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Penguins Report: Game Day at Washington

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 9:26 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan

  • Meesh brings you the Game Day Report (2:01 PM).
  • Fleury starting; nothing new on Letang & Michalek (1:08 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:32 AM).
  • Despres called up, to make NHL debut (10:15 AM).
  • Goin off the rails on a crazy train (10:55 AM).
  • Crosby with the quote of the day (1:29 PM).
  • Pens vs. Hunter (10:45 AM).
  • Scouting the Caps (9:40 AM).
  • Caps lines (10:32 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Caps, Despres and more (1:13 PM).
  • Crosby & Despres spit knowledge (1:11 PM).
  • Letang on the Radio Rewind (11:00 AM).
  • Pens pics (4:15 PM).
  • “I'm very optimistic that we'll see Sid...SCORE!!!…” (9:30 AM).



4:15 PM:
Pens pics...


Following the night, penguins washed up on the shores of Verizon Center (left); Cooke with a solid hit on Neal. These guys mean business (right)


Fleury looks right while Crosby goes left. Puck in net (left); Adams flashes his "mischevious" face (right)


Niskanen bows to his holiness, asst coach Reirden. PS - check out MacIntyre with the hook/slash in the corner. That's is clearly not legal #busted (left); Underneath the center ice dot a treasure is buried containing the contents of Capone's Vault (right)


Richard Park skated with the 4th line at the morning skate (left); Simon Despres will make his NHL debut tonight (right)




2:01 PM:
Meesh wrapped up all of today's news into one nice little package:





1:29 PM:
As today marks the first day of December, all of the Pens came to the rink this morning with clean upper lips after shaving off the mustaches they grew for November in honor of "Movember." ... All of the Pens, that is, except for captain Sidney Crosby – who's currently on a three-game point streak. We're not saying he's superstitious, but...

ROOT SPORTS' Dan Potash asked Sid following today's morning skate if he's keeping the mustache because of his point streak. Sid's response (with a sly grin...)






1:13 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the lineup:
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net. Simon Despres, who was called up, will play tonight. The rest will be game-time decisions.

On the Capitals:
You always circle on the calendar and know when you’re playing the Capitals. This is our first one here in this building this year. They have a coaching change, Hunter coming in. They’ve only played one game under him. It’s tough to know what to expect from their team system wise. But we know we’re playing a good team. We’re playing Alexander Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin. We’ve seen them on the power play. We know how dangerous they can be. We’re expecting an energized team, a tough, hard-fought game between two good teams, two rivals. It’s a tough building to play in.

On the team’s record against the Caps:
I wish it was better. I wish it was different. I know three or four of those are OT games and shootouts are in there. It’s been worse on home ice for us against the Capitals and that’s not a good thing. We’re playing a great team. They’ve given us problems. That’s what we’re anticipating again. There’s nothing more I’d like to do than changing that record around with a win.

On looking at this game as a fan:
I don’t approach the game as a fan. We’ll see some replays and highlights. We’ll see if (Crosby and Ovechkin) bump into each other by the benches like they did two years ago. We’ll see that over and over again. They’re two of the more dynamic players in the game. Two good teams going together. There will be an aspect that you’ll enjoy. For us it’s always a test against a great team and measure ourselves with. Regardless of the situation we’re seeing it as that coming into this game.

On what to expect from Despres:
He is slated to play on the second (power play) unit. That’s not a whole ton of time on the power play, but he is slighted to be out there on the second unit. He’s played 10, 11 games in exhibition.  I know he’s more than capable of playing in a lot of different situations. He’s playing good defense, going back for pucks and making plays, being confident in those situations. He’s had two months of being a professional and developing. I’m confident he could be in a lot of situations. He’s starting the game with Bortuzzo as a partner, but you’ll see him with different pairings throughout the night and different situations. This is an opportunity with this game and the next game for Simon to show what he can do. I think it will be more than playing just 10 minutes of hockey. He’ll be in a lot of situations.

