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Penguins Report: First Game at CONSOL Energy Center

Wednesday, 09.22.2010 / 8:30 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
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Penguins Report: First Game at CONSOL Energy Center

4:45 PM:
Here are some shots as the countdown to puck drop begins!


Crews add stickers to the boards, while student rushers line up to get inside for the historic game


Marc-Andre Fleury's save against Alex Ovechkin is immortalized in CONSOL Energy Center; meanwhile his mask is ready to be worn in the first-ever game.


The Penguins locker room is set up and ready to go! Let's get this game started already!
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3:14 PM:
The Penguins lost a member of the equipment family when Dave "Ziggy" Ziegler passed away over the summer. A foundation has been set up in his honor. Foundation will provide scholarships to local athletes to continue their hockey careers, as well as hockey equipment for under-privileged children. He touched many lives with his generosity and passion for the game of hockey.

If you log on and donate to the cause, there are many prizes that you could win, including being an honorary equipment manager for the Pens. Log on to the website (www.ziggysfoundation.org) for more information. Help support a great cause.

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3:02 PM:
Saturday the Penguins host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the "Ultimate Home Game." The Pens donated all tickets to local students and union workers that helped build the arena.





Randy Dearth, chair of the ImaginePittsburgh.com initiative of the Allegheny Conference (far left), presents 200 tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins Ultimate Home Game to Jason Fincke, executive director of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, and union apprentices.

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1:06 PM:
Brett Sterling, who is a goal-scoring beast in the AHL, gets a shot to play alongside Sidney Crosby tonight. Should be great to see what he can do with the greatest playmaker in the game.


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12:56 PM:
Trib Total Media's Rob Rossi put the largest blog picture in the history of humanity on Chipped Ice (and also gives his take on the morning skate).

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12:53 PM:
If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and read Jason Seidling's article on the Penguins brand new locker room at CONSOL Energy Center. Seidling goes behind the scenes with equipment manager Dana Heinze to show fans the layout and thinking behind all the dynamics inside the team's new digs. Worth the read.

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12:21 PM:
Pascal Dupuis had a little trouble in practice this morning. He was a little late switching his jersey to join in with the team's penalty killing unit. Running out of time, Dupuis opted to practice the first round of reps without a jersey on. At the first whistle break, he quickly threw on his jersey.


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12:12 PM:
A long one from Dan Bylsma today. A few topics covered in coachspeak are Staal's injury, the new arena, smaller players trying to make the lineup and the power play.


