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Penguins Report: Black and Gold Game Day

Monday, 09.19.2011 / 8:47 AM / Penguins Report
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins Report: Black and Gold Game Day



  • Orpik and Jeffrey not skating today as part of their normal rehab schedule (12:37 PM)
  • Team Gold line combinations (10:47 AM)
  • Team Black line combinations (10:10 AM)
  • Full rosters for each game group (9:30 AM)
  • Birthday boy Bylsma speaks (12:59 PM)

  • Kunitz, Fleury, Michalek and Lovejoy chime in on tonight's game (12:26 PM)

  • Lemieux and Shero watched the practices together (10:36 AM)

  • Practice photos (10:10 AM)

  • Non-game group at work (12:41 PM)




5:12 PM:

We've arrived safe and sound at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre. It's a great arena with plenty of character -- and lots of awesome photos of some of the current Pittsburgh Penguins during their time here.


Players and coaches waiting to go through security at the airport


Pens GM Ray Shero looking at the Wall of Fame (former WBS Penguins and staff)


Guess who? Bylsma (left) and Reirden (right)




Everyone chipping in to unload the bus





12:59 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma (whose birthday is today!!!)

Dan Bylsma

On if they’ll focus on power play or penalty kills tonight:
Power play. We’ll treat it as a regular exhibition game, so we will see the power play and the penalty kill tonight. It’s much like the other things where there’s a short amount of time and a fair amount of cramming going into the test taking. So each day is at three or four teams and today one of the teams is special teams, both power play and penalty kill.

On how he feels about the timing of the Black and Gold game:
Exhibition is different then the regular season and we try to treat every exhibition game as a chance to work as a special teams day. The other days we work on 5-on-5 and some other things, but a little slower moving, easier to practice. The focus for the first four exhibition games, including this one, will be special teams for that day, so those 5 days will be special teams focus.

On Steve MacIntyre’s willingness to defend teammates:
Steve was a guy that we have talked about for a couple summers, and we were interested in him. I think we want to play a physical game and we’re also aware that at times other teams may think that taking our stars off their game by playing physical or trippy is something that they may want to try to do. So we saw us last year, be a team that was gonna be there for each other, and he has clearly stated he’s a guy who brings that to a team and is ready, able, and willing to do that. He scares me when I’m in a room with him.

On what he looks for in chemistry between two players:
Chemistry, I think, years ago had a different connotation then than it does now. With less coaching, with less structure, chemistry is a real big thing. You need to know where people are going to go, you need to have a sense of what they expect on the ice, and what they need on the ice, and that still a viable thing to talk about. You still see that with players and you hear that with different players and different teams, they have great chemistry or because they’re twins they know where each other are, whatever the chemistry talk is. Knowing where people are on the ice and knowing where they are going to go is something that you should, that is built into a lot of the ways these teams play and the way we play. It’s hard to deny Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin, and (Steve) Sullivan on day 1. It’s hard to deny that they look real good together and they looked to be on the same page. They looked to compliment each other well and that’s a particular time when they’re not anywhere close to the set plays that they will be in a month from now. So we saw that chemistry right away. I think some good players know what other players need. If Sidney Crosby is playing with Evgeni Malkin, he knows he’s playing with a different player than Pascal Dupuis. He recognizes that and they have different chemistry than he does with Pascal Dupuis. That’s a player’s ability to read, know what players want and knowing what their strengths are, and also knowing where they’re going. Part of that’s chemistry and part of that’s team play as well.

On the coaching for the black and gold game:
I’m watching. It will be the Wilkes-Barre coaches against the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coaches. The black team is John Hynes and Alain Nasreddine, I believe. Last black and gold game the Wilkes-Barre coaches beat the Penguin coaches. There’s some sore feelings, Wilkes-Barre coaches are 1-0.

On Teemu Selanne coming back to the NHL:
Well with Teemu, I was disappointed to see that he was playing and not for us. He’s amazing at the age he’s playing at and how he’s playing. He was an awesome teammate, a superstar, and a wonderful guy to have on your team. I played with him for a number of years. It’s great to see him continue to play and at the level that he’s playing at.

