Scuderi Scores! Bylsma Speaks, Brent Johnson Remembers, Scenes From Practice

— Fun discussion with former Penguins goalie, Brent Johnson, the Pittsburgh Trib’s Josh Yohe and Twitter friends Josh Bagiackas and Josh Feitknecht after the Pittsburgh Steelers kickers got into a skirmish with the Baltimore Ravens team Sunday night.

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— Some visual evidence from Monday’s Penguins practice…

IMG_3381Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff

Ehrhoff has assists in his last two games and looks more comfortable taking shots from the point. He’ll be needed more than ever with Olli Maatta out for much of November.

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IMG_9482Roberto Bortuzzo and Patric Hornqvist

Bortuzzo will likely make his season debut Tuesday. Hornqvist showed no problems mixing it up with the big, physical blueliner Monday at Southpointe.

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IMG_9674Evgeni Malkin

Malkin has picked up a point in each of Pittsburgh’s first 10 games. This streak has a chance to be even more amazing than when he scored a goal in each of his first six NHL games as a rookie.

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IMG_3436Close-Range Combat

After working 2-on-1’s, the Pens put together cages at the top and bottom of the right faceoff circle, playing 2-on-2 with goalies defending each net.

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IMG_9706Rob Scuderi

Scuderi scored a big goal for the black team. Don’t think guys like Geno and Sid were happy? You’d think Scuderi just won the Stanley Cup in quadruple overtime!

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IMG_9700Malkin and Paul Martin

IMG_9701Malkin and others

Is it great to see a smiling Geno or what? Looks to me like he’s “buying in.”

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IMG_9707Sidney Crosby

Sid happy too!

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IMG_9716IMG_9717IMG_9718Sprint City Baby!

All good times must come to an end and after the mini-hockey matchup coach Mike Johnston had his guys skate lines just like the suicides many of us ran for baseball, basketball, etc. Notice the competition between Crosby, Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis. Intense.

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IMG_9720IMG_9723Malkin

Notice how Malkin puts his stick out in front to win the race, like an Olympics speed skater reaching across the finish line. No shootout at the end of practice. Death of the monthly Moustache Boy?

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IMG_3499Again!

Herb Brooks tribute. #RIP

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IMG_9803Crosby

Crosby took feeds from the right point to finish his work Monday. Look for him to follow that up Tuesday night against the Wild.

Many thanks to John Toperzer Sr. for his photographic contributions. Love you, Dad

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— Penguins super prospect Derrick Pouliot is day-to-day with an upper body injury. He skated Monday for Wilkes-Barre but wore a red non-contact jersey, according to the Citizen’s Voice.

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— Former Penguins coach, Dan Bylsma, co-hosted on NHL Live Monday and talked about Marc-Andre Fleury.
“He has to be himself, smiling, happy-go-lucky,” The former coach says that’s a tell with Fleury. He has to be showing shooters in practice the puck after he makes a glove save.

Fleury has three shutouts in his last four games. If GM Jim Rutherford was thinking about trading the Flower in his final season before unrestricted free agency, now would be the time! While that last statement is meant to be a joke, there’s something to the old adage “buy low, sell high.”

Fleury needs eight minutes and 57 seconds of scoreless hockey to become Pittsburgh’s all-time record holder for consecutive shutout minutes in goal. Tomas Vokoun currently sits atop the record with 162:42 TOI and Fleury now has 154:46 TOI.

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— Not surprisingly, Bylsma was very gracious in all of his talk about the Penguins. Yes, he’s still getting paid by Mario Lemieux and company, but the man is all about class.

Co-host Steve Mears asked Bylsma about Beau Bennett.

“Talented guy. Got great hands, real nice touch with the puck. Does have a shot to finish, would like him to use it a little more. Had strong training camp in the absence of Malkin. He was one of the better players with the Penguins. Looking for him to come back strong, I think he can play on the top two lines. He’s got a lot of puck possession skills, hopefully he can go down to Wilkes-Barre get some conditioning in, be inserted into the Penguins lineup. I’d like to see him play 65-plus games.”
Bennett has played just 47 games in the last two-plus years.

