Penguins Notebook: Crosby's block creates Internet firestorm
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The world -- or at least that portion of it waiting impatiently for the Olympic hockey tournament -- held its breath Sunday when Penguins center Sidney Crosby was in obvious pain after blocking a close-range slap shot by Nashville's Kevin Klein.
Crosby limped onto the home bench at Mellon Arena and was doubled over in pain for a short time.
Websites, including some belonging to national media organizations, began displaying posts expressing concerns over Team Canada's star player.
Crosby skated somewhat gingerly for several shifts after the blocked shot, but he did not miss any playing time, finishing with a goal and an assist on 23 shifts totaling 23 minutes, 7 seconds.
He dismissed any injury concern after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Predators, which was the Penguins' final game before the Olympic break.
"I got a shot off the [right] foot," Crosby said. "That happens. It's part of the game."
Asked if he was limited, he said, "How many minutes did I play? ... I don't think I was limited."
As for any question about his status with the Canadian Olympic squad, he said, "No, I'll be there. I'm on the flight [Sunday night]. No worries."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby showed good initiative to get in front of Klein's blast from the right point.
"I thought it was a great blocked shot, getting in the lane and preventing that from getting to our net," he said. "He was ... emotional about the pain, but I think it was one of those stingers and it wore off for him."
Told of the Internet firestorm caused by his discomfort, Crosby said, "That's the world we live in."
A couple of Penguins were left wondering about penalties that were called against them.
At the end of the first period, forward Evgeni Malkin got into a short tussle with Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis in the corner near the Penguins' runway.
Both players were deemed guilty of roughing, but Malkin got a double minor penalty while Hamhuis got just two minutes.
"I think [the referee] was mad because it was after the whistle and I didn't listen and we punched a little bit," Malkin said. "I don't know why [I got the extra penalty]."
The Predators' Martin Erat scored on the resulting power play.
Less than four minutes after Erat's goal, Penguins winger Chris Kunitz was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tangling with Erat next to Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Erat ended up on his backside.
Kunitz couldn't explain why he was given that penalty. In fact, until he was told about it after the game, he thought he was called for roughing.
He doubted it was because of something verbal.
"I didn't say anything until the guy fell down and they called a penalty," he said. "Just normal stuff in front of the net. If it was [unsportsmanlike conduct], I don't know why."
After the game, players headed to the Olympics in Vancouver were going their separate ways.
Crosby, Fleury and Nashville defenseman Shea Weber were scheduled to fly to Columbus to pick up fellow Team Canada members Rick Nash of Columbus and the Chicago contingent of Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, after the Blackhawks' game against the Blue Jackets.
Those seven then were scheduled to fly to Vancouver together.
"One minute we're playing against each other, and now we're flying to Vancouver," Crosby said. "It's pretty quick. We'll have to adjust pretty quickly."
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik and Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, U.S. Olympic teammates, also were flying together to Vancouver, as were Malkin and Penguins teammate Sergei Gonchar, who will represent Russia.
The rest of the Penguins are expected to scatter to warm climates, to visit family or get away in some other form.
They worked with strength coach Mike Kadar to set up individualized programs for maintaining their conditioning over the next nine days. There will be no team activities during that time, under an NHL mandate.
The Penguins, minus those in Vancouver, will resume skating Feb. 24.
First Published February 15, 2010 12:00 am