Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pittsburgh Penguins Coach and Player Comments After the 2011 Winter Classic

Coach Dan Bylsma...

Q. I'm just curious, there's been a lot of talk in the Washington room how they're evolving their style of play. Having played them twice fairly recently, what have you noticed in how differently they're playing?

COACH BYLSMA: I'm not sure I have seen a significant difference. Certainly tonight, and given the situation, they were content to get pucks out and get them deep and made it tough on us to try to mount something against them on the offense in the third period, made it difficult on us.

Q. Number one, despite losing, just how magnificent was this? And number two, was there concern about Crosby after the second period?

COACH BYLSMA: I didn't get a report, which means that's a good thing. You know, I think the most disappointing part is that ? of the day and the event is we came out not winning the game, because it was a magnificent couple of days.

The experience for me and the guys coming out on the field to the fans and the game, I've talked to a handful now after the game, and can't rate it with any other experience that they've had.

And it's tough to end it with not getting the two points. When I walked out, the crowd was going crazy and the two teams were walking out, I turned to Tony and said: Cross that one off my bucket list, because that was a real unique experience and one I won't forget.

Q. What was your assessment of Jordan Staal's play tonight?

COACH BYLSMA: Great trade for sure getting that guy. We didn't quite ? I didn't know what to expect from Jordan tonight and what level he'd be at, but his first period was phenomenal, given the circumstances and the fact that he hasn't played.

I think he had two or three scoring chances, was outstanding on the penalty kill. And so I thought he had an exceptional game. As the game wore on, maybe didn't have the same jump as he had there in the first period with the adrenalin, but he was a factor. He was good in the faceoff and penalty kill, and his skating was great, got to the net a few times. He was good defensively down low. The times he got the Ovechkin/Backstrom and Knuble line he was a force down there as well.

Q. The hit on Sid in the second period, it was behind the play, it was from behind. Did you have a problem with it? Or did you see it as a player going for the puck on the ice and colliding with Crosby along the way?

COACH BYLSMA: I did not see it, given the fact that it was behind the play. We don't have a replay. I've not seen the hit. And the one person that was watching from above thought that there was some ? it was a little bit incidental contact. I don't know exactly what happened at all.

I just heard the talk on the bench that Crosby was down and I did not see what happened. So I don't really have any comment for you.

Q. Two questions on the disallowed goal toward the end of the second period. First of all, what did you see on that play? Second of all, how big of an emotional blow was that to have what you thought at the time was a goal wiped off so late in the period?

COACH BYLSMA: Two guys ? Rupp was going to the net with Green. Green does give him a hit. His skate does catch the pad and it does affect the goaltender. I certainly would have liked the puck to have counted. But I wasn't going to certainly argue too much at the ? argue the call. It's a split?second decision, and he makes a decision that affects the goaltender.

So a bit of a disappointment. But we would have tied it up -- I think there were 30 seconds or so left in the period, would have been a big lift. I would have liked walking off the field a little bit more with the fans cheering on that goal. But the referee makes that call. And he has some reason to believe that Rupp did interfere with him.

So we still had 20 minutes to rebound. Coming back in the dressing room, going back out, still felt like we were going to win the third period.

Q. This brings an end to a pretty unique month for you and your hockey team. Are you going to miss the HBO crews and all the attention that comes with this game? Are you looking forward to getting back to normalcy?

COACH BYLSMA: We've joked with the HBO guys that we'll have to invite them back. We are going to miss them. I thought the show and it leading to the buildup to this game was a unique look, a great experience. Showed a facet of hockey and the game and our players and both teams that I thought was fascinating to watch.

It helped for the buildup to this game and I feel a little let down seeing these guys go. Our guys are shaking hands and saying good?bye to the HBO crew because we feel like we're sending a player down. But we'll have to do our best to get back to normalcy, which is 41 games or 42 games left in our hockey season. We've got a lot of work to do. It was a great experience. I think there's a lot of awesome things about it.

I'm not going to look forward to ? I guess I'll be all right with not having a mic pasted right here all day every day.

Sidney Crosby

Q. Can you talk about what happened with Steckel?

SIDNEY CROSBY: I couldn't even tell you what happened. I think the puck was going the other way. And I turned and next thing I know, I am down. I can't really comment on it. It's pretty far behind the play. Maybe the refs didn't even see it. A lot of people didn't. But I don't even know. Got in my head, that's for sure. But I don't even know how it developed.

Q. Can you describe what it was like, the conditions especially at the heaviest part of the rain? And do you think the game should have been delayed or postponed? Thoughts on that?

SIDNEY CROSBY: The conditions were all right. I think when it started to come down pretty good there, you could see the puck started to bounce even a little bit more.

And who knows? Even if it didn't rain, it might have continued to do that just because it's the third period and it's been played on a bit more. But it's easy saying, looking back, when you're down, you would have liked a delay or something like that.

But everyone's trying to get the game in, and obviously, for the first two periods there wasn't much issue there. There was light rain there at one point, but other than that, it was pretty consistent. We knew that was something we were going to have to deal with. So I don't think that's a complaint.

I think you could see the results of the puck bouncing, but other than that, I mean, it's the same for both teams, and both teams kind of expected to play through that.

Q. How can you describe your feelings when you came out into the stadium, especially the scene at night, fireworks, everything else?

SIDNEY CROSBY: It's an amazing feeling. And I said the same thing when we played in Buffalo. But it's pretty easy to see why you see those guys so pumped up every week. Coming down the tunnel, it's a pretty amazing feeling. And playing hockey in front of that many people, it's something that probably none of us ever dreamed of doing. Would have been nice to be on the other side of things, but it's still a privilege to be part of that. And we had amazing support. The event was great.

So I think everyone enjoyed it, and obviously we've seen year after year, it's getting bigger and bigger.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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