Pens – Flyers Game Day Report: Bylsma concerned with Flyers getting pucks behind Pens D; Crosby says he’s “more comfortable” down low on power play

GAME DAY BUZZ

Not a whole lot going on for the Penguins this morning who held an optional skate and only 9 skaters and goaltenders Marc Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson participated. Among those not to skate included the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, James Neal, Zbynek Michalek, Steve Sullivan, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, Kris Letang.
Some Pre-Game Buzz:
— Defenseman Matt Niskanen had a scheduled day off and won’t be an option to return to the lineup, still hindered by a shoulder injury. In playoff mode, Bylsma called his lineup “game time” but the sense around the arena tonight is that we might see a change on the 4th line.
— What came out of Bylsma’s media session today is a big area of focus tonight is limiting the Flyers ability to get pucks behind the Penguins D. After reviewing the tape, Bylsma saw it as a major concern. “They put 46 pucks behind our “D” with a purpose, ” Bylsma said.
Bylsma said “where and how {the penguins} play with the puck” is of great importance tonight and Bylsma seem to hint that a dump and chase game doesn’t apppear to be what he’s looking for, due to the Flyers quick ability to go the other way. Bylsma seems to believe that establishing an offensive zone presence with better puck management through the neutral zone is of greater importance than dumping it in and going to try to get it.

— The power play is a top storyline for the Penguins tonight who are expected to shakeup their top unit and use Steve Sullivan and Kris Letang at the points with Sidney Crosby or James Neal coming off the first power play.
The vibe again this morning is that Crosby could be running his own unit, but Crosby said he didn’t know at this point. “I don’t know, we just practiced it yesterday, ” Crosby said on running separate units. “We’ve had a few different looks {we’ve been working on}, ” Crosby said.
Crosby though admitted this morning to being more comfortable on the goal line/half wall than playing the point. ” I’m more comfortable on the goal line, ” Crosby said, a spot he’s played for his entire NHL career.
One former NHL player I spoke this morning with had doubts of Crosby and Malkin being on different units working, especially if the two are changing for each other.
— Winger James Neal said the Flyers did nothing in game 1 that surprised them. “No, we weren’t surprised at anything they did, ” Neal said. The Penguins top line of Neal, Malkin and Kunitz were shutdown in game 1. “Obviously a big part of our line tonight is getting to the net, ” Neal said.
Joe Vitale had a bad turnover in the neutral zone on Danny Briere’s breakaway goal in game 1, a play where the puck seemed to hit a rut and bounce over his stick. Vitale though appearing in his first NHL playoff game on Wednesday night, said today that the start of the game is something he will always remember and the atmosphere and energy in the arena is the “greatest thing he has ever been apart of.”
Danny Briere had a pair of goals in game 1 and now has 44 career post-season goals, 7th most among active players. Briere has 21 goals and 42 points in his last 35 playoff games. “He’s done it very well for his entire career, ” Bylsma said about Briere.
— Flyers Defenseman Pavel Kubina acquired at the trade deadline, will be in the lineup tonight for the Flyers working a third pair with Andreas Lilja.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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