Craig Adams enjoying his 'outburst'
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Now that he's sitting on the fat point total of 16, Craig Adams can wield a little hindsight in assessing his offensive ebb and flow in the NHL.
"That's a good number for me," the Penguins forward said. "I've had those years in the past, and I've had a few really dry years when things didn't go very well for me."
The fact that Adams can take a minute to relish 16 points as his highest season total with the Penguins going into tonight's home game against the New York Islanders tells you he's not planning on challenging teammate Evgeni Malkin for the league scoring title anytime soon. Or for Malkin's point total in any given two-week span.
Not that Adams shies from new assignments.
The Penguins looked his way when they needed a top-nine forward for their game Sunday against New Jersey. They bumped him up from his steady home on the fourth line for much of the game because a minor injury shelved winger Steve Sullivan.
- Matchup: New York Islanders vs. Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.
- TV/Radio: Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Evgeni Nabokov for Islanders; Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins.
- Penguins: Have won 10 home games in row. ... Power play is 3-39 (7.6 percent) over past 13 games. ... Sidney Crosby is three points from 600 for career.
- Islanders: Are 3-1 on a five-game, 11-day road trip. ... Milan Jurcina is team-worst minus-32. ... Josh Bailey has four-game points streak (1 goal, 3 assists), and John Tavares has 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists) over past eight games.
- Hidden stat: Fleury has career-high 41 wins this season and is one win away from tying Tom Barrasso's franchise record of 226.
"It's fun," Adams said of the assignment, which included starting the game on a line with Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal and evolved into him playing some with Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby in the 5-2 win.
There were options, of course, beyond a 34-year-old known more for hits and blocked shots than for the skills to complement two of the better centers in the NHL, Crosby and Staal. Perhaps Eric Tangradi or Dustin Jeffrey.
But coach Dan Bylsma wanted defensive responsibility so he could match up better against the Devils' potent line of Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Adams rewarded Bylsma not only by ringing up three hits, two blocked shots and a takeaway in 13 minutes, 34 seconds -- his most ice time in a month -- but also by setting up Dupuis' winning goal, that 16th point.
Adams adapted by not really adapting.
"I'm not going to change too much," he said. "I get in trouble if I try and change."
Seriously, moving up to flank Crosby or Staal required no adjustments?
"Obviously, the difference is coming through the neutral zone," Adams said. "If you're out there with Sid or [Evgeni Malkin] or [Staal], guys that can really carry the puck, you try and get them the puck.
"But I'll get myself into trouble if I'm just looking for them, so I've still got to get pucks in deep. We're supposed to play the same way."
Dupuis, who teams with Adams to kill penalties but hadn't played much five-on-five with him, welcomes the diversity.
"You play with everybody on this team," he said. "Everybody's moving around. It's great to be able to play with everybody. We play one way. It's not like one line plays one way and the others are playing a different style of hockey."
Crosby, likewise, hadn't spent much time playing with Adams.
"With [Adams], you know what you get," Crosby said. "He's going to go hard on the forecheck. He's going to play the body. He's going to go hard to the net. I think he's pretty easy to read. You know what he's going to do. He gets pucks to you. He's responsible defensively.
"There are no real surprises when you play with him."
Well, perhaps one on Sunday.
When defenseman Deryk Engelland and Dupuis sprang Adams and Crosby on a two-on-one break, Crosby passed to Adams who ... didn't give it back to his high-profile teammate.
"I didn't pass it to him, did I, on the two-on-one?" Adams said, teasingly.
"Obviously, I was looking to give it back to him, but the [defensemen] in this league now, they play the pass pretty well. So I got myself a decent angle, shot it and [Dupuis] jumped on the rebound."
Dupuis notched the winning goal, and Adams surpassed the 15 points he had last season. He has five goals, 11 assists.
After being claimed off waivers from Chicago in March 2009 and getting his name on the Stanley Cup for the second time a few months later, Adams had no goals, 10 assists in his first full season with the Penguins in 2009-10. He had four goals among his 15 points last season.
His career highs of 10 goals, 21 points came in '05-06 with Carolina, where he also won a Cup.
"Being in the lineup every night and getting regular minutes and knowing that Dan [Bylsma] has confidence in me, that makes the game easier to play, and you're going to get points here and there," Adams said.
And, occasionally, a turn or several on a high-profile line.
NOTES -- The Penguins recalled defenseman Simon Despres and Brian Strait from the American Hockey League. There was no update on defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who left Sunday's game with a possible knee injury, and no word on whether defenseman Kris Letang had any lingering effects from two big hits that forced him to miss a little bit of time Sunday. ... Malkin was named the NHL's first star of the week that ended Sunday. He had five goals, four assists in four games. ... The Penguins had a scheduled day off Monday.
First Published March 27, 2012 12:33 am