For Penguins, adjustments always a part of successful formula

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An hour or more before usual, the Penguins pulled into Southpointe Sunday morning.

"There's only so much ice [time available], so you had to be here early," winger Chris Kunitz said.

In fact, the team wasn't supposed to be on the ice Sunday. But a scheduled day off from skating got changed. As did Friday's game. And Saturday's game. And Tuesday's schedule, which now has a game.

"Just going with the flow," winger Pascal Dupuis said. "I try to look at the schedule one day at a time. [Today] is Ottawa, and we'll come back here and play on Tuesday. It's the way the schedule has been adjusted."

A game tonight at Ottawa is the only thing normal about a six-day stretch that began Thursday when the Penguins flew later than originally scheduled to Boston because Air Force One was delivering President Obama to that angst-filled city.

Scouting report

  • Matchup:

    Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:38 p.m. today, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa.

  • TV, radio:

    Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9)

  • Probable goaltenders:

    Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins; Craig Anderson for Senators.

  • Penguins:

    Have won six games in a row. ... Are 11-5-2 vs. Northeast Division. ... Beau Bennett has four assists in past three games.

  • Senators:

    Had streaks of 3 wins, 5 losses, 4 wins in 12 games before 4-1 loss Saturday vs. Toronto. ... Are 9-2-2 vs. Atlantic Division. ... Chris Phillips is one assist shy of 200 for career.

  • Hidden stat:

    In loss to Toronto, Ottawa had 90 attempts on goal -- 50 shots, 27 shots that were blocked by the Maple Leafs and 13 that missed the net.

The Penguins have had plenty of practice making all sorts of adjustments this season.

Like all the NHL teams, they have dealt with a season whose start was delayed to late January and shortened to 48 games because of a lockout. They also have worked through injuries to a handful of star players, and done so seamlessly enough that they clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference Saturday with a 3-2 victory against the Bruins.

In this stretch, though, the circumstances have been different.

The Penguins were scheduled to play Friday night at TD Garden, but the city was on lockdown and emotions were running high during an active manhunt for the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.

When he was apprehended Friday night, the Penguins-Bruins game was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon. A Penguins home game slated for Saturday night against Buffalo was moved to Tuesday night. Sunday's leisurely morning before a flight to Ottawa morphed into a practice day after the club spent Friday restricted to its Boston hotel and unable to skate in any fashion. And Tuesday, which had been a practice day, now is the second half of a back-to-back game set.

"You have a schedule that you want to try to stick to, but you run into weather or what happened in Boston," Penguins center Brandon Sutter said. "You've just got to adjust to it."

This time, it came with some extra baggage. The team got caught up in the events in Boston, which has been national news for days.

Before Saturday's game, some Penguins players and coach Dan Bylsma wore "Boston Strong" T-shirts. After a pregame tribute to those who were killed or injured Monday, there was a rousing rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" sung by the crowd.

And by some players on the benches, including Kunitz, who is Canadian.

"My children are American. So is my wife," Kunitz said. "It's something where you get caught up in the moment. That's something special to be a part of."

The trip wasn't all patriotism and praising law enforcement. It was a little tense Friday.

"The emotions were there," Kunitz said. "You're a little uneasy. You're in the city and you see people worry. And the not knowing. Family at home. You're getting texts. People are wondering where you are and if you're safe.

"But after everything went down, you start thinking back to the things that happened all week. There's a little bit of mourning and thinking about people in public places. Then you think how lucky we are for what we get to do and that our job is a game and it's entertainment. If you can go and bring joy back to people, that's the happy part of what we can do."

While it wasn't a scenario the Penguins would ever choose, there could be benefits from going through this series of adjustments.

"The circumstances aside, what the city of Boston was going through and that situation, our preparation and what we experienced was a lot like a playoff situation -- like some odd preparation time and back-to-back games and different types of schedules," Bylsma said. "You have to be able to adjust and have different types of preparation days. From that standpoint, it was a challenge for our guys to be able to play that game, to step up."

It's what the Penguins have been doing, in hockey terms, most of the season.

With injuries and an influx of players near or at the NHL trade deadline, several players have shifted from one wing to the other or one line to another. Or they have had their ice time change significantly. Or been in and out of the lineup.

"It's what has to be done to win some hockey games," Dupuis said. "You adjust along the way. That's what makes good teams."

And so, on Sunday, the players were doing some post-practice workouts or visiting the training room less than 24 hours after the start of a game Saturday in Boston and with a flight to Ottawa still on the day's docket.

"Home for half a day and having to fly out again isn't the best, but there's not much we can do about it," Sutter said. "We just have to try to find a way to keep winning games."

mobilehome - penguins

For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at Shelly Anderson:, 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly. First Published April 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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