys are smart and know the difference. I haven’t seen the hit so I can’t comment on that. I think we have seen that enough this year, and in years past, to have a strong feeling for getting rid of that stuff.
On the growing anticipation for the Olympics:
I think that is normal. You get ready. I think it is more anticipating what things are going to be like. It’s good. It’s something that has been talked about for a long time now so the closer it gets I think everyone gets more and more excited.
|Brooks Orpik/ Pittsburgh Penguins|
On thinking about the Olympics:
You get a little more excited as you get closer to it, but at the same time, you try not to be selfish and put too much focus on it. This is where your priority is – here. This is the team you put nine months of work into. This is where your obligations are but there are definitely some distractions when you see the opening ceremony on TV, which is exciting. Unfortunately we are missing that but it gets even more exciting with every day that passes.
On pressing to get a fifth goal against the Capitals:
I don’t know. That is something we talked about today. I think I am right about this – I don’t think we have gotten a shutout all year. I think maybe our approach to games is out-score the other teams rather than out-defend the other team. That might sound stupid or elementary to some people but I think our mentality sometimes going into games is you have to score more goals rather than prevent more goals. Maybe we feel victim to that. Anytime you are winning, 4-1, especially on the road, you should be able to put a team away there. Maybe we opened up too much.
On the momentum swing:
They are a team that feeds off of their crowd as well as any team in the league. There is a lot of energy in that building, especially when they start playing well. When (Eric Fehr) got that second goal it seemed like it kind of snowballed. It is nothing new to us. We played there in the playoffs last year and we know they feed off their crowd really well.
On replicating the playoff pace against the Islanders:
It would be nice if we could do that every game. The pace in that game was pretty high. I think if you played 82 games like that you would probably hit a wall. That is tough to replicate every game. That might sound bad. I don’t want to say the effort isn’t there every night – it’s there. When you play in a building like that and you get some of those matchups against a team we knocked off in the conference quarterfinals last year there is going to be a little extra energy.
On getting in late on Sunday and playing an early game:
I know a lot was made of it. Energy wise, we got in at 2 a.m. and we woke up at 8 a.m. To be honest, I think a lot of the guys would tell you that we felt better on Sunday than we did on Saturday. Figure that out.
On banning head shots:
Every time there is a hit like that we all come in here in the morning and watch it. I would say that half of the room goes one way on it and half goes the other way. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. In (Monday’s) situation that was (Philadelphia’s) Jeff Carter who I think has a pretty clean record as far as suspensions or questionable hits. He usually doesn’t play that way. It’s easy to dissect things like that when you put it in slow motion and you watch it over and over. When it happens on the ice in real time, well stuff happens so quick that it’s really tough to make decisions like that. It turns out that it happens to be a bad hit but I don’t think his intention was to hurt him. He was just backchecking.
On what the players think when they see a hit like that:
I think you saw Carter’s reaction and I think he was pretty shaken by it, too. Like I said, I don’t think his intention was to hurt him right there. He doesn’t have a reputation. It is alarming that you see more and more of that, especially this year there has been a lot of it. I don’t know how you crack down on it to be honest. You saw Scott Stevens doing it his whole career and everyone kind of applauded him for doing it. Now all of a sudden it is the other way around. I don’t know how much different that is. Obviously the speed of the game and guys are bigger and stronger. Maybe that is the result of the injuries we are seeing.
|Penguins equipment on the bus ride to Washington|
On the road trip between Montreal and Washington:
Dupuis was sitting next to me, and our seats didn’t go back. We didn’t get any sleep, but we just tried to relax and watch some movies and get some food in us and kind of move on and prepare for the next game.
On what he thought when he saw all of the snow in Pittsburgh upon his return:
I thought it was pretty comical when we got back. Cars had snow up to their hoods. I thought it was going to be a while before we got out of there, but it was fun seeing everybody chip in and dig out. A few guys were helping to push.
On his plans for the Olympic break:
Just going back home and spending time with the family – just rest, relax and enjoy it.
On which hockey team he thinks will win the Olympic gold medal:
On how important it is to take care of the three games before the Olympic break:
We can’t look ahead of anything. I think that we’re disappointed in the way that our last game went and the way that the results were. I think that we can use these three games to kind of propel ourselves into the break feeling good about ourselves, so when we come out we can hit full stride.
