Penguins Report: 4/22/11
Friday, 04.22.2011 / 11:03 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
- Pens lines (11:50 AM).
- No Crosby or Comrie at practice (11:30 AM).
- Mears brings you today’s scoop (5:37 PM).
- James Neal makes commercial history (11:35 AM).
- James Neal – an avid reader of our humble website (2:36 PM).
- Orpik is taking names (2:13 PM).
- Coach Bylsma on Asham, the fourth line’s minutes and celebrating (2:51 PM).
- Kunitz, Dupuis, Letestu and Lovejoy spit knowledge (12:55 PM).
- Coach Boucher on Lecavalier, Brewer and Roloson (5:29 PM).
- Pens pics (12:31 PM).
- Bolts pics (3:14 PM).
- “Elvis has left the building…” (11:10 AM).
Steve Mears was at Southpointe today to get the latest scoop on Game 5. Mearsy brings you all the info you need to know for today's Penguins Insider. At the end, Mearsy reveals a dark secret about himself. Watch the clip to see what it is.
Coachspeak with Guy Boucher…
On relying on guys who’ve experienced being down 3-1 in a series:
All the experience of all of those guys or anyone on the staff that I’ve gotten in the past certainly helps. We do have players who have lived all kinds of experiences in the playoffs. Gagne was down 3-0 last year and they won the series. Roloson was down 3-1 and won a series with Minnesota. There are a lot of guys in there that have been through adversity. But the reality is that this is a different setting, different circumstances. It’s possible. Look at Boston yesterday winning their second game and they’re back. Like I said before, playoffs are never about momentum. They’re about that particular day’s urgency and desperation. Tomorrow is a new day for us.
On what Lecavalier can add with his experience:
He knows any game can be a series changer. It takes one goal. Last game, if we score it’s a 2-2 series. Then we feel great about ourselves. But the reality is it was only a one-goal difference in the previous game too. We’re aware of that. We’re going into a very tough game in the other team’s rink. They’re very hungry, very structure, they work extremely hard, their goaltender is hard to beat. Is it a tough hill to climb? Yes. But it’s one game. It’s a hockey game that we’ve been playing for a while now, since September. We feel that we’re ready. It’s all about wanting to fight and not fearing what’s coming up, being enthusiastic about having an opportunity to play a game against a great team.
On Brewer not being at practice:
He’s fine. We’re giving him a rest because he’s basically sleeping on the ice right now. We’re giving him a rest just like with Stamkos. He played his best game of the playoffs last game, played really, really well. We gave him two days off. It paid off.
On being outshot in games:
We talked about it. You’re talking about being outshot and we did the scoring chances, they were 18-16. The reality is when you put a lot of pucks on net one of them, just one of them, might make the difference. It might not even be a scoring chance. The goal in overtime, that wasn’t a scoring chance. As hockey coaches, when we break it down that’s a shot from the boards with no angle. We don’t consider that a scoring chance. But that’s the idea, you don’t know which puck is going to go in. I was watching NHL Network and they showed Kane scoring with no angle in overtime to win the Stanley Cup last year. Crosby scored for Team Canada with no angle on the ice in overtime. That’s the idea. You don’t know which puck is going to go in. Our team has been amazing at that all year and it’s been our philosophy. For some reason in this series we are over-thinking our shots. That’s why we have less than we should have. I’m expecting the other team to get a lot of shots because that’s their mentality. But I’m expecting our team to get more shots. We do have scoring chances. We have 16, they have 18. We’ve had great scoring chances, but that’s a great goaltender. Most of the time these goalies, if they see the puck they’re going to stop it. If it’s one of those passes for one-timers at this time of year they’re so alert at hat they stop it. Those are not the ones that go in.
