Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari
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Q: Do you think utilizing Sidney Crosby for penalty-killing is a wise move? Granted, his speed would be utilized, but I think there is a chance that he will burn out and not be as effective come playoff time.
Gary, Nanaimo, British Columbia
MOLINARI: While coach Michel Therrien has acknowledged that he's considering working Crosby into the Penguins' penalty-killing rotation, he didn't do so in either of the preseason games in which Crosby has appeared. And the belief here is that it's in the Penguins' best interest to keep it that way.
Not because there's any great danger of Crosby being worn down by next spring -- after all, he's a 20-year-old in exceptional physical condition -- let alone because of concerns about whether he'd be effective; fact is, Crosby is so committed to excelling at everything he does that he probably could master just about any job in the industry over the course of a long weekend.
But even without adding him to the mix, the Penguins have a bounty of capable penalty-killers, so there's no need to add playing shorthanded -- not on a regular basis, anyway -- to his job description. Perhaps more important, though, is that penalty-killing can be pretty high-risk work; guys who block a lot of shots tend to end up with broken bones every now and then, and it would be devastating for the Penguins to lose Crosby for six weeks or so because of, say, a fractured foot. And anyone who believes Crosby would be willing to kill penalties at half-speed -- constantly looking for shorthanded scoring opportunities, but not putting himself in harm's way when an opponent is preparing to shoot -- simply doesn't know the guy very well.
Q: Looking at the roster from last year, the only forward missing who played regularly is Michel Ouellet. With the Penguins signing Petr Sykora in the off-season, do you see a regular from last season being bumped from the fourth line in favor of a player like Jonathan Filewich or Adam Hall? I think both are much more versatile than someone like Georges Laraque.
Chris, North Hills
MOLINARI: Putting together a 23-man roster is not unlike assembling a jigsaw puzzle; the main difference is that the coaching staff gets to decide what the end result should look like instead of being compelled to put together the pieces to form a picture designed by someone else. To this point, Therrien has not detailed exactly what roles he envisions each of his lines filling, and the duties he gives the No. 4 unit should have at least some impact on who plays there.
The thinking here is that Filewich, who does not have to clear waivers to return to the Penguins' farm team in Wilkes-Barre, has not done enough to force his way onto the major-league roster, even though he shows signs of being able to compete at this level. Hall, meanwhile, has done what the Penguins presumably were looking for when they gave him a tryout -- he's killed penalties and handled the blue-collar work that goes with playing on a fourth line -- but he still doesn't have a contract, and the Penguins have not said whether they plan to offer him one.
If they do, you can pencil him in on the 23-man roster. If not, it will open a spot for someone else. And while Laraque was an unabashed disappointment after being acquired at the trade deadline last season, his fighting prowess adds a dimension that very few players in the league can provide. Laraque doesn't fight very often -- that's evidence that he is looking to diversify his game, and probably that few opposing players are stupid enough to goad him into dropping the gloves -- but when he does, the bout usually doesn't last long. And somebody in a different sweater is usually in serious pain.
First Published September 26, 2007 12:00 am