Penguins Report: 4/19/11
Tuesday, 04.19.2011 / 11:19 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
- Kunitz and Downie get 1-game suspensions (4:02 PM).
- Mearsy Lacoste gives the lowdown on Tuesday’s news (3:35 PM).
- Fleury, Neal and Adams have a maintenance day, N.Johnson is close to recovery (1:24 PM).
- Crosby practices with the Pens (11:47 AM).
- Kunitz talks about his hit on Gagne in Game 3 (1:06 PM).
- Keep your wits sharp and your skate blades sharper (2:00 PM).
- Coach Bylsma on the power play, Tangradi and the PK (2:14 PM).
- Talbot, Dupuis, Conner and Rupp spit knowledge (1:50 PM).
- Asham and Kennedy speak highly of PensTV (3:26 PM).
- Pens pics (12:30 PM).
- “Scratch my back with a hacksaw…” (11:15 AM).
The NHL has given a pair of 1-game suspensions to Kunitz and Downie.
TORONTO (April 19, 2011) – Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steve Downie and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz have each been suspended for one game for separate incidents in Game Three of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal last night, the National Hockey League announced today.
Both suspensions will be served tomorrow night (April 20) when the Penguins meet the Lightning in Tampa Bay for Game Four of the series.
Both suspensions will be served tomorrow night (April 20) when the Penguins meet the Lightning in Tampa Bay for Game Four of the series.
Read full here.
Steve Mears and his alligator polo shirt bring you Tuesday's PensTV online update from St. Pete Times Forum.
PensTV talked to Asham and Kennedy...
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...
On the power play:
I think there are certain aspects of the power play in general that you need to have to have success. There have been times when it hasn't been one particular part of the power play that’s been poor and not led to success. In Game 2, it was different, I think, than in Game 1 and Game 3. In a lot of instances, we were better in Game 3 in what we needed to do. We had some things in zone that we did well. But in terms of looking to understand where we can improve and what we can try to do on the ice, that’s something we’re always trying to get better at and something we’re focused on, especially when you play the same opponent seven times in a two-week span.
On Fleury, Neal and Adams missing practice and Crosby skating:
It was a maintenance day for (Fleury, Neal and Adams). (Crosby) was on the ice today skating and with the team, and again, nothing has changed. His rehab today prescribed by the doctor was getting back on the ice.
On if there’s anything from what he’s seen of Eric Tangradi in recent practices that would translate into filling any potential void created by Chris Kunitz:
I think the best indication would be the game he played in Atlanta. It was the last game of the season and he got an opportunity to play at that point in time and I thought he did real well with that opportunity. He’s been inactive in not playing games for a fair amount of time, so to see him get in a game and play that well was a big help with determining whether, at any point in time, that he would be a guy who could help us and get in the lineup. He played well in that game, was net-front on one of the goals we had on the power play and was good in the wing position, so that was a big plus for him.
On what his personnel options would be if he doesn’t have Kunitz:
(Tangradi) would be a possibility. (Comrie) would be a possibility. Those are the two main possibilities. Eric Godard is available and Nick Johnson is also fairly close at this point in time. So those are all possibilities if we did need a player.
On what he loses if Kunitz doesn't play in Game 4 and what he brings to the team:
Right now, for our team, he’s playing on the top line both in a defensive situation matchup and an offensive situation. He is a power-play guy and a net-front presence guy, both on the power play and five-on-five. (He brings a) physicality factor to create room on the forecheck and in the offensive zone. He’s also a guy who can skate and add some speed to our lineup and straight lines to our game. He’s been able to add that depending on who his centerman is in different ways, but he’s been a pretty consistent performer in those aspects of the game. That would be something that he would be missing.
On Kunitz being standup on the situation in the locker room and if that’s indicative of his character:
I think he plays a hard game, a physical game and a pretty straight-up game. He plays hard and he plays with an edge, but he’s not a – I think this is the first time he’s had a hearing in an awful long time with the league. He’s played a lot of games, a lot of hard games, so I think (he’s a) stand-up, straightforward guy. You see what you get with Chris Kunitz. It is hard, it is a physical game, it is a straightforward game – but a standup game.
On where Tangradi compares to the other guys on the team in terms of natural skill:
I think as a net-front guy, he can compared very high. I think one of the things he did very well this year, especially early on, was immediately establishing his presence in front of the net right in training camp. That was a big factor for him making our club right out of camp and something he does really well right up there, as well as the other guys we have. So that was something that he would, if he was able to get in the lineup, look to add right away. He’s a big guy, skates pretty decently; his puck management and puck skills are ones that can be good around the net. But they’re also good down low, they’re good on the wall and he’s been a real factor when he’s played and managed the puck really well behind the defense using his speed and size to be on the forecheck. That’s where he’s been and can be a factor with his skillset and his size and his skating ability.
