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Penguins notebook: Crosby, Niskanen fire back at Milbury

| Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
Penguins captian Sidney Crosby plays against the Maple Leafs at Consol Energy Center Jan. 30, 2013. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury compared Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to “crack addicts” because of their desire to play in the offensive zone during Wednesday's game against Philadelphia.

Some of the Penguins, including Crosby, weren't amused by the remark.

“The big guys, Malkin and Crosby,” Milbury said, “they're like crack addicts. They can't get enough of this offensive stuff. They want to go coast to coast and score goals, but it leads to some trouble.”

Milbury, the former Boston Bruins coach, is no stranger to ripping Crosby. He produced waves last season when he called Crosby a “punk” and “little goodie two shoes.”

When told of Milbury's latest comment, Crosby could only shake his head.

“I wasn't aware of it,” Crosby said, with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “He watches so much hockey, he must know. I'll try to do a better job of playing defensively.”

One of Crosby's teammates also chimed in.

“It's a little irritating,” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I try not to get too flustered by it. He always has a bonehead remark to make.”

Milbury's rivalry with the Penguins dates to 1991 when he coached the Bruins. He referred to former Penguins coach Bob Johnson as the “Professor of Goonism” during the series that the Penguins won in six games on their way to their first Stanley Cup.

Niskanen believes Milbury still possesses some animosity toward the Penguins.

“He's said some bizarre things about us since I got here (in 2011),” Niskanen said. “He's definitely got something against us.”

Milbury apologized to Penguins president David Morehouse last April following his “punk” comments.

“We're used to it,” Niskanen said. “I'm not losing any sleep over it.”

• One day following their setback to the Flyers, the Penguins didn't seem particularly rattled. Although there were easy comparisons between Wednesday's 6-5 loss and the zany playoff series between the teams in April, the Penguins prefer to turn the page.

“There's always hype against them,” defenseman Kris Letang said of the Flyers. “We just have to manage our emotions better in the future.”

• If Thursday's practice is any indication, center Dustin Jeffrey could be back in the lineup when the Penguins host Florida on Friday. Jeffrey skated on the fourth line during practice with left wing Tanner Glass and right wing Craig Adams.

Center Joe Vitale and left wing Zach Boychuk did not participate on one of the top four lines. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will start against Florida.

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