Race2Four: Media crush awaits Pens' Crosby
Here in the hockey capital, Sidney Crosby's every move will be magnified like never before in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Crosby already created minor controversy in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal with Montreal, when he showed signs of frustration during the 3-1 loss to the Canadiens at Mellon Arena.
"It was a situation in a game where he felt like we could do more," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Whether it's the power play, the referee or not cashing in on chances that were there, sometimes the frustration is evident in everybody. That was maybe what we saw.
"As the game went on, Sid adjusted and got back to playing."
Whether it was smacking his stick against the net or tangling with defenseman Hal Gill on his way back to the bench, Crosby sometimes wore his feelings on his sleeve. By doing so, he invited criticism from the Canadian press.
"Sid was letting his emotions show," Penguins winger Bill Guerin said. "I don't have a problem with that. Some people take it the wrong way. Inside the locker room, we don't. He's just an emotional player."
Crosby has done two sets of interviews before and after games — one for radio and television, another for print reporters — but the media crush is expected to grow exponentially for the country's Olympic hero.
Not that his teammates think it will affect their captain.
"You're available for 30 minutes, and that's all you're available for," winger Matt Cooke said. "We're kind of isolated in our own little world."
Sidney Crosby is at the center of it.
New 'Nightmare' without Staal
It was only one game, but the Penguins seemed to cope rather well without center Jordan Staal. Filling in for Staal on the "Nightmare" third line, Max Talbot centered regular left wing Matt Cooke and recent addition right wing Pascal Dupuis. The unit was probably the Penguins' most effective line in the Game 2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens.
Cooke scored the Penguins' only goal, with Talbot and Dupuis each registering an assist. The line proved gritty and worked well around the Montreal net, producing a number of excellent scoring opportunities. Each member of the line finished with a plus-1 mark.
Geno and Poni to stick
Although the Penguins' second line has been very disappointing this postseason, it appears that left wing Alexei Ponikarovski will remain on a line with enter Evgeni Malkin to open Game 3 at Montreal tonight. The duo was joined for Game 2 on Sunday afternoon by right wing Tyler Kennedy, who returned to action after missing three games with a knee injury. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he was pleased with Kennedy's performance.
Penguins fans are encouraged to watch the remainder of games in the Montreal series on the lawn outside of Mellon Arena. Game 2 was not shown because of an NBC policy that prohibits the Penguins from continuing what has become a tradition, but with no more NBC games on tap this series, the big screen will be back starting tonight.
Also, 1,500 seats for Game 5 on Friday night will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. Fans can order tickets from Ticketmaster or wait in line at Gate One at Mellon Arena.
The Penguins held an optional skate Monday at Mellon Arena before departing for Montreal. Ponikarovski, Kennedy, left wing Ruslan Fedotenko, center Mike Rupp, Cooke, right wing Eric Godard, defensemen Jay McKee and Jordan Leopold and goalies Brent Johnson and Brad Theissen participated.
"I've had the pleasure of playing in the playoffs in Montreal two or three times. It's an unbelievable experience, an unbelievable atmosphere. It's something that I think we're all going to enjoy. As long as we keep our emotions in check, we'll be fine." — Penguins right wing Bill Guerin on the aura of hockey's capital city.
"I hope my friends and family are still cheering for my team. It should be interesting." — Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on returning home for a playoff series in his native province, Quebec.
"We felt like all of Quebec was behind the Penguins last year (in the Stanley Cup Final.)" — Penguins forward Max Talbot, one of four French Canadians on the club.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Mike Cammalleri is receiving an understandable amount of praise for his work this spring, having scored eight goals in his team's first nine postseason games. Of course, every good goal scorer needs an accomplished playmaker at his side, and Cammalleri has such a player in veteran center Scott Gomez. The former Devils and Rangers standout has clicked with Cammalleri during the playoffs, setting up two of his three goals in this series.
HE SAID IT — SCOTT GOMEZ, MONTREAL CENTER
"I feel like Cammy and I really have a good relationship on the ice. He's hot right now, so I just want to get him the puck when I can."
WHEN GENO GETS GOING
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin went five playoff games, all in 2007, before scoring his first postseason goal. He has gone four games without a goal heading into Game 3 tonight at Montreal. A look at his scoring and non-scoring streaks:
2007: 0 goals in 5 games
2008: 8 goals in 10 games; 2 goals in final 10 games
2009: 4 goals in first 3 games; 0 goals in 5 games; 10 goals in 16 games; 0 goals in 3 games
2010: 4 goals in 4 games; 0 goals in 4 games
— By Kevin Gorman, Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi