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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Philadelphia

Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 10:00 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
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Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Philadelphia


  • Jagr & Talbot interviews (12:45 PM).
  • Verizon Game Day Report (1:30 PM).
  • Pens lines (10:39 AM).
  • Flyers won’t reveal starting goalie (1:18 PM).
  • Kunitz & Park at morning skate (10:30 AM).
  • Scouting the Flyers (9:40 AM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Philly, Bob & more (12:33 PM).
  • Dupuis, Neal & Cooke spit knowledge (11:46 AM).
  • RMU Hockey Showcase (1:40 PM).
  • Pens pics (11:38 AM).
  • Flyers pics (12:37 PM).
  • “It’s time for the Pens and Flyers to collide…” (9:30 AM).



1:40 PM:
On a non-Pens item for the day, CONSOL Energy Center will be hosting the RMU Hockey Showcase Friday. Robert Morris will take on No. 4 Ohio State at 7:35pm.

RMU-OSU is the headline, but it is an all-day tripleheader of college hockey in the Pens barn. Robert Morris women play Bemidji State at 1pm, and RMU men's club team faces Pitt at 4pm.

More details here.




1:30 PM:
Well, a lot to talk about in this game. Steve Mears brings you all the lowdown on tonight's Pens-Flyers showdown, Jagr-Talbot return in the Verizon Game Day Report.






1:18 PM:
Although Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette wouldn't reveal who the starting goaltender is for the game, Sergei Bobrovsky left the morning skate first - an indication that he may between the pipes for Philly.




12:45 PM:
Sounds heard around visiting room with Jagr and Talbot.

Jaromir Jagr

On returning to Pittsburgh:
I’m returning with a different team. That’s probably the biggest difference. I didn’t play last three years in the NHL. Maybe the fans are more angry.

On his relationship with the fans:
I was a different player (with the Penguins). My goal was to be the best I can be to help the team. If I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, then I wasn’t very happy. It’s understandable. Some people don’t care how they play. I’m the opposite. I want to be the best ever night when I was younger. I felt a big responsibility for the team. I was making the most money and I felt if I didn’t play well then the team wouldn’t play well. Now I’m not as good of a player any more. I’m just happy to be around the guys and help the guys that are better than me.

On his time in Pittsburgh:
I played the best hockey I ever played here, no question about it. The fan supported our team even in the tough times. The locker room was good. The fans don’t really know everything that happens in the locker room. All they know is what they read in the newspaper and what (the media) says. They have no other information. Sometimes I felt it wasn’t right. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Sometimes you’re misunderstood. I always wanted to play the best I could play for this team. When I was in a bad mood it was only because I wasn’t playing the way I wanted to play.

On if he talked to Mario:
No, last time I talked to him was three days before free agency.

On his relationship with Mario:
For my side, nothing has changed with Pittsburgh fans. Maybe it’s changed with (the media) because guys write things that aren’t even true. It’s normal. But to the fans, ownership, the city, nothing has changed. I’ll always love it. Because someone boos me doesn’t mean I’ll say bad things about the city. With Mario, he showed me the big leagues. He was my idol since I was 15 years old. He was the best player to ever play hockey, and still is. If he’s a little upset I didn’t come here, it doesn’t change my mind about how I feel about him.




Max Talbot

On coming back to Pittsburgh for the first time:
It was a little special seeing the dressing room and stuff like that. I’m sure it’s going to be a little special tonight, but when the puck drops it’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to mean business. It’s a big two points for us. I’m excited.

On if the media hype is overshadowing the importance of the game:
It’s not just about me and Jags, it’s about the team. It’s a game we need to win and the last couple games we haven’t won as many games as we wanted to, so tonight is definitely a game we want to focus and get the points.

On if it was weird coming into the city after living here for so many years:
Of course. I was here for six years, six great years, so obviously the flight here and practicing in the building is different. Seeing a different locker room and different bench. It’s going to be different. It’s going to be fun.

On how he’s fitting in and how the team’s playing in Philadelphia:
It’s been great. We’ve been winning some games. We’ve been working hard, and personally it’s been good as well. I’ve been on the ice quite a bit and been playing with good linemates. It’s been a good start to the season for sure.

On what kind of reception he’s expecting tonight from the Pittsburgh fans:
I don’t know. I don’t know what kind of reception I’m going to get. I’m excited. All I know is I loved my time here obviously, and the Penguins organization. Now I’m with the Flyers and I’m happy to be here. It was a great thing here in Pittsburgh. I don’t know what kind of reception I’m going to get. I’m sure if I score a goal and we win the game, I don’t think it’s going to be a great reception. Hockey fans are passionate and it’s all right. For Jags and stuff like that it happens and you’ve got to deal with it. Hopefully I still have some fans here.

On what a positive reception would mean:
I got a lot of positive feedback from some fans that stood by me. A lot of messages on Facebook, my website, “Thanks for your time here. We’ll never forget. We’re still a Max Talbot fan, not a Flyers fan, but a Max Talbot fan.” It means a lot and it’s nice to see that.



