Pens – Flyers Off Day Report; Seven D talk; JVR likely back; Pens ability to retrieve pucks in d-zone, much improved in Game 4


With James Neal and Craig Adams due back in the lineup for Game 5, it would be believed that it’s unlikely head coach Dan Bylsma goes with seven defensemen for the second consecutive game but going with seven D worked well in Game 4 and Bylsma has had a lot of success with it during his playoff career as coach, so don’t rule it out for Game 5.
After going 6-2 in the 2009 playoffs when Bylsma dressed seven defensemen during Pittsburgh’s cup run, the Penguins are now 7-2 all-time in the playoffs under Bylsma when he dresses seven defensemen.
“I thought the seven defensemen worked really well, ” Bylsma said today after the team’s optional skate.

“We went with seven defensemen for a couple reasons, ” Bylsma said mentioning the minutes lost without Paul Martin. “Simon being in the lineup factored into {going with seven defensemen} and needing to have another guy on the backend for power-play situations. Brian Strait also added some defensive situations and minutes in the absence of Paul.”
One side of the argument of going with seven defensemen again Friday night is that it gives the Flyers some different looks to deal with and shortens the bench upfront leading to more opportunities to get the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby out there.
Simon Despres making his playoff debut logged just over 13 minutes of ice time and was a plus-2 in the win. “I told Simon when we sent him to Wilkes-Barre that he was going to come back and play a big game for us. We thought that because we know he can do it. He certainly came back up in a big situation and played well.
— Where the Penguins were much improved in Game 4 was retrieving pucks and coming out of their D-zone coverage. It’s an area Bylsma has been worried about since the Flyers put 46 pucks behind the Penguins in Game 1. “There are areas of our game where we were able to be effective, ” Bylsma said. “It allowed us to be better defensively as well. I thought we were very good with our forwards in the offensive zone responsibility wise and coming back through the neutral zone which forced minimal puck possession by them. They dumped pucks in and we had five guys back to retrieve and come out of defensive zone coverage.”
Arron Asham said today he was surprised he got a four game suspension but is dealing with the consequences. “I don’t think it was dirty, ” Asham said on the cross-check. “Schenn left his feet and targeted my teammates head. He’s {Paul Martin} not playing. It’s my job to go in there and make sure no one takes liberties on the guys. My stick got a little high and I’m paying the consequences now. Sometimes you have to take one for the team, I did, ” Asham said on sticking up for his teammate.
Talk coming out of Penguin circles is that while the Penguins accept Asham’s suspension, ownership and the Penguins brass is not as disgusted over the incident like some of the media made it seem to be after Game 3. I’m told that talk is “way overblown”.
Eric Tangradi did a lot of good things in the Penguins 10-3 win. Tangradi took the body, moved his feet well and drove to the net, picking up an assist and plus-2 rating in 10:02 of ice time. Tangradi was also second on the team with 4 hits in the win.
I don’t feel Tangradi will ever be much of a goal scorer in the NHL or even a big point producer but how he attacked last night’s game is how he’s going to become an NHL regular somewhere.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have combined for 22 points through the first four games of the series.
— The NHL does not intend to discipline Zach Rinaldo for his cheap shot on Zbynek Michalek but Rinaldo is likely to see himself coming out of the lineup anyways.
James Van Riemsdyk rehabbing a fractured foot, is expected to make his series debut. The 22 year old skated on a line with Matt Read and Jakub Voracek today. The talented winger had 7 goals in 11 playoff games last post-season
— Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman is considered unlikely to play in Game 5 due to a hit he took from Evgeni Malkin. The Philadelphia media believes Grossman has a concussion.

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William DePaoli

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William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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