Confident Bylsma says home wins will come
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Penguins coach Dan Bylsma usually is measured in his public remarks, but he felt strongly enough about something Friday to make a prediction.
Bylsma's club is 0-2 at Consol Energy Center -- and, at times, has been booed by its fans -- going into the matinee today against the New Jersey Devils. Hep>
"We haven't played well yet here," he said. "We're going to win, and we intend to win, a lot of home games, and we intend to play them a lot like we play them on the road."
The Penguins are 4-1 on the road, including a strong game Thursday in a 3-0 win against the Rangers in New York.
"As far as a complete game goes, that was probably the best job we did," center and team captain Sidney Crosby said, adding that he would like to see similar performances at home.
"We want to make sure we're playing well here, making it tough on [opposing] teams, not just with the environment, but also with the way we play and have a comfort level with playing a certain way here. We want to make sure we have that home-ice advantage."
They had the best home record in the Eastern Conference last season at 29-10-2.
There is a long-held thought that teams need to revert to simpler, safer play on the road. Bylsma gives that "almost zero credibility."
"I don't think we go into [Madison Square] Garden and think, 'OK, we've got to play a way different type of game.' "
Crosby shoots more often
Crosby has three goals in seven games, but he's shooting for more. Literally. He leads the Penguins with 29 shots, which before Friday ranked fifth in the NHL.
"You want to take advantage of the chances when you get them," he said. "The chances have been there for the most part. I feel like I've gotten in some pretty good areas.
"You want to have that mindset. I'm probably more of a pass-first type of player, so to kind of force it or think about that a little bit more is something I try to do."
He doesn't want to be reckless about it.
"I don't want to take a shot when it's not necessary, but there's a lot of good that can come out of it," Crosby said. "Sometimes, you're not in great position to score, but you can get a rebound or it can go off of someone. If you get good looks, you've got to make sure you take advantage of them."
In his most recent full season before injuries gutted much of 2010-11 and last season, he led the Penguins and finished fifth in the league with 298 shots in 2009-10. It likely is not a coincidence that he tied Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the Rocket Richard Trophy that season after each had a league-best 51 goals.
Jeffrey loses his turn
Dustin Jeffrey's time at left wing on Evgeni Malkin's line seems to be up, at least for now. Newcomer Zach Boychuk will get a turn there today against New Jersey.
Jeffrey's play has been tentative. He has played in three of the Penguins' seven games, but he doesn't consider that an advantage coming off of a short training camp in this lockout-delayed season.
"There's being fresher, but there's also playing games," he said. "You're not in that speed. You need to play games. There is a balance there, but you want to play the games and be up to speed."
Top-line left winger Chris Kunitz, who played Thursday night against the Rangers in New York despite being ill, did not practice. ... Bylsma said the coaches are drawing up goaltending schedules about a week in advance and don't want to deviate from those, so he said Marc-Andre Fleury "per plan" will start today, even though Tomas Vokoun is coming off of a shutout against the Rangers. ... Brad Thiessen of the Penguins' Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate was named the American Hockey League's goaltender of the month for January. Thiessen posted a 5-2-0 record with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. ... The Penguins wore their alternate blue practice gear, but apparently that was just to help break it in. The team has not announced a schedule for wearing their third jerseys in games.
First Published February 2, 2013 12:00 am