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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Los Angeles (KC Edition)

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 9:15 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Los Angeles (KC Edition)

  • Williams, Jeffrey & Sullivan skate (12:25 PM).
  • Fleury to play full game & Picard has maintenance day (12:14 PM).
  • Pens/Kings lineups (9:45 AM).
  • Line combos (10:35 AM).
  • Tonight’s PP unites (10:49 AM).
  • “It’s a hockey night in Kansas City!” (9:30 AM).
  • Skate with Le Magnifique – for reals! (4:08 PM).
  • Dan Rosen likes Fleury, Pens (12:12 PM).
  • Coachspeak with Dan (12:15 PM).
  • Staal, Fleury and Morrow spit knowledge (12:06 PM).
  • Crosby is magical (1:16 PM). 
  • Pens pics (11:53 AM).
  • “I’m going to Kansas City. Kansas City here I come…” (9:15 AM).



4:08 PM:
Did you ever dream about skating alongside the greatest hockey player in the history of the universe? Well, unfortunately I'm retired. BUT you can skate with Pens owner/legend/god Mario Lemieux.

Click here for the details and don't miss this opportunity!!!





1:16 PM:
Ain't no practice like a Penguins practice cause...uh, nevermind... Here are some pics.


Letang (left) and Dupuis (right) work on saucer passes at practice


Not wanting to be left out of the drill, Munroe and Johnson also attempted saucer passes - though not with the same success rate oddly.


Crosby carries the puck towards the net (left) and POOF! the puck disappears (right). Goalie is confuced. Simply magical.


Dupuis carries the puck towards the net (left) and POOF! he turns into Crosby and scores!!! (right). Unbelievable displays of magic by Crosby. Goalie still shaking his head in awe. Even Criss Angel is perplexed.



12:25 PM:
Jason Williams is skating with his teammates for the non-game group practice. He's joined by Dustin Jeffrey and Steve Sullivan.

Here are the rest of the guys at practice:

Forwards
Dustin Jeffrey
Steve Sullivan
Jason Williams
Ryan Craig
Colin McDonald
Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham
Matt Cooke
Sidney Crosby

Defensemen
Kris Letang
Zbynek Michalek

Goaltender
Brent Johnson
Scott Munroe




12:15 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On if Fleury will play the whole game tonight:
The plan is for “Flower” to play the whole game tonight. We’ll probably split the next three games between Flower and (Brent) Johnson.

On if it will be interesting to play an NHL game in Kansas City knowing the Penguins almost relocated there:
I’m hoping what I hear is very close to a sellout crowd tonight to be pretty happy to see an NHL game and see LA and Pittsburgh play, and not have any hard feelings about us going there. It was a situation where it was really quite close to being that way, so we’re excited about going and excited about having a full building. I heard a lot about the new building there and I’m excited because fans that don’t get to see an NHL game in a capacity crowd will get to see two pretty good teams.

On the challenges that the Kings lineup presents tonight:
It’s not quite a full one, but they obviously do have some good players out there. We’re going to see a couple of their top centermen – (Mike) Richards and (Jarret) Stoll will be there. So their power play will also probably be close to full, with the exception of one or two guys. So we’ll see some of that for our penalty kill. The challenge is to keep getting better for everybody in the lineup, because the lineups are getting closer to what we’d see for the opening night roster. So the challenge for some of our younger players and some of the guys fighting for opportunities is going to be playing against some better players, and that’s always the challenge as you get into games 4, 5 and 6.

On if he’s happy with how the WBS players and new guys have been doing with the systems and set plays:
I think the WBS guys, in that case, have the best hand up on some of the new guys coming in. With a few of the new guys, every day something new gets introduced and they’re trying to log it back in the hard drive and commit it to memory. And we understand that’s a process and that they’re grasping a lot of different things and different terminology and different plays. That’s why we did a controlled scrimmage the other day, to get more reps and more situations. Hopefully – really by the end of this game and by the start of games 5 and 6 – all that stuff should be (memorized). We’ve gone over it once, twice or three times, we’ve seen video more than once and we should be getting pretty close to having that committed to memory. The challenge is memory and execution, and having to look right on the ice is the next step. That takes a little bit. But some of the head shakes and blurry eyes on the ice are going away and they’re getting it. We see it on the ice. Not in full form, but we see a lot of that on the ice.