On Ruslan Salei:
I played with him at center for 4 years. He was a very good teammate and a very good friend. He’s sharp witted, he’s got a sharp tongue, he’ll say anything to anybody and he says it with a head back and dry smile. He was a great teammate; he was also a great competitor. It was great to have him on your side of the ice. I always regretted seeing him on the other team, whether I was playing or coaching against him. I know his wife, I have not met his kids yet, he had them after we stopped playing together, but it’s a tragic thing and I really feel for their situation. I think of Ruslan often when I see other people and see some of those characteristics. It’s just tragic for everybody.

On if the effects of the plane crash illustrate the closeness of the hockey community:
I think the ties to family members, players, and coaches is amazing, as well people who played with the players, people who grew up, people who were coached by. I think it’s an amazing amount of people and almost every team in the NHL, so the ties are close and families, wives, know their families as well so I think it’s a huge tragedy for the hockey community. I think a lot of people are closely affected by it.



Goal: Kaitlin Zurawsky



12:41 PM:
Here's some pics of the non-game group practicing...


Crosby and assistant coach Granato (left); making a pass (right)


Waiting for a pass (left); Crosby shooting on Killeen (right)


Alex Grant (left); Craig Adams (right)



12:37 PM:
Quick update: Brooks Orpik and Dustin Jeffrey are not skating today because it's part of their rehab schedule. Nothing has changed with their respective statuses.



12:26 PM:
We caught up with a few more players after their respective practices. Here's what they had to say:

Chris Kunitz

On what he likes best about facing off against his teammates in the Black and Gold Game:
The camaraderie. You kind of have that competitive edge, you always want to beat your teammates and maybe rub something in on them once in a while. It’s partly just to go out and compete in kind of a safe environment, where you know you can make mistakes and maybe not have to truly pay for them in the regular season. You can watch a lot of the systems on both teams. Both guys can learn from sitting on the bench because we’re kind of running the same things on both sides. It’s a learning experience, kind of a refresher course for some of the veteran guys, but the new guys can watch and see what’s going on out there and understand that they’re both our systems, you just got to go out there and try to execute to the highest level.

On if he's looking forward to visiting Wilkes-Barre this year:
It’s nice to be able to give back. The fans that are in the group that supports the team, for a guy that’s played in the AHL, you know how that kind of molds your career and it’s the place where you started. So it’s nice to kind of go and give back. Their fans are passionate about hockey and it’s going to be a good game.



Marc-Andre Fleury

On what he likes most about intra-squad games like this one:
They’re always fun. We play together all season. For me, I face these players every day in practice and sometimes we yell at each other a little bit. So now to face them in a game and in a game situation, I think it’s always fun.

On if it’s good to go back and visit Wilkes-Barre:
Definitely. I played there for a little while, so it’s nice to have a chance to go back and see the fans again. Everybody was so nice to me down there, so it’s pretty cool.

On if this is a nice warmup for the preseason games:
I think so. I’m sure it will be high tempo and good hockey. It’s good to get back into it and we’re going to see some preseason games coming up soon. It’ll be a nice game to get ready for the season.



Zbynek Michalek

On looking forward to his first Black and Gold Game:
Definitely. It’s a good chance to get back into the game and a good test for everybody. It’s been a long summer, we’ve practiced a long time and it’s good to get back into a real game. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

On if he’s been to Wilkes-Barre before:
I’ve been there, yeah, when I played in the American Hockey League. I was there once or twice.

On if this is a good warmup for the preseason games:
It’s a good start to the preseason, to play an inter-squad game like this where we can get back into the game rhythm that we know and get ready for Wednesday’s real preseason game. It’s good for everybody.

On if there are any teammates he’s looking forward to shutting down:
(Laughs) no, I don’t know really. I’m just trying to play my game and hopefully play well.



Ben Lovejoy

On playing the Black and Gold Game after a full season with Pittsburgh:
I’m very much looking forward to it. I spent three great years in Wilkes-Barre and I have nothing but good things to say. I think back fondly of my time there and I’m really excited to go back now that I’m a different kind of Penguin.

On what he likes most about intra-squad games like this one:
Most guys here are fighting for a job, and everybody is giving everything they have. This isn’t a Feburary game. Guys are excited to show what they can do. They’re always difficult games to play in, but they’re very exciting.

On visiting Wilkes-Barre:
I definitely am. I’ve been getting lots of texts and Facebook messages; people are excited that everybody is coming. I am excited to go back and play there too.



12:12 PM:
Evgeni Malkin was asked after practice if he's going to be participating fully in tonight's Black and Gold exhibition match or easing back into game action.

