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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Ottawa

Friday, 11.25.2011 / 9:50 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan




1:50 PM:
It's brother vs. brother tonight as Zbynek Michalek goes against his bro Milan. Meesh talked to the two about going head-to-head in a unique matchup.





1:45 PM:
Pens center Evgeni Malkin's image graces the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine with a good cover story. Click here to read the piece.






1:37 PM:
Steve Mears is to the Verizon Game Day Report what Walter Cronkite is to the evening news.






12:55 PM:
Sounds from around visitors' locker room...

Sergei Gonchar

On spending time with Malkin:
“Geno” and his girlfriend made a good meal for us and it was a good time.  Usually we have dinner together, not necessarily at home, maybe we’ll go out.

On if he has been impressed with Malkin’s season so far:
I worked out together with him. To me it seems like he is making that next step and maturing. He is more serious about his job. Last year, he didn’t have a successful season like everyone expected him to have, so obviously he was hoping to play better.

On training with Malkin over the summer:
He was mentally ready for it. He was willing to do whatever it took to make sure he was ready for the season. Every morning he was doing whatever Mike (Kadar) was telling him to do.

Let him go: Kaitlin Zurawsky



12:49 PM:
Senators pics...


The scene as noted in the 11:54 AM entry. Gonchar gets his skate fixed (left) while his teammates verbally alert him of their patience (right)


Coach MacLean's legendary mustache. He laughs at Bylsma's feable attempt at lip fur (left); Hydrate (right)
 

The Senators are a symbiotic team. Hard to tell where one player ends and another begins (left); Gonchar and company all smiles for the skate (right)



12:36 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On playing the Senators tonight:
The Senators are 3-1-1 in their last five games. Their power play is over 20 percent. That’s certainly a benefactor for them. Spezza has been very good with 20 points.  (Colin) Greening, (Stephane) Da Costa, and some other players have been factors for them offensively and we’ll be aware of. Sergei Gonchar is having a pretty good season for himself and has 14 points. (Erik) Karlsson is a very dangerous skater on the backend and is guy that we are going to be worried about both 5-on-5 and their power play. I think the most anticipated thing is the matchup of the brothers, the shutdown brother and the goal-scoring brother, so we’ll probably get to see that tonight over and over again.

On if the team will do anything different to focus on Gonchar:
Getting to the middle of the ice is one of the ways to minimize the effectiveness of a defenseman. Preventing them from getting up to the middle of the ice, especially if they are working to get to middle for their shot and/or opening up the space for their half wall guy, which they have a very good one. We are aware of what they are trying to accomplish and what they are good at and also we’ll be diligent in trying to prevent that from happening and that’s something that we see from other teams as well. We’ll try to keep “Gonch” away from them. His shot, it’s a good shot, but it’s also a shot that he gets through to the net and scores with, so we have to be aware of shooting lanes with him as well. It’s a tall task with the way the other options they have on the power play as well.

On deciding to go with Fleury since the game tomorrow is against Montreal:
Marc-Andre Fleury is starting in goal tonight. Sometimes records are a factor in that situation, but Marc is starting tonight.

On Joe Vitale’s role:
We had some more players back. We have Tyler Kennedy and Sidney Crosby come back and it’s made the competition in that spot and the role play in that spot maybe even more important. Faceoffs, penalty kill, those things have played a role in the competition there between Richard Park and Joe Vitale.



I'm gonna set you free: Kaitlin Zurawsky



12:31 PM:
Sounds from around the locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On playing a lot of hockey right away:
I kind of got into it right away and that’s kind of what I wanted. I think it will be good. You have to go through it to get used to it.

On if he is worried about getting more ice time:
I’ll see what the game brings. As far as myself, the more the better. I hope that I can handle it, but I don’t see that being a problem.

On why the team has had success against Ottawa:
I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve tried anything different or new. Sometimes it works out that way. I don’t think we’ve really tried to change anything. A lot of the times we’ve had to worry about ourselves anyways. I don’t think we’ve changed a whole lot.

On if he thinks this team has the potential to be the most successful team he’s played for:
I think we’ve got to prove that. I don’t think I can make a statement like that 20 games into the season. I know we definitely have a good team, but there is a lot of areas we need to get better in. I think that’s something, as time goes by, that we will realize what kind of team we are and when you go through challenges and adversity you see how everyone reacts. Up to this point we’ve played really well, but there is still room for improvement. I’m sure there is a lot of teams that feel like they have that special group, one that’s capable of winning. I think we are there, but there’s a lot we need to improve on.