On Roloson’s confidence:
Since he’s been with us he has given us confidence that any game he could pull out a rabbit out of his hat. Tomorrow we’re hoping the rabbit is pretty big. We have all the confidence in Rolly. I felt bad for him last game, playing and well and it’s a shot like that that beats him. He’s the first guy that was disappointed for the team. It’s like that with every player. If you don’t play at your best for a moment, that’s all people hear about. If you look at the rest of the game, he played great. Tomorrow is a new day for him, for our defensemen, for our forwards. The one thing we want to do is put our team on the ice. We don’t want to freeze. The last two games we froze in the first half of the game. I know some of our guys are nervous and it’s the lack of experience. That’s one thing we have to change is that first period. We have to get guys less nervous.
On lineup changes with Downie going back in:
I’m going to put in a seventh defenseman.
On why he prefers playing seven defensemen:
I’ve been doing that for years now. There are a lot of reasons why I like it. One is if you’ve got high-end players, they love the tempo of it because they’re on the ice more often. You don’t have a fourth line anymore. You have an opening and St. Louis plays there, Lecavalier plays there, Gagne and Stamkos. It’s never the same guys so they don’t get tired, but they get more ice time. With seven D, a specialist can play on the power play. The minute you get a defenseman injured, or in the penalty box, or not playing well, then you don’t go down to five. You’re only down to six. If you’re in trouble if one forward goes down, you take that defenseman and play him at forward. That’s what I’ve found over the years as a good formula for the way I coached.
On what the team can do in 5-on-5 situations:
The last game we corrected one thing, we didn’t give them any scoring chances on the rush, which was a problem the previous game. We gave them 0 on the rush. We corrected that. They’ve been doing a great job of faceoffs in our zone. It’s been killing us. The Asham line is the line that is winning the series right now. They’re tough to handle. They work hard. They’re big boys. They’re quick to get to pucks. When you have big guys that are slow to get to pucks, that’s easier to handle. But big guys that are quick to get to pucks, they are hard to handle once they have it. They shoot from everywhere. They create chaos in your defensive zone. That’s what they’ve been doing those guys. We’ve got to do a better job against them for sure. And we have to do a better job with our faceoffs in our zone. That’s where they get their best scoring chances in the O zone.
On if he’s surprised by Asham’s play:
No, because every year that’s the series. Teams get guys that you never expect. They usually are the guys that grind it out. Sometimes it’s a fourth-line guy or third-line guy, second-line guy or first-line guy. It’s usually guys that battle so hard that they outbattle the opponent. Asham has been doing that. When you watch the clips it isn’t luck. He deserves what he’s getting.
Guy (T-1000) Boucher leading the troops on the ice
Bolts gather for a lecture. Today's topic: Kierkegaard's influence on the early period of Existential Philosophy.
St. Louis (left) speaks softly, but carries a big (yellow) stick
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...
On the lineup changes with Kunitz’s return:
Chris will return to his spot with Staal and Kennedy. I will go game-time with the rest of the lineup.
On Crosby’s status:
He continues to do the prescribed off-ice treatment from his doctor. Today he’s just working out off the ice.
On Asham raising his play in the playoffs:
I’m not sure what happens and why that is exactly. When you look at success in the playoffs, teams that win hockey games you see people pop up and be the hero of the game in a meaningful way that you might not make note of in the regular season. Arron scored five goals for us this year. He’s on a good tear for himself right now in the postseason. Our team is trying to play a certain way and put ourselves in a situation where it could be any player that steps up, is the hero. We’ve had Arron Asham, Tyler Kennedy and James Neal the last game. It might be someone different next game based on how we play. That’s the important thing about having success in the playoffs you have to play a certain way, putting your team in that position and a chance to win. He’s been a guy that’s stepped up. James Neal last game, it’s easy to forget how many goals he’s scored in the last 20 games after the last game. We have to see that again to erase more of that. The playoffs are unique in that way. You have different heroes on different nights.
