Sidney Crosby, left, and Evgeni Malkin, right, congratulate teammate Marian Hossa after Hossa scored a goal Saturday night. Coach Michel Therrien is not pleased with broadcasters criticizing the ice time of Crosby and Malkin.
By Chuck Finder and Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Michel Therrien bristled, then launched into a lengthy explanation.
Apparently, he is not pleased with Stanley Cup final broadcasters criticizing the ice time that the Penguins coach gives to stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
So when the subject arose in a Mellon Arena interview session yesterday afternoon, before the Penguins left for tonight's Game 5 in Detroit, Therrien wanted to go into detail about why Malkin collected 45 more seconds of ice time than Crosby in Game 4 Saturday at 23 minutes, 24 seconds -- on four fewer shifts.
"The difference is on the power play," Therrien said. "He stayed a bit longer on the power play," which accounted for a one-minute, 18-second margin in Malkin's favor, at 8:02 to 6:44, according to NHL statistics. "Regular shifts, it's equal ... 5-on-5, it's the same."
However, the league's Saturday stat sheet indicated that Crosby actually had 33 more seconds of even-strength ice time, at 15:55 to 15:22.
Matchup: Penguins at Detroit Red Wings, 8:08 p.m. today, Joe Louis Arena.
Series: Red Wings, 3-1.
TV, radio: WPXI; WXDX-FM (105.9).
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Chris Osgood for Red Wings.
Penguins: Have lost three consecutive away games and four of past five on road. ... C Evgeni Malkin does not have a point in series after not going more than two games without one in regular season. ... Are 2-5 in Game 5 when having 3-1 deficit in series.
Red Wings: Are 4-4 in past eight Game 5s. ... C Pavel Datsyuk has not scored any of his nine playoff goals on home ice. ... Have allowed more than one power-play goal just twice in 20 playoff games.
Hidden stat: Penguins were defeated in first possible elimination game in four of past five series they lost.
Which prompted the question: What about penalty-killing time for either or both, much like Mario Lemieux once performed?
"When we kill penalties, our No. 1 goal is to kill the penalty. People don't realize ..." Therrien said.
"A lot of people look at the end of the ice time. Marian Hossa played 24 minutes, I believe [24:01, to be precise]. Geno and Sid played 22 minutes [-plus]. That's the maximum they could play 5-on-5 and power play. The difference is penalty-killing. We like to use our players and keep their energy so that the advantage ... will be [on] offense. We've been pretty successful [doing it that way] through the course of the season, because first of all, we're in the Stanley Cup final. You got guys like Crosby, that was the pattern at 19 years old [last year, and he won] the scoring title. Malkin ... is a finalist for the Hart Trophy. A coach has to make sure he uses the players at the best of their ability. That's my job.
"What people are saying ... you know what? I respect their opinion. But I got my opinion. One thing for sure: This is a team concept, and we're going to follow our team concept."
His most recent goal was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. His most recent assist was Game 3 of that same series. Weeks have passed.
As Malkin enters tonight's Stanley Cup final Game 5 with zero points through the opening four games and just one goal and one assist in his past eight playoff games, fans and critics continue to ask about the lack of scoring from the NHL's second-leading scorer in the regular season.
"Whether it's him or someone else, it's a tough time of year," Crosby said. "You've got to fight through a lot of things. It's not easy. That's part of the playoffs."
"You get to the playoffs, you want them to produce," Therrien said of his stars. "Sometimes, the puck doesn't go your way. Sometimes, the goalie makes a big save. Geno is trying. You can feel that he is frustrated that he isn't producing offensively. He doesn't want to let his teammates down. And we're supporting him.
"It's not an easy situation for him right now. But he's working, he's trying. We're going to be there to support him, because he's a good kid. He's going to do what he can for his team."
Malkin attempted to contribute in other ways, such as winning four faceoffs, collecting a hit and blocking a shot -- something that every Penguins skater did Saturday except Darryl Sydor, Gary Roberts, Petr Sykora, Hossa, Adam Hall and Jarkko Ruutu.
Rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski has joined the Penguins on emergency recall.
He was summoned from their American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre because Kris Letang left the team to attend the funeral of a close friend, Vancouver defenseman Luc Bourdon, who died in a motorcycle accident Thursday.
Goligoski had an assist in the Baby Penguins' 4-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves yesterday in Game 2 of the Calder Cup final. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton trails in that series, 2-0.
Of Devils, Ducks and Penguins
Sykora played in his first Stanley Cup final -- and won a championship -- in 2000, at the end of just his fifth season with New Jersey. He was back in the final with the Devils the next season and again in 2003, when he played for Anaheim. He came to believe that it was normal to have every season stretch into late spring. This is Sykora's first chance to play for a Cup in five years, since his Anaheim days.
• About that 5-on-3 power play for 86 seconds in the third period, Therrien pointed to Henrik Zetterberg's exemplary defensive play on Crosby, who appeared to have an opening at Chris Osgood's left post and an oncoming puck before Zetterberg tied up Crosby's stick:
"It's a matter of a second. One little second. If we score the goal, people are saying how great we are. That's hockey."
• Hossa partly blamed the Penguins' 1-for-6 power-play showing Saturday and 2 for 17 this series on youth: "We got so many young guys, and we sometimes try so many things [and wind up] squeezing the sticks really hard. We just have to relax and play with more confidence."