Penguins Notebook: Renney pans Crosby's tactics
Penguins fans cheer on their team against the Rangers during a "whiteout" last night at Mellon Arena.
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It must have been, New York Rangers coach Tom Renney suggested, a simple misunderstanding.
How Penguins center Sidney Crosby -- whose "penchant for embellishing and contesting every call," as the New York Post put it, in one of a series of such comments in that city's newspapers this week -- ever got the impression that his on-ice behavior would be singled out for discussion during Renney's pre-series meeting with NHL series supervisor Bob Hall was quite a mystery, Renney said.
It probably wasn't terribly baffling to readers of the New York Daily News, however, since a story yesterday said that "Tom Renney indicated Crosby's penchant for drawing penalties also will be among the topics the Rangers will broach with the supervisor of officials in their pre-series meetings."
"If he takes offense to my innuendo, that is his prerogative," Renney said a few hours before Rangers and Penguins met in Game 1 of their second-round series at Mellon Arena last night.
Not surprisingly, Crosby did just that -- with vigor -- when asked about Renney's comments earlier in the week and whether anything has changed since the "diving" accusations began during his rookie season.
"I never dove," he said. "I don't. [Renney's remarks are] just part of the playoffs, part of the gamesmanship. If I go down, it's because I've been forced down. If not, I'll find a way to stay on my feet. ... I think he should be the one worried about guys diving."
Renney is highly regarded for his ability to make adjustments, but Penguins coach Michel Therrien made the first major one of the series.
Even though the Penguins allowed just five goals during their first-round series against Ottawa, Therrien reconfigured two of his three defense pairings before the series-opener.
The Brooks Orpik-Sergei Gonchar tandem remained intact, but Therrien moved Hal Gill from his place alongside Kris Letang and put him with Rob Scuderi, while uniting Letang with Ryan Whitney.
"We believe that we need to make some adjustments because we're playing the Rangers," Therrien said. "Our defensive game has to be on top of its game. This is a team that doesn't allow a lot of goals, doesn't allow a lot of scoring chances.
"They commit to defense. We have to make sure to match their intensity about playing defensive hockey."
Each of the Penguins' previous pairings had featured a balance of playing styles, with one member focusing on defense and the other more offense-oriented. Under the new setup, the Gill-Scuderi pairing has two defensive-minded guys playing together, while Whitney and Letang are best-known for their offense.
Penguins left winger Gary Roberts, who has had a sore groin for about two weeks, decided to sit out Game 1 after testing his injury during the game-day skate.
"We're disappointed that he's not ready to play, but you have to respect his decision," Therrien said. "If he feels like he's not 100 percent, he's not going to play."
Adam Hall, who took Roberts' spot in Games 3 and 4 of the Penguins' first-round series against Ottawa, did so again last night.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins put on a veritable goaltending clinic against Ottawa, allowing just five goals in four games but didn't do anything approaching Michael Leighton's feat Wednesday night.
Few guys in pro hockey history have.
Leighton, a goalie with the Albany River Rats, stopped 98 of 101 shots in a 3-2, five-overtime loss to Philadelphia in the longest game in American Hockey League history.
"That's pretty sick," Fleury said.
He winced slightly upon hearing that Leighton's effort couldn't prevent his team from losing, but quickly found a way to put a positive spin on Leighton's performance.
"That's pretty good for the save percentage," Fleury said. "At the same time, it must be tough on a guy to play so well [and lose]."
Leighton's Phantoms counterpart, Scott Munroe, hardly was tested at all by comparison, facing a mere 67 shots from the River Rats.
First Published April 26, 2008 12:00 am