On giving the fourth line more minutes:
It’s not a temptation, it’s a need to get them more of an opportunity. You saw that in Game 3. We had a couple situations where our bench got shortened in the third period and we went to three lines. In the (overtime in Game 4) we were basically rolling four lines. Because of what the fourth line has been doing on the ice, they’ve earned that and earned more minutes and earned that opportunity. Not only have they earned the opportunity, but I’ve put them out in key situations after goals. In Game 1 they scored the second goal right away. Those are situations where the team needs momentum and a big shift. They are put out there to provide that. They’ve done that and have been a factor for us.
On why road teams have been successful:
I don’t know what the numbers were last year or the year before. In hockey, the records are indicative that home ice is a huge deal. We all want it. There are a lot of emotions in the building. In hockey being on the road in the playoffs isn’t a huge advantage all the time. Good teams can go on the road and be affective and win hockey games. I don’t have a good explanation for you.
On what scares him about Tampa:
Well I think Game 2 was a lot of the script they like to follow in terms of starting and being aggressive and being that team and their power play being effective for them. So Game 2 is a lot like their description look. Have they played their best? I’m not sure either team has. We’ve continued to try to do things. They’re effective at times, they’re dangerous in certain areas that we have to watch and we have been that way as well. But they’ve still been able to counter and do some things, and their skill guys have been effective and gotten big goals for them. So I expect them to play their best in this next game. I expect them to be dangerous, again from their skill players and what they can do and their ability to step up in games. Their power play is a very dangerous unit and a dangerous group, and that is part of their success as a team. It is something where you feel like you are doing a good job for 50, 55 minutes, but that’s not enough against players like this and a power play like this. In the overtime, there were not very many penalties in the game and then they get an opportunity. They’re putting out a real dangerous power play that could win the game for them with their skill and what they can do, and you sense that. We did win that game, but they had every opportunity to win as well with the things that they did well. So we still feel like we have to be at our very best and play our very best to have a chance and give ourselves a chance to beat this team. It’s not going to be any easier. You can see that in other games in the league. It doesn’t get any easier to win hockey games, and we have to be at our very best against what we know is a very dangerous team.
On the difficulty of trying to clinch a playoff series at home:
I wish I had an answer for you because my son has told me I’m 0 for closing at home. Home ice is something you want. You want your fans there and you want to be able to have that last chance at home. It doesn’t guarantee you success in a playoff game. You don’t get to move on until you win four. Neither of us have gotten to that number yet. But I am 100 percent confident that the Tampa Bay Lightning will fight and the Pittsburgh Penguins will fight until someone wins four.
On the different celebrations by coaches in the NHL:
I don’t have a real good answer for you. If I was in the uniform I would have rushed out there and jumped on James Neal. They win the games. Even after the series is over I don’t think there will be too much of a change in my demeanor either way. If you happen to see the video on PensTV coming down the aisle, there is pleasure in our team achieving that victory. We’ll leave that celebration to James Neal pounding the glass on the ice and the guys piling on than me than me jumping in a suit.
Assists: Michelle Crechiolo & Joe Prince-Wright
Here is today's Quote of the Day and Shameless Self Plug all in one comment. James Neal was asked if he saw his new commercial. Click here to view it yourself.
Great piece here from England's Joe Prince-Wright on Brooks Orpik setting the tone for the Pens in the postseason.
Sounds heard around the Southpointe locker room...
On sitting out the game:
It’s a tough game to watch, the emotions. It was great that our team pulled it off in overtime. There’s another game to play and we have to win one more to win the series.
On putting the team shorthanded:
I know I put myself in a bad situation and our team in a bad situation. It’s something I don’t want to do. It’s a learning experience to have a chance to watch, but we have to go out and play our best game of the series (in Game 5). We can’t let them creep back in and score some late goals like they have.
On jumping back in for an elimination game:
It’s got to be the biggest game of the series. It’s the hardest game to finish off a team. For whatever reason we haven’t been great at home at doing that. We have to really take a stand and have our best game of the series.
