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Penguins Report: 11/28/11

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 10:30 AM / Penguins Report
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Penguins Report: 11\/28\/11



  • Letang update (1:49 PM).
  • Letang missed the start of practice; joins teammates late (12:01 PM).
  • Crosby named NHL's 'First Star' (3:02 PM).
  • James Neal answers your questions via Twitter! (4:42 PM).
  • Pens' lines (11:21 AM).
  • Crosby responds to Sens GM Murray's comments (2:17 PM).
  • Happy birthday 'Flower' !!! (6:13 PM).
  • Bylsma on the recent coaching changes, third periods and roadtrippin' (3:00 PM).
  • Crosby on Brad Richards and players reacting to new coaches (2:57 PM).
  • Pens pics (12:06 PM).
  • "These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you…" (10:30 AM).




6:13 PM:
Happy birthday to Pens goalie and all-around awesome human being Marc-Andre Fleury, who turns 27 today!!! He said his fiancee baked him a chocolate cake yesterday, but other than that it's going to be a pretty normal day since they're on the road.



5:49 PM:
It's certainly been a busy Monday for all things Pens. The latest is that prospects Joseph Morrow and Scott Harrington were among the 41 players invited to participate in Team Canada’s final selection camp leading up to the 2011 World Junior Championships that will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, AB. Congrats to the two of them and best of luck!!!



4:42 PM:
The people asked...and James Neal answered!!! The Pens forward (@jneal_18) answered fan questions submitted via Twitter earlier this afternoon. PensTV put together the video for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!





3:02 PM:
Crosby's triumphant return to the lineup after a 61-game injury absence earned him the NHL’s ‘First Star’ award for the week ending Nov. 27. He tallied nine points (2G-7A) and a league-best plus-7 rating through 4 games to help the Pens to a 3-0-1 record during that time span. What a great piece of news to start the week!!!

PensTV put together an awesome highlight vid to commemorate the occasion...





3:00 PM:
Full coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...

On Kris Letang:
Kris was not on the ice today because he was seeing the doctor for his facial injuries. He got back on the ice and he seems to be doing fine. I haven’t spoken with him, but I think he got a pretty good skate in on the ice after the practice or at the end of practice. I think he’s doing fine right now.

On if they’ll need to recall someone:
We’re not under the impression that we’ll need to recall somebody right now.

On if it would be Alexandre Picard if they did:
He played well for us and certainly would be on the short list of guys to be called up.

On what he thinks of the hit to Letang:
I don’t know the player. I don’t know him and I don’t know necessarily what type of player he is in terms of if that’s how he plays the game or not. Just the hits should be judged with what they see and what they’re looking for. It’s certainly from a blindside. I know they’ve taken that out of Rule 48, but (Letang) is in a vulnerable position and I know the league is looking at it.

On the challenges for the new coaches of Washington and Carolina:
The challenges are whatever vision they have, whatever they’d like to see from their team, whatever they might want to do systematically – it’s going to take a fair amount of time for them to even start down that road and have the players understand what that is and how to do that. That’s the challenge. You’re trying to get your team to play a certain way or you want them to do certain things. It’s just not going to be there in a short amount of time. That’s the challenge. They usually do have the benefit of a surge in both energy level and attention level. I think you’re going to see that in both cases with Washington and Carolina when we do play them. That’s something they have in their favor when we play them. Really, to be able to try and dictate the game is even more important when you’re playing teams like that. If they don’t know maybe what they’re supposed to do or their structure is not clear, dictating and really forcing the issue with how you play can really try to take advantage of the situation. Conversely, you’re playing a team that is going to be charged up, ready to go. You’re playing a team that is going to be going down a different road. I think you can expect that from both those teams, both Washington and Carolina.

On if he heard or read the comments from Senators GM Bryan Murray on him and Bylsma:
I did. I was made aware of them, yes.

On his team’s success in third periods:
Especially in the game against Montreal, I think we didn’t change (our game) to get the comeback. We got down 2-1 and then 3-1 but there wasn’t a lot of change. There wasn’t chance taking. We didn’t make adjustments. We felt like if we kept playing and executing the way we needed to and play in the right areas of the ice, that we were going to get opportunities to come back in the game. I think we were real fortunate to get the goal by Pascal (Dupuis) with roughly four minutes to go in the second to get it back to a one-goal game. Our feeling was if we kept playing the right way, we would get those opportunities to come back in the game. We had to kill off a couple penalties in the third period which kind of thwarted the momentum that we had, and it took us out of our game a little bit. But we did have enough time to get back to it and we saw the great play from (Evgeni Malkin) to Jordan Staal for that goal. That really was a belief that hey, if we just keep doing the right things and playing the right way, that we can get the opportunity to come back in the game. Fortunately, we were able to do that.

