Penguins Report: Team Picture
Wednesday, 04.7.2010 / 11:24 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
The Penguins held an 11 a.m. practice at Mellon Arena Wednesday. But before the work began, there was a little play. The team gathered together on the ice to take a picture as the players prepare to close out Mellon Arena Thursday night in the regular-season finale. The team took their formal picture at center ice before having some fun around the goal.
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On Mellon Arena:
I know we’re going to a great place. I’m going to miss the old Mellon Arena. Coming here in this room, for whatever it was intended to be, I think it’s a great dressing room and I feel there is a lot of history here and memories, good games and bad games. Those are the memories that I’ll miss going across the street. I know that it will be great over there and I can’t wait to get there, but there’s a lot about this building that I’m going to miss.
On specific memories:
I remember my first practice very clearly. I was playing in the National Hockey League when the old buildings were starting to go away. As soon as you come in here you have that feeling of a unique building, older, historical building. I remember distinctly practicing here and it certainly wasn’t like the newer buildings. For me, my first win against the Canadiens, walking off, the building going crazy and hearing (Mike) Lange say, ‘Elvis has just left the building.’ That’s a memory. I look forward to that every time I walk off the ice after a game. Walking out of the tunnel with two minutes until the start of a playoff game with a white out and the fans going, ‘Let’s go Pens!’ is something I will never forget, and will miss that about this building.
On targeting Alex Ovechkin when the goalie is pulled:
We wanted to win that game and that’s how it was coached. That’s why we pulled the goalie. We also knew that he’d be on the ice at the end. We were aware of the situation. I certainly didn’t want to see him get a goal with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
On if the pulled goalie garnered attention because of the Ovechkin-Crosby goal race:
The previous game we were playing (Steven) Stamkos. I had the same thoughts in my head. I wanted to win the game. I was pulling the goalie for the extra man. He could have fired it down the ice and got another goal. He’s in that race as well. I think it’s more of a flashpoint because of Ovechkin. We are fighting for second in the conference. We wanted to get there. We wanted to win that game. That’s the intention. Are we disappointed that Ovechkin got the goal? Yes, for sure.
On handling the goalie workload in the final three games:
We have three games in four days, which is a lot of work for Marc-Andre Fleury. He’ll go back in the net Thursday night and get one on the weekend. Johnson will get one. That’s the plan of attack.
On if the team thinks about how the playoff pairings could turn out before the end of the season:
I don’t think that you should get too caught up in that. When you start planning things, you’re not worried about winning games. So much can happen. I remember that Max (Maxime Talbot) called me last year to say that we were playing New Jersey, and then Carolina scored two goals in a minute, so it changed pretty quickly. It’s one of those things where I think that after going through it a few times, you’re going to play good teams in the playoffs no matter what. When you play them doesn’t matter, because you still have to get to the same place – whether you play them in the first round or the third round. It doesn’t matter. You still have to go through them. It’s a matter of getting there and hopefully getting home ice as much as you can. That’s really the goal, but I don’t think that you worry about who you play as much.
On needing to win the last few regular season games at home:
I think that you stop looking at that. You see that year after year, these teams battle. The Islanders are playing some good hockey. They’ve knocked off a bunch of teams that are really desperate for points. I don’t think that you can read into that too much, but the most important thing is probably for us to realize that our game needs to be at a certain level, and it doesn’t matter who we play.
On memories at Mellon Arena:
It’s a great, loud building. It has a lot of rich history in it, and I’m proud to say that I played in this building as part of this organization. There are a lot of great memories here, and there will be memories to build in the future at the new place. What I like about this place is that we have a very intimate locker room. It is close quarters, but it is good in a lot of ways. We’re right on top of each other all the time, so it automatically creates a lot of guys hanging out together. I found a lot of great things in this building already this year. It will be sad not to be back in this building, but I’m definitely excited for the new one.
On the best laugh that he has had in the building:
It’s probably something that came out of Tanger (Kris Letang) or TK’s (Tyler Kennedy) mouth at some point. The setup here is nice and intimate, and it’s good for team bonding.
On playing the last regular season game on Thursday:
It’s not the last game being played here. It’s the last regular season game. Hopefully, we have a long road ahead of us this year. Hopefully, we’ll create some more memories this year.
On the playoff environment:
I remember that I came down during the finals to meet a friend down here for lunch one day. It was a day in between games, and people were everywhere walking around the corners with their jerseys. We saw black and gold everywhere. You just got this vibe when you were walking around that something great was going on. I think that the city kind of catches fire, and it’s awesome to see. The crowd is obviously great all the time. I think that they kick it up to another level in the playoffs.
On memories at Mellon Arena:
In my mind, it’s a great place to play. We have had a lot of success through the years. I don’t have specific memories, but the fact that we have had success and won the series against Philly here is great.
On how the team can improve going into the playoffs:
We probably just need to get on the same page and play the way that we know we can. We need to get healthy and get our lineup back and just start rolling the way that we know we can.
On memories at Mellon Arena:
Earlier this year when they unveiled the banner – that was pretty cool. They raised it up to the rafters. It’s a great building to play in. It gets loud in here. The fans are great. It will definitely be a little bit different not playing here.
On playing on the road and at home during the playoffs:
I think that we’ve been a pretty good team on the road. We don’t change our game much when we’re at home or on the road. I don’t think that it is going to be an uncomfortable thing for us to go on the road if we have to do that.
Assist Caitlin Kasunich
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar are still sick and missed practice to rest and recover. He added that forward Chris Kunitz is still day-to-day but is expected to be on the ice Thursday morning for the morning skate. All three players will be game-time decisions for Mellon Arena's final regular season game against the NY Islanders.
The Penguins practiced without forwards Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz and defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Malkin has missed eight of the team's last 10 games while battling a foot injury and illness.
Bill Guerin (right)
Sidney Crosby (left); Marc-Andre Fleury (right)