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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Chicago

Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 9:55 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan


  • Lemieux and alumni scrimmage at CONSOL (2:38 PM).
  • Mears brings you the Game Day Report (1:01 PM).
  • Staal & Adams game-time decision for tonight; Fleury in net (11:32 AM).
  • Staal & Adams on the ice for morning skate (10:33 AM).
  • Seabrook in the lineup; Emery starting for Chicago (1:41 PM).
  • Full player list from morning skate (10:36 AM).
  • Quote of the day (12:03 PM).
  • Chit chat with Sharp (1:35 PM).
  • Coaches Quenneville and Bylsma (12:25 PM).
  • Hawk speak (1:32 PM).
  • What to watch for: Pens vs. Blackhawks (10:05 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on the Hawks, injuries and more (12:10 PM).
  • Staal, Adams, Fleury & Engelland spit knowledge (11:52 AM).
  • Remembering the first victory over Chicago (10:07 AM).
  • Pens pics (12:19 PM).
  • Hawks pics (12:23 PM).
  • “After all that we’ve been through I will make it up to you…” (10:00 AM).



2:38 PM:
Pens owner/legend/deity Mario Lemieux skated with some other Pens alumni at the "Staff Game." More details and photos here.


Lemieux (left); Bylsma (right)


Bourque (left); Lemieux stick checked by Trottier (right)


Caufield (left); Lemieux and good friend Bergevin (right)



1:41 PM:
Quick lineup note from the Hawks, Seabrook will play tonight. Seabrook left in the first period of Chicago's Sunday game after being hit by Rene Bourque. He went headfirst into the boards and needed help off the ice. He did not return with an upper-body injury. Also, Emery starting in net.



1:35 PM:
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp, who’s currently on a career-high nine-game point streak, was kind enough to speak following the morning skate for an exclusive 1-on-1 with Michelle Crechiolo.
 
The 29-year-old winger was born in Winnipeg but actually grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario – the same town as Penguins forward Jordan Staal and his brothers Eric (27) and Marc (24).

Here's what Sharp had to say…
 
On how well he knows the Staals:
We train at the same gym and skate together in the offseason. I knew Eric for a while, then Marc as well. Jordan’s a little younger. They’re a great family and I’m proud to say Jordan’s from Thunder Bay.
 
On the challenges of facing a team they don’t see often:
It’s tough coming over and playing the Eastern Conference. You’re familiar with everyone in the league, but more so with your own division and conference. But Pittsburgh is one of those teams that’s good in all areas. I know they’ve had a few injuries as of late, but they still manage to win games and play the right way. It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup over there, it’s going to be a tough game for us.
 
On what’s been the reason for Chicago’s eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1):
I think it’s a mixture of everything. You can’t really rely on one particular thing for 82 games. I think that we have balanced scoringthroughout our lineup. Our special teams have been solid lately. We’re getting good goaltending from our good team defense. You put all those things together and you’re going to win a few games, but we’ve got a big test tonight.




1:32 PM:
Sounds heard around the visiting locker room...

Joel Quenneville

On facing the Penguins:
They’ve gone through quite a group of guys with everyone being hurt, but looking at their last game they worked, they played the perfect team game, and they play hard so it’s not a lot of time and space and we want to be smart on how we go about this game. It’s going to be a hard game for us, but there’s a lot of respect for what they’ve gone through. Where they’re at is a compliment to the way they play and the way they’re coached.

On if he’s worried his team won’t take Pittsburgh as seriously without some key players:
I don’t think so. Malkin’s coming of a five-point night. We know what he’s capable of and you look around their team, they’re finding ways across the board to contribute to what makes them successful. In our league you got to be respectful for anybody and it’s still a good team over there.


Patrick Kane

On facing the Penguins:
It’s always fun to play Eastern Conference teams. Usually they’re kind of up-and-down, fast, high-paced games, so we like playing in that kind of game. It’s always cool to see different teams you don’t see too much, too, instead of playing the same old teams. I think we’ll see more of that next year with the new realignment, but for now it’s fun to play these teams for sure.

On Sidney Crosby missing the last four games against them:
I know I’ve been here five years and I’ve never played him in the NHL. I played him in the Olympics. I think one of the years we didn’t even play them at all. I think one year he played 81 out of 82 games and the one game he missed was the Blackhawks. We haven’t seen him, but hopefully he’s getting better.

On if he has family or friends coming to the game from Buffalo:
I got some friends in the stands tonight, maybe four or five friends. I don’t know if my parents are coming down yet. I’ll check right after the skate. They’ve been to Chicago a little bit so I doubt they’ll come here, but we’ll see. It’ll be nice to have some friends in the crowd. I haven’t seen my friends in a while so it was nice to go out to eat with them (Monday) night, and they came to the skate this morning.