On going right back to playing with Staal and Kennedy:
They did a great job. Staalsy did a great job on the last goal that Neal scored. They had a great game. We have to go out and give ourselves the best chance to win, whatever line that may be on.
On the noon start for Game 5:
It changes your routine a little. Once you get to the rink everything starts to feel like a regular game. You get there two and a half hours before and start your routine.
On the possibility of his line getting broken up with Chris Kunitz’s return to the lineup :
It’s the playoffs. Whatever the coaches think is the best decision to win the game (Saturday), they’ll make the change. Obviously you can’t keep Chris out of the lineup even though we won last game. He’s a big part of our team and it will be good to get him back.
On his line’s chemistry:
We are guys that are battling hard, holding onto the pucks. They’re the kind of team that brings a lot of guys back in the corners, three to four at a time, and it’s battling for the pucks, managing it – it’s going to be huge (Saturday).
On Arron Asham’s play:
He’s playing great. He was hurt a little bit this year, so you didn't see the whole Arron Asham this year. But he’s playing some inspired, great hockey right now, which is good for our team and it’s fun to see him play like that.
On what it is about the playoffs that brings out the best in players like Asham:
Well, I guess when your two superstars are out, some guys have to score some goals. Right now, (Asham) has been doing it, I’ve been doing it, Tyler (Kennedy) has been scoring too. Every different night, there’s going to be a hero and it seems right now that (Asham) is the one who’s wearing the cape, so it’s fun.
On expecting the Bolts to start strong with desperate play:
You push a team to the brink like this, you expect their best. With them, they’ve been playing strong all series. It’s been tight games. They could have gone either way. We expect them to be desperate. We expect them to come out flying like they have.
On if the Lightning will take more chances and risks:
I sure hope so. Usually when teams start taking risks the offense opens up on our side of things. We believe in our system. We believe if we play that way we’ll get our offensive chances and hopefully drive our opposition into taking some chances and giving us some extra opportunities.
On raising their game to match the Bolts’ desperation:
There is room to go for us. We haven’t gotten to our best yet. We’ve played some good hockey for stretches. For a total of 60 minutes I don’t think it’s been as complete as we would like. There is another level for our game and I’m sure we’ll get to it come Game 5.
On if he expects the Lightning to take more chances:
Not right away. If we get up by a goal or two then they’ll start taking chances. They’re a team that plays solid defensively. I think they’ll come out and play the same game that they’ve been playing.
On expectations for the game:
Both teams have brought their A games through the first four. I would expect no different in this next one. We want to go out and dictate the pace of play, and not let them slow it down too much. And hopefully stay out of the box.
On the Lightning playing desperate:
We expect them to come out and keep playing the way they’re playing. They’re a good team. They come hard. We expect more of the same.
Perf: Michelle Crechiolo
"Walkin' on, walkin' on broken glass..." (left); Talbot and company (right)
Godard works on his ballet stride (right)
Neal & Tongue (left)
Jordan Staal (left); Asham, Rupp and Tangradi stare at Staal cause he's dreamy (right)
Kovalev works on his bad angle shots for the next OT game (left); Cooke hasn't lost the ability to laugh (right).
The Pens are going back to the same line combos from Games 1-3:
In the playoffs, history takes just one....and James Neal got that one.
Matt Cooke and Nick Johnson skated prior to practice. The rest of the group is out there now. No Crosby or Comrie today.
The Pens are on the ice for their 11 a.m. practce at Southpointe. The team had Thursday off, and is back in action Saturday for Game 5 of its opening round series against Tampa Bay in a noon start at CONSOL Energy Center.
Head coach Dan Bylsma talked to the media Thursday about a variety of topics. Also, Michelle Crechiolo broke down some of the mind blowing numbers from Game 4's double OT win.
Of course, the hero from Game 4 was James Neal with the winning tally from a bad angle. Listen to Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange make the call on Neal's winning goal.