Marc-Andre Fleury

On playing against Ottawa:
I’m looking forward to it; I think it will be a fun game. They have been playing some good hockey lately. The last five games have been good. It’s a challenge for us and we need to be ready from the start and get the two points.

On if he expects to play tomorrow:
I don’t know really. We’ll go with tonight first and see what the coaches decide.

On the challenge of playing against Sergei Gonchar:
He’s got a good shot. The guy’s have to be aware to where the players are at around the net. I think it’s going to be a good challenge.

On if there are other guys who present challenges for a goalie on the power play:
There’s a lot of good defensemen around the league that’s for sure. When Sergei was on our team he was always very calm, had a good shot, accurate and very hard. He can pass the puck, so they have to watch him that’s for sure.





Zbynek Michalek

On facing his brother, Ottawa’s Milan Michalek:
He had a great start and he’s playing well for their team. Their team is playing really good, they have a young team, right now they’re playing really good hockey so it’s going to be a tough night. We got to make sure we’re ready. We cannot take any team lightly in this league. Like I said, they are a young team but they’re playing hard every night.

On what has been the source of his brother’s success:
I watch pregame and he’s really good around the net, he’s strong, big guy, and he gets a lot of shots around the crease or deflections and rebounds. He’s really strong and he can skate too, score many ways. That’s why he’s so dangerous.

On if shutting down his brother will provide a good test for him:
He’s one of the better players in the league, especially this year he’s playing well and it’s going to be a challenge to stop him. Ottawa’s playing good hockey and it’s going to be definitely a big challenge. Like on the street (when we were kids).

On seeing him on Thanksgiving:
Yes, he came to my house and my wife cooked dinner. We had a good time. We hadn’t seen each other for a few months so it was nice to see him and talk to him for a little bit.



Walk out the door: Kaitlin Zurawsky




12:20 PM:
Pens pics...


Cooke and Malkin compare mustaches. Cooke > Malkin (left); Staal: "I mean, it was good. But I still like Muppets In Space better."


Johnson's wardrobe faux pas of mixing black, gold and blue (left); Johnson, Fleury and goalie coach Meloche discuss Yemem's future with the current power vaccum (right) 


MacIntyre, an avid hunter, keeps a knife in his skate in case he's ever attacked by a loose bear during practice. Always prepared (left); Fleury punches Letang in the skates on a breakaway. Cutting edge technique (right)


Sullivan: "So McCafe only gave me one cream instead of the two I asked for." #FirstWorldProblems (left); HC Bylsma: "And we are not moving from this spot until the person who stole my Easy Bake Oven returns it!"



11:54 AM:
Funny note on the Ottawa morning skate. Typically when a player is facing off against his former team, it is his duty to lead the team stretch and position himself at the center face off dot. That was Sergei Gonchar's duty today.

But before he led the stretch, Gonchar stopped to tie his skate by the bench. Of course, the Senators let him hear about the delay. "Come on Gonch!" "We're waiting for you Gonch!" "Let's go Gonch!"

When Gonchar finally got to the center ice dot, his teammates threw a puck at him. Just some good-natured ribbing from teammates.


Gonchar leading the team stretch



11:48 AM:
Pens coach Bylsma said Fleury will start in goal.



10:42 AM:
Pens morning skate lines...

Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Sullivan-Malkin-Neal
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Asham-Park-Adams

The D-men did full ice rushes.



10:35 AM:
All the Pens are accounted for on the ice, including Letang and Kunitz. Both players missed Thursday's practice for maintenance.




10:10 AM:
Hey, remember Martin Straka? The speedster was one of the most fun Pens to watch back in the late 90s-early 2000s. If you don't remember Straka, or want to take a trip down memory lane, check out this week's episode of Pens Vault.






10:00 AM:
Former Pen Sergei Gonchar and the Senators are in town. Michelle breaks down the squad here. And she gives the abbreviated version below.






9:45 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight the Pens will battle the Ottawa Senators.

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving (for our American readers anyway) and have recovered from the turkey and stuffing. The Pens did practice Thursday, with Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz missing the session with maintenance days.

Even though it is a little belated, here is a Happy Thanksgiving wish from Marc-Andre Fleury.




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Since today is officially "Black Friday," we'll open the day with a song by the Black Keys. Here is "Set You Free." Enjoy.

goo
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