Penguins Report: 3/7/11
Monday, 03.7.2011 / 10:00 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
- Kunitz day-to-day, probable Tuesday (12:44 PM).
- Orpik skates before practice (10:22 AM).
- Pens’ lines (11:00 AM).
- Godard gets a birthday pie to the face (12:57 PM).
- Coach Bylsma on Kunitz and WBS players stepping up (1:42 PM).
- Martin, Neal, Cooke and Fleury spit knowledge (1:23 PM).
- The Pens hosted three Children charities at practice (11:28 AM).
- Pens practice (11:13 AM).
- “My girl, my girl, don’t lie to me…” (10:00 AM).
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...
On the timeline to skate after being symptom free:
We don’t have one. The doctors have that timeframe. I’m not aware of where Arron is. He’s got a ways to go conditioning wise. I know going through some paces on the ice today shows where he’s at. He’s got a significant amount of conditioning to do before he can think about being back in the lineup. In terms of following the protocol, it’s not our protocol, it’s the doctors, the doctors’ timeline. I’m not sure if it’s different for every guy, different for every situation, depending on severity and length of time out. I’m not acutely aware of that.
On playing playoff style hockey now:
We’ve talked a significant amount the past two weeks of being comfortable in these types of games, knowing this time of year is kind of hockey. I think the games are ramping up. There is meaning to a lot of the games. There are playoff races going on. I think you’re seeing that in the last four or five for us. There’s not going to be a huge change in focus as the games get more meaningful and you go into April. We know exactly how the game is going to play out. Playing the way we played in Boston, the pursuit of the puck, the way we played defense allowed us to hound pucks, smother them and play in the offensive zone. That’s exactly how it’s going to be for us in every game. In the playoffs, guys should feel comfortable. It should benefit us when it does get to the postseason.
On playing this way because of the time of year or because of the injuries:
It doesn’t matter who we put in our lineup or who we put in there. That’s the way we intend to play and we’re playing it very well right now. When you see Neal or Kovalev coming into our lineup, they’re expected to play that way as well. That’s how we’re going to play down the stretch until we get Kunitz and Orpik back in the playoffs.
On Orpik’s conditioning:
It’s not gripping his stick, but the further damage to the area. His cardio is going to be great. He’s telling me right now that his VO2 is going to be unbelievable when he comes back. Brooks is an extremely hard working guy during the season, let alone when he has a break from action like he has right now. It’s a concern of the alignment of the bone, not so much grabbing the stick. If there wasn’t any fear of the alignment he’d probably be able to play right now with or without the grip of his stick. Brooks hasn’t really on his hands too much in his career, so he shouldn’t lose much there. It’s just a matter that it heals enough so there can’t be further damage.
On WBS players development:
I’m not overly concerned with throwing them into the fire so to speak, or putting them in roles. They’re used to those roles. We try to put players in situations where they’re best suited to be in, not weaning them in on the fourth line and you have to be there for a year and a half before you move up to the third line. The confidence that the players have in knowing how to play, what’s expected, what their linemates are going to be doing, they don’t have to worry about where they’re standing on the ice. They can play their role. They can be Dustin Jeffrey and play on the third line role situation with good players. He can be on the point on the power play. He can be on the penalty kill. On defense, Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy have been used in shutdown roles and penalty kill situations in WBS. They’ve been that player for us. You saw it last year, getting thrown to the fire, playing 18, 20 minutes for our team last year. Now the situation we’re in, getting to play those types of minutes against those types of guys, they’ve been in those spots. They know what’s expected of them and how we’re playing. I think it gives them the ability and confidence to step into those spots, add ability to our team and the way we play. They’ve done a remarkable job in a lot of those situations.
On if Kunitz had a setback and where he’ll play:
He did not suffer a setback. Much like Brooks Orpik’s situation, you can’t put him out there if there is danger of hurting himself further and doing more damage. He’s just not at the point yet where that is the case. He did not suffer a setback. He just wasn’t ready to get into the game in that situation. As far as the centerman, most likely would be Jordan Staal, left wing with Staal and Kennedy. He played with Jordan Staal when he first got here for a number of games and had success there. He’s a good fit.
