Penguins Notebook: Bylsma pays visit to minors on day off

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A day off Sunday allowed the Penguins to do a variety of things in the wake of wrapping up their first-round playoff series with Philadelphia.

A couple players sported sunburns, an indication they enjoyed the hotter-than-usual weather.

Interim coach Dan Bylsma made a brief visit to Wilkes-Barre, where he was rolling through his first season as a head coach before being promoted to the Penguins Feb. 15.

He visited his family and stopped by practice to visit the minor-league team, which has advanced to the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs.

"Certainly some surprised faces," Bylsma said of his appearance at practice. "It was good to get down there. They've had some success; we've had some success. It was good to meet up again, good to see old friends, the guys.

"And it was good to see family, too, and see home and [have] a chance to refresh -- and now we're back to work."

Had his number

Sometimes, Penguins center Sidney Crosby said, you just have another guy's number.

That's what happened against the Flyers' Mike Richards, who struggled in the faceoff circle, where he lined up mostly against Crosby, who was on a tear.

Going into last night's games, Crosby was second among playoff participants with a 63.5 percent success rate on draws. Richards finished the series at 44 percent. He and Jeff Carter (41.9 percent), who also took faceoffs against Crosby, were in the bottom eight.

"It's a confidence thing," Crosby said. "When you're in a guy's head a little bit, it's to your advantage.

"There are times when I've been on the other side of that. You're trying to change things because a guy's beating you. Sometimes you can just get in a rhythm and you're able to win a string of faceoffs.

"Carter was a little bit different because he's a right-hander. But as far as Richards, we were both trying to do the same things, and I was just able to put a few [wins] together."

Heavy lifting

Another Penguins player near the top of a statistical category before last night was defenseman Sergei Gonchar, whose average ice time in the playoffs is 26:32, one second behind leader Brent Seabrook of Chicago.

"It's a part of playoff hockey," said Gonchar, who doesn't mind the heavy workload and figures he's better able to handle it because he missed the first four-plus months of the season after shoulder surgery.

"Sometimes you play more minutes or less minutes, whatever the team needs. I've been playing more. I was a little fresher."

Everything helps

Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a good postseason a year ago, getting 10 goals and 22 points, and he would like to do everything he can to help the team take the one possible step beyond being the Stanley Cup runner-up.

So, after being a holdout last year, this time he is growing a playoff beard.

"To change a little bit my luck," he said.

Tip-ins

Another face sprouting a playoff beard belongs to team co-owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, who watched practice from the stands. ... Center Max Talbot didn't consider himself a hero for fighting Flyers tough customer Daniel Carcillo and helping to spark the Penguins' comeback win in Game 6. "I was just thinking I got my [rear] kicked," he said, adding that the black eye he sports is from a high stick a couple games earlier, not the fight. ... The Penguins quickly sold out of the roughly 2,000 tickets available for each of the first two home games for the next round.



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