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Inside Scoop: HORSE

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

On Ryan Reaves' first day of training camp with the Penguins, he noticed something about his new teammate Sidney Crosby.

"I don't know if I've ever seen somebody get so mad over a scrimmage loss before," Reaves laughed from his locker stall on Friday after their team suffered a shootout setback to Evgeni Malkin's group.

Though Crosby isn't the only one with a competitive spirit, as Reaves said he dislikes losing as much as the captain does.

"I hate losing," Reaves said. "I absolutely hate losing, in anything. If we're playing go fish or hockey, I'm flipping tables if I lose in anything. I want to bring that competitive nature here, too."

And that's exactly what head coach Mike Sullivan wants to see from his guys these next couple of weeks at training camp as they get ready to open the 2017-18 season.

"We're trying to create a training camp that encourages a competitive spirit," Sullivan said. "That's part of the design of the camp and we have competitive guys. I think it's an essential element in having success in this game. And so one of the things we love about our guys is how competitive they are, and they don't want to lose. We're trying to create as many competitive scenarios as we can to try to push ourselves to be at our best. Sid's a guy who might be the best example of that competitive spirit we're looking for out of our players."

Before taking that competitive nature on the ice, they took it outside on Thursday during Media Day, when Crosby picked up a basketball and challenged Reaves, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin to a game of HORSE - which later turned into PIG - in the parking lot behind UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.

The group ended up playing a few rounds, with Malkin being the breakout star of the afternoon with how he sunk basket after basket. And while Reaves claims that he's the best basketball player in the locker room, he admitted he was surprised by how good Malkin was.

"Okay, I'll be honest - I was not ready for that," Reaves admitted with a grin. "I thought I was going to walk all over him. But he's got a nice jump shot. One-on-one, I know I could take him, but in a game of (HORSE), he's nice."

Kessel couldn't get over how talented Malkin was while they were playing, at one point yelling, "He is FUEGO right now!"

"He's a player, you see him? He's a good shooter out there," Kessel said Friday.

Malkin said Saturday that while he isn't a huge basketball fan - he just likes watching different sports, including soccer and football - he has always enjoyed playing the game whenever he gets a chance, and would shoot hoops in Russia when he was younger.

"When I was growing up, outside my home, I played every day with my friends," Malkin said. "We played hockey, table tennis, volleyball, and we played basketball too. I'm pretty good, I think. My jumper, I shoot pretty good."

But it's not just practice that makes perfect for Malkin, who at 6-foot-3 has a decent height and wingspan for basketball.

"It's genetic," he said with a laugh.

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