Penguins Notebook: Crosby says ... Focus on teams, not players
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Sidney Crosby of the Penguins and Washington's Alex Ovechkin have a lot in common.
Both are remarkably talented and dynamic players, and exceptional salesmen for their game.
And there's at least one other thing: Both insist the focus should be on the Penguins and Capitals, not Crosby and Ovechkin, when their teams meet.
Ovechkin made that point to Washington-area reporters before the Penguins' 2-1 victory Saturday at the Verizon Center when he said "it was over after the first year," and Crosby reiterated that he doesn't get caught up in talk of an individual matchup with Ovechkin.
"The attention on things doesn't change the way I approach hockey games, or how I approach anything," Crosby said. "If that's the way it is, that's the way it is.
"I just try to compete every night. Maybe from each guy's side, there's a little more motivation because there are more eyes on the game [when they face each other], but besides that, I don't think anything changes."
For the record, the Penguins are 8-1 against Washington since Crosby and Ovechkin entered the league in 2005, and Crosby -- who set up Ryan Whitney's winner Saturday -- has outscored Ovechkin, 15-9, in those games. The Penguins and Capitals will next play Dec. 27 at Mellon Arena.
The New York Rangers, who will visit Mellon Arena at 7:08 p.m. tomorrow, put up 242 goals last season, so they hardly qualified as offensively challenged.
And when they signed free agents Scott Gomez and Chris Drury this summer, adding them to a group that already featured Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka and Petr Prucha, there was reason to believe New York's attack would be flat-out volatile.
Hasn't worked out that way through the first seven games, though. Consider:
New York's 1-0 shootout loss in Boston Saturday means the Rangers have been held without a goal in 15 of 21 periods, plus an overtime.
The Rangers have seven even-strength goals, just two in the past six games.
Jagr, who scored 30 goals last season, has just one, and has been on the ice for only one even-strength goal in the past half-dozen games. Which is one more than Drury or Prucha have in that span.
Gomez, Straka and defenseman Michal Rozsival, with two each, are the only Rangers with more than one goal.
Shanahan failed to find the net with his first 39 shots of the season before finally scoring. He has 628 career goals, but is shooting just 2.3 percent from the field in 2007-08.
While it remains to be seen if goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's 30-save performance in Washington will mark a turning point, Fleury believes he'll benefit from the Penguins playing more frequently than they did in the first two-plus weeks of the season.
"If I can play a good game and we're playing again right away, I can keep building on it," he said.
Fleury entered the Washington game with a simple philosophy about how best to get his game in order: Work on the flaws without fixating on them.
Of course, one of the occupational hazards of playing goal is that it's tough to overlook errors, since they generally lead directly to a goal celebration for the other team.
Defenseman Kris Letang was a healthy scratch for Wilkes-Barre's 6-1 victory at Bridgeport Saturday. ... The New York Daily News reported that Ceska Sportovni, the Czech company that will stage two NHL games in Prague next fall, would like to have the Rangers, not Tampa Bay, face the Penguins there. New York's lineup is laden with Czechs, several of whom began their NHL careers with the Penguins. ... Coach Michel Therrien gave the Penguins yesterday off.
First Published October 22, 2007 12:00 am