On his 36 Hour piece:
I thought it was cool. I thought they did a good job showing a lot. My dad obviously liked that side of the show. It was awesome to see the game stuff. I think you don’t really realize what you’re saying or how much you’re saying on the ice, or what you’re complaining about or whatever. It was pretty cool to watch.

Assist: J-Crew



1:01 PM:
Steve Mears informs the people on tonight's game with the Verizon Game Day Report.






12:25 PM:
Two Stanley Cup head coaches chat during Chicago's morning skate: Blackhawks Joel Quenneville and Penguins Dan Bylsma.





12:23 PM:
Hawks pics...









12:19 PM:
Pens pics...


Pens GM Ray Shero joins Mears for Penguins Live! radio. On the right check out "Doc" Emrick watching the morning skate


Adams (left) & Staal (right) wll be game-time decisions tonight


Fleury does his impression of a tipped cow (left); Williams does "The Dougie." Interesting note: He taught himself (right)


Tony G "Whoever took my car keys better give them back pronto or things will get messy" (left); Engelland is being anti-social (right)




12:10 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Chicago Blackhawks:
We don’t get to see them very often and when we do it’s mostly the highlights of them. They’re very good lately, 9-1 in their last 10, 5-0 in their last five. (Ray) Emery is playing extremely well for them in net. You can talk about (Patrick) Sharp with his goal scoring as of late, Patrick Kane and Toews and the whole staff. Their power play on the road is right around 26 percent so it’s dangerous in that regard. It’s not a pleasant thing to watch on video. It’s pretty dangerous, their power play, and they’ve been pretty good at that. We expect a very skilled team that will come at you with a lot of skill, but a lot of speed as well. Their defense will be joining. (Duncan) Keith is a factor everywhere on the ice, especially up ice and in the offensive zone. He’s a guy you have to be aware of, especially with the way that he can be found with the skill players. Kane and Hossa is a get-up-ice player to make plays. We’re expecting a real nice match tonight against the Blackhawks.

On the decision to make the morning skate optional:
It’s the fourth one this year. On Sunday we didn’t practice. We had a good skate yesterday and we’d already started to focus on some of the things in tonight’s match yesterday in practice so we had our staff this morning to made it a “get what you need skate” for the players.

On improving play in the neutral zone:
We think the neutral zone is a big key for our team and the way we play on both sides of the puck. Defensively and offensively it’s one of the factors for us being able to get to our game and allow us to play with speed. When we’re talking about improving there it’s a focus for our team. That is a real big factor for our team. Good play in the neutral zone, taking care of the puck, executing the right way with speed and also on the other side of the puck with our gap. It’s a real big factor for us and getting to our game. We talk about what we can to better and it focuses around the neutral zone.

On winning the Jack Adams award because of his team’s success with injuries:
If the reason (I won the Jack Adams award) was because of the injuries then I wish it would go away. There are a couple strengths in our team and our room. It allows the guys going on the ice to have success. I think the way we play everyone understands that and knows what it is in our organization from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to Pittsburgh. Guys in that room give them a chance to have success on the ice. The guys in that room  are a big, big part of that. You’re talking about it being different at different times, maybe different than last year. Jordan Staal has been an absolute leader for our team this year. He’s been dealing with a bit of an injury the last week or so, but really stepped up on the ice, where he’s been very good, and off the ice in the dressing room. Guys like Craig Adams have played big roles. Craig is an important penalty killer for us. He doesn’t get a lot of minutes, but he’s very much a leader in that room. He’s stepped up. That was held last year by a lot of guys, Brooks Orpik, Zbynek Michalek. That’s the strength in that room. When guys come up from Wilkes-Barre they have a chance for success because they expect the standard in that room of what the guys demand. They also know what to do and how to do it. That gives them a chance to step in and add to what we’re trying to do. You can see that in Wilkes-Barre as well.

On players watching video:
(Video) is a little more intensified with a younger player or new player in the organization, but not dramatically. I think since our last game, five of the six defensemen have watched their entire game with the coach. That happens pretty regularly. We try to get to every player with their shifts, clips once every three games, in addition to what we do with the team. It’s a big part of every player’s foundation. With Simon (Despres) in particular it’s probably going to happen every game. It happens every game with him in Wilkes-Barre. There are details in how we play and improving his game, some of the details of his defending and what he’s bringing to the game. When the players are with the coach, 80 percent of them watch their shifts on their own. You can bring it home and watch it, and we have four computers just for the players to watch on their own.



Assist: Justin Criado (J-Crew)



12:03 PM:




11:52 AM:
Sounds heard around the locker room…

Jordan Staal

On if he’s ready to go:
Yeah, today was a really good day. Everything felt really good. I should be in tonight if coach wants it. (Smiles) We’ll see if I get in.