Bylsma on Pascal Dupuis: “My favorite moment of the season to this point (Dupuis’s four-point Opening Night). Had a long rehab. He was out with major knee surgery. He was really happy to get back in that game. He’s been effective for them. He’s got a couple power-play goals. He’s been on a line with Evgeni Malkin. He’s not been playing with Sidney Crosby but he is playing with Malkin, with Sutter at times but with Malkin all of the time.

“Ray Shero’s made a couple of nice moves. That one (Marian Hossa trade with Dupuis package) was a throw-in that turned out to be a real good one for the Penguins.”

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— If Olli Maatta can handle thyroid tumor treatments/surgery with such grace, just think how easy it will be when the Pens rely on him to stop a 2-on-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final some day.

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— The Washington Capitals allowed six goals to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. Mike Green and his $6 million salary need to go. Coach Barry Trotz stresses defense but Alexander Ovechkin is a coach killer. At least former Penguins Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen got paid.

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— When on-ice officials overruled a called penalty to the Kings’ Jarret Stoll on Brandon Sutter last week, Penguins coach Mike Johnston argued the call but didn’t go crazy or blow his top. Fans are still learning about the former Portland Winterhawks head coach, but so far the results are encouraging. That said, what a bunk ruling that was.

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Interviews, Courtesy of Pittsburgh Penguins

Mike Johnston:

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Sidney Crosby:

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Scott Harrington:

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Links

Ryan Wilson of Hockey Buzz previews the Penguins-Wild Tuesday. Click here.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer

PS — If you are an American, vote today!

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Malkin and Ovechkin and Oates, oh my!

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by John Toperzer

Question:

When will Evgeni Malkin break out of his 14-game goalless slump?

Answer:

Look across center red Wednesday night. Fellow Russian Alexander Ovechkin scored only two goals in his first 10 games of 2012-13. Folks were ready to write him off, but Ovie came back and won a controversial Hart Trophy. Who knows how Malkin’s season will turn out, but if Ovechkin can do it, so can Gino.

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Malkin’s high assist-to-goal ratio (3G, 17A) is nothing new for the man behind the Washington bench. Adam Oates’s long NHL career saw him put up the following selected numbers: 1988-89 – 16 goals, 62 assists; 1991-92 – 10 goals, 59 assists; and in 2001-02 for the Caps he had 11 goals and 57 helpers.

Malkin’s got a long way to go before anyone calls him the next Adam Oates. Click here for Oates’s career numbers.

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In case you missed the Russian hockey video featuring Malkin for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, click here. Not surprisingly, Ilya Kovalchuk gets the microphone after jumping back to the KHL.

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The Penguins started last season with a 13-8 record. What’s their record this year? 13-8. Of course, last season they went on an unprecedented 15-0 mark in the month of March to up their mark to 28-8.

Incidentally, the team started out 12-6-3 two years ago. Had to check that out — lightning strikes twice but not three times in a row.

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Under the Radar

Much is made of the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry, but Ovechkin-Malkin is a doozy, too. Click here for memory refreshers. The two didn’t like each other the first couple years in the NHL, but apparently things have since been patched up. We’ll see. There’s nothing like a rivalry among countrymen.

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Treasure Life!
JT
@JohnToperzer
@PiratesTalk

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Pens Wednesday: Bylsma talks Flyers, Kunitz with Malkin?

by John Toperzer

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DAN BYLSMA INTERVIEW

Coach Bylsma spoke to the media after practice Wednesday. Here are some of the highlights.

Injury Updates

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.

Pens-Flyers Rivalry

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 —

DAN BYLSMA INTERVIEW

SIDNEY CROSBY INTERVIEW

PASCAL DUPUIS INTERVIEW

BROOKS ORPIK INTERVIEW

TANNER GLASS INTERVIEW

BEAU BENNETT INTERVIEW

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Treasure Life!
JT

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