On new news on Letang and Michalek:
Not yet. It’s been 24 hours. Over the next 24 we may know more.





1:11 PM:
Sounds heard around the visitors locker room...

Sidney Crosby

On keeping the mustache:
I just decided to keep it. I couldn’t find a razor.

On the Capitals for first time since Winter Classic:
I haven’t thought about that. I’m just looking forward to playing against them. It’s always an intense game. They’ve got a new coach so they should be fired up and ready to go. I think both teams bring out the best in one another. It should be another good one.

On facing a team with a new coach:
Any time you get a new coach everyone is trying to impress him and earn their ice. That’s pretty common no matter what team it is. I expect no different from them. I don’t think they need any extra motivation. It’s always a big game.

On if there are still parts of his game he needs to improve on:
Yes, I still think I can get better with timing and stuff like that. I think with each game it’s gotten better. I don’t expect to be there in five games. I expect to get better with each game in certain areas. Some things have been like that, others take more time. I’m happy with the way I feel for the most part.




Simon Despres

On playing his first game:
I’m very excited. I’m very nervous. I’m happy.

On playing the Capitals:
It’s going to be a good challenge. I hope to do my best for the team.

On if he knew he would be called up:
No clue. I didn’t think I would be called up since Picard and Bortuzzo just got called up. It was a surprise. I am excited though.

On his game;
I’m working on the system and I’m getting better every game down there.

On what to show in his first game:
I’m going to keep it simple, play physical, have a good first pass and try not to make many mistakes.

On being patient for a call up:
It was hard, but I kept working hard every day. I thought if I worked hard everyday then it would happen. I’m very happy about it.






1:08 PM:
Pens coach Bylsma said Fleury will be starting in net, Despres will see some power play time on the second unit and there isn't any new news on the conditions of Letang and Michalek.




11:32 AM:
Pens are in their lines at morning skate. Here are the combos:

Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Sullivan-Malkin-Neal
Cooke-Staal-Kennedy
Asham-Park-Adams
(Vitale, MacIntyre)



11:00 AM:
It's Thursday, so it is time for the Pens Radio Rewind. In this week's segment we talk to Kris Letang following his game-winning OT goal in Montreal on Saturday.





10:55 AM:
As noted yesterday, the Pens took the midnight train to Washington from New York. Pics are here, and video of the trip is below. A big thanks to ROOT SPORTS for the footage and Lowell MacDonald.






10:45 AM:
The Pens-Caps rivalry is already one of the best and most heated/intense in the NHL. That will only get better with Dale Hunter being named head coach. Let's just say, Hunter has a history with the Pens.

Here are some touching moments in Pens history with Hunter to jog your memory. Or if you're too young, to give you an idea of how much Pens fans dislike Mr. Hunter.

DALE HUNTER VS. ULF SAMUELSSON




DALE HUNTER VS. LARRY MURPHY




DALE HUNTER VS. PAUL COFFEY






10:32 AM:
The Capitals' lines, according to Greensburgh's own Katie Carrera of the Washington Post...

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer
Eakin-Johansson-Semin
Chimera-Laich-Ward
Hendricks-Halpern-Knuble-Perreault



10:15 AM:
News alert: this morning, the Pens recalled defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and re-assigned Alexandre Picard to WBS. If Despres plays tonight vs. Washington, it would be his NHL debut.



9:40 AM:
The Caps are going through some changes on the ice as new head coach Dale Hunter is installing a 1-2-2 scheme for the team to play. Time will tell if it works. The Washington media is skeptical. Michelle Crechiolo scouts out the Caps here and below.






9:30 AM:
Good morning from Washington, DC! Home of Barack Obama, John Boehner and Eric Rice. Tonight the Pens take on their long-time rival, the Capitals, at the Verizon Center.

---

We'll start the day with "Sidney Crosby Comeback Mix" by DJ Steve Porter. It's a pretty good piece put together for Hockey Night in Canada.

Enjoy.

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