On trying to get a rhythm through all the injuries:
Yeah, it’s tough to get into kind of a groove as a team and know your roles. Roles change every night because different players are in and out. It can be tough. But the guys have been doing a pretty good.

On playing a shutdown role against Chicago’s top players:
It’s always more or less just time and space. When you give those guys time with the puck and they’re able to use their skills, it makes it difficult for any player to defend. Just try to get on them as fast as you can and just limit their time.




Craig Adams

On if he’s ready to go:
I think so. I don’t know, I’ve still got to talk to Dan (Bylsma). I’m not sure yet.

On if he feels like he could go:
I feel like I could, yeah. So I’m going to talk to Dan and we’ll talk to (athletic trainer Chris Stewart) and talk to everybody and see what the general consensus is.

On his team ironman streak being on the line:
I want to play, obviously. I want to play every game. so I hope to be ready for tonight.

On the challenges of facing Chicago:
They’ve got a lot of skill up front, world-class skill up front. They’ve got a couple of the best defensemen in the league back there and they’ve been getting good goaltending lately. Their power play is very good. So definitely offensively, they present problems for sure.




Marc-Andre Fleury

On facing the Chicago Blackhawks:
I think they have a good defense and upfront they can shoot it so it’ll be a good challenge for our team.

On still playing well with so many players out due to injury:
It’s tough to see a teammate go down. We’ve got to pull together as a team and find ways to do well together and still get points in the battle for first place.

On if the game against the Blackhawks will be a measuring stick:
Yeah, it’s always fun going against a first place team and we have an opportunity to do well against them.

On if he has any sort of advantage on Hossa since they were teammates in 2008:
A little bit. I know some of his tendencies. He’s such a talented player. I can’t count on it too much. You can be over thinking it sometimes. Keep it simple and just go out and play.


Deryk Engelland

On facing a tough Chicago Blackhawks lineup:
They got a lot of skill up front and some mobile D back there so we’ve got to play in the offensive zone.

On facing the lines of Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa:
There’s a lot of skill on both lines. You’ve got to respect them all. Their bottom end is still pretty good too. You’ve got to limit the time in the D zone.

On if there are different matchup problems when dealing with Toews and Hossa:
I don’t think so. I think you have to play them the same way. No matter if it’s (Patrick) Kane, Hossa or whoever, just play physical, keep them in front of you, don’t let them behind you, and limit the time in the D zone.

On how his confidence has grown with the increase in minutes the past month:
I think it’s added a lot. Playing more minutes, playing in different situations with different guys, it’s definitely helped my confidence a lot. That’s a good thing but you still want the guys back.

You're just the part of me I can't let go: Michelle Crechiolo



11:32 AM:
Pens coach Bylsma said the Staal & Adams will both be game-time decisions. Fleury will start in goal.

"I heard that Craig Adams and Jordan Staal said they are good to go pending my decision. So I will spend the afternoon deciding whether they will be in or not. Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net tonight and everything else is game-time decisions for our lineup."



10:36 AM:
The Pens players at the team's morning skate are Kennedy, Williams, MacIntyre, Staal, Tangradi, Adams, Vitale, Engelland, Orpik, Picard, Lovejoy, Niskanen, Despres, Michalek, Fleury and Johnson.




10:33 AM:
Pens are taking the ice for their morning skate. Injured players Jordan Staal & Craig Adams are out there, though we'll have to see if they skate in a line.




10:07 AM:
It's Tuesday, so it's time to get a Pens history lesson from Bob Grove, brought to you by CONSOL Energy. Grover takes us back to Pittsburgh's first NHL season in 1967 when the Pens became the first expansion team to beat an Original Six team. Which team did the Pens defeat? The Chicago Blackhawks.






10:05 AM:
It should be an exciting affair tonight between two of the best teams in the NHL on a nationally televised stage (Versus Network at 7:30 pm). Meesh gives you the lowdown on the top storylines for both teams entering tonight's game.






10:00 AM:
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight the Pens will battle the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 p.m. on Versus Network. 

---

Since the Pens are playing the Blackhawks, there is no better way to start the day than with a song by the band Chicago, one of the cheesiest bands in world history. The 80s ballad is cheesy enough, but Chicago really raises the bar in this category.

Today we’ll play Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” I’ve bloviated previously about the awesomely badness of Chicago. So I’ll spare that for today. All I’ll mention is that lead singer Peter Cetera still looks like a bad Madame Tussauds wax replica of himself. I mean, a ventriloquist doll has more emotional expression on its face. The man never blinks and can’t open his mouth (watch at 0:25, 0:40 and 2:42 mark). Just creepy.

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