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Insider Only Post-Practice Notes: Is home-ice truly that important in a potential series with Tampa?

Post-Practice Notes
*With three games remaining in the regular season and the Tampa Bay Lightning closing fast, the mindset inside the Penguins locker room hasn’t changed and that’s on winning home ice in the first round.
“I think right now going into {Tuesday’s} game, a big focus for our team is trying to get and maintain home-ice, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said today.
Bylsma’s message to the team is taking it one game at a time.
“We haven’t said we need to win all three games, ” Bylsma said. “We know if we win all three games, we will hold home-ice. We have that focus going in tomorrow’s game….winning this game and making sure we put ourselves in a position to keep home-ice.”
Several players inside the locker room echoed the same statements but Brooks Orpik provided some analysis on why home-ice is becoming less important.

“I think it’s different building to building, ” Orpik said. “Montreal is obviously tougher to play in and there are certain buildings where I think you would like to have home ice.
“Even the year we won, we played Washington there and lost the first two on the road, than bounced back and play Game 7 {in Was}. I think it’s less and less important, ” Orpik said of home ice….. “but it’s always a little easier playing at home when you have your own routine.”
Tampa Bay is a place that I’m sure Pittsburgh doesn’t view as a tough building to play in.
The Penguins are 4-11-1 at home against the top-8 in the East.
*Zbynek Michalek working the point on the top power play unit in today’s practice wasn’t just exploratory. Michalek will man the right point (sometimes left side) of the top unit against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
Bylsma says Michalek’s ability as a shooting presence has led to the opportunity for Z.
“A shooting presence for sure, ” Bylsma said of what Michalek brings to the table. “Z’s mission is to wire the puck at the net. He’s got one of our hardest shots, if not the hardest. If he’s hitting ankles, we’re alright with that.”
*With Eric Tangradi not eligible for the AHL playoffs, the Penguins would like to get Tangradi some game action in the final week of play but it’s going to be difficult with the Penguins likely going down to the wire for playoff positioning.
Tangradi’s conditioning has not been up to par since his recovery from a concussion.
*Arron Asham returned to practice today and appears to be fine after sitting out a couple days due to a lower body injury. He should be an option to play tomorrow night but his status won’t be known until tomorrow’s morning skate.
*According to Bylsma, goaltender Brent Johnson and his wife gave birth to a baby girl this morning. Congratulations to him and his family.

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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