Penguins Notebook: Sydor not happy about being first-game scratch
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Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor made a little personal history last night.
And couldn't have been any less happy about it.
Sydor was a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the Penguins' opening-round playoff series at Mellon Arena; it was, he said, the first time in his NHL career that he was held out of a playoff game when he was physically able to play.
"It's a first, but there have been a lot of firsts," Sydor said. "I just have to be professional about it, work hard on and off the ice so that when I get an opportunity ... the playoffs are long and grueling, so you never know what's going to happen."
Coach Michel Therrien said Sydor did not dress for Game 1 because of the Penguins' depth on defense.
"It's not a matter that we're disappointed in Darryl," he said. "We're pleased; he's had a good season for us. ... Sometimes, it can be a tough decision to make, but we like the combinations, the pairings that we have right now. That's the only reason [Sydor was scratched]."
Sydor's playoff experience -- he has 151 postseason games on his resume and has won two Stanley Cups -- is one of his greatest assets, which would seem to make him particularly valuable at this time of year. Whether, or when, he'll get a chance to prove that remains to be seen.
"We have seven [defensemen] who are playing well, and they're going with the other six," Sydor said. "I know what it takes. I've been there. I know how to keep myself mentally and physically prepared, and that's what I'm going to do."
The Penguins' other scratches for Game 1 were forwards Kris Beech, Adam Hall and Jeff Taffe, defenseman Mark Eaton (knee) and goalie Dany Sabourin.
Therrien declared that the high ankle sprain that led to Sidney Crosby sitting out 29 games during the regular season is a non-issue -- "His ankle is 100 percent," he said -- but acknowledged that he expects Ottawa to test Crosby throughout the series.
"They're going to try to play him physically, there's no doubt," Therrien said.
Crosby agreed, but reiterated that he wasn't focused on the Senators targeting his ankle for special abuse.
"There's not much I can do if somebody's going to go after my ankle," he said. "It's pretty much out of my control.
"Hopefully, it doesn't happen. If it does, that's why the refs are there, so I'm not too concerned about it."
Therrien echoed that sentiment, but cloaked it in somewhat darker terms.
"If they want to take penalties, that's fine," he said.
"We have weapons to respond in different ways. We can respond with the power play. We can respond physically, as well. "
A widespread lack of playoff experience was a major issue for the Penguins in 2007; last night, however, forward Tyler Kennedy and defenseman Kris Letang were the only ones making their playoff debut at this level.
"I'm pretty nervous, but nervousness is usually a good thing, going into the playoffs," Kennedy said after the game-day skate. "It gives you a little more energy and stuff like that, so I think it's not a bad thing."
Kennedy said he has friends from out of town scheduled to attend Game 2 tomorrow and that, predictably, participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs is the realization of a long-time dream.
"Growing up, you always see the Cup playoffs, guys going as hard as they can and sacrificing their bodies and everything," he said. "I'm excited to be a part of it."
Veteran left winger Gary Roberts, who missed more than three months of the regular season because of a broken leg and high ankle sprain, turns 42 next month and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Whether the Penguins will offer him another contract isn't clear, but it also isn't something on which Roberts is focused at the moment.
"We'll see," he said. "We'll worry about the playoffs first, see how the team does. There are going to be a lot of big [personnel] decisions made here this summer."
Management had a few of those in the summer of 2007, too, and one was bring Roberts back for 2007-08. When that opportunity arose, Roberts didn't hesitate to accept.
"It was a real easy team to be part of," he said.
First Published April 10, 2008 12:00 am