Farewell goal: J-Crew




12:37 PM:
Flyers pics...


Talbot (left) and Talbot chatting with a member of Pens staff (right)


Jagr with the crazy hair (left); Lilja is all smiles for stretch (right)


HBO cameras are everywhere #memories (left); Simmonds & Jagr at practice (right)


Ilya Bryzgalov fixes a teammates hair before getting back between the pipes with the throwback brown pads



12:33 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the Philadelphia Flyers:
We have the Flyers coming in regardless of the fact that they’re 1-3-1 in their last five. This is a team that we’re tied with and two points behind the Rangers. It’s a very big game for us and they, of course, won the first game in Philadelphia. I think special teams will be a big factor in the game. No one seems to have a distinct advantage but you’re talking about (Scott) Hartnell with seven power-play goals and (Jaromir) Jagr with five. I think special teams is going to be a key to the game tonight. In addition to that, you’re talking about (Kimmo) Timonen with 22 assists. This guy is a big key in the match. We’ve got to get to their defense. If they’re comfortable out there tonight and get good matchups, that’s an advantage for their team. That’s something we’ll look to do in the game tonight. We’re aware of Claude Giroux and how dynamic he’s been and how he’s playing. And of course we get to welcome Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot back to Pittsburgh this game. I’m anticipating a little bit of an energy tonight in the building with the matchup with Philly and seeing those guys come back.
 
On if there’s a difference in Talbot’s play this year compared to when he was in Pittsburgh:
I’ve seen a lot of the same things out of Max. He’s gotten goals here (and has gotten them) the first half of this year. He’s tenacious in battling and plays a big role on their team’s third line. He’s been used in a lot of key situations for their team. He’s playing on a good line. He’s playing with some good players.  His penalty kill is a lot of what we saw from Max Talbot over the years. He had a good summer and is healthy. Maybe two years ago he wasn’t when he had the shoulder surgery and wasn’t healthy. He’s playing with that jump in his step and there’s energy there. A lot of grit in his game and you see it all over the ice.
 
On Sergei Bobrovsky’s success against the Penguins last year:
I don’t have a good answer for that. We have certainly scouted him to see where possible cracks are in him as a goaltender. He didhave a lot of success against us and especially in this building last year. We’re preparing for both (him and Ilya Bryzgalov).
 
On Sidney Crosby:
Sid is around. He is light exercising and doing that with the team. He’s a part of our meetings. On game days he’s around and a part of our team just like Paul Martin and Kris Letang. It’s unfortunate for guys that are out for long periods of time, but they’re in and around our team. Sid’s in and around our team. He’s got a good demeanor about being around the guys.
 
On if it’s hard to keep the outside storylines from affecting the team:
It’s not a real big factor to the game in preparation. They’re the Flyers. We’ve seen Max play across the centerline in one game already. He’s not the first teammate you played with for a while that you’re playing against.  It’s not a big factor going into the game for the group. We’re playing the Flyers. We’re playing a game against a team that we’re tied with in points and we’re both two points behind the Rangers. It’s a big game and there’s (Jaromir Jagr), (Claude Giroux), (Jakub Voracek), (Kimmo Timonen). We’re not going to be going crazy trying to prove something about things that really are not too much a part of the game.



Assist: J-Crew (Justin Criado)




11:46 AM:
Sounds heard around the locker room...

Pascal Dupuis

On if seeing former teammate Max Talbot on the Flyers adds to the game:
Not really. We’re tied with them (in the standings) and it’s a big game. It’s a hockey game. It’s a rivalry. We need to win. As far as Jagr and Max, Max was a great teammate and he did some good stuff here, scored some big goals, we’ll see what kind of welcoming the fans will have.

On if the fans reaction will be different for Talbot than it will be for Jagr:
It might be a little different. He was here, he made Philly his home. He’s someone we have to play against tonight to get a big win. If he’s in the way for us to win then he’s just an opponent.

On his reaction when he heard Talbot went to the Flyers:
It’s happened before. Some key players either went from Pittsburgh to Philly or Philly to Pittsburgh, so he’s not the first. It’s a rivalry. We’ve played only one game. He seemed excited to play us. There’s key players on that team too that we have to focus on. Max is playing some good hockey. Guys like Giroux and Jagr, so they have key players we have to focus on tonight. It was a good fit for (Talbot) hockey wise. He was a good teammate. He got a five-year deal that set him up for life.

On if there was some trash talk between Talbot and him the first time they played:
A little bit. He’s an opponent. Obviously ‘Flower’ made the save on him right away. Some stuff was said on the ice. He’s just another player.

On the importance of the game with both teams tied with 46 points:
The importance of the game is much bigger than Max or seeing Jagr coming back. We’re tied right now and we need to get these two points. Can’t look back at the end and say, “Yeah, it was an emotional night we didn’t have our legs.” Big two points.




