Penguins Notebook: Extra equipment isn't the cause of Crosby's slump on faceoffs


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OTTAWA -- Over the past few years, Sidney Crosby developed into one of the NHL's best faceoff men.

He reinforced his status during the regular season, controlling 54.3 percent of his draws.

Crosby has not come close to matching that success in the playoffs.

Going into Game 3 of the Penguins' second-round series against Ottawa Sunday night at Scotiabank Place, Crosby was 71-82 on faceoffs, a success rate of 46.4 percent.

That placed him ninth among the 12 Penguins who had taken draws in the first eight postseason games.

One easy and obvious explanation for his sudden trouble with faceoffs is that Crosby's vision is being impeded by the piece of plastic that has been attached to his helmet to protect the jaw that was fractured March 30.

It also would be an incorrect one, according to Crosby, who Sunday absolved that extra piece of equipment for his difficulties.

"That's me," he said, smiling. "All me.

"I'd love to be able to say [the protective bar is an issue].

"I was trying to figure out why everyone kept asking me about that. Guess I know now."

Crosby explained that the decision on whether he should wear that bar is made from series to series and that he doesn't know if he'll be advised to keep it on for the balance of the playoffs, even if the Penguins eventually qualify for the Stanley Cup final.

"Hopefully, it's a decision I have to make," he said.

Regardless of when the Penguins' season ends, Crosby has a pretty good idea of how he'll be spending much of his offseason.

He said he has been told to expect "three or four" more medical procedures to repair the damage done when a Brooks Orpik shot was deflected into his face with four weeks left in the regular season.

In addition to some dental work, he said he will have a bone implant in his jaw and at least one of the titanium plates that was put in to assist in the healing of his jaw will be removed.

The plan, he added, is for all the work to be completed before he reports for training camp in the fall.

"Not the way I'd want to spend the summer," he said. "But I want to get it done."

The perk of being at home

Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said that getting the last line changes is a nice perk of being back at Scotiabank Place for Games 3 and 4.

"It can always be a factor, yeah," he said. "We get to get the last change. We're going to be able to feel we have the right people against who they have on the ice. If there is an advantage, that's what it is."

The Senators, MacLean said, are not the kind of team that stresses matching lines throughout the course of a game.

"We're a team that likes to play anybody against anybody," he said. "We can put any line on the ice against any other line and we're confident we'll be able to play at least 50-50 with them."

Eaton, Glass back in lineup

The Penguins made two lineup changes for Game 3, adding defenseman Mark Eaton and forward Tanner Glass in place of Deryk Engelland and Joe Vitale, respectively.

Engelland presumably lost his spot because of a sub-par performance in the Penguins' 4-3 victory in Game 2. The Penguins did not explain Vitale's absence, but it is not believed to have been performance-related, especially when coach Dan Bylsma cited the positive impact his speed and tenacity had.

Although Eaton and Glass had been healthy scratches for the previous four games, neither seemed unduly concerned about returning in mid-series.

"I've been around long enough, I know what teams like to do," Eaton said. "I've been in playoff situations like this, heading back into a hostile environment. There shouldn't be any surprises, and there shouldn't be anything that I haven't see before."

Glass volunteered that, "it's always tough when you've been out of the lineup to come back in and feel like you're part of the team right away," but added that the time he spent in the press box recently hadn't been wasted.

"I've been watching from up top," he said. "And the game looks pretty easy from up there."

penguins

Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1959 and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published May 20, 2013 4:30 AM


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