On what he thinks of Boudreau’s firing with the history between the two teams:
I read it this morning and never feel good about seeing a coach in that position, regardless of who they are and what team they’re coaching for. I do think it’s certainly going to add a spark to the game coming up with their new coach coming in and us being an opponent shortly after Bruce getting fired. So I’m expecting it to really be a charged up and energized game.

On the road trip:
I like where we sit in our division right now and I like where we sit with the points that we have. I do also think we have a good challenge coming up with going into the Madison Square Garden and playing the Rangers. They’ve been playing very well. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us and maybe something we haven’t seen in terms of a big-time game. Then we come right back with a very good Capitals team, although their record hasn’t been what they’d like lately. But they’re still a very talented team, a rival team. It’s going to be a big game again. So some tests on the road that maybe we haven’t seen. Some good challenges for our team. We’ve gotten closer to full health, so it’s going to be a challenge for our team to be able to play some big games against some big opponents on the road.





2:57 PM:
Here's the full transcript of Crosby's chat with the media...

On the road trip:
It’s still a process and adjusting. To get that many games in for the first week is good. I feel like there were a couple there that were pretty intense, good ones to go through in the first week. I’m looking forward to a big road trip.

On seeing things coming together for the team:
It’s still early. There are a lot of things to improve on. We’ve done some good things and at the same time there is a lot we need to work on. The game is so detailed. There are things that you can’t expect to be there this early. Our focus and effort is in the right areas and that’s a good sign.

On what Richards brought to the Rangers:
He brings the same thing to every team he’s played on. That’s a pretty intelligent hockey player, good on the power play, great shot. He’s a complete player and will help any team he plays for. With the team that they have and games we’ve had against them, it should be pretty good hockey.

On facing teams with new coaches:
You always expect a team to be fired up with a fresh start, or new start. Guys want to make sure they earn the respect of their new coach. You can expect an excited and hungry team. It doesn’t really change what we have to do. We’re going on the road and playing teams that we expect to come out hard. If anything this will make us focus more on what we have to do.

On players taking blame for a fired coach:
Every situation is different, but that’s the way we felt. At the end of the day we are the ones out there playing. We need to win. If it takes that to happen sometimes that’s the case. Guys respond to that. Usually at that point the change happens and everyone tries to respond.



Big lights will inspire you: Sam Kasan



2:17 PM:
On Sunday, Senators GM Bryan Murray spoke out about Pens captain Sidney Crosby and his scuffle with Ottawa forward Nick Foligno in their game last week. (Click here for the SensTV clip of Murray; fast-forward to the 4:05 mark to hear his comments on Sid).

Here is Crosby's response:

On if he heard or read the comments from Senators GM Bryan Murray on him:
I heard about it. I mean, I think it’s getting blown way out of proportion. It’s ridiculous. It’s a play that happens in every game and I guess the fact that it’s me, it’s dissected and analyzed a hundred times more. I really think they’re making something out of nothing. If they want to keep kind of beating it around, they can, but I don’t have anything else to say about it. I think it’s ridiculous we’re still talking about it three days later, to be honest with you.

On it not being the first time Murray has made comments involving him:
He’s been doing that since my first year. That’s nothing new.



1:49 PM:
The reason Letang took the ice so late was because he was seeing the doctor for his facial injuries. For those of you that didn't know, Letang suffered a broken nose late in the third period of Saturday's game in Montreal when he absorbed a high hit from Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (who faced a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan today for it).

When Letang hit the ice, he did some skating and passing drills with assistant coach Todd Reirden to see how he reacted to his facial injuries, saying he "feels all right so far" save for some trouble breathing through his fractured nose. He'll talk to the doctors again Tuesday.

While Letang didn't confirm that he would be playing tomorrow night against the Rangers, saying "I hope so," Bylsma added, "We’re not under the impression that we’ll need to recall somebody right now."