James Neal
 
On continuing to play well offensively:
We did a good job of getting pucks to the net in the last game, so we want to continue that. It all comes from playing in the offensive zone and doing good things there. Hopefully we can continue doing that.
 
On how to play against Philadelphia:
It’s going to be tough. Philly’s going to play us tough and we’re going to try to do the same thing. We have to be physical on their defense and try to put pucks to the net. We have to do stuff that’s going to help us get to our game.
 
On what they can take from their last game vs. the Flyers:
We always go over our game tape, but we just felt like we didn’t get to play the way we wanted to. We struggled early. We didn’t turn it up till late in the third period and tried to get back in that game, and that was too late. So we need to have a good start. That’s the main thing we’re focusing on right now.
 
On the rivalry and the importance of this game in the standings:
We want to stick right with them. We want to get ahead of them, of course, but right now we’ve got to stay close and these games mean a lot. With us and the Rangers and Philly, we’re all fighting to be at the top. So these are big games and it’s always a good rivalry when we’re playing Philly.




Matt Cooke

On the first meeting between the two teams:
We didn’t play the way that Pittsburgh Penguins expect themselves to play. I think that’s our biggest focus going in tonight, to go out and perform and battle at the level we expect from ourselves.

On if playing against a former teammate adds to the game:
He’s a got new logo that he’s playing for. It’s part of the game. Obviously, most of the guys in this room are friends with him, but on the ice it’s different. It doesn’t make it that much more important and it shouldn’t because the rivalry that was there before. The fact that we play in the same division it shouldn’t matter who’s on the other team.
Goals: Justin Criado & Michelle Crechiolo




11:38 AM:
Pens pics...


A few Flyers check out the ice at CONSOL Energy Center (left): Coach Bylsma stops to chat with some Philly peeps (right)


Park ignores a helpless Fleury (left); Vitale & Park discuss nuclear proliferation (right)


Former Pen and Hockey HOF Joey Mullen (left); Cooke with the 'stache (right)



10:39 AM:
Morning skate underway for the Pens. A few guys are missing - Malkin, Sullivan & Asham. It may be an optional skate, but we'll check with coach Bylsma after to make sure.

The lines were:

Kunitz-Staal-Neal
Dupuis-Vitale-Kennedy
Cooke-Adams-Park
(MacIntyre, Williams)




10:30 AM:
The Pens are making their way onto the ice. Kunitz and Park are with the team. Kunitz missed practice yesterday with an illness. Park has been working his way back from a broken foot. He skated before practice and his joining the team for the morning skate is a positive sign in his recovery.




9:40 AM:
Not much needs to be said to get excited for this one. That being said, Meesh still gives you lowdown on what to look for tonight, and gives you a scouting report on the Flyers.






9:30 AM:
Get your popcorn ready, it’s Pens-Flyers.

The next chapter in the best rivalry in the National Hockey League will be written tonight as the two Keystone state teams get together in Pittsburgh for the first time this season.

Jaromir Jagr (Getty Images)
The story took an unexpected and wicked plot twist over the summer when two former Pens signed with the Flyers, cranking up the heat on an already blistering dislike. While the players and organizations understand the business side of sports, Pens fans couldn’t help feel a sense of betrayal and/or heartbreak with Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot wearing the colors of black and orange.

When Jagr, who played the last three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia, said he wanted to return to the NHL last Spring and that the Pens were on his list of teams he would play for, fans hearts were bursting at the prospect of welcoming him back. In the week leading up to NHL free agency sports radio, blogs, the Internet and Twitter were blowing up over the news – including the trending Twitter topic of #JagrWatch.

July 1st arrived with Pens fans in a state of hope, excitement and nervousness. It was a day unlike any other in recent memory. But the dreams of Jagr’s returned were ended when the Pens stated that they withdrew their offer to Jagr. Though the news was disappointing to many, it wasn’t the end of the world.

Then the news came that Max Talbot, who was an unrestricted free agent, signed with Philadelphia. Talbot was beloved by Pens fans, and still is by many, and left an undeniable mark on Pens history with his two-goal Game 7 performance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2009 to help the franchise raise the holy chalice.

But the bomb really dropped when the Flyers announced that they signed Jagr to a one-year deal. Losing two former players is bearable for fans, but losing them to a bitter rival is too much to handle.

Pens fans have anticipated this game for months and finally tonight they will welcome back to Pittsburgh Max Talbot and Jaromir Jagr. Before this season it was hard to imagine the Pens-Flyers rivalry being more intense than it already is, but with a pen in their hand and a flick of the wrist Talbot and Jagr doused the flames with gasoline. 

The fire will be burning in bright in Pittsburgh tonight. It’s time for the Pens and Flyers to collide.

---

The best way to sum up the Pens-Flyers rivalry is Three Days Grace's "I Hate Everything About You."

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