Recchi remains Crosby's wing man
Winger Mark Recchi has gone eight games without scoring a goal since scoring in the season opener 22 days ago. He finished last season with 24 goals after going scoreless through the first eight games. Here he celebrates a goal against Toronto in January.
Share with others:
Michel Therrien knows all the numbers, all the arguments -- statistical and otherwise -- for moving Mark Recchi off of the Penguins' top line.
That Recchi has gone eight games without a goal since getting one in the season opener 22 days ago, despite spending most of that time on the No. 1 line and power-play unit.
That he scored just twice in the final 23 regular-season games in 2006-07.
That he is 39 years old, well past the age when most players lose their scoring touch.
But Therrien, the Penguins' coach, also knows that Recchi has a history with Sidney Crosby, and that is at least part of the reason he has been reluctant to separate them.
- Matchup: Montreal Canadiens at Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.
- TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh; WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins and Carey Price for Canadiens.
- Penguins: Have lost seven of past 11 home games against Montreal. ... C Sidney Crosby has eight-game scoring streak. ... Power play has scored at least once in all nine games this season.
- Canadiens: Beat Penguins, 3-2, at Mellon Arena Oct. 10. ... Will be playing on consecutive days for first time this season after visiting Carolina last night. ... C Saku Koivu has 19 goals and 26 assists in 39 career games against Penguins.
- Hidden stat: Penguins have led at first intermission just once in first nine games.
"I want to be fair and give [Recchi] a good chance," Therrien said yesterday. "The reason is he had such great chemistry with Sid last year. They were playing well together.
"You start the season like [that] and you want things to happen. And I believe that eventually, things will happen.
"But Mark Recchi is not any different than Evgeni Malkin, he's not any different than Colby Armstrong, he's not any different than Maxime Talbot. Eventually, a decision will have to be [made] if the result is not there."
Therrien, who said he projects Recchi as a "20- to 25-goal-scorer" at this stage of his career, was noncommittal about whether he will keep the Recchi-Crosby-Malkin line -- or any other unit, for that matter -- together for the Penguins' game against Montreal at 7:08 p.m. today at Mellon Arena.
"We'll see," Therrien said. "We'll see."
That is in keeping with Therrien's policy of not divulging personnel plans until the players involved have been informed.
Should the Recchi-Crosby-Malkin line remain intact, Therrien apparently won't hear any protests from Crosby.
"His history proves that he knows how to score goals," Crosby said. "You go through these [slumps] and they seem so tough -- it seems like a huge mountain to climb -- but once he scores that next one, it's going to be a huge weight off his shoulders."
That Crosby would offer an endorsement of any teammate, in any situation, should surprise no one. His assessment of Recchi, though, came across as a genuine expression of confidence.
"We all go through this," Crosby said. "It's part of playing on a team. Whether it's him or somebody else going through a tough [stretch], you work through it.
"You help them get through it, and eventually it gets turned around. One of these games, he might pop in three."
Recchi, among the most media friendly players in franchise history, initially agreed to an interview, then opted against sharing his thoughts. He did, however, make it clear that he is confident he will begin to convert the scoring chances he has been getting.
In addition to his goal, Recchi has six assists to tie Petr Sykora and Sergei Gonchar for third place in the team scoring race.
He picked up one in the Penguins' 5-2 loss to Toronto Tuesday when he slipped a pass to Malkin as Malkin went to the net and triggered a sequence that led to a Crosby goal, and could have had another when he executed a 360-degree turn while controlling the puck in the right circle, then hit Malkin in full flight as he raced down the left side.
Recchi also hasn't been shy about getting involved physically. Witness the way he launched his body into Maple Leafs defenseman Pavel Kubina behind the Toronto net midway through the first period.
Therrien noted that Recchi rebounded from a slow start a year ago -- he finished with 24 goals after not getting his first until game No. 9 and recording just one in the first 14 -- and suggested that it would be a mistake to overlook the impact Recchi's intangibles can have on his production.
"He's a proud athlete," Therrien said. "The way he plays, he battles hard. I respect him a lot. I will support him. There's no doubt I will support him. We're going to try to help him."
First Published October 27, 2007 12:00 am