Penguins Notebook -- Crosby still expected to play vs. Montreal

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While the rest of his teammates practiced yesterday, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby sat in the Mellon Arena stands. He skipped the workout because of his bruised right foot.

Crosby is considered day to day and is expected to play tomorrow night at home against Montreal.

"I just wanted to make sure I take care of the swelling," he said. "I don't think it would have been smart to skate [yesterday]."

In the first period of the Penguins' 5-4 win against Anaheim Saturday, Crosby was hit in the foot by shot from the Ducks' Francois Beauchemin. He was clearly in pain but returned to the action, although not 100 percent.

Without Crosby, the forward lines in practice were Evgeni Malkin centering Petr Sykora and Jordan Staal, Erik Christensen centering Gary Roberts and Colby Armstrong, Maxime Talbot centering Mark Recchi and Ryan Malone, and a line of wingers Jarkko Ruutu, Adam Hall and Georges Laraque.

Practice makes perfect

When there was a lull at his end of the ice during practice, Marc-Andre Fleury took pucks from goaltending coach Gilles Meloche -- not on net, but behind it.

The drill was simple in design. Stop the puck. Control it. Get it to an imaginary defenseman coming back to the play. But it was a drill that left Fleury frustrated enough at times to slam his stick into the boards.

The Penguins' No. 1 goaltender is trying to improve his puck-handling, something he has struggled some with.

"I'm trying to get better at it," Fleury said. "I'm still not as good as I would like to be, and I'm just going to keep working on it. You have to make the right play."

The drills with Meloche in practice don't include a forechecker bearing down like Fleury would face in games, but he is hoping he'll get better through repetition in working with a coach.

Fleury said that's one aspect of his game that didn't develop thoroughly while he was growing up because he wasn't asked to work on it a lot.

Now it's a point of emphasis.

"If I can help my defense, that would be great," he said.

Different view

Crosby, in shorts, T-shirt and athletic shoes, sat in the C level of an end zone with his father, Troy, and a family friend. It's unusual for him to have a bird's-eye view of practice, and he discovered a couple of things.

First, "I don't like watching," said Crosby, who prefers to skate just about every day during the season, including optional practices and sometimes when the team has a day off.

Second, it's much different to be a spectator in the stands than to be on the ice.

"It's so much easier from there. It's so much slower from up top," said Crosby, whose vision on the ice is one of the things that makes him arguably the world's best hockey player. "Everything happens so much faster on the ice. Just little things you don't notice when you're up top.

"What I found is, I notice a lot more when I'm on the ice. Everyone's passes look the same speed if you're up there, but I can tell you different guys pass harder. I can tell you that [Sergei Gonchar] fires passes, but from up there you can't tell. Same with shooting. From up there you can't tell who's got a harder shot than who."


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