Penguins Notebook: Forgetting Game 5 the plan
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma: "We have an opportunity to be the first to get to four wins. Our team has got to get refocused and be ready for Game 6."
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When the Penguins boarded their charter plane Sunday for Florida, they packed all the requisite sticks, gloves, helmets, laptops, enough clothing for a couple days and ... well, just about everything except the memories of that 8-2 annihilation by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5.
So they were planning, anyway, after practice Sunday at Consol Energy Center.
"I think it's an easy one to throw in the garbage," left winger Mike Rupp said. "It's another loss, whether it's 13-0 or 1-0. We'll take it as that. We know we've done a lot of good things in this series, and that's what we'll take to Tampa."
"Just one of those games," right winger Alex Kovalev called it. "You try hard, they score a goal. You try harder, they score two goals."
"Seriously, we have nothing to get out of that game," defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "Hopefully, we're not even thinking about it. Not before the next game. Not ever again."
Game 6 is tonight, and the Penguins' theme Sunday appeared to be reminding all concerned that they still have the upper hand.
"At the end of the day, they won a game to make it 3-2. It's 3-2 in our favor," coach Dan Bylsma said. "A lot of the emotions of a loss have to be dealt with and put aside, then move onto the situation at hand. We have an opportunity to be the first to get to four wins. Our team has got to get refocused and be ready for Game 6."
Another theme: The Penguins won Games 3 and 4 in Tampa.
"This group knows how to bounce back, and we know how to win on the road," left winger Pascal Dupuis said.
The Lightning is hoping for similar memory loss going into Game 6.
"Come the puck drop, they're not going to remember that, and we can't remember that," Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos said of the 8-2 game.
Tampa Bay returned home at a reasonable hour following the midday game Saturday, but its practice Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum did not start until past 5 p.m. That was by design, so that afterward the team could retreat to a nearby hotel for the night.
"Bubble hockey, I call it. It's just like bubble hockey," coach Guy Boucher said. "You've got that [plastic bubble] on top, and anything outside can't affect our team. It's not that we don't like our fans -- we love our fans; they're terrific -- but it's important now that the calm in our task has to be there."
Tampa Bay is 2-1 at Consol Energy Center this series, and its 5-1 win there in Game 2 might have produced a false sense of security that contributed to home losses in Games 3 and 4.
"I don't want to say we were a little cocky, but we felt a little comfortable after Game 2, like our job was done and we were going to win the next two games at home," left winger Simon Gagne said. "But that's not the way it goes. We all learned from that mistake. We're going to try to make it like we're on the road [for Game 6]."
Center Sidney Crosby was not part of the Penguins' practice, as he has been most days recently. The team had no word on his status, but staying out of practices has been part of the program Crosby's doctor has prescribed.
Center Jordan Staal and right winger Tyler Kennedy also did not practice, the team giving each a day to rest. Other than the absence of those two, line combinations and defense pairings remained the same.
Two Tampa Bay players rested rather than practice -- left winger and former Penguin Ryan Malone, and center Dana Tyrell.
The Penguins' focus in practice was creating more offense close to Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Several drills were aimed at little more than generating shots and rebounds.
"We weren't really involved in the interior much," Rupp said. "You saw we were passing it mostly around the perimeter, and we've got to get back to the inside."
Part of that, as Bylsma stressed, was getting back to gaining the Lightning zone quickly, then pursuing the puck aggressively. Too often in Game 5, the Penguins were slowed in the neutral zone or, if they got through with dump-ins, lost races to loose pucks.
"We've had success with certain things that we do quickness-wise, speed-wise, being able to get to the offensive zone, and we've got to be able to do those to get what we need around the goaltender and pinning them back," Bylsma said. "We've been successful at times, and they've been successful at times in nullifying that part of our game."
First Published April 25, 2011 12:00 am