Penguins Notebook: Friendships set aside when playoffs start
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Flyers winger Max Talbot have been friends since they were teenagers. They hung out together when they were teammates.
Now that they are on opposite sides of a first-round playoff series, socializing is off-limits, even though they have been and will be in the same city a lot. Crosby said he last communicated with the former Penguins fan favorite after the teams' final game of the regular season.
"It's the playoffs. That's just the way it is," Crosby said Friday before Game 2 at Consol Energy Center. "Everyone understands that."
Talbot, who signed with the Flyers last summer, also was close with several other Penguins, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and center Evgeni Malkin, but he's staying away from them off the ice, too.
"You cut the [ties] for the playoffs," Talbot said, adding that he has had practice doing that over the years in the regular season every time he plays against Bruno Gervais, a former New York Islander and current Tampa Bay defenseman. Talbot said Gervais is his "best buddy" and "is like a brother."
"When we play against each other, I'm even going to give him an extra shot because I know him and I want to let him know that I'm there," Talbot said of Gervais.
Asked if that kind of stuff or trash talking is going on between him and some of his former teammates in this series, Talbot smiled slyly and said, "I play my game, and you know what my game is."
Coach Dan Bylsma said that, circumstances permitting, he would like to get centers Crosby and Malkin a little more than a period's worth of ice time per game.
"Twenty-one minutes, depending on how the game goes, is a good number for both of those guys," he said. "If they go over [that] number of minutes, it starts to be too much, especially with the way they play.
"The score dictates [how much they are used], as well. If you're up in a game or down in a game, it dictates getting them out in offensive situations or putting defensive lines out there more often."
Penguins center Joe Vitale is 26, but didn't make his NHL playoff debut until Game 1 against the Flyers.
And while he didn't care much for the outcome, Vitale certainly made it sound like it was worth the years he spent trying to get there.
"I think it was everything I expected," he said. "The first period was probably the best period of hockey I've ever played in my life, as far as hitting and intensity.
"Things settled down quite a bit and they obviously imposed their game plan on us a little better in the second and third and came out with the win, but, as far as intensity-wise and emotionally, I think it was what I expected."
Bylsma said that in the playoffs, all personnel issues -- including the identity of his starting goaltender -- will be "game-time decisions."
That actually might be the case on occasion, such as when a player has to test an injury in pregame warmups to determine his availability.
Most of the time, however, it simply means Bylsma won't divulge his lineup plans until it's absolutely necessary.
Right winger Tyler Kennedy never has been shy about shooting the puck.
He put four shots on Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov -- and one past him -- in Game 1, and clearly is the triggerman on his line, which includes Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke.
"He's a shooter," Cooke said. "We all know that. Jordan and I just try to get him the puck in [dangerous] areas."
Kennedy scored the second goal in the series-opener, taking a feed from Staal during a two-on-one break before beating Bryzgalov from in front of the net.
"That's obviously something we need to do as a third line," Cooke said. "Chip in [offensively] to help our team win."
Injured defenseman Matt Niskanen did not skate Friday. Bylsma said he was given the day off. There is no word on when he might get clearance to resume playing. ... Philadelphia's Danny Briere, who played in his 99th NHL playoff game, expected a clean slate and no carryover from the Flyers' comeback win in Game 1. "I don't believe there is momentum from game to game," he said. "There is momentum in the games themselves, but, from game to game, it's a new chapter." ... Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, who left Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury, was replaced in the lineup for Game 2 by Pavel Kubina. ... The Penguins scratched forwards Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey and Richard Park and defenseman Brian Strait. ... The Penguins, who had a full practice Thursday, held an optional game-day skate with 10 skaters and both goaltenders. The Flyers, who held an optional practice Thursday, had a full game-day skate.
First Published April 14, 2012 12:37 am