UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Sidney Crosby will turn 26 Aug. 7, which means it has been, oh, roughly a quarter-century since he emerged as one of the game's elite offensive talents.
He also is a traditionalist, however, with a deep appreciation for the game's roots and traditions.
That is why, even though his gifts for setting up goals and scoring them have earned him a lot of money and fame, Crosby practically recoils at suggestions that the NHL consider expanding the size of nets to create higher-scoring games.
He does, however, believe that modifying parts of the goaltenders' equipment wouldn't be unreasonable.
That doesn't mean he shares the belief that shrinking the size of leg pads is the solution. Instead, Crosby echoed an idea put forth by New Jersey goalie Johan Hedberg, that goaltenders' pants and upper-body padding can be adjusted without increasing the risk of injury.
"When I see the size of some of the goalies off the ice, and I see the [hockey] pants they're wearing, I don't know if they necessarily need to have pants that are that big and bulky," Crosby said Friday, before a game against the New York Islanders.
"The [leg] pads, obviously you have to make sure [goalies] are protected. That's important. I feel like if their pants were a little smaller, they'd still get the same protection."
Teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, predictably, isn't a proponent of any change that could make his job more difficult.
"I don't know," he said, smiling. "I'm a goalie."
Fleury though, said there is at least one NHL goaltender -- he declined to identify him -- who straps his leg pads on well above his skates, allowing them to extend farther up his legs than the rules allow.
Current regulations call for leg pads to run a maximum of 55 percent of the way from a goalie's knees to his pelvis.
"Those rules were a good step, but I think guys find ways to go around it a little bit," Fleury said. "Cheat."
Any change to goalie equipment would have to be approved by the league's competition committee, then by the Board of Governors.
Tomas Vokoun got the start Friday night, his 13th appearance in the Penguins' first 32 games.
And while the Penguins have, at times, strayed from their preseason plan for how to use Vokoun and Fleury, who got into 22 of their first 31 games, coach Dan Bylsma seems satisfied with how things have been working out.
"I would say we were bang-on for the first 20 games," he said. "[Since then] there have been opportunities to go with the hot goaltender, a guy who played a good game or has played a couple of good games, the way the games have been spaced, and are going to be spaced in the next two weeks."
Things likely will be a bit more structured, however, during the stretch drive.
"We'll probably go very much to a plan in the last 15 games, or 12 games or so," Bylsma said.
Schedule seems 'normal'
The Islanders game was the Penguins' 32nd in the first 63 days of the season, which works out to just more than one every other day.
Although that condensed schedule has led to fewer practices, a sampling of players recently found that no one who believes it has affected the way they feel or had a negative impact on the quality of play.
"I thought it would feel different, but it feels like a normal year," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "Usually the second half of the season, you'll have a stretch where you'll have 16 or 17 games in a month.
"You'll have seven in 10 days, or seven in 11, so it feels pretty normal so far."
Right winger Craig Adams made a similar observation.
"I'm not sure how much different it in from a regular schedule," he said. "Obviously, it's a little more compressed, but the season always feels like this.
"The only thing I've noticed is that it doesn't seem like we've had a lot of time at home. It seems like we've been gone a lot."
Perhaps that's because they have been. Before a just-completed three-game homestand, the Penguins had played only 12 of their first 28 games at Consol Energy Center.
They will, however, play the next five on home ice, beginning with a visit Sunday from Philadelphia.
First Published March 23, 2013 4:00 AM