Penguins Notebook: Gill, Gorges two big reasons for Crosby's lack of production
Penguins forward Sidney Crosby battles with Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill during Tuesday's Game 3 in the Bell Centre in Montreal.
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Sidney Crosby has three assists but no goals against Montreal after he scored five goals and had nine assists in six games against Ottawa.
He had one shot in the first three games against the Canadiens before putting five shots on net in Game 4.
One reason for the decrease in production is the Canadiens' defensive pairing of Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, who have been effective at shutting down shooting and passing lanes and blocking shots as well as reading what the Penguins are doing offensively.
"We've just been really good at coming back. Our backchecking has been pretty good, putting back pressure on him and forcing him into us," said Gill, who won a ring with Crosby and the Penguins last year.
"They have a lot of crossing patterns. They do a lot of different things. It's not just straight one-on-ones. There's a lot going on. We've been good at picking that up."
Everything is magnified in the playoffs, and Crosby's lack of scoring gets more scrutiny because he is an elite player.
"It's never a lack of effort," said Jordan Staal. "He's always the hardest working guy in practice and in games. You just have to stick with it. It's the playoffs. It's tough to score. It's not a time to get frustrated. It's a time to keep moving forward and working that much harder."
Coach Dan Bylsma noted that Crosby is facing a different kind of defense this series, but he's not singling out his star center.
"Our team would like to score more goals with the amount of zone time we've been getting," Bylsma said. "It's not just Sid."
After making what would seem to be a miraculous recovery from a surgically repaired tendon in his foot, Staal got increased playing time in the third period of Game 4, and he likely will get more.
"I didn't see any hesitation in his game. I thought he was right in there," Bylsma said.
Staal confessed to being nervous at first, but he gained confidence as the game progressed.
"All those questions kind of shooed away after the first couple of shifts, and I felt pretty comfortable throughout the game," Staal said. "It got better as the game went on."
Information on a player's status is more closely guarded than state secrets, but Bylsma produced some laughs from the media when the subject of Bill Guerin's return to the lineup was broached. He was asked on a scale of one to five, with one being the lowest and five being the highest, what are the odds of Guerin playing in Game 5?
"That's the best question about someone's status for a game I ever heard," Bylsma said. "With one being the lowest and five being the highest? He's day to day."
Guerin was one of nine skaters on the ice Friday for an optional skate. The others were Jay McKee, Mike Rupp, Craig Adams, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Eric Godard, Ben Lovejoy, Chris Conner and Deryk Engelland.
If Montreal had not been able to come back for a 3-2 win in Game 4, rookie defenseman P.K. Subban might have felt like something of a goat. He was knocked away from the puck and fell in the first period. That led to the rush that produced the Penguins' first goal. Subban also struggled on the power play.
As it was, he just felt the need to play better.
Subban has been logging key minutes and has earned a lot of praise in the absence of top defenseman Andrei Markov, who is out with what reportedly is a torn knee ligament. That includes time on the top power-play unit.
The Canadiens got just two shots over the course of two power plays in Game 4, and Subban felt responsible.
"For me, I'm new to the power play, so there's a lot of things I'm learning," he said. "The guys aren't showing it to me, but they've got to be getting frustrated when I'm not making the plays that they've been making all year.
"I've got [Marc-Andre Bergeron] on my right-hand side. I've got to get him the puck. He has one of the hardest shots in the league. I've got to get him the puck, and I've got to move my feet and make the right decisions. The puck's on my stick back there. They win a draw back to me, and it starts with me. I've got to get better.
"[Game 3] was a learning day for me. I'm only going to get better from here."
Coach Jacques Martin seems willing to have patience with the 20-year-old.
"It was a good learning experience for him," Martin said. "He's a young man, and he has to go through those pains sometimes."
Miroslav Satan earned a Stanley Cup ring with the Penguins in 2009, but he hardly qualified as a difference-maker.
After spending the final weeks of the regular season with their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre, he was recalled for the playoffs and appeared in 17 games, contributing one goal and four assists.
He was not re-signed and didn't get another job until the middle of this season, when Boston gave him a contract.
Turned out to be one of the most shrewd moves Peter Chiarelli has made as the Bruins' general manager.
Satan, 35, is Boston's leading scorer in the playoffs, with five goals and five assists in nine games before Game 4 Friday night, and is one of the major reasons the Bruins were one victory away from reaching the Eastern Conference final.
It's unlikely any of his former teammates anticipated Satan having a major impact in Boston, but it doesn't appear to bother them, either.
"Miro obviously has all the ability in the world," forward Craig Adams said. "He knows what to do with the puck, so good for him. We're happy for him."
First Published May 8, 2010 12:00 am