On if there is potential for any of the junior defensemen to start the season in Pittsburgh if Brooks Orpik is not ready by then:
Right now, with Brooks not being on the ice and (Alexandre) Picard not being on the ice, it opens up possibilities for several other players to step into what would be a seventh role – or a sixth-seventh-eighth role – that they maybe didn’t think was there before. All those things are opening up and we’re seeing some players play more games as a result of that. Joe Morrow will get another game tonight. Brian Strait will get another game coming up here. Those are opportunities that they’ve earned with their play, but also because of some of the guys that aren’t on the ice right now.

On if Picard is a lineup decision or if he is injured:
He’s taking a maintenance day again.



Shorthanded goal: Michelle Crechiolo



12:14 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Fleury will play the entire game against Los Angeles and that Alexandre Picard missed his second day of practice due to maintenance days.



12:12 PM:
NHL.com's Dan Rosen is lovin' the Pens these days. First he picked them to win the Eastern Conference. Now he's picking Marc-Andre Fleury as his Vezina winner as best goalie.

Money Quote:
"Fleury not only deserves to be on that list of the League's elite netminders, he'll put himself at the top with another spectacular season, one that finally will be good enough to net the first pick of the 2003 Entry Draft the individual accolades he has worked hard to achieve.

"It's high time he becomes known as the NHL's best goaltender. It'll happen this season."





Assist: @amma8711



12:06 PM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Jordan Staal

On playing in Kansas City:
I’m still pretty happy we stayed here in Pittsburgh. It’ll be a fun, a new building. I heard there will be quite a few fans there. It should make for an exciting game.

On playing in neutral sites:
It’s just something different. It’s not the usual exhibition game. The fans may be new to an NHL exhibition game, which makes it exciting for a lot of the guys here.

On if he googled Kansas City during the rumors of the team moving:
I think I did once just to check it out. We were very close to moving and Kansas City was one of the favorites. It would have been weird. It would have been a whole different story. I’m glad we stayed here.

On playing with Kunitz and Kennedy:
Lines change up a lot during the season. We’ve played together before. We’ve done some damage. They’re two great players. I’m excited to play with them. Hopefully, everything goes well.




Marc-Andre Fleury

On playing in Kansas City after the rumors of the Penguins moving there:
It was a nervous time. I’m glad that everything worked out fine. We got the new rink and we’re still here today so I’m really happy about that. I think it will be nice to go check it out, see what it is like. I heard they built a brand new rink (Sprint Center) so it should be fun to play in.

On facing the Los Angeles Kings talented lineup:
I think it will be good. They’re a pretty good team. It’ll be a good challenge for us to see where we’re at.

On getting back into a groove in net:
I’ve only played two periods so far. I’m kind of looking forward to go a full game and get back into the swing. 




Joseph Morrow
 
On if he feels any extra pressure heading into tonight’s game:
No, I’m not really nervous about it. I’m grateful for every opportunity they’ve given me so far. It’s just another game. If it’s my last game, I’ll make it a good one, for sure. But if it’s not, I’m still going to play as hard as I can. So going into it, it doesn’t really matter if it’s my last game or not. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities while I’ve been here and I’ve had a great time, so I’m hoping it’s not my last game.
 
On if he’s proud of what he’s been able to do at camp so far:
Absolutely. I’ll be proud of myself for that. But I’m only as good as my last game, so it kind of changes and sets back to zero every game. I’m doing the best I can to stay as long as I can and make the most of this opportunity that they’ve given me. So I’m going to keep playing the way I am.
 
On how comfortable he feels with the systems after being here for so long:
It’s like the Pittsburgh Penguins is my team at the moment. All these systems fit in well with me and I understand everything that they’re going through with faceoff plays and all of their breakouts. I truly understand all of it. It means a lot, and it shows in the games that I know what I’m doing out there. They’ve taught me well. So yeah, all the systems work for me, definitely.

Assists: Michelle Crechiolo & Justin Criado



11:53 AM:
Picture time!


