Penguins center Sidney Crosby isn't ready to concede the NHL scoring championship to Evgeni Malkin.
But he doesn't sound as if he would begrudge Malkin it, either.
Malkin entered the Penguins' game against Montreal at Mellon Arena last night with 59 points. Crosby and Washington left winger Alex Ovechkin were tied for second in the league with 47.
Asked after the Penguins' game-day skate to assess Malkin's chances of winning the Art Ross Trophy, Crosby chuckled and said, "they're looking really good right now."
He added that Malkin is "playing really well. That's what we need. Me, personally, I want to make sure I'm helping him out, but he's doing a great job."
Crosby won the scoring title two seasons ago and certainly can't be counted out of the current race, but insists that overtaking Malkin is not a concern.
"I'm not worried about that," Crosby said. "I'm just worried about playing well. If that happens, great. If not, I just want to make sure I'm doing my part to help the team win."
Georges Laraque realized a dream when he signed with his hometown Canadiens in the summer.
Since then, some things about his job have been more like a nightmare.
The Canadiens placed Laraque, who joined the Penguins at the trade deadline in 2007 and spent all of last season with them, on injured reserve yesterday because of a groin problem that has dogged him since training camp.
"It's frustrating for us and, I'm sure, for him," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We have to get to the bottom of this and find out if he can be a good player for us. He's been having a tough time playing two games in a row. We just have to find out why."
Laraque has dressed for just 17 of Montreal's first 34 games. He does not have a goal, but has put up two assists and 29 penalty minutes.
"It's been tough, because he hasn't been able to get in a groove," Carbonneau said. "He's been OK when he's been in the lineup. But it's been frustrating, because he hasn't been able to put games together."
Dustin Jeffrey didn't have much warning that he'd be making his NHL debut in the Penguins' 1-0 victory at New Jersey Friday, but it was enough for his father and brothers to make it from Ontario to Newark to watch.
"They were lucky enough that they were all off for the holidays, so they were able to make the trip," Jeffrey said. "They couldn't get any flights, but they ended up driving [to New Jersey]"
And immediately after watching the Penguins beat the Devils, Jeffrey's relatives headed west so they could take in the game last night.
Although the Montreal game was the centerpiece of Hockey Night in Canada's NHL package last night, Jeffrey said he had more butterflies before his first game than he did about performing in one when so many friends and acquaintances were sure to be watching.
"I was pretty nervous going into the [Devils'] game," he said. "You try not to think too much, but there's still that feeling in your stomach, those butterflies. After the first couple of shifts, I calmed down."
The Penguins recalled winger Tim Wallace from their farm team in Wilkes-Barre because Eric Godard was injured blocking a shot in New Jersey. ... Coach Michel Therrien said defenseman Hal Gill, out since Dec, 6 with a shoulder injury, "probably" will play when Boston visits Mellon Arena Tuesday.