On feeling home at CONSOL:
In the dressing room, we’ve been working in there, staff-wise, for the past month to month and a half. So I feel at home back there, but as far as the rink and the details of the rink and some of the bounces, I think I see something new every day. So it’s not quite home yet, and to get that feeling for what it’s going to be like with the fans in here, jumping and playing a game is something that we still anticipate yet. We’ll get that here in the preseason, but I still don’t think we’ll get the full effect until the regular season.
On Staal’s injury:
He’s continuing on the process of healing, and the healing of sutures and the wound is day by day. He continues to go and it certainly looks better than it did a few days. But it’s still going to be a process.
On being more cautious because of Staal’s multiple surgeries:
There’s no urgency to hope this heals one day faster. It will take its course and when it’s fully healed and fully comfortable, then we’ll progress to the next stage. So there’s no rush for urgency or trying to get him back in here and I don’t think that’s ever been the case with the information we’ve had and the steps that we’ve gone through. So we’re looking for him to get fully healed and recovered before we go onto the next stage.
On what he misses about the Igloo:
I’m not sure I can tell you that I miss something about it quite yet. I guess I miss the close proximity of the players, with the players having to walk by my door every morning to get into the building. Now I have to check a computer to see if anyone was late or not. That’s the one thing at this point that I miss. But in terms of the building I think there was something unique about the building inside and out, with the stands and the structure of the stands, but I’m not saying I miss it yet. I love what I see here and I can’t wait to get the place full and a hockey game going.
Head coach Dan Bylsma addresses the media
On Tim Wallace:
Last year, we asked him to add a power forward, go to the net and get goals in that dirty area type of mentality and he jumped up to, I believe, 27 or 25 goals in the American Hockey League, which is a significant number for a guy who doesn’t play on the power play. He didn’t get them dangling or hanging out in the slot or being on the outside. He got them driving to the net and being on the forecheck and driving there. And that’s what he has a chance to bring at this level, a physical aspect and a driving force in the offensive zone.  He did a good job of that in the second scrimmage and he’ll get that opportunity tonight and that’s what we’re looking to see, a physical aspect, getting around the cage and being a factor at the net and being a presence.
On warning players to not play above themselves and their abilities trying to make the roster:
I’m not sure we’re going to talk to them at 5:00 before the game tonight, but even the new players coming into the organization understand what they bring, the foundation and the opportunity that they have to play their game. We’ve talked to them about that and we’ve been clear about that, to bring their foundation and bring their game. Like putting Sterling with Sidney Crosby, it gives him a chance to do what he does and brings to the table. And the same with Tangradi, playing with (the Comrie and Malkin) line. So these players know their foundations, we’ve talked to them about it, so they should know exactly what their game is like and what we’re expecting from them. Then it’s about going out and forcing the issue and playing your game. A guy like Eric Tangrading, Sterling, Mark Letestu, they have to force their hand and they have to force us to see what they can do at this level and not just go out and play the right position. They need to go out and play their game and say ‘I demand another game, and I demand to be in this league’ with the way I’m playing and bringing my foundation.
On Crosby maturing:
It’s easy for me to see the room that he has to grow because he’s 23, a young kid. He still works and views the game as that he has to be better in a lot of different areas, and that’s the way he approaches it. He focuses on certain things, and things he can add to his game. We’ve seen that in the past. He continues to do that. I really believe that he’s going to get better and better in the years to come. That’s his mentality and approach. It is again this summer and coming into the season.
On smaller players getting an opportunity in the NHL:
Mark Letestu came into our organization and has been here for a while. One of the things we always talk about his puck battles. If you can’t win a puck battle and can’t play in the dirty areas, it doesn’t matter if you’re 6-foot-4 or whatever size you are. Mark has continued to get better in those areas. Last year when he played for us, he won faceoffs, he won puck battles. I don’t care what size he is. If you go out there and win puck battles and win faceoffs, are in the dirty areas and playing the game the right way, 5-10, 6-2, it doesn’t matter. Sterling is a guy that scores goals. He scores them on the shot and scores a lot around the paint. His second goal of the scrimmage he was standing right in the blue paint. Guys were all around him and he puts in that goal. No one cared how big he was when he was standing in the paint and scoring that goal. That’s the challenge for a guy of that size. It’s the challenge for a guy like Eric Tangradi, who is 6-foot-4, standing there and winning puck battles. Tonight those guys will get an opportunity to prove that they can play, battle, go to the areas you have to go to and be affective in a game. It won’t matter what height they are at the end of the game. It’s if they’re affective in those areas.
On Malkin on the point:
Will try some different looks on the power play throughout training camp because everyone will be playing in different spots. Regardless of whether there are two defensemen there or not, we won’t be labeling them as defensemen. One guy will be the defenseman, that was Kris Letang, and the other guys will be playing the wall position. It could be a defenseman, or it could be 71 or 87. We hope the way the power play looks that you’ll see them all in different spots as the power play executes, moves and attacks.



Secondary assist: Tony Jovenitti
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12:02 PM:
Morning skate sounds heard around the locker room:

Sidney Crosby

On handling the postseason loss:
You have high expectations and you expect to be in the Final every year. If anything, I think it makes you appreciate how tough it is to get there even more so. You learn and you never stop learning. I don’t think it’s ever fun losing. You are always motivated by that.
On how he improved this summer:
Every which way. When you stop learning, it’s probably time to stop playing. I am constantly trying to work on all areas of the game. It’s a competitive league and everyone is pretty aware of the way guys play. There aren’t a lot of secrets out there. You’ve got to keep working hard to improve and give yourself an edge in that way.
On the larger locker room:
I think the way that it is set up, we have the (players’) lounge located right next to the room. Once we get guys in here it’s been pretty good. You want to be around the guys as much as you can. I think I was kind of concerned coming in, but I think we see that we have a chance to see everyone. That’s the main thing.
On his goal for this year:
It’s never easy to get shots through. Like I said earlier, I think it’s important to keep improving on those things and make sure that when guys see video or see things about your team, you are still able to surprise them and catch them off guard. I think individually and as a team that is what you try to do.
On making this place home:
It’s not quite there yet. The room itself is great and that part feels like home. It still takes a little getting used to going from room to room, but we still have a couple of weeks here to take care of that.


Mike Comrie

On his line with Malkin and Tangradi:
We are going to be working on timing. Those two guys have big bodies. We are going to try to cycle the puck and make plays.
On his transition to Pittsburgh:
It’s been great. I think any new player coming into an organization, you try to take in as much as you can. With the new building and the way this organization treats its players, it’s been an easy transition.
On his game complementing Coach Bylsma’s system:
It’s an up-tempo style that gives you a chance to make plays. You always have to be ready to anticipate and read and react. It’s a system that is built for a team like this to make plays. Hopefully we can get some goals and make some plays early on.