Elaborated Bylsma:

"Kris was not on the ice today because he was seeing the doctor for his facial injuries. He got back on the ice and he seems to be doing fine. I haven’t spoken with him, but I think he got a pretty good skate in on the ice after the practice or at the end of practice. I think he’s doing fine right now."

Here's the full transcript of what Letang had to say about how he's feeling and the hit:

On how he’s feeling:
I feel all right so far. I have a problem breathing, but that’s part of it. I wanted to test it out there, see how I feel after. We’ll talk (Tuesday) with the docs.

On what he’s hoping to hear from the league about the Pacioretty hit:
I don’t know. They’re going to look at it. I don’t know how they’ll base the decision, but the league has been severe on those types of hits. I don’t know what they’re going to do, but it’s in their hands.

On if Pacioretty’s apology was enough for him:
Knowing the style that he plays, I don’t think it’s a guy that is looking to injure anyone on the ice. If he was sincere, I don’t know. But I think it’s a great gesture by him to come over. But is it enough? I don’t know.

On if he’ll wear a full face shield:
Yeah, once it’s fixed, maybe. But right now it’s all messed up, so it’s no big deal.

On if he’ll play Tuesday night:
I skated hard at the end with Todd. It’s just how I’m going to feel in the next hours and how I’m going to feel (Tuesday) morning when I wake up.

On if he took a baseline test after Saturday night:
No. Sunday was a day off, so I wanted to rest and see how I feel. This morning, I met the doctor for my nose and the doctor for the head.

On if he’s still cleared to play:
Yeah, I mean, we didn’t want to do the impact test. We wanted to see how I felt under hard work and see if I don’t get dizzy or anything like that.

On if he’ll take an imPACT test:
Yeah, I will probably. Yeah.

On if his head is pounding/if he has headaches:
There’s a lot of swelling in there, so a little bit, but it’s not an actual headache.

On players getting to tell Brendan Shanahan their side of the story:
I think he’s really listening to what you had in mind on the play and what you were seeing before you hit somebody, because on the ice, everybody knows we’re reading the play before we act. When I took that hit on Burmistrov at the beginning of the year, it was for a reason. We were pushing for a goal and so I was aggressive on the play. I didn’t let up. There’s tons of situations out there that you can explain to Brendan and he’s going to take the decision from there. So I think it’s important to talk to him.

On if he expects to play Tuesday:
I hope.





12:06 PM:
Pens pics for your viewing pleasure...


In practice, Fleury gets to score goals instead of stopping them (left); Geno practicing Flower's shootout move for avid hunter MacIntyre (right)


Speak of the devil: Mac stretching it out (left); Color-coded jerseys are the best...especially the forest green ones. Go State! (right)


Hopefully Sid is telling Flower "happy birthday," as it's Marc-Andre's 27th b-day (left); the always smooth skating Paul Martin (right)


TK and Dupuis practicing their shots


Orpik and Sullivan carrying their sticks onto the ice



12:01 PM:
Kris Letang just joined his teammates on the ice after missing the start of practice. Looks like we won't need to get an update from head coach Dan Bylsma after all.



11:21 AM:
I absolutely love it when the Pens wear their color-coded jerseys, which they're doing today. That means I've already got the lines for you:

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

Martin-Michalek
Niskanen-Engelland
(Orpik)



11:17 AM:
It took the Pens a little longer than usual to get on the ice. Coach Bylsma just blew his whistle to gather the troops for their first drill of the practice. Kris Letang is the only player missing from the skate.



10:30 AM:
Hello everyone! Welcome to a Monday edition of the Penguins Report. After taking Sunday off, the players are currently preparing to take the ice at Southpointe for an 11 a.m. practice. Afterward the team will board a flight to the Big Apple to continue their season-long four-game road stretch that began with an awesome 4-3 overtime win in Montreal on Saturday. The Pen will face the Rangers on Tuesday, the Capitals on Thursday and conclude the trip by taking on the Hurricanes on Saturday.

I accompanied a few of my co-workers to the Jay-Z and Kanye West "Watch the Throne" concert at CONSOL Energy Center last night, and it truly was an absolutely amazing show. The two performed for close to three hours and not only played their collaborations from their new album, but also a ton of their respective singles from their courses of their careers that had the crowd going wild all night. So in honor of the Pens playing in NYC tomorrow night and that being Jay-Z's stompin' grounds, I'm going to start the blog with a song he played last night: "Empire State of Mind." Enjoy!

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