Penguins Notebook: Parade of penalties unlikely in the series
May 9, 2008 4:00 AM
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Marian Hossa and Sidney Crosby chat at practice yesterday at Mellon Arena. The Penguins take on the Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final tonight.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
There were 27 major penalties handed out in eight regular-season games between the Penguins and Philadelphia.
And, oh yeah, 104 minors.
Take those number at face value -- or just about any other way, for that matter -- and one might get the idea these teams don't care much for each other. Which would be correct.
But even so, when the Penguins and Flyers meet in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final tonight at Mellon Arena, there won't necessarily be a parade to the penalty box.
The stakes are too high and both teams' power plays too efficient for players to risk putting their team down a man by trying to sneak in a late elbow or high stick. Or by retaliating for one of those.
"The playoffs are always intense and emotional, so you never know what's going to happen," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "But I think you're going to see two teams that want to make sure they're disciplined."
Now, it's entirely possible that some players will have a lapse during the series, that there will be times when anger overrides sound judgment. Still, knowing an ill-considered or selfish penalty could cost one's team the chance to compete for a championship should be a powerful deterrent.
"I don't think it will be a circus at all because you get a bad penalty and it can cost you a game," Penguins right winger Georges Laraque said. "Look at [Ryan] Hollweg's penalty on [Petr] Sykora [in Game 3 of the second round]. That gave us the game in New York that we needed to finish it in five.
"One penalty can be the difference. We're thinking about the Stanley Cup. If we win this series, we go to the Stanley Cup final. What's bigger than that?"
Talbot unlikely to play tonight
Penguins center Max Talbot, who has a broken right foot, did not participate in practice yesterday, although he again skated on his own before the workout.
Even though he seems like an extreme long shot, at best, to dress for Game 1, Talbot refused to rule himself out of it, then offered an unqualified assurance that he will be back in uniform during the Eastern final.
"You'll see me in this series," he said. "You'll see me. You'll see me."
Talbot said pain remains the primary issue with his injury, as it has been since he was injured blocking a shot in Game 3 of the second round.
"I want to be 100 percent," he said. "If I'm in the lineup, I want to help the team. I don't want to make it worse. If I can't help the team be better, I'm not going to put myself out there."
The adage holds that familiarity breeds contempt and, after playing eight times in the regular season, the Penguins and Flyers are more than a little familiar with each other.
That, Flyers goalie Martin Biron told the Philadelphia Inquirer, means the intensity and passion should spike almost from the moment the puck is dropped to start Game 1.
"You look at Washington, you look at Montreal, it took a game-and-a-half to get the emotions involved into the games [during Rounds 1 and 2]," he said. "I think against Pittsburgh, it will be a half-minute and things will get going.
"They might not want to say that. They might not feel the same way, but that's how things will go."
Eric Meloche pays a visit
Former Penguins right winger Eric Meloche, son of goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, attended yesterday's workout, and was greeted warmly by Penguins coach Michel Therrien, for whom he played in Wilkes-Barre, when it was over.
Meloche also has ties to the Flyers, having played for them and their American Hockey League affiliate after he left the Penguins.
He has spent the 2007-08 season in Germany and has signed a two-year deal to remain there.
Penguins left winger Gary Roberts, who slid hard into the boards during practice Wednesday, left the workout yesterday after about 40 minutes, but apparently because of a minor illness, not an injury. ... Fans will again be able to watch games on a large screen outside Gate 3 at Mellon Arena.