Thursday’s 7 p.m. practice at Coal Street would never happen during the regular season.
But with the playoffs only two days away, sometimes special circumstances are warranted.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins held the evening practice to get adjusted to skating at night. After not having played for five days, head coach John Hynes figured a little late shift work would benefit his team in several ways.
“It gives the guys a bit of extra rest between the last practice, gave us a chance to meet this morning instead of cramming it all together, and it’s a chance to get acclimated and going at seven at night,” Hynes said. “In the regular season you’re usually going to face a midweek game, and when you don’t, that first game the guys are trying to get it going.”
Yet there’s still one more reason for the late practice - one that makes it clear that players shouldn’t count on sleeping in and practicing at night during the regular season.
“The only reason it was done is because it’s playoffs,” Hynes said. “If it was the regular season, I think it’s best to have it in the morning.”
The fans might disagree. Space around the glass was at a premium and the stands were almost filled as fans watched the teams’ brisk 45-minute practice.
The players noticed the turnout.
“A lot of fans came by to check it out and it was fun to interact with them,” said Trevor Smith. “It was nice to get the body waking up and moving at this time.”
- The Penguins will resume their regular practice time of 10 a.m. today.
- During practice Hynes focused much of the time on special teams work. Afterward, he indicated that the power play could be the deciding factor in the upcoming Binghamton series. “Both teams are pretty even, the games have been even and the power plays do make a different because offense is so hard to come by,” Hynes said. “It’s something that has to contribute at some point in the series.”
- While players and coaches like to talk about how most of the scoring done during the playoffs is by banging in front of the net and whacking in rebounds, Hynes said there will be plenty of opportunities for players to score a pretty goal as well. “For the most part the reason why that mindset (scoring dirty goals in the playoffs) comes up is because in the playoffs everyone’s so dedicated to coming back and playing defense,” he said. “But you still get breakdowns, great scoring chances and the ‘pretty goal.’ You’re still going to see nice plays and guys from both teams in position to score goals.”
- Hynes expects to know if winger Steve MacIntyre, who is up in Pittsburgh, will rejoin the team after the NHL regular season ends this Saturday.
- During media interviews with Hynes after practice, player development coach Bill Guerin jumped in and used his cell phone to record Hynes’ comments. Guerin even played the role of reporter.
“Coach, are you going to corner dumps or hard-arounds?” Guerin asked Hynes, who replied a little of both.
“This guy’s like Toe Blake,” Guerin said, referring to the legendary coach who won 10 Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens.