UPTEMPO PACE/BATTLE LEVEL IN PRACTICE
The Penguins went through a hard practice this morning at southpointe and the battle level was excellent from the players as the team went through preparations for tomorrow’s contest against the Atlanta Thrashers.
“Had a day off yesterday and today’s a work day, ” Matt Cooke said. “We have to make sure we stay fresh and be ready for tomorrow night.”
Winger Arron Asham told me after practice that the battle level the players have and the uptempo pace being dictated by head coach Dan Bylsma is leading to success on game nights.
“It’s keep us sharp, keeping us ready, ” Asham said when asked about the Penguins battle level in practice. “We’ve been on a pretty good streak lately and a lot of it has to do with the way we’ve been practicing. Dan’s been keeping it uptempo and good pace and seems to be working.”
Asham returned to practice after missing Monday’s game due to an illness. Asham told me today that he had a combination of a chest infection and stomach flu and that it wasn’t pretty.
“I feel a lot of better, ” Asham said. “I had nice combination of chest infection and stomach flu. So, yeah it was coming from both sides and wasn’t pretty. I’m feeling better now, getting my strength back and hope to be in the lineup tomorrow.”
The Penguins No. 1 ranked penalty kill unit (90.5%) will put their penalty kill streak on the line Thursday night as the Penguins have killed off 32 straight penalties.
“You know what it’s a group effort, being on the same page and willing to make the sacrifices that you need to get a kill and obviously you can’t do that unless you get great goaltending and our goalies have been unbelievable shorthanded and kudo’s to them, ” Matt Cooke said.
BEST DEFENSIVE ALLIANCE
The Penguins are winning games the way management thought they would when assembling this team during the off-season.
One Penguins defenseman whose been around for quite a while said today that this is the best defensive unit and system put in place during his time in Pittsburgh.
The defensemen believe the philosophical change to having a defensive system in place especially when protecting leads is also impacting more success for the forwards at the offensive end.
Personnel also has a part in this too as I get the sense just about everyone in that locker room feels Paul Martin has been an upgrade over Sergei Gonchar.
SID TALKS GENO
Evgeni Malkin who leads the NHL with 115 shots but only has 8 goals continues to be a hot topic in Penguins circles.
Those in Penguins circles believe he’s getting close to breaking out. Crosby who has played with Malkin a lot of late in certain situations, feels Malkin’s impact has been solid as he’s doing the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
“I think he’s been solid, creating a lot, ” Crosby said. “Creating turnovers, been responsible in both ends, sometimes just a matter of the puck going in and chances going in and that’s all it has to do with it.”
“He’s doing what he can right now and puck just needs to go in. But, think when you play on a team you recongnize all of those things and your not accumstomed to look at stats right away and you realize all of the little things he’s doing and he’s creating a lot because of it.”
Forward Mike Comrie was around the facility getting treatment working out and getting treatment. He should be back on the ice later this week.
Head coach Dan Bylsma spent a good 3-to-4 minutes giving Ben Lovejoy instruction on the side as practice was winding down.