Penguins notebook: Days off planned with care

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The Penguins practiced Monday, starting about an hour later than usual, after flying home from a game in New York the night before. Tuesday, they rested.

That might seem backward from the outside-- why not take Monday off after back-to-back road games and travel and practice Tuesday, the eve of their home opener tonight against Toronto?

But coach Dan Bylsma put a lot of thought into his team's schedule for the lockout-induced 48-game season.

"That is a reflection of the shortened schedule and the limited practice time that we are going to be having this year," Bylsma said. "We certainly wanted to have a day off, and we're taking the day off [today].

"I wanted to get a good, solid day of practice in and then have a full day of rest going into the game vs. having a day of rest [Monday] and then having a light practice the day before a game on Wednesday. This will happen a couple of other times."

Team captain Sidney Crosby is fine with that arrangement.

"I like this," he said. "More mentally, it's good to turn the page quickly. We're going to come in [today] and be ready to play and not be thinking about the New York win."

This schedule also works toward a different end.

"We know it's going to be fast and furious, and that was the understanding coming in," said left winger Matt Cooke. "But, by coming down here [Monday] and having a preparation skate for Wednesday, we get [Tuesday] off and that gives us more time away from the rink.

"Guys are going to have to take advantage of it and really rest up because with being tired that's usually when injuries happen, and we have to guard against that."

Goalie plan work in progress

Goalie Tomas Vokoun, who got the start and win Sunday night against the Rangers, said he won't fret about what the goalie rotation will be this season with Marc-Andre Fleury.

"They told me, I would say, three, four, days in advance. They're good about that. I like to know," said Vokoun. "But the only thing I'm worried about is winning and playing in the playoffs. Everything else, in my position, I'm trying to help the team.

"It sounds like a cliche, but that's really where I am right now. I've played for a long time, played a lot of games. I want to do well, be on the ice in June."

Bylsma said while it was "a no-brainer" to start both goaltenders with back-to-back games this past weekend, "right now, we don't have a set [goalie] schedule going 10 games down the road. Marc-Andre Fleury is going to play the majority of those games, but Tomas is going to get games."

The past few years, the Penguins worked ahead to map out which games Fleury and then-backup Brent Johnson would play. The closest thing to a working plan Bylsma has this season is that there will be something around a 60-40 or even 55-45 split, with Fleury starting the higher number of games.

Crosby prepared

The penalty kill sometimes requires seemingly feverish movement and energy, but Crosby isn't concerned he might overdo that or spike his minutes too high now that he is getting more time playing shorthanded.

"I don't think it really adds that much," he said.

Crosby skated 1:25 short-handed Saturday in the 3-1 season-opening win at Philadelphia and 43 seconds in that role the next night against the Rangers.

Byslma has said Crosby is now considered part of the mix of penalty-killers, but situations such as the placement of the faceoff will determine when and how often he does so.

Crosby has played in most other situations and has planned for the day he killed penalties with regularity.

"I've been going to [penalty-kill] meetings for a long time now, trying to learn," he said. "You want to put yourself in position to get that responsibility of possibly being out there. It's more or less doing it in games and getting comfortable."

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Jenn Menendez of the Post-Gazette contributed to this report. First Published January 23, 2013 5:00 AM


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