Penguins Report: (Preseason) Game Day vs. Chicago
Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 10:00 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
- Pens' roster gets shortened (4:00 PM).
- Steve Mears brings you the lowdown on tonight’s game (1:09 PM).
- Pens-Hawks lineups (10:00 AM).
- Pens lines (10:32 AM) and D-pairs (10:46 AM).
- Pens PP units (10:41 AM).
- Jeffrey getting better and better (12:21 PM).
- Williams late scratch – McDonald in (11:44 AM).
- Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma (12:50 PM).
- Adams, Tangradi and Strait spit knowledge (1:21 PM).
- Pens are jinxed this season (12:24 PM).
- Pens pics (12:10 PM).
- “This one laughing quietly underneath my breath…” (9:45 AM).
The Pens cut their roster by 13 players. Notable names: Simon Despres, Philip Samuelsson and Carl Sneep.
Sounds heard around the locker room...
On playing against another team for the first time this year
It’ll be good. I sat out the last couple so it’ll be fun to get in there and get some work.
On how he’s feeling going into preseason play:
I feel 100 percent. I felt good out there this morning so I’m excited.
On what he’s going to work on this preseason:
I honestly try to think about how I’m trying to make the team and I’ve got to play as well as I can. So that’s how I think about it. To me I don’t treat it any differently than a regular season game.
On if the competition is pushing everyone:
I would think so, yeah. We’ve got so much depth in here and so many guys who could be here. So there’s certainly a lot of competition for spots and for ice time.
On his health after the concussion:
No (symptoms). That’s totally in the past. That’s not even in my mind right now. I haven’t had a setback since I came back in playoffs last year so I feel 100 percent and just focused on trying to make the roster right now.
On what he’s trying to do to make the roster:
With a guy like me, I really can’t do too much. I’ve just got to play a north-south game, get to the net and be physical. It’s a very simple game, but with my size and my frame it’s what they want me to do, and that’s what I’m capable of doing. So I’ve just got to simplify my game and do the little things right.
On if he kicks it up a notch during the entire camp:
Absolutely. You’re basically trying to play a game every time you’re here even in practice. You’re competing every single day. That’s the best part of training camp. I can say I didn’t really get off to the greatest start I had hoped I could. But there’s a lot of days left, and this is my first opportunity to play against another team and to show my stuff tonight.
On the chance to finally hit someone other than his own teammates:
Yeah, I know I’m real excited. That’s kind of my game, to be physical. You try to get into it in the Black and Gold Game, but at the same time those guys are your teammates and you don’t want to do anything too bad. This first exhibition game is really a chance for me to really show how I play. Play physical, be in guy’s faces and kind of shut down top players. Be really good with my stick and play smart. I think that’s something I’m real excited to get going here.
On the limited opportunities to prove himself in the preseason:
That’s how it is every year. You only have one chance and that’s all you’re hoping for. If you do well hopefully you get another chance, and that’s just what I’m working towards. I’ve just got to show what I can do with my first chance here and hopefully I get another chance coming down.
On the competition motivating him:
I’m motivated every year. It’s the NHL – if you’re not there, you’re motivated to get there. It’s tough competition. It is every year, and that’s how it’s always going to be so you get used to it after a couple of years. You’ve just got to concentrate on what you do good and hopefully you can do it to the best of your abilities and stand out.
Assist: Justin Criado
Here's your game day report from PensTV and the omnipresent Steve Mears. He brings you the lowdown on tonight's game, and he brings it to you with class.
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma:
On player situation:
In terms of a status update on players. Players not playing in the game tonight all have a day off today. Jason Williams was scheduled to play in the game, but is being held out as a precaution due to an injury situation. It’s just precautionary that he’s being held out today.
On if Williams will be replaced:
Yeah, I think we’ll replace him (laughs). Colin McDonald will replace him in the lineup.
|Coach Bylsma answers reporters questions.|
I disagreed with the first boarding call in the game than I did that boarding call. In this particular case, our player did a poor job of putting himself in that situation. It was clearly from the numbers and put him in a pretty difficult spot with the hit and using the boards, that’s along the lines of boarding in the rulebook. I was looking for that arm to go up when the hit was made.
