Penguins notebook: Crosby survives Despres' big hit

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Sidney Crosby admitted he got caught with his head down. He thought his opponents in a training camp scrimmage Friday were caught in a line change.

So he took a pass up the middle from defenseman Kris Letang and allowed himself to keep his eyes on the puck as he took off on what he thought would be a long breakaway -- only to be stood up at the blue line by opposing defenseman Simon Despres, who had not headed to the bench after all.

Despres laid a big open-ice hit on the Penguins center and captain, although he could have gone much further and destroyed Crosby given the situation. Crosby, who was unscathed, slyly placed some of the blame on the feed he got.

"I'll have to discuss that with [Letang]," Crosby said.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma smiled when asked about the play. He didn't fully admit to any camp policy of keeping hits to an effective but less than thundering level -- particularly when they are exacted against the team's star players.

"It was a clean hit," Bylsma said. "Simon made the right play. I liked every part of it."

The scrimmage matched Group B, which included Crosby's line, against Group C, which included center Evgeni Malkin and his line.

Letang scored twice and Crosby once, on a feed from linemate Pascal Dupuis, in a 3-1 Group B win. Malkin and his linemates, James Neal and Beau Bennett, were shut out. Bennett came very close to scoring, but goaltender Tomas Vokoun made a pouncing save to knock the puck out of the air.

Jean-Sebastien Dea, a 19-year-old forward attending camp on an amateur tryout agreement, got the only goal for Group C.

Prospect still out

One of the Penguins' most intriguing forward prospects, right winger Anton Zlobin, is not participating in camp because he still is recovering from shoulder surgery this spring.

He has skated some with conditioning coach Mike Kadar and is working out off of the ice.

"It doesn't look like he will get into action, although he's not far off in his rehab," Bylsma said.

Zlobin went unclaimed in the 2011 draft, and the Penguins didn't grab him until the sixth round in 2012, but he scored the winning goal in overtime for Shawinigan in the 2012 Memorial Cup final, putting his totals for tournament at five goals and four assists in six games.

He signed a three-year contract with the Penguins in April and is skilled enough that he has the potential to become a top-six forward in the NHL. There have been questions, however, about his work ethic and consistency, which presumably is why he went undrafted for so long.

Tip-ins

Bylsma said through two days of on-ice practices and scrimmages, there have been no injuries. ... Three practices and a scrimmage are open to the public today. Consol Energy Center gates open at 8:30 a.m. ... Bylsma, on incumbent fourth-line center Joe Vitale: "This camp, in stepping onto the ice [Thursday and Friday] and going forward, he has established what he can bring to the team. I think what he's brought to this point is maybe his best hockey as a Penguin."

penguins

For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette contributed.


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