Will Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby play Tuesday?

Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari

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Question: Do you think that Ryan Miller and Sidney Crosby will play Tuesday, barring an injury?

Rich, Pittsburgh

MOLINARI: Assuming both players are healthy, the thinking here is that Crosby is a lock to be in the Penguins' lineup, but that Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff might want to seriously consider giving Miller the night off.

While everyone who participated in the gold-medal game Sunday probably will have a letdown of some sort upon returning to NHL play -- heck, almost anyone who participated in the tournament might, whether they competed for a medal or not -- Miller not only will have to deal with the effects of cross-continent travel, but to de-compress from the stresses of being Team USA's go-to goalie for the entire tournament.

Factor in that Patrick Lalime has played very well against the Penguins this season -- including a game in which the Penguins drove Miller to the bench, only to have Lalime shut them down -- and it would seem logical to give Miller a night off to rest and begin to re-focus. Then again, he thrives on a heavy workload, and it doesn't seem out of the question that he'd try to convince Ruff that he's ready and able to play.

(And, in a somewhat related note, it certainly wouldn't be unreasonable for the Mellon Arena crowd to acknowledge what Miller did for Team USA over the past two weeks. He was the best player on a team that exceeded almost everyone's expectations.)




Question: I was wondering what your thoughts are on Mike Milbury referring to the Russians as "Eurotrash." This isn't the first time this fool has referred to European players and/or teams as such. I think Milbury represents the typical Canadian xenophobic attitude toward European and French-speaking Canadians. NBC and/or Versus should release this guy and bring in someone else.

Brandon Dunn, Ross

MOLINARI: Broadcasters have to talk a lot -- kind of goes with the nature of the job, don't you think? -- and when people do that, they don't always express thoughts the way they would like. There are times when even the finest announcers misspeak because their mouth is moving a bit faster than their brain.

That didn't seem to be the case when Milbury slammed the Russians after their 7-3 loss to Canada in a quarterfinal game last Wednesday, however. He wasn't doing play-by-play, or even color commentary; he was doing pregame, postgame and between-period analysis, and thus had time to organize his thoughts and decide the best way to express them.

There's no question that the Russians were fair game for caustic criticism. Their poor performance allowed a game that had the potential to become a classic to deteriorate into something that only the most fervent fans of Team Canada will remember a month from now. That doesn't mean Milbury, or anyone else, was entitled to slur the Russians with a term that many view as code for criticism of things that go beyond on-ice performance.

Milbury has a history of saying (and doing) things that leave most people shaking their heads. Penguins fans might recall, for example, that while coaching Boston, he labeled Bob Johnson a "professor of goonism" during the 1991 Stanley Cup playoffs. The fact that his attack couldn't possibly have been any less rooted in reality didn't deter Milbury, who later tried to dismiss it as "gamesmanship."

What made Milbury's cheap shot all the more troubling was that U.S. players had no greater champion than Bob Johnson, and Milbury was one of those players. For while some people in this country might like to blame Canada for Milbury, the reality is that he was born in Brighton, Mass.

Canada still has hockey's most xenophobic television commentator, Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada, but Milbury certainly seems like he can become a valid contender for that title.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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