Penguins want to make most of being off
By Rob Rossi
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 10:50 p.m.
The Penguins are scheduled to practice only twice between Thursday and their home opener Wednesday against Toronto, though they do play two games during that span.
Such a limited practice schedule would seem odd for a team coached by Dan Bylsma, whose idea of a light game-day practice includes hard skating, some physical contact, numerous drills and almost an hour of ice time.
“When we're on the ice, we'll get the most of it,” Bylsma said. “But if we tell the guys they're off, we want them to actually be off.
“There are only 48 games. You want to make sure there isn't a burnout factor.”
To avoid burnout from a schedule that includes eight of the opening 12 games on the road, Bylsma has tweaked his practice routine.
The Penguins play Saturday at Philadelphia and travel to New York for a game against the Rangers on Sunday.
Last season they would have taken off Monday. Instead, they will practice and players will be instructed to stay off their skates Tuesday before the home opener the next night at Consol Energy Center.
“It's something we're going to try, but if guys don't like it and they would rather have the day off after two games (in a row), we'll probably do it the old way,” defenseman Kris Letang said.
Bylsma is trying to avoid a scenario in which his club plays road games on consecutive days and then players spend the following day catching up on sleep.
Players differ on what constitutes a day off, but Penguins players seem to agree that spending a day in bed or on the couch is detrimental in a compressed season.
Winger Eric Tangradi, used to playing three games in four days in the AHL, said off days should be used for “recovery.”
“At Wilkes-Barre, when we have those stretches, you come in on that day off, scout the games from the nights before, do a light stretch and then whatever you need to keep your body fresh,” he said.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik already is tired of hearing speculation on how players will stay fresh during a season that features 48 games in 99 days. However, he conceded the schedule will play mind games with players more so than drain them physically.
“That mental break is more important with how many games we're playing and especially the travel,” Orpik said.
The Penguins' travel is favorable, Letang said.
He noted that Atlantic Division road games, of which the Penguins will play nine, are “easy trips.” Also, he said, the Penguins catch a break by getting their two games in Winnipeg out of the way 15 games into the season.
Southeast Division clubs — Washington and Carolina specifically — have it harder, Letang said.
“They have to travel more to Florida and Winnipeg,” he said. “We are home from New York in less than two hours. Same with Philly and New Jersey.
“You don't really get to rest mentally when you're on the plane. You just try to get some sleep, but it's not good sleep.”
Anything that prevents players from staying sharp mentally could dash a club's Stanley Cup dreams, Bylsma said.
The NHL has not played a 48-game season since 1995. That year, no team that went three consecutive games without a point qualified for the postseason.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
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.
- Talented center Sutter is proving to be ‘pretty important’ for Penguins
- Analysis: Kesler still on Pens’ radar as Shero aims to bring back ‘Big 3’
- Penguins notebook: Beau Bennett returns to practice
- Penguins GM Shero’s deadline deals: Addition by subtraction
- Penguins notebook: Fleury feeling sharp entering tough stretch
- Penguins minor league report: Defenseman Dumoulin optimistic for home stretch
- Penguins players have Bylsma’s back after Olympic disappointment
- Penguins’ Letang reveals scary details of stroke
- Penguins identify Canucks’ Kesler as top trade target
- Penguins fail to land star center Kesler at NHL trade deadline
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne