Penguins notebook: Olympic break plans vary for some players
February 6, 2014 12:28 AM
Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, top left, congratulates goalie Jeff Zatkoff, upper right, as defenseman Rob Scuderi, center, left wing Tanner Glass, lower left, and defenseman Deryk Engelland look on Jan. 30 in Los Angeles.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Penguins will be sending seven players and a couple of coaches to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
But with the league shutting down from Sunday until Feb. 19 -- the Penguins' break actually begins after a home game Friday against the New York Rangers -- those won't be the only players leaving town.
Some players will visit family and friends around North America, while others plan to head for warm weather or exotic foreign locales.
Defenseman Rob Scuderi, for example, is taking his family to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and left winger Tanner Glass will spend five days in London (England, not Ontario) and five more in Lisbon (Portugal, not Ohio).
While the extended break will allow players who aren't going to Russia to rest and recover from nagging injuries, it also will make it difficult for them to remain in top condition.
Glass said he plans to take the first five days of his trip off, then have normal midseason workouts in the final five.
Scuderi, who missed 29 games because of a broken ankle, doesn't plan to shut down completely.
"Had I not been hurt, I think I probably would have just taken the time off, because they jam the schedule so we can get this break," he said.
"You try to do something active, whether you walk 18 [holes of golf] or play a little bit of tennis. Just something to keep you somewhat in active mode. There's no way you're going to maintain game shape. "
Cranberry native motivated
The Sabres are anchored at the bottom of the NHL's overall standings and fell out of contention for a playoff spot long ago.
Still, defenseman Mike Weber, a Cranberry native, believes Buffalo has plenty to play for.
"Obviously, it hasn't gone the way we wanted it to go, but, at the end of the day, we're still in the NHL," he said. "We're still putting on our NHL sweater. That's motivation enough to make sure you show up and are ready to work.
"Every game is a tryout. At this point, you're trying to assure your spot, trying to show you can play, maybe in a bigger role than you would have on a better team. Right now is a big opportunity for a lot of guys in here to show what they've got."
About that Russian food
Players competing in the Olympics should have access to some familiar food when dining in the Olympic Village, but those who venture outside could be exposed to cuisine with which some are not familiar.
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who will play for Team USA, has some experience with Russia food, thanks to teammate Evgeni Malkin, and believes it won't be as much of a shock to Western palates as some might suspect.
"I've gone to a couple of different Russian restaurants with [Malkin] in Montreal and in Washington," he said. "The food's not that much different. It's just the way they prepare it that's a little bit different.
"But I actually like it. It's probably not the best for you -- they put sour cream on everything -- and there are a lot of fattening foods."
Sabres' Nolan in Olympic mix
Sabres coach Ted Nolan was overseeing Latvia's national team before Buffalo brought him in to replace Ron Rolston earlier this season, and will be back behind its bench in Sochi.
Although Latvia isn't expected to have a major impact on the tournament -- one oddsmaker lists it as a 400-to-1 choice to win the gold medal -- Nolan suggested it would be a mistake to dismiss his team out of hand.
"I'm a strong believer in the ordinary guy can do extraordinary things at the right moment," he said. "We worked on it for the last 2½ years. When I first got there, they told me we couldn't beat Russia, we couldn't beat Russia, we couldn't beat Russia.
"Although we didn't play their No. 1 team, we beat their 'B' team just before I got this job. We beat them, 4-1, and they beat us in a shootout, so we were right there with them.
"I'm not saying we're as good as Russia, but I'm a strong believer in belief. If you work hard and you do the right things at the right time ... look at 1980."
That was when the United States stunned the Soviet Union at Lake Placid, N.Y., and went on to win a gold medal.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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