Penguins-Canadiens Game Day (Game 1)
Friday, 04.30.2010 / 10:31 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
Sounds heard around the Montreal locker room:
On being in a more attack mode against Pittsburgh:
No doubt we have to spend more time in the offensive zone. At the same time we don’t want to get involved in a shootout with this hockey club when you look at their strength and their personnel. You have to play as a team within your strength. Sometimes good defense is establishing a good forechecking game.
On Spacek’s status:
Same status. He’s day-to-day. Not at all (available).
On playing two days after Game 7 win at Washington:
I think that’s what we were dealt with. You have to deal with the situation. We’re happy to be here and competing against the Stanley Cup champions. They’re a great team. We expect a great game, great competition. We’ll be ready to compete tonight.
On if it’s less daunting playing Pittsburgh after beating Washington:
I think as you move along in the playoffs the challenge is always bigger. It doesn’t matter what team you defeated. This team is the Stanley Cup champions. They’re a tremendous team. They’ve shown by their performance in the first round. To me it’s a big challenge when you look at the arsenal that they have, when you look at the talent, when you look at their center-ice position. It’s a big challenge but we’ll be prepared and ready to compete.
On staying out of their own zone:
We believe we can find ways to win. One of those ways is keeping the puck in the offensive zone as much as possible and trying to play more offense, on the attack than we did in the last series. It won’t be an easy challenge, but we have to do that this weekend.
On the Penguins being battle tested:
They’ve earned that respect. They have that experience from last year. In the first round it looked like they got on a roll. There’s no way of pretending it’s something it’s not. They’re going to be a handful and we have to be ready for it.
On the Montreal forwards stepping up:
They’re going to have some defensmen that will be really hard to play against, and some forwards that we’ll have to backpressure hard against. Our success has come through our compete level and we’ll have to step it up even more. They have guys that compete really hard as well.
On the challenge of playing Pittsburgh:
We are definitely up for it. They are a great team and the defending champs. We have to have a good start like we did our first game in Washington. We didn’t have must time to rest but we are back at it here.
On Thursday’s preparation for Pittsburgh:
I think our video guy did a great job. He had to get all the clips ready – neutral zone, faceoffs, defensive zone – it was a tough day for him but it was a day for the players to relax and focus on tonight.
On the atmosphere:
It’s great. Every round just gets more and more intense. This is a big series.
On scoring five goals against the Penguins on Feb. 6:
It’s a different beast now. It’s the playoffs and defense wins. We have to be aware of who is out there because they have a great team and know how to win. We have to keep our emotions high.
On getting his legs back:
It’s nice to be back. (The injury) set me back a little bit but that being said, it’s always good to be back out there.
On getting off to a fast start:
We have to get it in deep, work their defense and use our assets, which is our quick forwards. We have to hold the puck and wear them down. We just have to keep our game plan simple.
On playing the Penguins:
I try to play my best every game. I work hard and try to score goals.
On the difference between Penguins and Capitals:
It’s two different teams. We played against Washington and now we have Pittsburgh. I think they play a different game than Washington. We try to win every game and everyone has to work hard.
Habs head coach Jacques Martin (right)
Jaroslav Halak (left); Scott Gomez (right)
Former Penguins Hal Gill
Sounds heard around the locker room:
On the status of Tyler Kennedy:
TK will not be in tonight. Everything else will be a game-time decision in terms of the other guys. TK will not be coming out for warm-ups tonight.
On getting quality shots on net during this series:
We’re not going to just shoot when we have good chances to score. We’re not going to be shooting just to try and score a goal. We want to get pucks into the area, so we need to get pucks from the side or get pucks there when we don’t have a great shot. We want to see pucks in and around the net. We want to look for rebounds and shoot for rebounds – not just shoot to go high glove. If you look at the goal that Washington scored to make it 2-1, that’s what I’m talking about. They got a puck to the net and got a rebound. They got a second chance opportunity and put it in the crease, and (Brooks) Laich scored the goal. That was a different approach than what Washington was doing most of the time. They were trying to shoot as hard as they possibly could over (Halak’s) glove. We’re looking to get more pucks to the net in and around that area – not just shooting the puck to try and beat him with a shot.
On Penguins from Montreal getting too amped up to play against their hometown team:
I think that everybody gets amped up to play in Montreal. It adds something to the game when we’re away, and we go to Montreal. That’s something that we have talked about and will talk about – adding to that emotion of an already amped up situation in the playoffs.
On how Montreal has scored its goals during the regular season and into the playoffs:
We have played them in four games. They got a lot of rush chances against us. They tried to make plays off the rush, and they scored more goals off the rush versus any other way against us. We’re aware of certain tendencies and certain players. We know that’s a big part of their game. A big part of that is not turning the puck over in the neutral zone, which leads to that counterattack that they can be dangerous on. There are certain aspects that we’re paying attention to with our puck management and execution.
On what players like Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec bring to Montreal’s offensive line:
They may be diminutive in size a little bit, but they play a big man’s game. (Brian) Gionta is one of their net front guys on the power play. That says a lot to his courage and battle level with how he scores his goals. (Scott) Gomez is a dangerous player. He picks up speed and breaks out in the neutral zone. He has a dangerous entry into the zone and is a very good play maker. (Michael) Cammalleri is a shooter. He showed that in the first round. He is a dangerous shooter on the power play. We’ve talked about where he likes to get his shots from. (Tomas) Plekanec is a real gritty and pretty skilled player. He plays a pretty rugged, tough, gritty, skilled game for that group of guys. He’s a dangerous part of their team that we need to be aware of during five-on-five and on the power play.