On helping a player going through coming to a new team:
James Neal has been in one organization for his whole life. He’s known one color. It’s the same thing every year, you get comfortable in that, you get comfortable coming that rink, that organization, that training camp with that group of guys, to change is almost changing your language. You go to a different language, you go to a different color, you go to a different city. It’s easy to jump in and step into a locker room with a group of guys and feel accepted. But it’s different to feel you’re doing the right thing, the language they’re speaking, the identity and how the team plays, he’s been working extremely hard in adapting, almost too hard. Instead of being relaxed in what he brings to the team. That takes some time. As far as getting used to the city, he’ll slowly get acclimated to that. His boxes don’t all fit in the Cambria Suites. I think they’ll find some storage for him. He fits in with our group and adds to it. You saw that against Boston. It does take a while to take the green tattoo off and make it black and yellow.
Sounds heard around the locker room...
On how he’s feeling now that he’s gotten a few games back under his belt:
I feel good. I wasn’t gone for too long, but just to be back in and try to help the team as much as I can and to get the last win was big, especially with how well we’ve been playing and not coming away with that extra point for a couple games in overtime. So to get the two on Saturday was big.
On how accumulating points could have them in a battle with Philadelphia for first place in the East:
Yeah, all these points are big. Especially because a lot can happen once you get into overtime, and it’s nice to be able to seal it up before you even get to that point. All these points down the stretch are big. When we have certain guys out of the lineup and don’t know when they’re going to return, you’ve just kind of got to focus on the guys you have in the locker room and try to do the job, and not pay too much attention to what Philly’s doing because we’ve got to make sure we take care of business here. I think we’ve been playing really well, and like (James) Neal was saying, it’s tough sometimes when you play well and don’t get that extra point in overtime. So we’ve got to find a way to close it out.
On if he’s feeling any recupercussions from the monster minutes he logged this weekend:
No, I feel good. You take a little better care of yourself than I think you normally would. But this year, I guess it’s a testament to D that we have here, is everyone is capable of playing in different situations. So there’s no one that needs to log that kind of minutes. We have a lot of depth back there and that really helps towards the end of the year, when you get in different situations. Well, 35 (minutes), I’m not used to that, but the high 20s – that doesn’t bother me. So that was good, just to get those kind of minutes and (know that) the coaches have that kind of faith in you to be out there. So it was good, I feel fine.
On getting close to scoring:
As long as I’m getting chances and doing the right things, being physical and playing the right way, I’m sure they’ll start to come. You can’t think about it too much or try to do too much. Then you start to get away from your game.
On if he feels more comfortable here:
Yeah, I feel way more comfortable. I know the systems a lot better, and I’m starting to make Pittsburgh home. It’s going good, and we got a big two points the other night. So as long as the team’s winning, everything’s good.
On all the overtime games:
Every game I’ve played besides that Carolina one has went to overtime, so it’s been funny like that. It was big to get that win in overtime.
On the amount of their games that have stretched beyond regulation recently:
Our focus is just to play a certain way, and we’ve been able to do that for periods of time. I think four overtime games in a row is a situation we’d rather not get into, but we’re prepared for that. (Dustin Jeffrey’s) goal in overtime was huge, especially knowing that we felt like we deserved to win that game.
On what the Sabres do well and how the Penguins can build off their win over Boston:
I think we can build off of the win the way we’ve played as of recently, for sure. Just know and trust that the way that we expect each other to play is the right way. And if we do that, we’ve given ourselves the best chance to be successful. Buffalo’s an offensive team, they push up the ice, they take your time and space away. But I think if we manage the puck the right way and force them to play in their end like we have the last few games, then we give ourselves a good chance.
On how much he’s seen Jeffrey and the other younger guys improving as they get an extended look:
It’s experience. I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. They know the system, they know the way that we want them to play, the way that they can play. And they’ve committed and done a great job. Sometimes injuries are when you get your opportunity, and you’ve got to make the most of it. And all the young guys are doing a great job right now.
On if being in all of these close games has given them a level of confidence that they can apply to the postseason:
I think so, yeah. When you face adversity as a team in close games like that, you can react well under pressure. I think it’s good preparation as a team for the playoffs, because that’s how it’s going to be like.
On what he remembers about Buffalo:
They’ve been playing well. Last time we played them I think it was after the All-Star break, and they had a long time off. But they’re a team that works really hard. (They have a) good goalie, Ryan Miller’s been really solid. They’ve got a good group of forwards that can be dangerous around the net. They’ve got a good power play also. So it’s going to be a good challenge.
