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Insider Only Post-Morning Skate Buzz: Bylsma comes to the defense of Sidney Crosby & more buzz leading into tonight’s opener

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Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma came to the defense of Sidney Crosby for those who feel Crosby’s play has been subpar through the first two games of the season. Crosby enters tonight’s game looking for his first goal of the season and Bylsma seemed a bit irked when asked about Crosby.
“Last game he led our team in even strength chances,” Bylsma said, pointing out there’s more to Crosby’s game than just scoring goals.
The opinions of Leafs players in the locker room today is that Crosby remains the best player in the game over Malkin.

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Taking a page out of Mike Tomlin’s book, head coach Dan Bylsma really talked the Leafs up today and Bylsma has his reasons. The Maple Leafs have given the Penguins trouble, going 2-1-1 against Pittsburgh last season. The Leafs posted wins of 4-3 and 1-0 last year against Pittsburgh, and also put up 4 goals in a 5-4 shootout loss.
“Treating this game like a tough game,” Bylsma said. “Last year gave us a lot of problems. Dangerous group with speed.”
On Simon Despres: “I think Simon has shown, can do a lot of things. Puck moving guy, can make first pass. Also big body who can defend well,” Bylsma said. Bylsma though did point out Despres has been dealing with inconsistencies.
On Changed Mindset: “We haven’t changed a lot of what we’ve done {in the past}. “Maybe {changed} mindset of having lead, certain situations,” Bylsma said.

All signs from the Leafs morning skate point to James Reimer getting the start in goal for the Leafs. Reimer is 2-0-1 in his career against Pittsburgh, posting a shutout last season February 1. However, he has not started a game since March 23, 2012.

Fans hoping for a change on Evgeni Malkin’s line, don’t be looking for it tonight. Tangradi will play with Malkin and Neal for a third straight game. Tangradi was more effective down low against the Rangers and he said today that he’s getting more comfortable with Malkin and Neal.
“I feel like each game I’m getting more comfortable with those two,” Tangradi said. “Unbelievable talented guys.”
The concern for Tangradi has been finishing plays and he’s going to have to start doing that at somepoint. “Getting the puck in some scoring areas is next step for me and getting more confident,” Tangradi said. What do the coaches want to see more from him? “Just trying to get to the net a little more. Those guys are so good at finding space,” Tangradi said.

Joe Vitale made an immediate impact Sunday night after being a healthy scratch vs Philadelphia. “Felt really good in New York,” Vitale said. Vitale setup Tyler Kennedy’s goal by beating Stu Bickel wide and getting the puck hard on the net. “We had neutral zone regroup, saw a little lane and Simon made a great off the wall pass to me,” Vitale said. “Put my head up and Bickel made an aggressive play and I was able to poke it by him and Lundqvist wasn’t giving me much so I tried to throw it hard on the net and TK was there to bang it in.”
The addition of Tanner Glass to the team gives the Penguins speed on the 4th line with Glass and Vitale. “We look to feed off each other,” Vitale said. “His tenacity, my grit. Goal of coaching staff is for us being part of forecheck, first on the forecheck.”


If there’s one change on the blueline tonight (I don’t think there wll be), it’s going to be Ben Lovejoy entering the lineup not Robert Bortuzzo. There were no changes in the morning skate and Lovejoy stayed late with the scratches but there was some chatter going around following the skate that Lovejoy might get in.

Players to Watch
Matt Cooke – Has 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points and plus-7 rating in his last 14 games vs Toronto.
Joffrey Lupul – leads all Toronto players in careers goals (11) in 21 games against Pittsburgh. Lupuls 11 goals vs Pittsburgh is the most against any team.
Clark MacArthur – leads all Toronto players in career assists (21) and points (19) in 21 games against Pittsburgh.

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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