On Nick Johnson:
I think Nick Johnson has been very impressive with the opportunity to this point. He was impressive in his testing. He was impressive in his skating, his practices have been very good. He’s looked very good on the ice skating-wise, getting his shot off, doing some of the things he can do. He’s won battles, been aggressive in that regard – winning battles, taking pucks to the net, winning wall plays. A lot of the areas where he can show he can be a factor. He’s going to get an opportunity tonight and a pretty good opportunity playing next to Jordan Staal. He’s going to get a very good opportunity tonight to continue to impress in that regard. That’s what he’s got to do. He’s a guy who can skate, he’s a bigger body, he can play a physical game, he can drive to the net, he’s got a good right-hand shot which he can score goals with. Those are things we’ll look for him to be able to continue to do with his opportunity tonight.
On the pace and intensity of the first preseason game:
Day 5 of training camp is usually a pretty hard day for the players. Their bodies are starting to get worn down a little bit and I thought the pace of the Black and Gold Game was extremely high and I thought the Red Wings came out pretty hard in that first 10 minutes of the game. The pace was high. If you weren’t prepared for it, things were going by pretty quickly. It was a pretty good game. There was some physicality to the game. I thought there was pretty good execution that we saw as well. that was a pretty good test in the first exhibition game for our players.
On if the shape of the players helps them start camp stronger:
I think in the last five years or so with training camps shorter and games starting earlier, you’re coming in with the mindset that you have to be ready and at that level right off the hop, right from Day 1. Some teams play in an exhibition game in the third day of camp. That’s a tall test. Players expect that they have to be at their best right off the hop and ready to go. I think that’s carried over. The Black and Gold Game that we had was exceptionally fast for an intra-squad game. The first two periods of that game was well executed and was fast. You saw that on both sides of the ledger. It was a real good hockey game. In the first exhibition game against Detroit you saw that as well.
On Joe Vitale’s faceoff prowess:
It’s an area we have tried to get better at, both in personnel and in technique. We haven’t been as effective as we’d like to be. You can do that by getting better or personnel. Joey V last year won 63 percent of his draws. He’s been very good in Wilkes-Barre and his draws and percentage there. It’s something he can come in and do and be a factor. It’s something he can make a statement with. Mark Letestu was good last year, a little over 55 percent last year. He’s also a right-shot guy that ‘s looking to establish himself in the circle that can be a guy to send out and win draws as well. Joey V did a great job last night. He showed his speed and physicality. Being good in the circle, especially on the PK, is something that we need to get a lot better at. We were 38 percent on PK faceoffs last year. A guy who can PK and win draws on the right side will be a big factor.
On goaltender formula:
We will use the same formula. Brent Johnson will be getting two periods. Munroe will come in to get the save.
On Chicago’s lineup:
They seem to have brought a more physical, gritty lineup to the game tonight. They have a handful of players that bring physicality, and some sandpaper to the match. Some of them in different categories of grit and physicality, but we did notice that. We have a lineup that’s got some physicality as well. I expect a little bit more of that tonight than last night. We share lineups so we were well aware of what the situation is. We’ll be prepared to play our game. That game is fast, physical and aggressive and in your face. We’ll see how that plays out.
On Eric Tangradi:
There is a lot of competition right now for the role Eric Tangradi is trying to show he can play. We’ve mentioned Nick Johnson. Colin McDonald played last night. Types of players that are really competing for that spot on our team. There’s been some good competition there. Some players have distinguished themselves in different days, scrimmages and the Black and Gold Game. Eric is going to get that opportunity tonight to do that for himself. The group of five or six or seven, I’m not sure Eric has pushed himself to the top of that group just yet. We’re five days into training camp. He didn’t participate yesterday. So today he’s going to get a chance to make a statement with the game. He’s going to have a test against Chicago tonight.