On people still reminding him of his Olympic goal:
They do kind of. I haven’t really thought about it but at the time it seemed like a pretty popular subject for a couple weeks after. But it seemed to kind of change and that’s a good thing.
On refocusing after the Olympics:
This is the time you spend the most – with your team here working hard and spending the season together. It has been an easy transition for sure.
On game planning for particular matchups:
I don’t think you want to change your game. (Gill) is big and you have to be aware of his stick but you have to be aware of different things no matter who you are playing. I look at last series (with Ottawa) and the matchup there. They tried to accomplish a lot of things – they were blocking shots and having good sticks. Hal is probably another five or six inches taller so that is the only difference.
On going up against Gill in practice:
I’m sure we had our good days and bad days. He takes up a lot of space. That is one thing that is always constant. He gets his stick or body in front of pucks and finds a way. That’s going to be a challenge for sure.
On the Penguins’ approach when they have a power play:
I don’t think you want to change your approach. We have had success because we have done the right things. They are still going to block shots and try to take away your time and space. You have to make good plays and we have to get pucks through. Traffic is always the key. When the goalie can’t see the pucks it’s always harder for them to stop. Again, that is same mindset.
On Max Talbot:
He is a guy who is known to raise his game. That is great player to have on your team. I think everybody is kind of expected to do that but he certainly does it. Every year he scores big goals. He has a lot of character. It shows the most in the playoffs.
On his missed practices being maintenance days:
I think so. We have been fortunate to have some days between games. I feel good so I should be a go.
On what the Penguins can do in response to Montreal chipping pucks out of the zone to create offense:
You have to play in deep with the puck. You can’t turn it over. You can’t make that extra pass and try to go through sticks. They are going to pull five guys back into an area and protect their net. You have to be able to get through traffic but not turn pucks over in their end.
On what impressed him the most on tape about the Canadiens:
Their ability to score offensively despite not having a ton of chances. I don’t know if it is opportunistic but every time they end up with the puck around you net (Brian) Gionta, (Scott) Gomez or (Mike) Cammalleri is there and they are going to put it in the net. They don’t need many chances so we have to make sure we are aware of these guys when they are on the ice.
On how much he enjoys the matchup with Montreal:
Every series you have to pick out your game plan. We are going to put pucks deep in their end. That means forechecking, being physical and taking pucks back. I think our key is not turning pucks over at the blue lines and giving them the ability to use their speed.
On what the Capitals might not have done to be successful against the Canadiens:
We have to make it tough for their goalie. We have to make sure he can’t see pucks or keep him deep in his net. They pulled a lot of guys back and we are going to have to get a lot of guys to the net and score tough goals. We are going to have to pay the price.
On what the Penguins have to do on the power play:
I think we have to move around. I think Washington was standing around in their spots. I think we have to make sure we skate and put the puck at the net and get rebounds. Obviously they have done a great job on the PK.
On playing Montreal:
It’s probably the biggest market in hockey. They have a lot of history. Obviously I have been watching them since I was 4-years-old so it is going to be special and exciting for everybody. I think there could be a lot of distractions but we have a focused team that will do the job.
On how you minimize the distractions:
There were a lot of distractions in the Washington series last year and when you are in the Cup Final it’s there too. It’s going to be something different this time. We just have to handle it better. You have to stay calm and focused.
On his new all-white mask:
The other one started to grow mold, so I wore that one just for practice.
On using the bad smell of his other mask to ward off his opponents:
It’s a good trick. I keep it for the games, though. I don’t want to waste it on practice.
On getting by Montreal’s defensemen:
I think that playing in their end is a big thing for that. They blocked a lot of shots on the rush and were in (shooting) lanes. If we get a cycle going and grind them down, it’s going to make it a lot harder for them to do that.
On his health:
I feel well. I’m still a game-time decision, so I’m not sure if I will play yet. It’s up to me. We’ll see how I feel today.
Assists Caitlin Kasunich and Jason Seidling
Pens winger Chris Kunitz just informed the media that he will play in Game 1 of the semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens at Mellon Arena tonight.
Head coach Dan Bylsma did confirm that winger Tyler Kennedy will not be in the lineup, and will not take pre-game warmups with the team.
Marc-Andre Fleury in onboard with the "whiteout" as he rocks his all-white mask
Sidney Crosby (left); Kris Letang (right)
Evgeni Malkin (left); asst coaches Gilles Meloche and Tony Granato (right)
The Penguins are on the ice for their morning skate. Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz were on the ice with the team. Kunitz rejoined the Penguins' top line, while Kennedy skated on a makeshift unit with Eric Godard and Ruslan Fedotenko.
The lines were:
The Penguins will faceoff tonight against former teammate Hal Gill in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. The 6-foot-7 blueliner will have the unenviable task of trying to shutdown NHL sensation Sidney Crosby.
He did a masterful job of locking up Washington stud Alex Ovechkin. However, Crosby and Ovechkin are two completely different breeds. Ovechkin likes to skate the puck and fire it on net, which is much easier to defend in a one-on-one instance. But Crosby will pull, get low, get to the net and find open teammates. So you can't just defend Crosby one-on-one, you have to defend the entire team.
Gill's best chance for success is to take away Crosby's lanes, his time, his space, hope his Canadien's teammates help in defending Crosby's unit.....and praying for divine intervention. If those conspire, Gill will have a chance to limit Crosby.