by John Toperzer
Coach Bylsma spoke to the media after practice Wednesday. Here are some of the highlights.
Paul Martin skated this morning prior to our team skate.
Olli Maatta got through his immigration just fine.
Tanner Glass back on the ice this morning.
Our lineup will remain game time but Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the net.
Lecavalier’s leading the team in goal scoring, dangerous power play as of late.
Two James Neal PP Dynamics
— Just the battle level and retrieval level with Kunitz and Neal go up almost two fold. winning battles, led to goal in St Louis.
— Have to be drawn to James Neal with his dangerous shot, have to respect it.
Both those things open up the ice for everybody else out there, whether that’s Chris Kunitz at the net or two guys on the flanks, with 71 and 87. It’s a dynamic that has immediate impact.
There’s no question that playing the Flyers is special, an intensity there that I stepped into it. I don’t know all the blood, the good, the bad the Penguins not winning in Philadelphia for a long time. Before I played (coached) my first Flyers game, even Pittsburgh fans had profanities, you haven’t done anything until you’ve beat Philadelphia. We’ve had two playoff series since I’ve been here, games that have gone all over the map. It doesn’t has to do with the records, it will be a special game.
Re Rob Scuderi: I don’t have an update, we gave a rough 6-8 week time frame that’s where we’re at. He’s still at a time where his rehab is minimal, hopefully that progresses as he gets to his third or fourth week.
Did Bylsma watch Tuesday’s Philly win? I watched the game with a pad of paper, notebook and the computer open, watched it, taped it. Fast forwarded it through timeouts. It’s a team we saw Game 7 of the year for us, Whatever you think there record is, you watch the game last night and get a pretty good feel for where they’re at. With the addition of Lecavalier and Downie being there and them getting some injured guys back and Hartnell who we didn’t see, they look like a pretty formidable team. Our prescout was watching the power play last night. I think its a real advantage to watch the game in preparation for the Flyers.
We feel like going into Philly is one of the toughest places to play (Pens are 11-3 last 14 in Philly, 1-6-1 in Pittsburgh). That record doesn’t make a ton of sense. Our record at home is pretty outstanding and yet against the Flyers leaves a lot to be desired. I’d make no rhyme or reason, we’re on way to changing that tonight.
— Note: This isn’t an exact, word-by-word transcript. You can click on the link for audio interview for that —
Let the games begin! Tonight the Penguins host Philly in the first of an 11-game, 18-day stretch. Feels good to have hockey back after seeing the flightless birdies play two times in the last 10 days.
Not including Evgeni Malkin’s 109-point effort in 2011-12, he’s averaged less than a point per game since 2010. He has 85 points (27G, 58A) in 91 games dating back to the 2010-11 campaign. More recently, Malkin’s got 12 goals in his last 48 contests, numbers that don’t match up well with his $8.7 million cap hit.
The question is what will it take to jumpstart his game? Sidney Crosby played in only 22 of 82 games when Malkin won the Hart Trophy. James Neal had 40 goals and 81 points. Neal and Chris Kunitz skated with Malkin more than any other two players, according to Behind The Net.
It seems to me Chris Kunitz is the common thread here. If the Penguins want to jumpstart Malkin, move Kunitz from Crosby’s line to Malkin’s, at least for a spell. Put Beau Bennett on Crosby’s side and see what happens. That’s the eventuality coach Bylsma claimed for Bennett in the long run anyhow. Move up that timetable or at least give it a shot. Such a move runs the risk of short-circuiting Crosby, who hasn’t been lighting the lamp lately, but if the Pens want to get Malkin going again, and I’m sure they do, moving Kunitz to his wing would help in a big way.
It’s at least a little bit funny, or perhaps ironic, that guys like Malkin and Olli Maatta sported US Military combat sweaters at practice Wednesday.
Pittsburgh papers reported Tuesday how Maatta must complete a year’s service in the Finnish military by age 28.
I watched a two-hour JFK special Tuesday night. Much of the show discussed Kennedy’s showdown with the Soviet Union’s Nikita Khrushchev in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Seeing a US Marines symbol next to Malkin’s locker is strange. I wonder if the Russians investigating the legitimacy of Semyon Varlamov’s domestic abuse case will next infiltrate the Penguins dressing room (I kid). Some Russians actually believe that the charges were drummed up by US Officials in order to keep Varlamov from goaltending in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympic hockey games.