Santa's Little Helpers: Michelle Crechiolo & Tony Jovenitti
Today is Eric Godard's 31st birthday. And the Pens were up to some mischief. While Godard was doing interviews with the media (including our planted PensTV camera to capture the fun), the team sang "Happy Birthday to You" and brought a pie to him. Then they smashed it in his face. To which Godard responded: "Awe, I wanted to eat that." (
Head coach Dan Bylsma had a few updates:
- Kunitz is day-to-day, and probable to play Tuesday vs. Buffalo.
- Asham hasn't had concussion symptoms for six days, and skated hard for the second straight day.
- Comrie is working in full gear, but still is "considerable timeframe away from even returning to practice."
- Tangradi and N.Johnson still have concussion symptoms.
"Nick Johnson and Eric Tangradi are still out with a concussion.
"Arron Asham has been symptom free for six days now, today being his sixth. It was a second hard skate today, so he is moving in the right direction.
"Mike Comrie was on the ice in full gear. He's been on the ice in full gear three times now. He's a considerable timeframe away from even returning to practice.
"Brooks Orpik, this Wednesday will be his second week out from his broken finger.
"Crosby and Malkin, I have no update.
"Chris Kunitz is day-to-day, probable for (Tuesday's) game."
The Pens are hosting a few children charities at practice today. Attending are Pittsburgh's Make-A-Wish, Children's Institute and Children's Home.
And I won't lie, I'm a little freaked out by the clown. He scares me. Is that weird?
Staal (left); Fleury (right)
All the healthy Pens are at practice and accounted for. The line combos haven't changed.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik was back on the ice this morning before the Pens' practice. He suffered a broken finger Feb. 23 after blocking a shot by San Jose's Patrick Marleau. Orpik was expected to miss approx. four weeks with the injury.
Meanwhile, Mike Comrie and Arron Asham also joined Orpik on the ice prior to practice. And they were wearing full gear, a sign of their continuing progress.
The Pens have returned home after their season-long five-game road trip. Pittsburgh ended the swing on a high note after a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins, snapping Boston’s seven-game winning streak.
Pittsburgh will now embark on a three-game homestand, hosting Buffalo (Tuesday) and then with matinee matchups against Montreal (Saturday) and Edmonton (Sunday).
An epic week ahead for the daily music selection. It’s a weeklong celebration of MTV’s Unplugged Series. Each day I’ll be featuring a few songs from one band’s Unplugged performance.
There is no better way to start this week than with the greatest Unplugged concert ever, which was performed by my all-time favorite band: Nirvana.
I could go on for hours about how much I love Nirvana, and that Kurt Cobain is the reason I started playing the guitar. But I’ll spare you all that, and focus on their Unplugged performance.
Nirvana’s show completely captured the nature and essence of what an unplugged concert should be: stripped down and exposed. Most bands at that time played their unplugged set like their typical concert, rocking out hard – but with acoustic guitars (see: Pearl Jam). Rather than trying to maintain the intensity of an electrified concert, Nirvana toned everything down. The result was a unique and different sound in total contrast to what they normally produced. It also showed their range as musicians.
The setting was also dulled with the crowd closely surrounding the band for an intimate feel. There was no flashy lighting or pyrotechnics; instead Nirvana had the stage set with candles and flowers.
Most of the other bands would typically play all their hit songs unplugged . But Nirvana opted to only play the songs that translated well acoustically. Thus, there were no renditions of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “Heart-Shaped Box.” The band played “About a Girl,” “Polly” and “All Apologies.”
In fact, of the 14 songs Nirvana played, six were covers. And they didn’t do any classic covers – choosing instead to cover the Vaselines, Bowie, Meat Puppets and Lead Belly. The Meat Puppets even joined the band on stage on those covers.
Nirvana opened their show with “About a Girl,” a song off their debut album Bleach.
With the Meat Puppets on stage, Nirvana covered three of their songs, including “Oh, Me.”
The greatest part of Nirvana’s Unplugged came in the finale, a cover of Lead Belly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s an amazing rendition of the song and the perfect ending to the show. For most of the set, Cobain sang in a subdued manner. But that all changed in the ending to “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” We hear the classic Cobain scream – a cosmic blend of pain, anger and melancholy. And I’ll never forget the intensity in his eyes right before he finishes out the last vocals. I get chills every time I see it.