Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Buffalo
Tuesday, 03.2.2010 / 10:29 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
It was a packed house in the Penguins locker room as the media swarmed newcomer Jordan Leopold and USA silver medal winning Olympian Brooks Orpik.
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On how Leopold is getting acclimated to the team:
We’re going to be using different words than he’s used to, and that’s not going to be a clear picture in his mind right away. We certainly had the conversations and talked about how we wanted him to play. I think as a veteran player, one of the reasons why we liked this guy was that he is already defending and playing like we were going to talk about defending. He’s a good player and understands the situation. He won’t be perfect, but he’ll be better five days from now in terms of how we’re going to play. I think he’s a pretty smart guy and is going to understand pretty early. He’s going to be used in a big role.
On the need to establish the advantage of playing at home:
Our biggest concern is getting to our game in a consistent fashion and sending a message to the team that we’re playing that day and to the team that we’re playing the next day – this is how we’re going to play, and this is what they can expect from our team. We have been good at times. Whether we’re at home or on the road is inconsequential to what we’re talking about on this team. We’ve got to find that game. Our guys are aware of the challenge that we have ahead of us to develop into that team.
On if he will manage Crosby and Orpik’s minutes differently in the game tonight given what they’ve been through in the Olympics:
We have a plan for today and tomorrow and the next day. The plan sometimes goes to the wayside, but we do have an idea of how we’re going to try to manage where they’re at for games and ice time. But again, if there’s 10 minutes to go in the game and the score is 0-0 with a power play, I’m pretty sure someone’s going to have a little twitch.
On if he will rotate defensemen:
It’s not necessarily the plan to go forward and say we’re going to be rotating. Adding depth to our defense now, he’s going to change a little bit of that dynamic. Certainly, we have a little more depth in that area. If someone wasn’t playing well, that might be an option.
On who is coming out tonight:
Jay McKee is going to be coming out tonight.
On why he is pairing Leopold with Goligoski in the lineup:
We had different thoughts and different ideas as to the pairings and what their roles would be. I think in the next three, four, five – up to 10 games – you may see different ways that Jordan is used. He’s most comfortable on the right side as a left shot. So is Gonchar as is Letang, so there’s still some figuring out as to what the best pairings will be and what that’s going to look like. Jordan can play both sides and is willing to play sides, but for tonight he’s going to be in his most comfortable position, which is on the right side. Goligoski will be on the left.
On if Leopold could possibly be used as part of the special teams:
The anticipation is yes with both of those special teams situations. That will grow, and we will figure that out as we go forward.
On his first practice with the Penguins:
It was just another pre-game skate with a lot of video this morning and having fun. I haven’t met everybody, but I have met most of the guys. I’m excited for tonight.
On Alex Goligoski:
He’s a tremendous player. Hopefully, I’ll have a front seat and watch how he’s been playing all year.
On how his reaction to getting traded has changed over time:
It hasn’t been for the wrong reasons. It’s been for the right reasons. I was excited when I got the call that I was traded here. I packed my bags and got here, and I’m real excited to be here this morning. It was a good skate this morning, but we have work to do tonight.
On his initial reaction to how he might fit in here:
Right now, it feels good. The guys have been great. They came up and shook my hand right away. We’ve been acclimated since I stepped in the door. Things went well, and I think that’s what is expected. I got in here early this morning, and I ended up getting my crash course for about 45 minutes from the coach. I think I’ll end up cutting my sticks and getting ready for the game and just getting more acclimated. It all comes quick. It’s a quick turnaround for 24 hours, and I’m happy to be here. It will go by quick, but the learning curve shouldn’t be too bad.
On what it is like to play for the Penguins:
I think there is quite a following for this team. You look at that, and I think we have a bull’s-eye on our chest everyday just from being the Stanley Cup champions in the past. That just creates more of a challenge for us as players, and we have to go out and perform and get points every night. Things in Florida were falling apart at the seams, and to be traded to a playoff team and a Cup contender, I’m going to go out there and do my job and do my best.
On how he would describe his game and what he expects to bring to this team:
My main job is to get the puck to guys who can do something with it. I’m not looking to score 20 goals here or to get a ton of points, but whatever I can do to contribute, I’m going to be able to do that – hopefully to keep the puck out of the net moving forward and spend the least amount of time in our own end as we can.
On if he feels like he will have a difficult time adjusting to the Penguins’ system:
I think what we do best is going out and playing hockey. There’s a crash course with systems and personnel and all that, but I’ll feel most comfortable when they drop the puck tonight, and I can just go out and play.
On moving the puck quick and getting it up to the forwards:
That’s what I’ve prided myself on for a long time – getting the puck to somebody who can do something with it. Moving it up there increases our odds of winning games if we score more goals. It’s simple.
