PITTSBURGH -- Penguins' captain Sidney Crosby was ready Friday morning for this second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens to begin.
He will get his wish Friday night when these teams face off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Mellon Arena (7 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC). Then, the time for talking about what might happen in the series will give way to the players writing the history of the series with their actions on the ice.
But before that could happen, Crosby had one more pre-series media session to get through. He discussed the Olympics and the likelihood that his line will be matched against Hal Gill, a teammate last year. He also discussed the keys for Pittsburgh on the power play as it goes against a penalty kill that allowed just one goal in 33 attempts against Washington. Finally, he discussed the playoff pedigree of Max Talbot, who had the Stanley Cup-winning goal against Detroit in last year's Game 7 and also scored a huge shorthanded goal in the Round 1 victory against Ottawa this year. Oh yeah, by the way, Talbot hails from Montreal.
Question: Do the Olympics feel like a long time ago?
Crosby: Yeah, they do. I haven't really thought about it. At the time, they felt like a pretty popular subject for a few weeks after, but it seemed to kind of change and that is a good thing.
Question: Is it easy for you to change your focus after something as big as the Olympics?
Crosby: This is the time you spend most is with your team here and working hard and spending a season together. It's been an easy transition for sure.
Question: Have you thought much about going up against Hal? Do you even game plan if you know you are going up against a certain defenseman?
Crosby: No. I don't think you want to change your game. He's big and you got to be aware of his stick. You have to do different things depending on who you are playing, so it doesn't change. I look at last series and the matchup there and they tried to accomplish a lot of the same things -- they tried to block shots and have good sticks and Hal just happens to have another five inches on those two guys and that's the only difference.
Question: Did you get the better of him in practice when he was here?
Crosby: I don't know, I'm sure we had our good days and bad days. He takes up a lot of space, that's the one thing that is always constant. He gets his body in front of a lot of pucks and his stick and he finds a way. That's going be a challenge for sure.
Question: Giving what they did to Washington's power play in the last round, do you approach things any differently than you did against Ottawa?
Crosby: I don't think you want to change your approach. We have had success because we have done the right thing. The challenge you face is the same challenge. They are going to try to block shots and take away time and space. You got to makes good plays and you have to get pucks through. Traffic is always a key. When a goalie can't see something, sometimes it is harder for him to stop it. We want to make sure we get traffic. Again, that is the same mindset you want to have no matter who you play.
Question: Can you describe the contributions of Max Talbot, who in the playoffs becomes a totally different beast?
Crosby: Yeah, he's a guy that is known to just raise his game and that is a great guy to have on your team knowing that. I think everybody is expected to do that, but he certainly does it. He's done it year after year and scored a lot of big goals for us over the last few years. He has a lot of character and I think it shows the most in the playoffs.