Penguins notebook: Bylsma reveals very little on lines, goalie for Game 1



Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called his lineup for Game 1 tonight against the Ottawa Senators "a non-discussion point," but the team's practice Monday at Consol Energy Center might have offered some clues about what to expect for the start of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Bylsma employed the same forward lines from Saturday in a 4-3, overtime win that clinched a first-round series against the New York Rangers.

He mixed things up on defense, though, keeping only the shutdown pairing of Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin intact. Bylsma had Kris Letang skating with Matt Niskanen and Douglas Murray skating with Deryk Engelland. Veteran Mark Eaton and rookie Simon Despres looked like the odd defensemen out. Eaton did not play Saturday; Despres did.

Bylsma gave no indication whether the practice was an indication of the lineup or the alignments for the opener against the Senators -- just as he did not tip his hand about which goaltender would start.

Backup Tomas Vokoun replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 4 against the New York Islanders and got the win in two games in a row to close out that first-round series.

Healthier group

The Penguins came out of the first round of the playoffs healthier than they entered it.

Center Sidney Crosby, winger James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik were not available when their series against the Islanders began, but all returned and no one else was hurt badly enough to be unavailable for medical reasons.

And when the Penguins practiced Monday, everyone on the major league roster (aside from No. 3 goalie Eric Hartzell) participated, which suggests all should be available for Game 1 against Ottawa.

"It's been awhile since we had everyone to choose from" when putting together a lineup, winger Craig Adams said Monday. "It's good that so far, that looks like the case, but I don't want to speak too soon."

Shero a finalist

The Penguins' Ray Shero is a finalist for the NHL's general manager of the year award.

Shero made a series of signings and trades beginning in June, including the acquisition of Vokoun, defenseman Douglas Murray and forwards Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Jussi Jokinen.

Those players helped the Penguins earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and beat the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.

The other finalists are Marc Bergevin of Montreal and Bob Murray of Anaheim.

The NHL's award winners will be announced during the Stanley Cup final next month.

Rare feat

Orpik had not scored in the playoffs before Saturday, his 78th game in the postseason, when his overtime shot from the left point not only produced a 4-3 win against the New York Islanders but also clinched the series.

So, the puck from that play wound up ...

Not in Orpik's possession.

Penguins equipment manager Dana Heinze scooped it up to add to a wall display that has the game puck from each of the team's wins lined up.

"I don't know if I can get it back or not," Orpik said. "Maybe I'll save the stick, I guess."

Orpik got a lot of text messages and other communication.

"It's always fun hearing from a lot of people you haven't heard from," he said.

"I'm not in that situation or position very often, so you just try to enjoy it for a day, then turn the page and move on to this next series against Ottawa."

Goalie plays dad

Ottawa has been off since Thursday night when it closed out Montreal, but Senators goaltender Craig Anderson found another "game" over the weekend.

"I played dad," he told reporters in Ottawa. "Hadn't done that in a while, so it was fun to kind of take over the role and hang out with my son a little bit."

Jake is not yet 2.

Tip-ins

Ottawa center Jason Spezza, who had back surgery in February, did not travel with his team to Pittsburgh. He has been practicing for a couple of days. ... Crosby's next point will be his 100th in the playoffs. Only four others in the club's history -- Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Kevin Stevens and Ron Francis -- have reached triple digits in the postseason. ... Through the second round, the Penguins again will operate their large outdoor screen for fans who don't have tickets. It will be set up across Centre Avenue from Consol Energy Center. ... Mike Keenan, who has coached eight NHL teams, was hired to coach Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin played for Metallurg in his hometown before he joined the NHL and after the recent lockout ended.

penguins

For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG First Published May 14, 2013 4:00 AM


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