Penguins Notebook: Canada's win vs. U.S. pleases most Penguins

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Some of the Penguins have played in the tournament. Others have followed it closely since they were boys.

All had at least a minor emotional stake in what they were watching.

If not, they wouldn't have clustered around a laptop computer in their former weight room at Southpointe after yesterday's practice to look at streaming video of Canada's 2-1 shootout victory against the United States in a semifinal game at the world junior championships in Sweden.

Canada's contingent was larger and louder -- even though Evgeni Malkin let it be known early that he was pulling for the United States -- and that was fairly predicable. Not only because there are so many Canadians on the Penguins' roster, but also because the tournament is a major event in their country.

"It's a huge Canadian tradition," said center Sidney Crosby, who led his country to a gold medal at the world juniors two years ago. "We grew up watching this tournament, and a few guys have played in it, so it's fun to watch and fun to follow. And it's nice that we won."

Throughout the overtime and shootout, players exchanged taunts and insults on subjects ranging from the limited schedule played by U.S. colleges to the size of Canada's navy, but the outcome assured the Canadians will get the final word. Whether anyone will be listening is another matter.

"We'll probably remind them once in a while that we won, but they don't seem to be as interested in it as we are," Crosby said.

That's because most of them weren't. U.S. defenseman Brooks Orpik gave the impression that it was in the Penguins' interest to have Canada win, because of the psychological fallout so many co-workers might have experienced if the United States had prevailed.

"It's good that they won so half our team will be able to play on Friday."

Ekman's elbow dislocated

Penguins winger Nils Ekman will be out for an extended period -- possibly for the balance of the regular season -- because of a dislocated left elbow.

He was hurt in the Penguins' 4-1 victory Friday against Toronto, when he went awkwardly into the boards after a collision with Maple Leafs forward Matt Stajan, but his diagnosis was not finalized until after he had a Magnetic Resonance Imaging examination yesterday.

Team officials said last night that the MRI revealed "significant damage" to Ekman's elbow. The Penguins have not set a timetable for his return but confirmed that his absence likely will be "measured in months."

Although surgery is not planned at this time, it could be an option in the future.

Ekman, 30, has six goals and nine assists in 32 games this season.

He was acquired from San Jose in a trade July 20. The Penguins sent a second-round draft choice that had been acquired in March from Carolina for Mark Recchi to the Sharks for Ekman and goaltending prospect Patrick Ehelechner, who is playing in Germany.

Friendly contact

Thorburn and Buffalo defenseman Nathan Paetsch are close friends and former roommates, so it was no surprise that Paetsch was looking to renew acquaintances when the teams met Nov. 17 at HSBC Arena.

Except that he tried to do it with a crushing body check.

Thorburn noticed Paetsch just before their paths intersected and managed to duck the hit, which had plenty of velocity, if not malice, behind it.

"I don't think he let up," Thorburn said. "I talked to him after the game and he was like, 'I was coming.' "

Paetsch probably will do it again if a similar situation arises when the Penguins visit Buffalo tomorrow, but Thorburn shouldn't take it personally. Hey, what's a little violent contact between pals?

"We're best friends, and I got to see his game improve," said Paetsch, who was Thorburn's teammate with Rochester in the American Hockey League. "I think a lot of people underestimate his skill level. He's definitely an NHL-caliber player."

A pretty fair hitter, too, when circumstances permit. Not that he'll necessarily be trying to catch Paetsch in his crosshairs tomorrow.

"I'll just play the game the way it's supposed to be played and whatever happens, happens," Thorburn said. "It'd be nice to get a hit on him, though."



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