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Penguins notebook: Bylsma expects another intense Devils game

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Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Craig Adams defend against New Jersey's Travis Zajac during the Devils' 3-1 victory at Prudential Center on Feb. 9, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (Getty Images)

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By Jim Hague
Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 4:30 p.m.

NEWARK, N.J. — Penguins coach Dan Bylsma wasn't overly concerned about facing the New Jersey Devils on consecutive days.

“I heard their players and coaches talking about this game as a big one,” Bylsma said Saturday before the Penguins' 3-1 loss at Prudential Center. “Well, I expect to have two real important games. They will be intense, like playoff hockey. It's almost like college hockey weekend, playing the same team back to back. I expect six straight tough periods, making for some intense hockey. I'm not really concerned with any differences.”

The Devils entered the game on a three-game win streak since losing to the Penguins, 5-1, last Sunday. The Penguins had been even hotter, riding a five-game streak.

Devilishly impressive

Bylsma likes the makeup of the Devils.

“They have a lot of good players like (Patrik) Elias who we circle on their roster as a player to watch,” Bylsma said. “They're a dangerous group, especially on the power play. They are one of the better teams in the offensive zone and a tough team to defend.”

Reese gets another go

Bylsma was excited to give defenseman Dylan Reese, an Upper St. Clair native, a second game with the Penguins since Kris Letang's lower-body injury prevented him from traveling to New Jersey.

“Dylan is someone who has had over 50 NHL games, but he's also seen a lot of action with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton,” Bylsma said. “I've seen him play there a few times, and I've seen that he skates real well. He fits in well execution-wise.”

Another Brodeur milestone

The game marked the 1,200th in Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur's career. He's the 93rd NHL player to reach that plateau but the first goalie.

More Sid praise

Bylsma was asked what it was like to have a healthy Sidney Crosby back and playing as well as he has been. Crosby entered the game having registered at least one point in the previous six games.

“When you take someone of his caliber out of the lineup, it hurts,” Bylsma said. “He's clearly one of the best players in the league, and we obviously missed what he brought to us. To get him back and see him do the things on the ice on a regular basis is amazing.

“He's been out for a long time and missed a lot of hockey. He also didn't have the benefit of a full training camp this year. Watching Sid play never gets ordinary.”

Jim Hague is a freelance writer.

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