Park - 2 = Letestu (left); Letestu + 68 = Harrington (right)


Latest installment of the coach point (left); Neal and Martin discuss feng shui (right)


Fleury stretches it out (left); Martin skated the entire practice on one foot, pretty impressive (right)



10:49 AM:
Here are the PP combos:
Neal-Letestu-N.Johnson
Malkin-Martin

Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy
Niskanen-Morrow




10:35 AM:
Here are the line combos:
Tangradi-Malkin-Neal
Kunitz-Staal-Kennedy
Park-Letestu-N.Johnson
MacIntyre-Vitale-Adams

Lovejoy-Niskanen
Martin-Morrow/Engelland
Strait-Harrington



10:25 AM:
All the players listed in the lineup below are on the ice for the morning skate at CONSOL Energy Center.



9:45 AM:
There will some pretty good talent on the ice at Sprint Center this evening. The Kings are dressing Pittsburgh favorite Mike Richards, as well as Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner, Trent Hunter, former Cup-winning Pen Rob Scuderi and goalie Jonathan Quick.

The Pens' lineup will feature Jordan Staal, James Neal, Tyler Kennedy, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Here are the full lineups for Tuesday nights contest:


PENGUINS

Forwards
10 Mark Letestu
11 Jordan Staal
12 Richard Park
14 Chris Kunitz
18 James Neal
25 Eric Tangradi
27 Craig Adams
28 Nick Johnson
33 Steve MacIntyre
46 Joe Vitale
48 Tyler Kennedy
71 Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen
2 Matt Niskanen
5 Deryk Engelland
6 Ben Lovejoy
7 Paul Martin
37 Brian Strait
70 Joseph Morrow
78 Scott Harrington

Goaltenders
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
39 Brad Thiessen


Los Angeles Kings

Forwards
10 Mike Richards
13 Kyle Clifford
14 Justin Williams
17 Ethan Moreau
22 Trevor Lewis
23 Dustin Brown
25 Dustin Penner
28 Jarret Stoll
47 Trent Hunter
48 Andrei Loktionov
71 Jordan Nolan
74 Dwight King

Defensemen
2 Matt Greene
3 Jack Johnson
7 Rob Scuderi
27 Alec Martinez
44 Davis Drewiske
76 Slava Voynov

Goaltenders
32 Jonathan Quick
45 Jonathan Bernier




9:30 AM:
“It’s a hockey night in Kansas City!”

Though it’s only for one night, at one time in history there was a legit possibility that the Penguins could have moved to KC permanently.

It’s hard to imagine now, but a dark cloud hung over the Penguins franchise even after Hall of Fame legend Mario Lemieux resurrected it from bankruptcy. In 2006, with the Penguins struggling to find funding for a new arena, the city of Kansas City began courting the organization. Kansas City built a brand new arena, the Sprint Center, a dangled the carrot in the Penguins’ eyesight.

Ultimately, thanks to the contributions of many, the financing and construction of CONSOL Energy Center prevented any such occurrence, ensuring the Penguins would remain in Pittsburgh.

But what if Marty McFly and Doc Brown disrupted the space-time continuum and altered history? What if the present became an alternate reality in which Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange opens every game with, “It’s a hockey night in Kansas City!”

Luckily it is something Penguins fans will never have to worry about. But it is worth reflecting upon and being grateful for the brand-new rink in Pittsburgh. When the puck drops tonight between the Penguins and Los Angeles Kings at Sprint Center, it’s hard not to think about what could have been.

On this night, it will be a hockey night in Kansas City. But thankfully following the game the Penguins will return home to city of Pittsburgh – where they belong.




9:15 AM:
Tonight in their third preseason game the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle the Los Angeles Kings at Sprint Center in Kansas City.

So we’ll kick off the day in fitting fashion with “Kansas City” as performed by an all-star lineup of Paul McCartney, Elton John, Phil Collins, Sting and Eric Clapton.
 



PS - this is my favorite time of the day. The early morning before practice and before the rest of the media shows up. I get to sit alone in the media box, listening to music, reading the latest NHL news and glancing up at the beautiful ice at CONSOL Energy Center.

Life is good.
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