He responded with, "I think I’m ready. I talked to coach and (athletic trainer Chris Stewart) and he said I need to play now, because it’s not a long time now (until the start of the season). I’ll just play a scrimmage now, maybe a couple more preseason games and we’ll see what’s going on. It’s good timing."

That's positive news. Here's the rest of what 'Geno' had to say:

On if he likes playing with four forwards on the power play:
Yeah, we used four forwards before. I played D a couple of times. It’s not bad. It’s two righty shots and three lefties. It’s not bad because everyone has great shots. Kris Letang has a great one-timer. We’ll see what goes on tonight. If it’s not good, maybe we’ll change.

On if it’s an umbrella formation:
We use the umbrella all the time. We have time before the season to change the systems a couple of times if it does not work. We have time. We just got to get used to it because it’s a little bit new.

On how he feels after a few days of camp:
Yeah, my knee feels good. I feel like I’m in good shape. We’ll see tonight, because it’s good timing to play a game. I’ll play hard.

On playing against his teammates:
We have four great lines. Of course it’s just a scrimmage game, but everyone wants to play hard tonight and show coach how they play. Everyone will play hard.





11:38 AM:
The non-game group is now on the ice for their skate.



10:47 AM:
Team Gold has gotten into their lines:

Neal-Malkin-Sullivan
Dupuis-Letestu-McDonald
Gibbons-Sill-Veilleux
Kuhnhackl-Vitale-Walker



10:36 AM:
Pens owner and legend Mario Lemieux is in the stands watching practice with general manager Ray Shero. Pretty awesome.





10:31 AM:
Team Gold has taken the ice for their skate. We'll post lines as soon as we have them.



10:10 AM:
Photographic evidence of Team Black at work:


Williams (left) and Sneep (right) lining up for shots


Head coach Dan Bylsma gathers the troops (left); Cooke hustling (right)


Michalek following the play up ice (left); The man himself, Billy Guerin, and Williams (right)


Bylsma explaining a drill (left); Engelland having a laugh (right)



9:42 AM:
These are the lines coach Bylsma has Team Black skating in:

Kunitz-Staal-Williams
Cooke-Park-Kennedy
Tangradi-Lerg-N. Johnson
MacIntyre-Craig-Thompson



9:30 AM:
Good morning everyone! It's much emptier here at CONSOL Energy Center this morning, as there are no more open practices for the remainder of Penguins training camp. It was a fantastic turnout this weekend by the fans, and hopefully we'll see a lot more of you tonight.

That's because we're heading to Wilkes-Barre later this afternoon for the Black and Gold Game, which is back this year after last being held in 2009. It's the intra-squad scrimmage that will be held at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, home of the WBS Penguins. So stay tuned for all of the coverage throughout the day!

Tonight's game will be broadcast on Pittsburgh Penguins 24-7 Radio right here on our website, so make sure you tune in to hear Phil Bourque and WBS Penguins play-by-play announcer Tom Grace call all of the action.

MONDAY'S ITINERARY:
Black: 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. practice
Gold: 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. practice
Non-game group: 11:30 a.m. practice

BLACK:
Matt Cooke
Ryan Craig
Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury
Scott Harrington
Nick Johnson
Tyler Kennedy
Chris Kunitz
Bryan Lerg
Steve MacIntyre
Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen
Richard Park
Carl Sneep
Jordan Staal
Brian Strait
Ben Street
Eric Tangradi
Brad Thiessen
Paul Thompson
Jason Williams

GOLD:
Simon Despres
Pascal Dupuis
Brian Gibbons
Brent Johnson
Tom Kuhnhackl
Kris Letang
Mark Letestu
Ben Lovejoy
Evgeni Malkin
Paul Martin
Colin McDonald
Joseph Morrow
Scott Munroe
James Neal
Alexandre Picard
Philip Samuelsson
Zach Sill
Steve Sullivan
Keven Veilleux
Joe Vitale
Geoff Walker

NON-GAME GROUP:
Arron Asham
Craig Adams
Sidney Crosby
Brandon DeFazio
Alex Grant
Patrick Killeen
Joey Mormina
Brooks Orpik
Dominik Uher

For the complete training camp schedule, click here. The 55-man training camp roster can be downloaded here.

And for all of the updates from Sunday's practices and scrimmages, click here for yesterday's Penguins Report.
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