Penguins Report: Practice 4/19/10
Monday, 04.19.2010 / 11:28 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On the defense paying a physical price to make a play:
We don’t want to spend time in our zone. They’re going to come hard. They’re a skating team. They have the capability to make it tough on our defensemen and get there, make those hits. It comes down to executing and coming out of our zone. Part of that is taking a hit once in a while. They’ve been willing to do that. We’ve done a pretty good job of that. It’s an important part of the game.
On his hit on Daniel Alfredsson:
It was just a hit, whether it was on him or anybody else. I think I could have hit him in the head more. His head was vulnerable. I had enough time to hit more to one side. It was a weird play. I went to the bench to get a stick. I don’t think he really expected me to be coming down from that position. It was one of those things that kind of happened. It was a weird situation. I usually don’t have that much time to hit them like that.
On Don Cherry accusing the team of diving:
That’s up to everyone else. They can watch the games and make their own opinions on who dives and who doesn’t. Everyone is probably guilty of embellishing things at some point. To what extent? Some are more obvious than others. I don’t think there’s a ton of that personally. That’s my opinion.
On having teams shadowing him:
I don’t think anybody does that a ton anymore. I think in the neutral zone there is a ton of that goes on. Teams don’t want you to get the puck in the neutral zone. They pretty much keep a guy on you, close to you. I don’t think it’s to the extent that it used to be where guys follow each other all the way through three zones. But I think that goes on in the neutral zone a little bit more.
On his all-around game:
Everything helps you be better. One thing helps the other. By trying to adjust and adapt, it helps in all parts of your game.
On Brian Elliott also being a late draft pick:
I didn’t know that. He came up pretty good. I was drafted 234. He’s a great goalie. He’s had a great second half of the season and has been good in the playoffs. He’s playing confident out there, and it’s good for their team.
On trying to get healthy in the playoffs:
It was a tough season for me with injuries. It was a long way back. The last two months I’ve been working really, really hard to get back into playoff shape. This is the time of year where it’s fun to play. It’s playoff type of hockey.
On his Ds success against the Senators top line:
I don’t think it’s just the defense. It’s the five guys on the ice. The four lines can play against their top line, top players. We’re all aware of when they’re on the ice, and how we can play against them. They’re dangerous every time we touch the puck. When you’re aware of where they are and what they want to do, it’s easier to defend.
On getting back to his form:
It was a long way back. This season is not where I wanted to be. It was difficult mentally, then my shoulder and my groin. It was a long way back. I’m proud of the last two, three months I’ve been working really hard to play the way I can play, and the player I can be. Right now my body feels good. It’s nice to be healthy and helping the team here.
On if playing physical bonds the team:
Physically we’ve stepped up. We played a lot tougher than we have during the season. The playoffs are always tougher though. There are always more hits, that much more where your team hast to stick together. We have come out that way.
On how the physical play of the defensemen affects the team:
It really pumps up the bench. Our defense, especially last game the way they retrieved pucks and got out of our own end as quickly as possible. They did an unbelievable job of taking hits and making chip plays to get it out. That was just a small thing but it’s big in our dressing room. We all know.
On if this is the toughest first three games of a series physically:
Physically for sure. They’re playing hard. They’re hitting hard. They’re coming every shift. It’s been a grind so far. It won’t get easier. It’s going to be a good challenge.
On the defense handling Jason Spezza:
I think everyone has chipped in in that area. He’s a great player. He makes great plays. Like any player, you limit their time and space. We’ll do that as best we can. So far I think it’s been working pretty good.
Here is what head coach Dan Bylsma had to say when he addressed reporters earlier today:
On how the defensemen have handled Ottawa’s forecheck:
I think we understand that throughout the year you are going to be faced with teams and players that are going to try to play physical against you. When the playoffs come that is amplified. You try to have habits and execution which allows you to deal with that pressure. You are going to have to deal with a heavy forecheck. If you have certain habits and execution then you can still shield yourself and still make a play on the puck, still take a hit and still execute and minimize the pressure on the forecheck and get out of the D-zone. They have forechecked hard and have attempted to lay some hits on our defensemen. Our defensemen have had to go back under pressure and take those hits and make plays. That is something that we continue to expect against this team we are playing against. They have worked hard and are going to come hard. Our ability to execute under that pressure is going to be a key in minimizing its effect.
