For the third time in less than a week, Penguins center Sidney Crosby was named a finalist for an NHL award. This one is different.
Crosby, a finalist for the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) and Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player), was named as a finalist Tuesday for the Masterton Award. The Masterton is for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication, and it often goes to a player who has overcome a major injury or other adversity.
Crosby played just 63 games between January 2011 and the end of the 2011-12 season because of a concussion and neck injury, then missed the final 12 games of this regular season and the postseason opening game because of a broken jaw.
"Whether you're nominated for that or not, I think anybody that's missed any extended period of time or goes through a tough injury, anytime you can get back playing hockey, get back to what you love doing, that's the biggest honor in itself," Crosby said.
"To be recognized for that, it definitely means a lot. There are a lot of guys who have battled through different things who have won that. Definitely an honor."
There were 30 nominees, one from each team.
The other finalists are Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding, who announced in November that he has multiple sclerosis, and Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid, who had two surgeries in September because of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which causes blood clots.
Crosby would be the third Penguins player to win, joining Mario Lemieux in 1993 and Lowell MacDonald in 1973.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma noted that it has been "a long haul for Sidney. It's not a surprise to see him battle back and come through it the way he has -- not only as an athlete, but the way he's performed as well. It's just a recognition of what he has gone through to continue to play."
Former teammates in goal
When Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson was on the way up in his NHL career, he backed up Tomas Vokoun for the Florida Panthers in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.
Tuesday, they were on opposite sides as Vokoun started for the Penguins and Anderson for the Senators in Game 1 of a second-round playoff series at Consol Energy Center.
"Tomas was a great teammate and a good friend," Anderson said before the game. "I learned a lot from him, played with him a couple years. Was really able to fine-tune my game behind him and really spend a lot of time watching him and picking up things that he did that changed my game a little bit."
Anderson said he picked up several things from Vokoun -- both mentally and technically -- in those years. He played in 17 games to Vokoun's 69 in the 2007-08 and 31 to Vokoun's 59 the following year.
"I was still in my late 20s there. He'd been around in the league a long time, played a lot of games," said Anderson. "He knew a lot of the shooters, knew tendencies.
"Just watching him and seeing how he prepared for games and how he battled back, played after a good performance and how he played after a bad performance; there's no change in his mentality, just the same. Really neat to see."
Vokoun, who had not started in the playoffs beyond the first round before Tuesday, had no qualms about facing Anderson.
"We're friends off the ice, just like anybody," Vokoun said. "When you play [against former teammates] in a game, it doesn't really bother you. You're trying to win the game.
"He had a great season and has been doing really well. I thought when I saw him for the first time in Florida that he was a good goalie. He proved it. It took him a little while, but he's been spectacular this year."
Anderson joked that the two bear a resemblance in goal, but also around the hairline.
"I'd say we're both hybrid. Some would say we look alike," he deadpanned. "Don't know if that's the cul-de-sac going or what. I'm not sure. He's a guy that, you don't know if he's going to stand up or butterfly. It's what makes it challenging."
Root Sports earned a 23.3 average household rating (728,125 viewers) for the Penguins' Game 6 first-round clincher Saturday night, a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders. That was the highest-rated first-round game and fourth-highest-rated playoff game in the network's history. All five games shown by Root Sports in the series registered in the top 20 highest-rated playoff games. Beginning with the second round, all games are telecast nationally rather than regionally. ... The Penguins scratched forwards Beau Bennett, Jussi Jokinen, Tanner Glass and Dustin Jeffrey, and defensemen Mark Eaton, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo.penguins
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @pgshelly. Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published May 15, 2013 4:15 AM