Penguins Notebook: Crosby finalist for Lindsay award


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MONTREAL -- His fellow NHL players seemingly have a lot of respect for Penguins center Sidney Crosby, even if some fans in opposing cities don't.

Crosby -- subjected to verbal taunting at the Bell Centre -- was named Thursday as a finalist for the Ted Lindsay award, which the NHL Players' Association presents to the player deemed to be most valuable. It previously was called the Pearson Award, which Crosby won in 2007.

The other finalists are forwards Alex Ovechkin of Washington and Henrik Sedin of Vancouver. Those three also are the finalists for the Hart Trophy, which goes to the NHL MVP based on a vote by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

In Games 3 and 4 of their second-round playoff series, fans in Montreal have used a vulgar chant toward Crosby, one he hears regularly in Philadelphia but not usually at the Bell Centre. Before Game 4 Thursday night, though, Crosby said he wasn't affected by the taunt in Game 3 because he didn't hear it.

"I've heard it in Philly before, but, honestly, [Game 3] I didn't hear anything," he said. "I'm not afraid to say whether I heard it or not. It's not something I'm dealing with for the first time, but, honestly, it wasn't even something I noticed."

Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill, who won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins last year, said such treatment is becoming common.

"You expect that when you go into another building," he said. "We heard it when we were in Washington [in the first round]. We hear it when we're in Pittsburgh. That being said, I'm always of the belief that you should root for your team and not yell at the other team so much, but that's part of the game. That's what makes it exciting."

As for what he saw Crosby endure in Philadelphia, Gill said: "They're different people down there. They might take it a little over the edge. But there's always a few people that take it too far."

Guerin, Rupp don't play

Coach Dan Bylsma called it a "surprise" that veteran winger Bill Guerin took part in the Penguins' morning skate. Guerin did no drills with a top-four line and was on the ice an extended time, so it wasn't shocking that he missed his second game in a row.

"He looked good. Didn't look a day over 39," Bylsma quipped after the skate.

Guerin declined to identify his problem, but called it "hockey related."

He said he has been "resting comfortably" and that playing Saturday in Game 5 is "my goal."

The Penguins also were without winger Mike Rupp, who was unexpectedly missing from the morning skate. Bylsma would only say that Rupp does not have a "hockey injury."

The noise factor

There is a thought circulating that the NHL asked officials to make a point of watching for bench infractions when clubs have too many men on the ice during these playoffs.

The numbers certainly bear that out.

There were 26 such minor penalties called in 59 games going into Thursday night. In four rounds of the 2009 playoffs, there were 17.

Going into Thursday, the Penguins were one of three clubs that hadn't been flagged for having an extra player on the ice, one of two still alive.

"I feel our team, our bench, communicates well," defenseman Mark Eaton said. "We're always telling each other who we have [in matchups], and I think coaches do a good job of letting us know who's up."

Still, the playoffs present special challenges.

"I think there's probably several factors," said Montreal coach Jacques Martin, whose team took two of those penalties in the first round but had none this round before Game 4.

Martin said elevated building noise can interfere with coaches' instructions on the bench in the playoffs, when there are more last-second changes in decisions on line combinations and matchups.

Bylsma agreed and presented a good example. In Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final last year, a 4-2 win against Detroit at Mellon Arena, the Penguins got away with having six skaters on the ice for nearly a shift late in the first period -- much to the Red Wings' outrage.

"It was too loud in our building to communicate," Bylsma said. "I looked down at a player and said, 'No, you're not going.' And they turned around with the full understanding that they were going to go on the ice. I went to the other player and said, 'You're going to be up on that line.' Both of them went on the ice.

"Both of them thought they were doing the exact right thing. I didn't think anything of it until I saw [Max Talbot and Miroslav Satan] together on the ice. It was just a [combination] of the building and us trying to get different combinations. I think that happens more in the playoffs."

Tip-ins

Winger Sergei Kostitsyn apparently is deep in Montreal's doghouse. He was asked to work out off the ice rather than participate in the game-day skate and was a healthy scratch for the sixth game in a row. ... Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek missed his eighth game in a row because of a mystery ailment. ... Eaton turned 33 Thursday and was happy to be playing on his birthday. "In my pro career, it hasn't happened as much as I would have liked," he said. "To be playing in May, that's what you hope for."


Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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