On Crosby’s defensive play:
You can say that about a lot of our guys. I think Sid and Geno, they can be Selke Trophy candidates or they could win the trophy if they wanted to. They are very good defensively. They are smart players. They can win battles and they can get out of those battles with the puck. Sid did it in the offensive zone for the goal but he is also doing it in the defensive end. He is winning battles, jumping on loose pucks and getting out of the defensive zone. You saw it a handful of times (on Sunday) where he went into a puck battle, won the battle and then made a play to get out of the D-zone. That is a big aspect of minimizing a team’s ability to play effectively against you in the offensive zone. You have seen that a lot from Crosby in these three games where he has been able to play effectively defensively and be a factor. It also allows him to get to the offensive zone or to have speed through the neutral zone as well.
On how the Penguins have defended Spezza and Alfredsson:
I can tell you that what I read in the papers when we can here to Ottawa for Game 3 was not what I expected. I fear those guys when they are out on the ice. I fear they have had shots. Alfredsson had a great chance in Game 2 and Spezza had a great chance in Game 2 where they just missed the net or we got a stick on it. That could be the difference. They again had those opportunities last night to score goals or give their team the tie or the lead when it was 1-1. They certainly had that great shift right before the Malkin goal where they had two one-timers from the slot. Those are great opportunities. They are opportunities they worked for. I still think they are guys we have to limit what they are doing on the ice. That is five-on-five and on the power play.
On what Orpik has done to frustrate those guys:
By our count in Game 2, Orpik had 15 hits. He is an intimidating physical guy when he plays like that. He is an aggressive and physical defender. You have to be aware of him on the ice. The physicality with which he plays makes it tough to earn that time and space and scoring opportunities. That is why he has been effective for this team for a number of years. I think he is a guy that when you are playing defense, you have to have guys on your team who other teams are aware of.
Scoring just three times while dropping Games 2 and 3 to the Penguins has Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston floating around the idea of making changes to his lineup for Tuesday night’s Game 4 as the Senators now trail Pittsburgh 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“Yes, we are tempted for sure,” Clouston said. “There might be a change or two.”
One of those changes might be the insertion of former 56-goal scorer Jonathan Cheechoo, who finished the regular season in Binghamton of the American Hockey League after picking up just five goals and 14 points through 61 games with Ottawa.
“If you ask me if he is playing (on Tuesday), I won’t answer that question until (Tuesday),” Clouston said. “That is a change I am considering.”
“It is really up to them if they plan on playing me,” said Cheechoo, who was one of the major components of the offseason trade which sent Dany Heatley from Ottawa to San Jose. “If I come in I have played in the playoffs before. I have made it to the conference finals. I think I can bring a little bit of grit and scoring.”
Although the Sharks have perennially struggled in the postseason outside of that 2003-04 run Cheechoo referenced, the 29-year-old Moose Factory, Ontario product has an impressive postseason resume. Cheechoo had 16 goals and 35 points in 58 career playoff games with the Sharks. He also scored three (1G-2A) of his 14 points this season in four games against Pittsburgh.
It’s that success which Clouston hopes to draw from if Cheechoo dresses for Game 4.
“He can bring some experience,” Clouston said. “At one time he was a very prolific goal scorer. We saw glimpses of that this year. He is a competitor.”
Cheechoo finished the season strong with Binghamton, picking up eight goals and 14 points in 25 games.
“I thought I played really well down there,” Cheechoo said. “I feel really good about my game. I feel confident so if I get a chance hopefully I can show them something.”
If Cheechoo dresses for Game 4 he believes he can bring a fresh set of legs to help the cause against the Penguins.
“Your advantage you have is you are fresh,” Cheechoo said. “You haven’t taken the pounding in a while. I guess that is the one positive. You have to get in there and make your presence felt right away.”
- Jason Seidling
The following players are on the ice for the Penguins at this afternoon's optional skate: Brent Johnson, Brad Thiessen, Eric Godard, Jay McKee, Tyler Kennedy, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jordan Staal, Ben Lovejoy, Maxime Talbot, Craig Adams, Mike Rupp and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Here are some of the sounds heard around the Senators locker room following their optional practice at Scotiabank Place:
Head Coach Cory Clouston
On Elliott’s play:
I thought he has played fairly well. He has been a little inconsistent. He has to bring his A-game (Tuesday) night for sure. I don’t think we are a good enough team to have average goaltending. I am not saying he has been average but I think he has been a little bit inconsistent at time. That goes for the entire team. We have to be really good (Tuesday) night – everybody.
