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Notebook: 3 players earn YoungStars berths

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Sunday, Jan. 14, 2007

PHILADELPHIA -- Sidney Crosby will have some company at the NHL All-Star Game later this month in Dallas, but not in the big game.

Rookies Evgeni Malkin, 20, and Jordan Staal, 18, and second-year defenseman Ryan Whitney, 23, were named to the Eastern Conference YoungStars team on Saturday, the NHL announced during the Penguins' game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

That makes Sidney Crosby, 19, the only member of the Penguins to participate in the All-Star Game on Jan. 24. Crosby was voted the starting center for the Eastern Conference team.

"It's good for the future of this franchise," coach Michel Therrien said. "Our veteran going there is just 19 years old. And we've got Marc-Andre (Fleury), who's playing really well and is on his second contract but he's still a young kid. We have some good young kids, and there's no doubt it's going to be a great experience for them to be there."

The 22 YoungStars participants were selected by the NHL's Hockey Operations department in consultation with NHL general managers. Players needed to be on their entry-level contracts in order to be eligible. The 4-on-4 game will be immediately before the All-Star skills competition on Jan. 23, the day before the All-Star Game.

Malkin leads rookies in scoring with 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 39 games. Staal has 13 goals and four assists for 17 points in 42 games, and Whitney has seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points in 43 games.

The big kids' table

Malkin is pleased to be going to the YoungStars Game, but he made it clear yesterday that he has his sights set on bigger things for next year.

"He said he's happy he made the YoungStars Game, but it's too bad he didn't make it to the adult game," said Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, translating for Malkin. "But it's a goal for him for the next year, and he's going to make sure he works hard to make it to that game next year."

Crosby held to one

Crosby had 29 points in 13 career games against the Flyers and had at least two points in each of his last seven games against them (8 goals, 11 assists, 19 points) going into yesterday's game. But yesterday was a "slow" day for Crosby against the Flyers. He was held to one assist in the 5-3 win.

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