On how Ben Lovejoy’s game has evolved over the course of the season and if he’s been pleased with his play over Games 1-3:
Ben is a player I’ve spent a lot of time with over the past three, four years. Ben is a very good defender and a very good penalty killer in those situations, and his game probably has evolved with his comfort level on the ice with the puck, puck decisions, breakouts and coming out of the defensive zone and the neutral zone. Those are areas where he’s gotten consistent with his execution and with his puck management. In addition, he’s a guy where early on in the season, maybe wasn't as comfortable in the situation, the role that he was given, and his defending wasn't as consistent. The second half of the season, he really stepped that up with some of the injuries we had. He was counted on to be in a defensive defending role against the other team’s good players and was very good with his stick and position-wise. His skating ability can match up well against other team’s good skaters and he provided that for our team, and hat’s been in addition to the puck execution that’s been consistent over the course of time. I think the minutes he’s played aren’t as much as he did 15 games ago, but he’s a guy who, when he goes out and maybe gets a matchup with the other team’s top line, is still able to be very good in defending other team’s good players. So he’s a reliable guy to have and has been that way.
On if the Lightning are doing anything different on their PP to make the Pens’ penalty killing more difficult:
The look they’re giving us, both breakout and in zone, is not the one they’ve most consistently used throughout the year. It’s not one we hadn’t seen or scouted, but it’s not one of the ones they used the most that we scouted the most. I think there are things we haven’t done well and there are things that they’ve done well, and maybe one leads to the other. I’m not quite sure. But we need to be better on puck battles and clears. There’s been numerous times where we haven’t cleared the puck and it’s led to more zone time. They’ve been very good at not being real fancy and getting a lot of pucks to the front of the net area. Not particularly hard, wired shots, but just pucks into that area. They get the tip, rebound, then the loose puck (which led to the) goal they get last night. Then the first (goal) is also a puck in that area, which they battled and get a second and a third chance on, and that’s been very good from their power play. We need to be better in and around that net as well.
On if it’s difficult to defend their wide, point-to-point pass on the blue line:
We’re aware of that setup that they’re in. It’s not any different than a lot of the other scenarios you might see throughout the year. We’re aware. I just think the lesson our power play can take as well is that is hasn't been real pretty. You talk about a very good power play, one that’s scored the second-most goals in the league, I think we immediately look at seeing passes and one-time shots and all of the things we think of with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they have not gotten (goals) that way. They’ve gotten them with wrist shots to the net and having men at the net and winning that battle with (Gagne) and (Lecavalier) and (St. Louis) converging. They’ve been very good at that and we have to be better at that around-the-net area, coming back to the net and winning those puck battles. Then we’ve got to get first-touch clears.
On the players saying they’re figuring out where they can hit people and how, especially behind the net, and if he gets the sense that it’s a learn-as-you-go situation:
I’m not aware of the hit zone. I’ve heard that term one time in the last day, I guess, and I don’t even know where it came from. I think there is that sense of learning as you go in terms of what is acceptable. I think in the playoffs, it’s a difficult situation. The physicality is ramped up, the speed and the emotion is at another level than it is in the regular season. There’s a desire to be physical on a team over the course of seven games in a series, and it’s led to more hitting. Our hit totals in these games are maybe 25-30 percent more than a regular-season game. So there’s more hits, there’s more speed and more energy, and it's leading to those scenarios where you are learning as you go in terms of what’s acceptable and what may or may not be a dangerous area of the ice.
All over it: Michelle Crechiolo
Pens equipment manager Dana Heinze sharpens some skate blades.
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...
On Game 4 being an important game:
It’s huge for both teams, obviously. We want to keep doing what we’re doing, but at the same time we know how they’re going to come out. They’re a team that it’s important for them to have a good start and to score the first goal, and they’re going to do everything they can to get it. They’ve playing really good, so it’s been a good series so far and Game 4 is definitely going to be a big one.
On the play of his line (with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Conner):
For the last 2-3 weeks of the season, we’ve been focusing on playing in the offensive zone, playing with speed, trying to create some stuff. It’s been working, and Duper finished the season really hot. We’re trying to find the net and play well defensively as well, because we’re playing against one of their top lines. So it’s always important to have defensive awareness at the same time.
On the key to the chemistry between them:
It’s keeping it simple, speed. I feel like, let’s say we get a turnover or something, that we always track back real hard and the three of us can play defense. Then you saw guys blocking shots last night, Chris Conner laying his body on the line to block a shot. It’s part of this team, but at the same time it’s part of the success of our line.
On how big of a boost it’s been for the Penguins’ role players to have scored all of their goals in this series:
Well without Sid and Geno, it’s all through the season, guys have had to step up. You look at the way the fourth line is playing as well, Rupp, (Adams) and (Asham) are putting some big goals out there for us and it’s huge. Because we might not have the same firepower as when Sid and Geno are in the lineup, but we’ve been holding our ground.