On if he is looking forward to playing up north again in more of a hockey atmosphere:
This is a hockey city. Of course, it’s neat to play in cities like that, and Pittsburgh is a true resemblance of a great sports city. To come here and be able to get a chance to play on this team is great, but we also have work to do. You can’t expect to show up and points are going to be there, and we’re going to be in the playoffs. You have to work for it. At the end of the road, there’s a prize, and we have to work hard to get there.
On what he expects tonight:
I think we’re going to see a battle. We may end up seeing them in post-season, but who knows. For me, I just have to get my feet wet. As a team, we have to go out there and play the way we can with the puck and get shots and let the rest take care of itself.
Assist Caitlin Kasunich
Sounds heard at Sidney Crosby's press conference at Mellon Arena following Tuesday's morning skate.
On the Olympic victory:
It was everything you could dream of. It was amazing. It went from something really scary with giving up the lead and possibly losing it and being that close. It turned out pretty nice. It’s good to get back. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, a lot of ups and downs. It felt like we had to win four Game 7s in a row to win. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but I’m looking forward to getting back into the routine.
On the Gold changing his life:
I didn’t think I could get any busier but it has. That’s safe to say.
On his equipment:
I don’t have that stuff. When they cleared the ice I never got my stick or gloves. Of all things I got my mouth guard back. I don’t know how it got away or where it ended up but if I get it back one day great, if not, someone has it somewhere.
On the spectacle:
I don’t know if you could ever match that with Canada and hockey. I think they said 85 percent of the population watched the game. I don’t think I’ll ever see that again or experience anything like that. It was fun. It was a lot of pressure but I don’t think I’ll ever experience that again.
On fighting the letdown:
You go through all those emotions and that’s a mental test a lot of us face whether we won or other guys in the tournament itself. It’s emotional. You’re playing huge games every time you’re out there. I think that’s a test when you get back, making sure your intensity and emotion, you get that back.
On an encore to the Cup and Medal:
You want to be a winner. I think there are other things that define people other than championships. I hope it’s more than that but as a player that’s what you play for, that’s what you work towards. You put everything you can into working hard so you can have those opportunities.
On receiving the gold:
When we were just waiting for the medal and looking around, you try to soak that up. Seeing everybody in red and white and hearing people sing the anthem, you’ll never experience anything like that. You really just try to enjoy the moment and remember as much as you can of it, soak it in. That was incredible seeing all of that.
For me it was a pretty proud moment, being in Canada, playing hockey, growing up as a kid and dreaming of playing for your country. Being able to do that and having it work out that way, it’s still pretty amazing to think about.
On getting back into the grind:
It shouldn’t be tough. This is an exciting time of year. This is why you work towards this point when you really want to improve. Now the games mean so much. I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult. This is a good time to turn it up a notch and try to finish off strong.
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Marc-Andre Fleury will not play tonight, instead the team will use Brent Johnson.
"No, he is not playing tonight," Bylsma said. "That was decided prior to today." Of course it didn't help that Fleury couldn't make it to the arena in time for the morning skate. Bylsma was asked about Fleury's absence.
"Traffic," he replied. "I don’t know if it was an accident or what it was. Two days ago, I spent an hour and 10 minutes on the road getting here, and today a handful of guys pretty much spent an hour to an hour and a half. We held back practice 10 minutes to get a few more guys on the ice, but Flower was a guy who just could not get out of where he was at."
But there could be a more devious plot at work here. After all, Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff coached Fleury at the Olympics, and Ruff was in charge of Fleury's workload. Ruff jokingly admitted his guilt when interrogated.
"I told Fleury I was just going to try to fatigue him before the game if he was going to play," Ruff joked. "I told him I am the guy in charge of getting you ready, so you aren’t going to be very ready for Tuesday."
Here is a pittsburghpenguins.com exclusive shot of Sidney Crosby's 2010 Olympic Gold Medal. Enjoy (thanks to Erik Heasley).
Sergei Gonchar (right)
New Penguin Jordan Leopold with his old coach Tony Granato (left); Evgeni Malkin (right)
Sidney Crosby (left); Brooks Orpik with Mike Rupp (right)
Judging from the line combinations at Tuesday's morning skate, newly acquired Jordan Leopold will be paired up with Alex Goligoski. It also looks like Maxime Talbot will be back in the lineup for Pittsburgh after missing 10 of the team's last 11 games.
Another interesting note is that Marc-Andre Fleury is not at the skate because he is stuck in traffic. Word is there was an accident that slowed traffic to a stop, and Fleury was unfortunately unable to get to the rink in time to participate in the morning skate.
Line combos looked like this:
The Penguins are stepping onto the ice for their Monday morning skate. Pittsburgh resumes NHL action Tuesday night after a 15-day hiatus with the Olympic Games being played.
The Penguins will face the Buffalo Sabres, and welcome back medal winners Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Brooks Orpik, as well as new comer Jordan Leopold. It should be a busy day for the media after the practice.