'Geno' likes the puck, so I try to give it to him
Three quick hits with “The Real Deal” James Neal, the Penguins' 40-goal winger:
Q: This is Year 1 of a six-year deal worth $30 million. How does one handle the pressure of knowing he is a big part of a franchise's nucleus?
A: I can't see myself playing anywhere else. I came in and struggled a little bit at the start when I got traded here (from Dallas in 2011), but I kind of came into my own with (Penguins center Evgeni Malkin) last year. The systems we play here and the winning attitude – that's something I want to be a part of, and I'm glad I have the next six years.
Q: You and Malkin combined for 90 goals last season. What makes the two of you work?
A: I like to shoot it, and Geno, with how highly skilled he is, brings a lot of guys to him. He moves at a high speed and he's always making defenders come to him, which usually leaves a guy open. He's dangerous to shoot the puck so you've got to respect that, and when a goalie is respecting him to shoot that gives me a better opportunity to score. We just work off each other. He likes to have the puck a lot, so I try to give it to him. That's how we started off – I'd give him the puck, and then he gave it right back to me. We'd go from there.
Q: What specifically did you focus on with your offseason training at the hands of former Penguin Gary Roberts?
A: I always target getting faster. Speed is a huge part of this game, and if you want to play it for a long time you've got to be able to skate. It was a combination of lifts – power lifting, doing quick stuff for explosiveness. But at the same time I'm always working on my shot, trying to get it off quicker, harder. Our coaches are great. They give you a lot of things to work on every day, and that's helped me a lot.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, out with concussion
- Penguins notebook: Five defensemen dress against San Jose
- Penguins slip past Sharks, 3-2, in shootout
- Penguins minor league notebook: WBS players eager for possible NHL playoff call-up
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Players respect coach, refuse to blame Johnston
- Penguins notebook: Johnston stays with team despite mother’s death
- Fast starts hold key for Penguins down the stretch
- Penguins notebook: Staal insists he never asked for trade to Penguins
- Penguins coach Johnston’s mother dies