On the key to his line’s success:
I think we talk about the speed, tenacity. I think we kind of all play in our own zone too, blocking shots. It’s all about effort. It’s all about trying to outwork the opponent.
On if it’s because they’re similar players or because they’ve gotten used to each other:
I think playing together and obviously, you play on the other one’s system where pretty much every line rolls the same way. So the fact things are going for us right now is, we all have speed. I think speed is the main thing that we all have on this line.
On the importance of secondary scoring:
It’s playoffs, so every line has to chip in here and there. Our line, (Asham)’s line has been chipping in, so that’s what makes a good team successful. It’s being deep and everybody contributing.
On the key to his line’s success:
I think we’re using our speed well, and I think that’s the biggest part in getting the loose pucks, getting those pucks and winning those battles, and I think we’re all working together, so it helps out.
On if speed is the dynamic they all seem to share:
Yeah, definitely. I think obviously Pascal, he’s got some speed, same with Max. I think we can use it all together and work together and it works out well.
On having speed but still playing a physical game:
You see Pascal throwing his body around, same with Max. I try to get in there as well, and I think it’s been a good combination.
On if he’s surprised with how effective his line has been:
No, I think we haven’t really played together all that much. (Asham) has missed some time due to injury, and with all the other injuries, our lines have kind of bounced around a little bit. But we’re three guys that have had experience in the playoffs, and we understand what needs to be done and a certain style needs to be played by our fourth line, and we’ve been doing that. We’ve been fortunate enough to get a few bounces and a few goals out of it.
On if it’s a testament to the depth of this team that the so-called third and fourth lines have been stepping up:
Yeah, I mean, you don’t win this time of year without it. You can look at all of the games that are being played, and there’s goals being scored throughout the lineups. Usually you’ve got a shutdown line that’s doing their best to contain a top line on the other team, and you need to find ways to tilt the scale any way you can. So if that means production from the third and fourth lines, then that’s what necessary.
Rookette: Michelle Crechiolo
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Fleury, Adams and Neal had the day off as maintenance days. He added that Nick Johnson, who is recoverying from a concussion, is very close to being available to play.
Chris Kunitz spoke with the media about his disciplinary hearing this morning following his hit on Lightning forward Simon Gagne in Game 3. Kunitz was assessed a two-minute elbowing penalty on the play. No ruling has been handed down as of yet.
On his 10 a.m. disciplinary hearing with the league on his hit on Simon Gagne:
I had my hearing this morning. I told my side of it, obviously it looks bad. I never intentionally meant to hurt him. I’m glad that he was okay and was able to finish the game. I’m going to have to accept whatever penalty comes down.
On if he has heard what that penalty might be yet:
No, I haven’t heard yet. It was my first time doing (a hearing), I didn’t really know what it was. But I mean, it went okay, I guess. I still have to wait to hear what the NHL is going to hand down and then just accept the penalty and know that I’ve got to play within the rules and (that you) can’t put yourself in a bad situation.
On if he anticipates something being handed down:
I think with the rules that are in play, it’s going to be whatever it is. I don’t venture to give a guess right now.
On his thought process as that play was unfolding:
I was coming through the middle, getting ready to probably finish a check that I usually do, and the puck was reaching on him. I had my arms in a bad spot up in the air anyways, and when he kind of spun and turned back towards me, I went to go, I think, brush him in the shoulder and I got him in the head. It’s not very responsible on my side. I’ve got to definitely be careful. But I’m glad that he’s okay and was able to finish the game.
On how disappointed he would be if he had to miss any games:
Very disappointed. You don’t ever want to put your team in a bad situation by going short a man. But also, I usually pride myself on playing hard but playing within the rules, and that was definitely something I got away from there.
Pens practice pics...
The ice has freckles (left); Stick weapons (right)
Team gathers (left); Kovalev the Observer (right)
The Captain (left); Roll call (right)
One lonely puck at center ice (left); Brent Johnson protects the net like a moat (right)
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are taking the ice for their practice at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. Fleury, Adams and Neal are all absent from the skate.
It's a great morning in Tampa Bay as the Pens are coming off of a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Lightning in Game 3 at St. Pete Times Forum to take a 2-1 series lead. The Game 3 hero was Tyler Kennedy, whose game-winning goal early in the third period turned the momentum back into the Penguins favor after they had lost their 2-0 lead. Pittsburgh is now 10-1 in Game 3s since the 2008 playoffs.
The Pens have an 11:30 a.m. practice at St. Pete Times Forum today, gearing up for a Game 4 showdown Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Here is Mike Lange's call on Maxime Talbot's opening goal.