On making lineup changes for Game 4:
Yes, we are tempted for sure. There might be a change or two.
On whether they have to contain Crosby more or get their own big guns going:
It’s a little bit of both. I think we have to put them a little bit more back on their heels. I think our penalty kill did a great job other than one mistake. Truth be told, I thought that was going to be a disallowed goal. I thought, although maybe not necessarily deserving of a penalty, that Brian Elliott was not able to make a save on that goal. (Matt) Cooke had his stick between his legs. To me that was a pretty easy call. I’m not saying that it was deserving of a penalty but to me you blow the whistle, we have a faceoff outside (the Ottawa zone) and we keep going. We have to make sure we have a little bit more of an attack and making them defend a little bit more.
On what they can do to defend Crosby:
We can be a little more physical and take away his time and space. At times we have done it and at times his skill has shone. We just have to make it a little more difficult on him.
On Spezza and Alfredsson having to match Crosby and Malkin:
I am sure there is a little bit of added pressure. We are not expecting them to match them. We have to do this as a team and that is the only way we are going to have success is to have a balanced attack. We had it in Game 1 and we haven’t had it since. It’s not a competition of Spezza and Alfredsson against Malkin and Crosby. We have to make it more of a team emphasis – for us anyway.
On why Spezza struggled so much in Game 3:
I don’t think he did. I think for the first 40 minutes he was really good. I think during the end of the game I thought he tried to do too much and was forcing things that weren’t there. He turned the puck over too many times. It wasn’t from a lack of effort. It was more from poor decision making with the puck. I haven’t had a problem with his game at all. I just thought that he resorted back to some old habits in the third period. To me that was just trying to do too much individually rather than the team concept. That was about three turnovers near their blue line at the end of the game. The last memory of the game last night for him was towards the end of the game when it was a 4-1 score and he was trying to do too much all by himself. It never works in that regard.
On how Elliott has played compared to his numbers:
We are not really worried too much about numbers. I know you can skew them any way you want. I’m sure if you ask him he knows he has to make a few more saves here and there. What we are worried about is tomorrow night. I am not worried about his numbers. To me you can have a great game which can skew (the numbers) the other way. You have only played two or three games. Sometimes you need a little bit more time to get an accurate read of (those numbers). He needs to be better but so does everyone else. We expect that from him. He has been a guy who has had real good bounce-back games if he hasn’t had a really great performance. To me, that is what I like the most about him. He is a competitor and he has been there for us throughout the season. He has had little ups and downs and he has been able to respond well.
On what jumps out to him from Game 3:
We had a lot of great chances to take the lead and we couldn’t. They went right down and scored to take all of the momentum. We felt that we played pretty good. There are some areas where we need to get better. Maybe we aren’t going to do any major changes. Obviously (Tuesday) is a big game. If we win tomorrow then we are right back in it. We have dug ourselves a deep hole. We look for tomorrow’s game as a chance to gain momentum in the series again and go from there.
On his upper body:
On if Ottawa is concerned at the number of shots they are getting per game:
We would like to get more shots there is no question. Part of that is when they get the lead they are going to be much more aware defensively than if we have the lead. If we can get up on them then that will happen. We’d like to get more shots.
On how he feels physically:
I am fine. I feel good.
On the Ottawa crowd:
The one time you really notice them is right before you start the game and they were on their toes. It felt great to be back in the playoffs at home. I thought they definitely got the building alive.
On how to contain Crosby:
He has done a good job when he has had chances. Overall, I think we have done a good job (on him). Obviously we would like to shut him down totally but I think our focus is still being aware of those two (along with Evgeni Malkin). What can we do to create more offensively while still being aware when they have their top guys on the ice?
The following players participated in today's optional skate for the Senators: Brian Lee, Zack Smith, Brad Winchester, Jonathan Cheechoo, Nick Foligno, Ryan Shannon, Chris Kelly, Chris Neil, Shean Donovan and Pascal Leclaire.
I just got off the bus to Scotiabank at 11:15 a.m. the day has started with a bang. The Senators are holding an optional practice on the ice at 11 a.m. so they are making people available to the media throughout the hour.
As soon as I dropped my computer and camera in the media workroom, the media in the hallway began gathering to talk to Daniel Alfredsson. So I ran for my recorder and camera and jumped in the scrum.
As soon as Alfredsson finished, the media scurried up to the press conference room where head coach Cory Coulston arrived shortly after to address the media.