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Penguins notebook: Captain Crosby refreshed, ready to resume play

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 7:06 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, shown during practice Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at Consol Energy Center, sports the facemask he will wear Saturday, March 1, 2014, against the Blackhawks at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Sidney Crosby barely offered a smile when discussing the second gold medal of his Olympic career.

His work this season, after all, isn't finished.

Sounding relieved that another gold medal was attained, Crosby acknowledged that his mind is focused on guiding the Penguins to a championship for the second time in his career.

“It will be good to get a routine going again,” Crosby said.

He doesn't need to wait any longer.

The Penguins play 17 times in the next 32 days, including a Thursday matchup with the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center.

Although Crosby has admitted fatigue from the 2010 Olympics may have hindered the Penguins, who were eliminated that spring by the Canadiens, he thinks the Sochi experience could enhance his team's chances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Such a high level of competition, he suggested, can pay dividends.

“I'm going to have to manage and balance rest and things like that,” he said. “That being said, to play at that level for a couple of weeks, I hope it's something that helps all of us who were over there.”

Unlike many Olympians who have complained of jetlag in recent days, Crosby reported feeling fine physically.

His left wing in Sochi and with the Penguins, Chris Kunitz, also is feeling refreshed.

Crosby and Kunitz will be relied upon heavily this spring as the Penguins are unlikely to add a plethora of stars like last season.

Kunitz sounds up to the challenge, even if the Olympic experience was a tiring one.

“You've got to manage your time,” Kunitz said. “We're playing four games a week. On days you're off and not skating, you've just got to take care of yourself and make sure you're still getting better.”

Crosby sounded hungry for the final 24 games of the regular season to begin and even took time to take a subtle shot at members of the Canadian media who didn't seem to think Kunitz was worthy of a spot on Canada's Olympic roster.

“There is a lot of stuff I read and hear about that I think is ridiculous,” he said. “There's stuff I don't always agree with.

“Chris has handled it well. I see the way he plays daily. As a hockey player, you have to shrug some of that stuff off. There are always going to be opinions and questions. Sometimes those kind of motivate you.”

Price played through pain

Montreal goaltender Carey Price did not play Wednesday and won't play Thursday.

Price is dealing with an injury and, according to Crosby, the goaltender guided Canada to an Olympic gold medal while playing through the pain.

“I think it's something that didn't just happen at the Olympics,” Crosby said. “It's something he's been battling for a while.”

Price allowed only three goals in five Olympic games.

Good advice

A number of the Canadian Olympic players battled sinus problems while in Sochi. Team doctors gave players two medications for battling the condition, both of which were previously cleared by the International Olympic Committee.

Sweden center Nicklas Backstrom was unable to play against Canada in the tournament's gold-medal game because of taking a banned substance.

Full speed ahead

All of the healthy Penguins — Crosby, Kunitz and defenseman Brooks Orpik returned to practice — were available for Wednesday's workout. Coach Dan Bylsma said the team will continue to work with three goaltenders but starter Marc-Andre Fleury will receive his regular practice workload. Jeff Zatkoff and Tomas Vokoun will share time in some drills.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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