On the trade deadline coming up:
I think because of the Olympics, the whole season is kind of unique as far as the scheduling. Obviously that doesn’t put much time after the break for teams wanting to make moves. It’s just a situation where our objective as players is to be ready to play and to win hockey games, and that’s the mindset we’ll have.
On if he would like to see the whole team stay together:
Yeah, definitely. I think we have a great group of guys. It’s a very tight-knot group. It’s one of the tighter ones that I’ve seen. There’s just a good chemistry here I believe.
On if the team still needs to get healthier:
I think that early in the year, we were pretty down in the way that we played. We haven’t been playing the whole 60 minutes for a little while now. We played a couple of games together, and then we dropped some that we should have won. I think that we have a group of guys here that can definitely get that done. I think we’ve shown that we can.
On starting to feel the excitement for the Olympics:
I’m looking forward to it. I’m getting a little excited. We start to hear more about it on TV. But we still have three more games before we go there, so that’s where our focus is going to be.
On how important it is to take care of the three games before the Olympic break:
I think that’s where our focus has to be starting tomorrow night against the Islanders. That’s what we have to worry about. We have to try to get two big points there and just keep working.
On how the Islanders may have changed since the last time the Penguins played them:
They’ve done well. They rack up some wins together. They have a young team. The goalie’s been playing well. It’s going to be a good battle for us.
On the difference between playing the Capitals last Sunday and playing the Islanders tomorrow:
We might still get a snow storm, so it might be a little bit more similar. But it’s no different. I think Washington has become one of our rivals. It’s become one of those teams where we always have good games against them. But tomorrow is no different. We still need to play our A-game and make sure that we still get those points.
On his expectations for playing in the Olympics:
I don’t know. I don’t have any clue here about anything. There aren’t any expectations. I’m going to go there and see what happens.
On the momentum change against Washington from the Penguins to the Capitals:
I think in the third, they came out pretty hard. They were out pretty much everywhere and had a lot of shots and went to the net. It was a bit frustrating since we had that 4-1 lead.
On what he thinks about traveling in the snow:
It wasn’t that big of a deal. We had to take a bus to Washington, but other than that I think it was fun.
On if he was pleased with how the team played in Washington:
No. I think we played well for a while, but just to give up that 4-1 lead was tough. To lose a game like that was a little frustrating.
On if the game against Washington felt special to him since many people were calling it the game of the year:
I try just to worry about my job – stopping the puck. If it was a good show for TV, then that’s good.
On if he knows many of the players on Team Canada:
This summer, we had an orientation camp for a week and got to meet everybody – a bunch of the players, the staff. It was nice to meet them like that.
On how he feels playing as Brodeur’s backup in the Olympics:
I’m really excited and really looking forward to it. I’ll be happy with whatever they need me to do.
Assist Jason Seidling and Caitlin Kasunich
The Penguins organization has announced that it placed a bid to host the 2010-11 NHL All-Star weekend. That would take place next year in the inaugural campaign of the Consol Energy Center. Click here for more details
The Penguins are on the ice for their Tuesday practice. Maxime Talbot, who has missed seven of the team's last eight games with an undisclosed injury, did not participate. The forward combinations were:
One final note on the Penguins travel problems. The Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi, one who is never afraid to offer his opinion on any subject (from sports to politics to classic Nintendo games) wrote a provocative piece in his blog, Chipped Ice.
Speaking of the weather conditions that the Penguins went through just to play the Capitals on Sunday afternoon, the team's battle with Mother Nature didn't end after the game was over.
The Penguins arrived back in Pittsburgh around 6 p.m. Sunday to find all of their cars buried in snow at the airport. But the Penguins, with some good old fashion team work, banded together to help dig out every last vehicle.
Those helping included - but not limited to - Jay McKee, Bill Guerin, Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko and head coach Dan Bylsma. Other players also lended a hand but that group remained until the last car was excised. McKee worked the shovel to alleviate the thigh-high snow piles around the cars, while the rest of the guys helped push cars that were stuck in the snow, which was pretty much every car.
FSN's Dan Potash managed to get the fiasco on film and you can see coverage of it during Wednesday's telecast against the NY Islanders.
The Penguins were given the day off on Monday following a weekend of brutal travel conditions and little chance to rest. The team is scheduled to take the Mellon Arena ice at 11 a.m. for practice.
Pittsburgh finishes up its stretch run into the Olympic break with a three-game homestand against the NY Islanders (Wednesday), NY Rangers (Friday) and Nashville (Sunday afternoon).