Penguins Notebook: Bylsma still mulling Sykora's return to lineup
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It is, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, a move that he has discussed with his staff regularly for more than a month.
Never once has he seen fit to make it.
But whether he will get right winger Petr Sykora back into the lineup when the Detroit Red Wings visit Mellon Arena tonight for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final -- with the Penguins down, 3-2, in the series and just one defeat removed from the offseason -- apparently has yet to be decided.
"I've considered it every game from the time he hasn't played until now," Bylsma said yesterday. "We've certainly talked about different scenarios in the coaches' room and talked about what our team needs and what would help us win this game, and we're still talking about it."
Sykora could add a dimension to the Penguins' offense; he finished 2008-09 with 25 goals, 10 of them winners.
But despite a history of producing in pressure situations -- remember, it was his goal in the third overtime of Game 5 against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena a year ago that kept the Penguins' season alive -- Sykora produced only one point, an assist, in six appearances in these playoffs. He hasn't played since May 4.
His playoff performance came in the wake of a miserable stretch drive, when he scored twice in his final 17 regular-season games.
Detroit's power play, 1 for 10 through the first four games of the series, scored on three consecutive chances in the second period of the Red Wings' 5-0 victory in Game 5.
Part of the problem, left winger Matt Cooke said, was that the Penguins put themselves in a position where they were short-handed far too often.
"We started to take chances, started to lose our cool, and our penalty-killers had to kill four in a row," he said. "They are a great power play, and you are going to get tired, being out there that many times."
Penalty-killer Jordan Staal praised the Red Wings because "they did a great job of moving the puck around quick," but added that he did not believe the Penguins "had enough pressure on them to make them make mistakes."
Defenseman Hal Gill, meanwhile, suggested that the Penguins simply had the misfortune to catch the Red Wings on a night when they were particularly efficient.
"Sometimes when you're aggressive and killing a lot of penalties, you go at them hard and it doesn't work out," he said. "That's the problem with being aggressive sometimes. They're good players, and they made plays.
"It doesn't always work out, but I'd much rather do that than let them take it to us."
Sidney Crosby and Max Talbot were guilty of two highly publicized whacks in the second period of Game 5 -- Crosby slashed Henrik Zetterberg on the outside of the right knee, while Talbot got Pavel Datsyuk on the foot 20 seconds later -- but both insisted yesterday that their infractions were nothing out of the ordinary.
"I don't have any regrets," Crosby said. "He cross-checked me earlier on by the net. But it's not about getting back at guys at this point. We've got to play hockey here and worry about winning a game."
Talbot said he was simply looking to make contact with the puck when he slashed Datsyuk while killing the penalty Crosby had received. Datsyuk had missed the previous seven games because of a foot injury.
"I tried for the puck," Talbot said. "The puck was there."
The gates at Mellon Arena will open at 6:15 tonight. ... Regardless of the outcome of Game 6 (or, if necessary, Game 7), the Penguins will lead these playoffs in road victories. They have six; Detroit and Carolina are tied for second place with four. ... Center Evgeni Malkin has gotten 16 of his playoff-leading 35 points on power plays.
First Published June 9, 2009 12:00 am