Penguins notebook: Ovechkin now has his sights on Crosby
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Alex Ovechkin might be the most dazzling star in the NHL, but the Washington Capitals' winger has a style that doesn't thrill Penguins center Sidney Crosby.
Ovechkin and Crosby exchanged shoves and words in front of the Washington bench Sunday in the third period of the Capitals' 5-2 win, and Ovechkin followed with a dismissive wave at Crosby.
"He taunts and does those things," Crosby said yesterday. "I don't think that's the way to play. I'm all for playing hard. I think he's a great player. He plays hard. There's no doubt he's a tough guy to play against. But he doesn't need to take runs.
"He went after [teammate Evgeni Malkin's] head probably three shifts before he went after me. He's hitting to hurt."
For several meetings between the teams, Ovechkin seemed to be targeting Malkin, but the two patched things up during the All-Star Game weekend and Ovechkin didn't seem to be as vicious toward his fellow Russian this time.
"We've always had some good battles," Crosby said of the two teams. "For some reason, he's started running around a little bit more. He's coming after me a little bit more."
Malkin leads the NHL with 87 points, followed by Crosby with 79 and Ovechkin with 77, including a league-high 43 goals.
After the game, Ovechkin said of Crosby, "He's a good player, but he talks too much."
To which Crosby replied: "I think I only talked to him when he ran me a couple times. That's the only talking I did, and he talked back to me. I guess if I [talk too much], he does, too."
The Penguins and Capitals meet for the fourth and final time this season March 8 in Washington.
Crosby expects more hitting from Ovechkin, perhaps a little outside what Crosby considers fair play.
"That's a strength of his," Crosby said. "He's a physical presence out there, and you can't take that away from him. But there's a way to do it, I think.
"I'm not going to get in a hitting competition with him. Size is not on my side -- for that guy especially -- but I can't shy away from him, either. There's only one puck out there. If I've got it, he's going after me. I have to protect myself and make sure I'm trying to get to the net and do the normal things."
Letang a perfect fit
After being a healthy scratch the past three games, defenseman Kris Letang seems to be working his way into the good graces of interim coach Dan Bylsma.
"I was more happy with the way Kris Letang practiced," Bylsma said after a session at Southpointe. "I think he completely knows what we expect, and he made an effort to do that. It was duly noted by the staff."
Letang, a second-year NHL player, would seem to have the speed and skill to fit Bylsma's approach.
"It's perfect for me," Letang said. "In his system, he wants us to be aggressive, jump into the play. That's exactly my game. He tells me it's tailor-made for me, so when I get back in, [I've got to] be ready and play hard."
Wingers Matt Cooke and Ruslan Fedotenko did not practice. "It's just the time of the year when some guys may need a day off to be evaluated [physically]," Bylsma said. "[Today,] we may see them on the ice and we may not." ... The team considered taking the day off, but Bylsma said, "We need to get some things accomplished. We need to continue to build on the things we've talked about." ... Chris Cihocki, a former NHL player who has more than eight years of head coaching experience in the ECHL, was named interim assistant with the Penguins' minor league club in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
First Published February 24, 2009 7:24 am