There is a lot of pressure resting on the shoulders of Penguins centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The weight of the fans, teammates and the franchise.
The Penguins best two players and leaders are expected to lead the way in Game 7 of their second round matchup against the New York Rangers Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center at 7 p.m.
Both players are well aware of the situation and the circumstances.
“We have to be our best,” Crosby said. “We look at responding and this as an opportunity. We worked all year to get home ice in the playoffs. We look at it as an opportunity and try to make the most of it.”
Even though the Penguins have missed two opportunities – Games 5 and 6 – to eliminate the Rangers and advance to the Eastern Conference Final, Crosby and Malkin were loose and relaxed while addressing the media at a joint media conference.
When Penguins senior director of communication Jen Bullano instructed the media to raise their hand with questions, Malkin responded: “I have a question.”
After Bullano called on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Shelly Anderson to ask the first question, Malkin responded: “Shelly, you’re first.”
Anderson responded, “Hi ‘Geno,’ how are you doing?”
Malkin asked, “Is that your question?”
Crosby shrugged off questions regarding the pressure of expectations on himself and Malkin.
When a reporter’s phone went off in the middle of Crosby answering a question (to the Rihanna song “Only Girl in the World”) Malkin busted out in laughter, while Crosby responded with, “Good song.”
When questions were posed to both players, Malkin shyly nudged Crosby to answer – to which he politely obliged with a smile.
Malkin elaborated on the team being loose and enjoying the moment.
“I have a lot of good experiences in Game 7. You just play your game, relax and enjoy it,” Malkin said. “Just have fun.
“Fun is (Monday). You don’t think about the game. We go to dinner, talk to each other. Have fun before the game. But when you step on the ice it’s a different time. You need to focus. It’s only fun before the game.”
And Malkin was certainly having fun on Monday.
At the end of the media conference Malkin jumped out of his chair giving two thumbs up and ran out of the media room yelling, “Thank you, guys!”