NEWARK, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby isn't sure if he'll have to watch his back, keep his head on a swivel or not worry at all about retribution when the Penguins head into Boston for Thursday's much-publicized game against the bitter Bruins.
Crosby, though, has an idea of how the Bruins will react potentially to him -- and definitely to Matt Cooke, whose blindside hit on Boston center Marc Savard two Sundays ago left Savard concussed and effectively ended his season.
The on-ice officials did not issue Cooke a penalty for the hit, but the Penguins' forward and that play has been the talk of the hockey world ever since. The Bruins didn't go after him then, but everyone expects them to do something Thursday night.
"We all expect that, and it's not a bad thing, especially at this time of the year," Crosby said after Pittsburgh's 5-2 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday. "You're playing some intense hockey, and this is probably another notch as far as that's concerned. We know that and we expect that, but we're going in there to win."
The Bruins, who are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, did not practice Wednesday so they did not have a media availability to talk about the upcoming showdown against Pittsburgh.
Veteran officials Bill McCreary and Stephen Walkom are expected to ref the game.
"We know it could get chippy," Crosby said. "If that's the type of game that they're looking for hopefully that results in us getting power plays and we'll try to take advantage of it."
Cooke faced plenty of questions about what could happen both before and after Wednesday's game against the Devils. He wasn't about to predict anything.
"I have no idea," he said. "It's important points for both teams and we'll play it as it goes."
Maxime Talbot doesn't think the game is worth all the fuss if all you want to talk about is revenge.
"I think the media makes a big deal about it, but if they want to come out and be stupid, well you know we're going to respond and we'll be there," Talbot said. "But the media makes such a big deal about it. The thing for them is they want to get the two points to make the playoffs. Same thing for us. We want to win this division."
The Bruins do need the points, especially with the ninth-place Rangers, who trail them by three points, playing at home against St. Louis at the same time. The Penguins are tied with New Jersey atop the Atlantic Division.
However, nobody in the Penguins' room denied the potential of the Bruins' reaction. Crosby knows he could be a target for who he is. It's the old "eye for an eye" adage. Savard is one of the Bruins' stars and Crosby is the Penguins' biggest star.
He said he can't worry about that, and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma doesn't want his team thinking about the what-if scenarios either.
"No matter what the situation is in our room or outside our room, opponent or frustration level, we have to be willing to play our game," Bylsma said.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl