Penguins notebook: Martin St. Louis finally fits in with Rangers

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When winger Martin St. Louis' relationship with Tampa Bay soured late in the regular season and he was traded to the New York Rangers, he found himself with a new club for the first time since 2000.

After racking up 29 goals, 61 points in 62 games with the Lightning, he had one goal, eight points over 19 games the balance of the regular season with New York.

"There was definitely an adjustment period," St. Louis said Friday before he and the Rangers opened an Eastern Conference second-round playoff series against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

His production eventually picked up. He had a goal and three assists over the final five games of the regular season, and two goals, four assists in a six-game, opening-round series win against Philadelphia.

"I feel comfortable now with how everything looks in front of me," St. Louis said.

"You've got to find a way to integrate your game inside that structure. I've tried to do that since I've been here. It's something that you've got to stay on top of and work at every day."

The Penguins had not faced St. Louis in a Rangers jersey before Game 1.

What's the fuss?

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doesn't understand the large amount of attention that has been directed to his team's heavy schedule -- New York will have played six games in nine days by the end of Game 3 Monday in New York.

"I come from the West," said Vigneault, formerly Vancouver's coach. "Travel out here is pretty easy, so I'm not really overly concerned about three games in four nights [to start this series]."

Defenseman Marc Staal suggested that the Rangers have ways of dealing with the busy stretch.

"I think you just don't look at it as six in nine," he said. "You look at it as playing [Game 1] and put your best effort out on the ice, each guy. We're a deep team, a lot of guys have the minutes spread around, so I don't think that's a problem for us."

Fatigue might be more matter over mind for the Rangers, but center Derick Brassard agreed with Staal that it can be managed.

"When you roll four lines and the ice time is spread out, we have more energy," he said. "It's going to be a really tough schedule. ... It's going to be really hard, but we're in good shape and there are no excuses when you step on the ice."

Old acquaintances meet again

Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Rangers center Brad Richards go back a long way.

When Crosby was a tyke, he attended a skating school every summer in Prince Edward Island. Richards, who is from Prince Edward Island, was a young instructor. Richards, who turned 34 Friday, is six years older than Crosby.

"I definitely remember looking up to Brad," Crosby said. "He played [junior hockey] in Rimouski, where I [later] played. I definitely looked up to him growing up."

Crosby made an impression on Richards, too.

"He definitely stood out," Richards said. "You could tell he was above everybody he played with within probably three, four years of his age. He was just a sponge for information, always doing everything respectfully.

"I remember he was always professional and respectful in those camps."

Not much of a surprise

Montreal is the only team with an unblemished record in these playoffs.

The Canadiens swept Tampa Bay in the first round, then defeated Boston, 4-3, in double overtime in the opener of Round 2.

The Canadiens weren't -- and probably still aren't -- on many short lists of teams likely to win the Stanley Cup, but there's no question their play to this point has been impressive.

And, at least according to Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, not all that surprising.

"They were a good team during the [regular] season," he said. "They were a good defensive team.

"They have enough talent at the positions where, if they need to weather a storm, they can get through it. Especially the goaltender [Carey Price]."

Vigneault goes back to school

Vigneault joked that with a short turnaround between series, he had to cram to study the Penguins' first-round series against Columbus.

"Pulled an all-nighter, like my school days," he said.

Actually, he said, he has done his best to watch all playoff games and, in general, as many Penguins games as he can.

"Any team that has Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, anytime they're playing a game and you're free, you're watching because those are amazing players," he said.

Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. Dave Molinari: dwmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @PGMolinari.


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