Penguins Notebook: Talbot might play in Game 5

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Coach Michel Therrien hasn't penciled Max Talbot into his lineup for Game 5 of the Penguins' second-round playoff series against the New York Rangers.

Not yet, anyway.

But he certainly isn't ruling it out.

Therrien said Talbot, whose right foot was broken when he blocked a shot in Game 3, will try to practice today. If he can and there are no major complications, Talbot could participate in Game 5 tomorrow at Mellon Arena.

"Hopefully, he'll be able to practice, if he can put a skate on," Therrien said. "If he's ready to play, he'll play. He's an important part of this hockey team.

"If he can't play, he can't play. If he can play, we'll have to make some decisions with our lineup."

Talbot, who skated briefly Thursday morning, said pain prevented him from playing in the Rangers' 3-0 victory in Game 4 that night.

Pressure in eye of beholder

One of the most popular forms of postseason gamesmanship is suggesting that the other team is the one under pressure.

Doesn't matter if that club is leading the series or trailing in it, at home or on the road. Someone, somehow, generally finds a way to suggest that the pressure is squarely, and exclusively, on the opponent.

Therrien, however, made a fairly obvious point yesterday. No team ever is exempt from pressure during the playoffs.

"[The Rangers] have pressure Sunday," he said. "If they don't win, their season's over. And we have pressure, because if we don't win, we have to go back to New York [for Game 6 Monday]. ... That's why it is so much fun, because both teams have something on the line."

The value of experience is ...

Jaromir Jagr (168) and Brendan Shanahan (176) of the Rangers have combined to play in 344 NHL postseason games, the equivalent of nearly 41/4 seasons of strictly playoff appearances.

Jagr has proven that he still can be a major force on the ice, but, even if that weren't the case, he and Shanahan could provide valuable leadership for their team.

"Both of those guys have been around a long time, played in some big playoff games, World Cups," said Penguins left winger Gary Roberts, who made his NHL playoff debut in 1987. "Those guys are star players and have been for a long time.

"There's no doubt that it's an advantage to have those kinds of players on your team still playing at an elite level like they are."

But their intangibles -- and Jagr's often-inspired play -- haven't been enough to prevent New York from slipping to the cusp of elimination. Which means that, as was the case before Game 1, it's still hard to determine exactly how much all that playoff experience counts for.

"After this [series], you'll be able to pinpoint how much everything matters," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

A fan of the fans

Game 5 will be the Penguins' 61st consecutive sellout at home, and that streak is all but guaranteed to stretch through the end of their playoff run.

Probably for an indefinite period, in fact, given the four-figure waiting list they have for season tickets.

And while the players obviously are aware of the enthusiasm inside the arena during games, they also seem to have a feel for how the region has gotten caught up in this team and its success.

"It's nice to see the city like this, and our fans cheering for us," Talbot said. "If I was a fan, I'd be cheering, too, because we're playing [well]."

Slap shots

Therrien gave the Penguins yesterday off. ... Shanahan, discussing New York's 3-0 victory in Game 4 with reporters at the Rangers' practice facility yesterday: "We have to keep things in perspective. It's just a start, but it's the kind of start we wanted."



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