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Penguins Report: Game Day at St. Louis

Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 10:30 AM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan

  • Pens lines (10:35 AM).
  • Fleury starts in net (11:32 AM).
  • Young Joey V (10:10 AM).
  • MacIntyre recalled (9:20 AM).
  • Touring the Archway (9:10 AM).
  • What to watch tonight (9:30 AM).
  • Gateway Arch Adventures (5:10 PM).
  • Michalek & Vitale spit knowledge (12:02 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Letang, the Blues and more (12:05 PM).
  • Back in the day with OG Grover (9:50 AM).
  • Pens pics (3:10 PM).
  • “I’ve been down hearted baby ever since the day we met…” (9:00 AM).



5:10 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
Jason Seidling, the male alter ego of @PensPRLady, and I rode a shoebox to the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Photo evidence below of our Gateway Arch Adventure. Spoiler: You go to the top. Look at stuff. Go to the bottom. Roll credits.


The view of downtown St. Louis


The Gateway Arch. It leads to the West, so I'm told (left); This bear guards the Gateway Arch. Bears are a proud race. I met one in my travels (right)


I didn't read the inscription, but I'm sure this has symoblic significance to the arch (left); Mt. Rushmore makes a guest appearance!!! (right)




St. Louis is home of the Cardinals (left) and Rams (right). Quite an eclectic group of animals roam this city


For those keeping score at home, the arch is 630 feet high. Or 192 meters for our international readers (left); This it the space age hub elevator that is as big as a pack of gum. It reminds of the space pods from Space Balls. Anyone? (right)



3:10 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
Pens pics...


Letang meticulously tapes his stick #AnalRetentive


Best player in the NHL. Take that Putin (left); Coach Bylsma standing side-by-side with "day" (right)


Fleury's arm involunterily raises and catches a puck. It's like he knew it was coming, like he has ESPN or something (left); Sullivan action figure - $6.99 + shipping and handling (right)


Welcome to Scottrade Center - the House that Johnny built -- note: joke stolen from Phil Bourque without proper compensation (left); MacIntyre was recalled today. A rush of fear rises in the spine of Missouri elk everywhere (right)



12:05 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On his lineup:
Marc-Andre Fleury is going to play in net. The rest of the lineup will be a game-time decision.

On why the Blues play so well at home:
They haven’t lost that many on the road either, so it’s not like they’re .500 on the road and winning at home. They’re a good team. They’ve won a lot of hockey games. They’re a formidable challenge. They play a physical, aggressive game and they have been tough to score against. They haven’t given up a lot of goals. They’ve gotten good goaltending. They’re a team that takes the attack to their opponent quickly and with aggression. They’re playing well on the road and at home.

On this being the toughest team they’ve played against:
The way they played against us last game was possibly the toughest game for us in terms of a team coming at us, taking it to us with speed, making it difficult on us and preventing us from playing our game. That’s the way we felt about the last game. That’s what we have stuck in our mind about the Blues. They certainly backed it up on videotape as well.

On the minutes Letang is logging:
About seven days before he played his first game, (Sidney Crosby) and I were watching him skate with (strength coach) Mike Kadar and we both were shaking our heads about how easy it looks for him and how well he can skate. So I’m not real surprised. I knew he’d get his feet back underneath him in the first game. I knew he was in good condition and was skating really well, so it’s not real surprising. But it is surprising that he maybe hasn’t missed too much of a beat with the significant number of games he did miss. He got right back into it and executed under pressure, took hits, made hits and made plays. That’s probably been the biggest surprise in these three games.

On how long Sidney Crosby will be in California:
There’s not a timetable because it’s possible because he could stay there for a little bit of a break, as well. There’s not a definitive date for him to be back in Pittsburgh because he could be staying on the beach for a little bit.

On his time with the doctor:
Just seeing the doctor.

On the results of Michalek and Ovechkin’s hearings:
I don’t attach emotion to it. They looked at both of them, talked to both guys and made a judgment on both of the players.



12:02 PM (CENTRAL TIME):
Sounds heard around the visitors locker room…

Zbynek Michalek

On the Alex Ovechkin hit:
I knew that he was coming to forecheck and I knew I didn’t have much time to make the play with the puck. When I made the play, I saw him on the side that he was coming to hit me. So I kind of braced myself against the boards. I was expecting the hit coming. But I didn’t expect to get hit that high and that hard. That’s what happened.

On if he thought it would be an interference call:
No, timing-wise it was a good hit because I had just played the puck and I was in bad position. I had just played the puck and couldn’t defend myself, really. All I did was brace myself against the boards and wait for the hit.

On not getting supplementary discipline for his hit on Matt Hendricks:
I was really relieved, yeah, of course. I never had any kind of disciplinary problems before, so maybe that helped me. That’s the league’s call. They make those decisions. We can think and say whatever we want, but at the end it’s the league’s decision and their call. Like I said, it probably helped that I never had problems like that before and Ovechkin was suspended or fined before. That could go against him, too, and (may have) worked in my favor. That’s the league’s decision and I’m really happy how it worked out, obviously, but I understand why (the Capitals) are upset.

