Penguins Report: Game Day vs. New Jersey
Monday, 12.6.2010 / 9:34 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Michelle Crechiolo
Game day final thoughts...
- Evgeni Malkin will not be playing in tonight's game versus the Devils (11:44 AM).
- PittsburghPenguins.com’s coverage of Billy Guerin’s retirement (2:27 PM).
- Coach Bylsma explains Malkin’s situation and discusses Guerin (12:51 PM).
- The Pens lines are the same as Saturday’s with Malkin out (10:35 AM).
- Sidney Crosby has been named the NHL's First Star of the Week (12:31 PM).
- Reactions from Pens players on Guerin (including a classic quote from Marc-Andre Fleury involving mustaches) and tonight’s game (12:45 PM).
- Devils pics (12:43 PM).
- Penguins pics (10:49 AM).
Here's some more articles from Guerin's retirement coverage:
- Guerin's "Heart" is in Pittsburgh
- Penguins Remember Guerin's Antics
- Guerin: Crosby's Play is an Assault on the Game
- Quick Hits From Guerin's Retirement Announcement
More photos from the Devils practice at CONSOL Energy Center.
After Martin Brodeur watched the Pens morning skate in the tunnel, he took to the ice for the New Jersey's practice. The Devils goaltender took part in his first full practice Sunday after reaggravating his elbow injury on Nov. 18.
Follow PittsburghPenguins.com's ongoing coverage of Bill Guerin's retirement announcement. There's going to be plenty!
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...
On the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks of Bill Guerin:
I think of a big gray beard. For some reason, the overtime goal – the five-on-three – against Philly comes to mind. He scored the winning goal in that game and that kind of got us started. And I think of a guy my age.
On how he decided what to do after he was done playing:
First of all, Billy played a lot longer than I did. And I knew probably six years before I was done playing that I wanted to coach. And I also knew probably halfway through my final season that I wasn’t going to be playing the next season, it wasn’t going to be possible to continue playing. So when I played my last game, I absolutely knew that when I took off the skates, somehow, some way I was going to be a coach. It’s a little bit different from Billy. This summer and into the fall, he still had his mind on playing, so he’s in a little bit of a different scenario. But I don’t think our mindsets are that different. Billy has an idea that he wants to stay with a team in the game. I don’t know who that team is. It might be a broadcast team. But I think he wants to stay in the game and he feels that’s where it would be best for him to work. He wants to work.
On how Guerin influenced Sidney Crosby:
I think Billy played a pretty big role in (Crosby’s development). But Crosby probably looks at a lot of people in that sense – Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi and other players he played with. Billy wasn’t here a very long time, but (Ray) Shero said it the best: when you win, there’s a sense of connection that you have forever. I think there’s a big part of Billy that is a Penguin when you mention his name. But for Sid, I think there’s a big part of Billy coming in and being a big leader in our dressing room and being a big voice. But he also wasn’t the only guy talking in there. There’s a big part of that where we all learned from Billy. I think Sid did take a lot from that in the last year and a half from Billy.
On how involved Guerin was in the turnaround after the Game 5 loss at Detroit in 2009:
I don’t believe it was to the whole group, and he didn’t stand up and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be alright,’ we just got thumped 5-0. But he was one of the guys who said to me – and I know he said it to other people – 'We are gonna be alright. We have them right where we want them. We’re going to go back and win Game 6, then we’re going to come back here and win Game 7.' It wasn’t “rah-rah,” but definitely there was a matter-of-fact sense of certainty about how we were going to respond and how we were going to get to Game 6 and then go back for Game 7. He was one of those guys. I don’t think if Miro Satan would have said it, it would have been as strong or as calming as with Billy and what he said to me. I also think it’s more than just talking. There was a sense of calm about how things were going to play out.
On the third line:
There’s a consistency with which they play the game, systematically and how we want to play the game that allows them to be effective. Then they bring their own individual attributes as a line, the speed, the tenacity on the puck and the ability to get to the offensive zone and to play there against usually much bigger competition. They are effective both physically and in a grinding sort of way. It happened again (Saturday). They do a good job of playing the body like a boxer would. They tie up the other team, they’re tenacious, they’re relentless. They do it with speed and they do it with smart play. It’s a factor for our team, and it’s a factor for the next line over the boards. It’s a factor for playing a 60-minute game where you can get to another team. They’ve gotten real good at it.
On Evgeni Malkin:
Geno will not be playing tonight. He’s day-to-day.
