Sorry, dear readers, but there isn’t a lot to report from the Penguins’ practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. The Penguins, who are in the midst of a brutal schedule stretch (eight games over the opening 13 games of the season), moved today’s practice to noon and made it an optional affair.
Coach Dan Bylsma said he told some players not to practice and others took the option of not skating. Those who were on the ice:
Ds Ben Lovejoy, Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland; Cs Sidney Crosby, Joe Vitale, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey; RWs James Neal, Craig Adams, Tyler Kennedy and Arron Asham; LW Steve MacIntyre; G Brent Johnson.
Bylsma said he had not updates about possible a possible Thursday lineup.
= Crosby again wore a white helmet to signify non-contact participation, but he and Jeffrey engaged in one-one-one battle drills.
“Well, he’s done a couple (of) puck-protection drills the last week… so he’s been doing that a little bit, kind of feeling the person on his back,” Bylsma said.
= Had a chance to speak with Neal at length about his impressive start to the season, and the conversation ended with an early candidate for Quote of the Month. Our discussion turned to his penchant for quick shots from so-called bad angles and willingness to work toward the net for those crease-crashing attempts. I informed Neal of a discussion I had with Bylsma, who said this summer he had watched video of every goal Neal had scored in the NHL and offered as a compliment that those goals “usually weren’t pretty.”
Neal, a 20-goal guy in each of his three seasons, laughed upon receiving that message.
“Well, if you want to move past 20 you have to get the garbage goals,” he said.
= Like I said, not a real lot to report. The weekly “Pens Push” page returns in Thursday’s Trib, with a look at how D Kris Letang is prepping to play heaving minutes, and what Kennedy is looking for when he’s shooting.
Oh, almost forgot, the Penguins welcome the Capitals to Pittsburgh on Thursday. No big deal, right?
“There are times where you don’t have to get up for the game, whether you’re feeling great or not feeling great, whether you’re coming off the road, whatever scenario you want to dream up,” Bylsma said. “When you have the Capitals comes into your building and you’re going to Philadelphia you’re acutely aware of the situation, you’re acutely aware of the team you’re playing, the players you’re playing, and the rivalry that’s there. We all looked at the scheduled. We all saw Vancouver on that first trip, and you’re coming home and, ‘Oh, there’s the Capitals.’”