Marc-Andre Fleury




Assist Jason Seidling
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11:36 AM:
Here are some shots from the morning skate:




Brooks Orpik (left) will wear the 'A' in the game as alternate captain.


Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in goal against the Red Wings.
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10:21 AM:

The Penguins did a little power play work. Letang and Malkin worked the points with Crosby, Comrie and Tangradi down low.

Letang was at the right point, with Malkin working the left. Crosby was in his usual spot along the halfwall. Comrie floated and Tangradi planted himself in front of the goaltender.

Though things will likely be different when Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin are in the lineup, this will be the unit that works tonight with the man-advantage.
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10:14 AM:
The Penguins are on the ice for their morning skate session. Brett Sterling, the hero of Monday's scrimmage with two goals, will get a shot playing alongside Sidney Crosby. The second line of Tangradi-Comrie-Malkin has been the same since the start of camp.

Sterling-Crosby-Dupuis
Tangradi-Comrie-Malkin
Wallace-Letestu-Kennedy
Craig-Vitale-Boulerice

Orpik-Michalek
Letang-Strait
Potter-Hutchinson
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9:00 AM:
The first-ever game at CONSOL Energy Center will be played this evening between Pittsburgh and Detroit. A lot of big names will be in the lineup. Notables for Pittsburgh are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brooks Orpik, Eric Tangradi, Zbynek Michalek and Kris Letang. Notables for Detroit are Brad Stuart, Jiri Hudler, Todd Bertuzzi, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Modano and Johan Franzen.

Complete rosters for the game are below:


PENGUINS

Forwards

9 Pascal Dupuis
10 Mark Letestu
12 Brett Sterling
19 Mike Comrie
22 Tim Wallace
23 Ryan Craig
42 Eric Tangradi
46 Joe Vitale
48 Tyler Kennedy
62 Jesse Boulerice
71 Evgeni Malkin
87 Sidney Crosby

Defensemen
2 Corey Potter
4 Zbynek Michalek
8 Andrew Hutchinson
37 Brian Strait
44 Brooks Orpik
58 Kris Letang

Goaltenders
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
39 Brad Thiessen


RED WINGS

Forwards
8 Justin Abdelkader
11 Dan Cleary
17 Patrick Eaves
18 Kirk Maltby
20 Drew Miller
26 Jiri Hudler
32 Aaron Downey
42 Mattias Ritola
43 Darren Helm
44 Todd Bertuzzi
51 Valtteri Filppula
90 Mike Modano
93 Johan Franzen

Defensemen
2 Brendan Smith
4 Jakub Kindl
14 Derek Meech
23 Brad Stuart
24 Ruslan Salei
25 Brian Lashoff
37 Doug Janik
52 Jonathan Ericsson

Goaltenders
30 Chris Osgood
38 Thomas McCollum

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8:30 AM:
Eleven years ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Hall of Famer and legend Mario Lemieux pulled together an ownership group that saved the team from a possible relocation or dissolution.

When Lemieux took control of the team, back in 1999, he said to sustain a profitable and competitive franchise in Pittsburgh would require the building of a new arena.

Over a decade of hard work, dedication and commitment (through periods of frustration and joy) has resulted in the erection of the CONSOL Energy Center. And the unveiling of this beautiful, state-of-the-art rink occurs in a mere 10+ hours when the puck is dropped between the Penguins and Detroit Red Wings.

Though this is merely the test run for the big opening (on Oct. 7 against the hated Philadelphia Flyers), Penguins fans can take the day to reflect back on those dark days in 1999 and rejoice for hockey in Pittsburgh not only survived, but has excelled and thrived.

A lot of people are to be thanked for the team's salvation, but the leadership of recently retired Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer, who spearheaded the venture, cannot be understated. Sawyer laid the groudwork for the Penguins' salvation, and then accomplished every goal he set. It wasn't a flawless execution, Sawyer admitted many ups and downs, but in the end Sawyer got everything he wanted - most important in the model was a new rink.

When Penguins fans 10, 20, 30 years from now make a trip to CONSOL Energy Center, they'll have Sawyer to thank - not only for the arena, but for having hockey still played in Pittsburgh.

It is difficult to imagine how differently things could have turned out after the bankruptcy. There could have been a world of no Stanley Cup, no banners, no new arena, no Crosby, no Malkin, no Penguins. But thanks to Sawyer (and many others of course), fans have seen the Penguins rise from the ashes to one of the NHL's elite franchises.

Though he is retired, Sawyer will be at CONSOL Wednesday night (and for the BIG opener Oct. 7). I hope Sawyer enjoys the game, the arena and the atmosphere. Because without him, none of this would have been possible. Enjoy your retirement Ken. Though you'll be gone, your imprint will remain on this team forever.

You will be missed.






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