On if Malkin is easy to talk to about injuries:
Geno may give off the front publicly that it’s difficult to talk to him. But the only difficult part is that he wants to play. He wants to be out there. He’ll play through a lot of stuff, and that’s the hard one to decipher. It’s not a language issue, it’s just sometimes there are athletes that are tough to keep off the ice, even when maybe it’s not the best thing to be on there, whether it’s practice or a game. It’s tough because he does want to be out there tonight, but it’s not going to happen.
On being patient with Malkin’s injury:
It’s one of those things where if you keep at it, it’s going to stay the same. It just means he needs a brief amount of time to get better so he’s not dealing with the same nagging injury.
On how he feels now and how he felt before the winning streak started:
This is probably going to seem odd. But I was confident when things were not going well that we were going to play good hockey just like we are right now. I was confident in Marc-Andre Fleury. I was confident in the team in what we were doing and how we were going to play. Today, I worry more about how we’re going to play tonight. We’re playing a team that has a very good lineup with good players. And we’re playing a team that hasn’t had success the way that I think they can. So I’m losing more sleep over how we’re going to come out and play the game tonight than I did before.
Assist: Tony Jovenitti
Here are the much-awaited sounds from the locker room...
On the significance of giving Bill Guerin the Stanley Cup first in 2009:
He’d played a long time and had won one before, but it had been a long time since he got another chance to win. He was a big part of our team and our success, but more so the length of time, at his age, I think it was pretty special. I was pretty happy to pass it to him, and it was a lot of fun having the opportunity to play with him. He was a great guy in the room, great leader, and it’s great he’s able to do this here tonight.
On Guerin’s overtime winner in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Philadelphia:
I think at that point, you don’t want to think that far ahead. But I remember that goal, it was a five-on-three and I think it was (through the) five-hole he ended up scoring on (Martin) Biron. That was a huge goal for us. I think Billy scored some big goals throughout his time here, but that was a big one. Like I said, he was a leader but that was a good example of him stepping up at the right time for us.
On what he learned from Guerin in terms of leadership:
I think we’re different personalities for sure, but I think we probably made each other better. I think he’s a guy who likes to keep things pretty loose, and he did that with me. But at the same time, we were competitive and it was healthy. I think we both helped each other and certainly, I had a ton of fun and was definitely better for having played with him.
On if Guerin got on him right away:
Oh yeah. The first time I met him, within ten seconds. It was good for both of us, I was able to learn a lot as far as keeping things loose, and I think that’s a big part of what he brought.
On if those first ten seconds were bearable:
He’s got a skill, I don’t know what it is. But he’s got a talent, he’s quick. You can’t catch that guy, you don’t want to get into a verbal battle with him because he’s really quick. I know that’s something that we’ll always remember about Billy. I really enjoyed playing with him, he was a lot of fun.
On where Guerin ranks in terms of his linemates:
I mean, between him and Kunitz, he’s probably the guy I played the most with. I think we played pretty similar, we liked to attack and he was really good at making those little plays off the wall. He’s a right-hand shot, which helped, especially with his shot. He knew where to go, he knew those spots to get in, so I think there was definitely a chemistry there with making those little plays. And he’s a goal scorer, so he could score from anywhere in the offensive zone.
On his relationship with Guerin and his family:
Yeah, he was great. (Being) an older guy coming in with me being a young captain, he was there to support. That was important for me. But I think if anything, he treated everybody the same. Probably me a little more harsh, but in a good way. It was good, he kept things fun, and we had a good time playing together. I’m really happy he’s able to come here tonight and do this here, it’s really special.
On where his game is right now compared to past years:
I think that’s always hard to judge. I don’t think you get caught up really thinking about that, I think if anything, a big part of that is execution and taking the chances you get. We’ve been able to do that, personally I’ve been able to do that. When that happens, you keep it going for as long as possible, keep doing those important details and hopefully get the same results. I think everything is a combination of the team playing well, executing—I think that’s what it has to do with.
On the Devils style of play:
We’ve only seen them once, but I think it’s pretty similar. A lot of those guys have been there and know that system pretty well, so I would expect to see a lot of the same thing.
On not getting too high in the win streak that the Penguins are on:
You just have to remind yourself of what’s important and you can’t think about the results too much. You have to think about playing the right way and give yourself a chance and trust in the results. I think it’s important that we stay on task here and we’ll be tested here (Monday).
On Bill Guerin:
He was a great hockey player. Obviously, he played for so long and that’s awesome. I have a lot of good memories, like some big goals he scored. And off the ice, he was a great guy and a great leader but also a guy who makes things fun. He was always in a good mood every morning. I remember I grew a mustache in the playoffs, but my mustache was weak. Every day he would come in and put his finger over my mustache and go, ‘Hello my friend’ (with a heavy French accent).
