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Pens hope Sid can jumpstart Malkin

by Adam Kimelman /
PITTSBURGH -- There might not be a scarier sight for a defenseman or goaltender than Sidney Crosby coming down the middle with Evgeni Malkin following down the wing.

That hockey horror show could make a return appearance Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they try to climb back into their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Washington Capitals.

With the Penguins trailing 2-0 in the series, everything is under consideration, including skating the team's two top players on the same line.

Malkin hasn't scored a goal in five games, and has just two assists and a minus-3 rating in the first two games of this series.

While having balanced scoring across all four lines is the ideal, Crosby said desperate times call for desperate measures.

"I think it makes us realize we have to make things happen out there," Crosby said of the possibility of playing with Malkin. "Not necessarily score, but make things happen. Hopefully it's a boost. That's why we're put together usually, to create things and get momentum and hopefully score goals. We want to help each other."

At this point, Malkin could use all the help he could get. The League's leading scorer in the regular season hasn't put a puck in the net since he scored twice in Game 3 of the first round against Philadelphia. Since then, he has four assists and a minus-4 rating.

"I think he's generating chances," Crosby said. "Playoffs are tight. You're not going to score every game. He's created chances and that's all you can ask out of guys. Sometimes they don't go in and it's frustrating, but you've got to stick with it. That's part of the battle of the playoffs, the mental aspect of it. It's tough. Sometimes you work really hard and the puck just doesn't go in. You have to stay with things and he's doing that and eventually it's going to turn around. We're not worried."

Crosby and Malkin playing together isn't necessarily a rare occurrence. They are on the first power-play unit and former Penguins coach Michel Therrien and current coach Dan Bylsma have played them together numerous times at even strength.

Bylsma wouldn't lock into a line of Crosby and Malkin starting the game, but said it certainly is something that could happen during the course of the game.

"It's something I do in different games and different situations," Bylsma said. "Sometimes it's easier to do on the road, it's easier to do when your team is forcing the other team in the offensive zone and you force icings and you can get different matchups based on teams having to keep their guys on the ice. And it's also predicated on the score and time of the games."

There also is a thought that moving Malkin to the wing could alleviate some of his other responsibilities that go with playing center. Crosby, though, said wherever Malkin played, he expected to see the same player that shows up every night.

"I don't think it really changes a whole lot," Crosby said. "I don't think it will change as far as being more relaxed or anything like that. He expects a lot out of himself no matter where he plays. Both (positions) have different responsibilities. He'll be the exact same, exact same mentality at either position."

Bylsma agreed, and said if and when he puts Crosby and Malkin together, it will be to create offense and for that reason alone.

"It's more about us adding a more dynamic look to one line than it is about alleviating pressure on the defensive side or responsibilities for Geno."

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