On St. Louis:
They’re a team that works really hard. They’re a well-coached team. They don’t give up much. We’ve got to make sure we play our game and match their intensity. We have to play our game no matter what. We’ve just got to initiate (our game), don’t get away from it and we’ll be fine.

On who the Blues are comparable to:
The NY Rangers or Carolina, teams that skate well and forecheck hard. They play hard all over the ice and they don’t give you time and space anywhere on the ice. It’s definitely a tough team to play against and we saw that a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh. It was a really tough game. We know what to expect. Even in their building, their record is really good and they’ve barely lost here this year. So we’ve got to make sure we are ready to go.


Joe Vitale

On returning to his hometown:
It’s been great being here so far. I think it’ll be a lot of fun playing in front of my family and friends. I’m looking forward to it.

On how many people will be here to see him:
Quite a few. We’ve got a few boxes reserved and a bunch of old buddies from high school texted me and wished me luck. I’ve lost count with the tickets. We got about three boxes and I kind of just let them have at it with that. People keep asking me for tickets and I finally had to shut my phone off because it’s a game day and I’m trying to focus now (smiles).

On if his wallet’s now empty:
I got a lot of help from my dad, actually. He knew some people around here who helped him out with the boxes. So I was pretty fortunate. I just had to get a bunch of Vitale jerseys. That was my only job.

On living his dream:
I had some good memories here as a kid and played between periods here during Blues games. We played all of our city championship games here. So come back here and play the Blues, it’s pretty crazy but I’m sure it’ll sink in sometime later this week when I’m on break.

On a goal tonight:
It would mean a lot, but two points will be a lot better.

On the Blues:
They’re having a great run this year. They play well, they work hard. They’re a talented group. I watched a little of the game last night and it was a physical game. So we’ve got our hands full, that’s for sure.



11:32 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Marc-Andre Fleury will be in net, and the rest of the lineup will be game-time decisions.



10:35 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
Pens lines at the morning skate...

Kunitz-Malkin-Neal
Dupuis-Jeffrey-Kennedy
Cooke-Park-Sullivan
Tangradi-Vitale-Adams
(MacIntyre)

Orpik-Letang
Martin-Michalek
Niskanen-Engelland-Lovejoy rotated



10:10 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
St. Louis native Joe Vitale has come home as an NHL pro. Here is a look at the young Vitale.


A young Joey V meets Detroit's Brendan Shanahan. Vitale was not fined or suspended following the meeting.


Joey V's rookie card (left); Vitale was a 3-time state champion with CBC High School - Christian Brothers College (right)


Vitale throws out the first pitch at a Cardinals game. There is a backstory to his throw. His father, Sam, gives the touching details.

"Joey, when he was born had two kidney problems. He had two surgeries," Sam Vitale said. "The one thing I think about all the time is after his second surgery my wife and I were in tears and the doctor said, ‘Don’t feel so bad, your son doesn’t know what he’s going through. One thing I’ve found out about kids at this age that have this kind of surgery is they grow up to be tough, strong men.’ I just keep thinking about that. The doctor was right."

More from the proud father...

"To this day it seems surreal. Even watching him during practice. You can’t even imagine how all these kids would make it this far. Who would ever have guessed. It’s just all a matter of work ethic, having a passion for something, a love for something, a desire and saying what one man can do, another man can do. You have to give the kids a lot of credit."

Photo courtesy of Sam and Mary Anne Vitale via ROOT SPORTS' Dan Potash. ROOT will be airing a package on Joey V's homecoming during the telecast.



9:50 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
It's Tuesday so let's take a peak into Pens History with Bob Grove. Today, Grover takes us way back to the 1974-75 season when the Pens won 20 straight games at Civic Arena.






9:30 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
The Blues, despite suffering a 3-1 loss last night in Detroit, are 8-1-1 in January and are only four points behind the Red Wings for the top spot in the Western Conference. Michelle lets you know what to watch for when Pittsburgh takes on the Blues.





9:20 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
The Pens made a roster move early this morning, recalling forward Steve MacIntyre from WBS.

More details here.



9:10 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
After we arrived in St. Louis yesterday, I took a walk around the city and snapped some pics for your viewing pleasure.



















9:00 AM (CENTRAL TIME):
Good morning from St. Louis!! Tonight the Pens will face the Blues at Scottrade Center in their final contest before the All-Star break. Pittsburgh is hoping to extend its six-game winning streak to seven. After all, seven is better than six.

---

Since we are in St. Louis playing the Blues, let's open the day with a tune from blues legend BB King, who once said, "Music isn't found in the notes, it's found in the space between the notes." Poetic.

So here is "How Blue Can You Get?" Enjoy.

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