On if Guerin fit in right away:
He did, he has a good personality and he’s very easy-going. He likes to have fun and hang out with the guys. I think we were pretty relaxed and an easy-going group, so he fit in pretty easy.
On Guerin not being afraid to make fun of everyone:
I think a couple days in he was already making fun of Sid.
On New Jersey:
We always have tough games with them. Their season may not be going very well, but we still gotta be ready for them. They’re a dangerous team. They have guys that can score, so we need to be ready.
On Bill Guerin:
Billy’s a true professional, a guy that could always make every situation light. He could be a disciplinarian if we needed that in the locker room. His experience was second-to-none. We were playing with a gentleman and a guy with a great family, they brought a lot to our team and to our organization when they were here.
On the significance of Guerin retiring as a Penguin:
I haven’t talked to him about that, so I don’t know how it works. But I’m sure he had a couple good experiences here, especially winning a Cup and playing with a lot of guys that he had a lot of respect for in this locker room. I don’t know, you’ll have to speak with him on that. But it was a pleasure on my behalf to play with a guy of that stature.
On Sidney Crosby’s play:
You try not to get caught up in it, you want to just play in the situations. But I think you kind of have to sit back and watch and enjoy sometimes when he does those spectacular things out there. He’s hot right now, that’s the reason for our team having the success that we are. And he’s doing it in all areas of the ice, he’s winning battles, he’s blocking shots, he’s winning key faceoffs at the end of games. Right now we’re on a good team roll, obviously we want to keep Sid and our team rolling every time we go out there.
On if they can continue the offensive pressure they sustained in Columbus on Saturday while they wait for the return of Evgeni Malkin:
That’s the plan. Geno’s a big part of our offense, and it’s tough when you don’t have a big part of your offense like that, but I think we played alright last game in Columbus. We were able to create some stuff that doesn’t only come out from our forwards. Our defense was following the rush, and a guy like Paulie Martin had a game. We’ll be fine, it’s obviously something without Geno and Jordan Staal, they’re two of the best centermen in the league so you have to get better and dig deeper a little bit.
On catching a break without Martin Brodeur in net:
You can’t just look at his team’s record and just think ‘Oh, it’s going to be an easy one (Monday).’ I don’t think their record shows where they really are, they’re a dangerous team and they have some skill up front. It’s definitely going to be a battle, last year we were 0-6 against them so we definitely want to change that this year.
On if he still keeps in touch with any of his former Devils teammates:
A little bit. I think (with) some of the guys that I was there with for six, seven years.
On if he has any particular insight into their game:
No, I mean I think from practicing with them for so long, you know their tendencies a little bit and what they like to do on the ice. But as far as systems go, it’s pretty similar to what they usually do.
On if New Jersey focuses on the counter-attack:
Yeah, I think that’s what they’ve prided their game on over the years, is solid defense and creating chances off of turnovers. That’s something you always have to be aware of when you’re playing the Devils.
On if they’re primed for a run with their talented veterans up top:
On paper, they have a solid team, they have a lot of good guys in there that are capable of winning games for them. Things just aren’t clicking for them right now, but with their lineup on paper, they do have a talented group so you can’t take them lightly.
Assist: Tony Jovenitti
This just in: Sidney Crosby has been named the NHL's First Star of the Week. He's starting the month of December red-hot after being named the NHL's Star of the Month for November.
The guys had a plethora of good things to say about Billy Guerin in the locker room following their morning skate. We'll post their comments shortly.
Evgeni Malkin will not play in tonight's contest against the Devils, according to head coach Dan Bylsma. The forward's status is still day-to-day.
Injured Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is in the tunnel watching the Pens practice.
Deryk Engelland having a few words with Guerin before he heads onto the ice.
Evgeni Malkin is absent from the Pens practice. He missed Saturday's game in Columbus with an undisclosed injury. We'll provide an update on his status from coach Bylsma when we get it.
Here are the lines the Pens used:
The Pens have taken the ice for practice at CONSOL Energy Center. They're going to be wearing their blue third jerseys for tonight's game, and are skating this morning in the accompanying practice gear.
Head coach Dan Bylsma is chatting with Guerin over by the Pittsburgh bench.
And we're starting Monday off on a good note: out of the eight NHL teams Bill Guerin has played for, he wants to retire as a Pittsburgh Penguin. He'll be at this morning's skate, so stay tuned for more coverage.
Since it's a Penguins game day and the Steelers topped the Baltimore Ravens 13-10 on Sunday, here's a song dedicated to the two teams. It's all about the title!