NHL.com's Dan Rosen and EJ Hradek pick the Pens to win the East. Totally jinxed the team.
Dustin Jeffrey skated with the morning skate squad. Although he isn't ready for game action yet, he did talk about the progression of his knee.
On his injury:
It’s coming along pretty well. From the start of camp until now it’s gotten better. I’ve gotten more confident in it. It’s just a matter of time now before I can start getting more and more into drills. Hopefully I’ll get into a preseason game and go from there.
On playing in the preseason:
I don’t think I’ll be playing tonight. But it’s coming in the future, hopefully soon.
During practice right now we’re not eliminating anything. The thing that bothers my injury the most is when I spend over an hour on the ice. The only thing we’re limiting right now is time. But during the practices I don’t think there are any limitations right now.
We’ve done all the drills. There has been some (contact), but not up to the level of a game type of atmosphere yet.
In the preseason teams usually practice in the morning in their respective home city and fly to the visiting rink after. So the Blackhawks are not yet in Pittsburgh. However, the Pens are and here are some pics from their morning skate.
Matt Cooke practices his sliding snap shot (kind of life the fading jump shot).
Letestu guards the water bottles (left)
Staal and Kennedy spent the first few minutes of practice working on their shot
TK on the tip-drill (left); Cooke crashes the net on a power-play drill (right)
Dustin Jeffrey (right) practiced with his teammates
Jason Williams left practice early and head coach Dan Bylsma said he will be held out of Thursday's game as a precaution. Colin McDonald will replace him in the lineup.
The defensemen skated in the following pairs:
The Pens are using forward Jason Williams on the point on the top power play unit. Below are the two PP units that worked:
Here are the forward lines for tonight's matchup:
The six D rotated throughout the rushes.
The players are all on the ice for their morning skate. All of the game day players are accounted for, plus center Dustin Jeffrey has joined them.
Here are the lineups for Thursday nights contest:
10 Mark Letestu
11 Jordan Staal
24 Matt Cooke
25 Eric Tangradi
27 Craig Adams
28 Nick Johnson
33 Steve MacIntyre
38 Colin McDonald (late addition)
42 Keven Veilleux
48 Tyler Kennedy
51 Zach Sill
69 Bryan Lerg
4 Zbynek Michalek
5 Deryk Engelland
6 Ben Lovejoy
37 Brian Strait
54 Alexandre Picard
78 Scott Harrington
1 Brent Johnson
30 Scott Munroe
13 Daniel Carcillo
23 Brett McLean
29 Bryan Bickell
37 Brandon Pirri
43 Brandon Saad
49 Christopher Didomenico
52 Brandon Bollig
58 Byron Froese
59 Rob Klinkhammer
65 Andrew Shaw
67 Michael Frolik
72 Peter Leblanc
6 Sean O'Donnell
8 Nick Leddy
20 Sami Lepisto
32 John Scott
42 Shawn Lalonde
46 Joe Lavin
56 Brian Connelly
30 Ray Emery
53 Alexander Salak
The Penguins got the preseason going in the right direction with a 3-2 victory over Detroit Wednesday night at CONSOL Energy Center. Center Evgeni Malkin was the star of the show with a goal and assist (not to mention some dazzling work with the puck). The team also got some great contributions from 2011 first-round pick Joseph Morrow, and Matt Niskanen makes an early claim for the 5-7 D-spot.
Thursday night the Penguins continue their Western Conference Central Division tour by hosting the Chicago Blackhawks.
On a side note, Wednesday the band R.E.M. announced that they are "calling it a day."
"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." R.E.M.
R.E.M. was around for 31 years and produced a lot of hits: "Losing My Religion," "Everybody Hurts," "What's the Frequency Kenneth?" But my favorite of theirs is "Nightswimming."
So we'll start the day with a soothing live performance of "Nightswimming" for the close of a long career. Enjoy.