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Insider Only Post-Morning Skate Update: Neal’s “powering shot” stands out to Bylsma

James Neal Media Session from William DePaoli.

Post-Morning Skate Tidbits

| Post-Morning Skate Tidbits on Neal, Niskanen, Bylsma’s Presser & Letestu’s accelerated return from knee injury |
Penguins forward James Neal called the trade to Pittsburgh a shock and he had no inkling that he was getting moved. Neal though feels he’s in a great situation.
“Can’t come into a better situation, ” Neal said.
Neal said he is very excited about his opportunity in Pittsburgh and does feel a little bit of pressure to score goals for the struggling Penguins.
Neal indicated that coming into tonight’s game he’s focused on doing the little things.
Neal’s stall is next to Sidney Crosby’s for the short-term as the Penguins have ran out of spots. The stall next to Crosby is usually left open.
Neal mentioned that Crosby sent him a text welcoming him to Pittsburgh, right after the trade was announced.
Spoke with Mark Letestu after the morning skate and the Penguins forward told me he is progressing at an accelerated pace. Letestu said if everything feels good after today’s skate, he could return by the weekend.
Letestu who mentioned he is in day 18 since his surgery, said he has progressed much faster than first thought as the team thought he would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks.
With Letestu just a few days away and the same for Dustin Jeffrey, the need for a center is not as urgent for the Penguins as a scoring winger is.
Bylsma, team expect adjustment period for Matt Niskanen
Head coach Dan Bylsma had some interesting comments regarding defenseman Matt Niskanen. Bylsma hinted that Niskanen appears overwhelmed with what the Penguins ask from their defensemen in Bylsma’s uptempo system.

Bylsma said Niskanen thought Bylsma was crazy on how they retrieve pucks and that he’s going to have Brooks Orpik meet with Niskanen this afternoon to help him buy into the Penguins system. It appears the Penguins are not expecting an easy transition for Niskanen.
Pens GM Ray Shero mentioned on Monday that he needed to help talk head coach Dan Bylsma into the Penguins dealing Alex Goligoski.
Bylsma appears to be over that. Everytime Bylsma was talking about James Neal this morning, a big smile came on his face.
Bylsma believes that his philosophy of 70/30 offensive zone time will help Neal become even more of an impact player. Bylsma called Neal’s shot “powering” and that’s his first impression of him and wants him shooting the puck.
The Penguins seem to see some big time goal scoring potential from Neal.
Once Paul Martin returns to the lineup, Bylsma confirmed that Martin will fill Alex Goligoski’s role on the first power play unit.
For tonight, Kris Letang will be the primary pick carrier into the zone but Martin will take over that role when he returns to the lineup.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

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

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