GAME DAY VIDEOSSidney Crosby Jussi Jokinen Paul Martin --Michelle Crechiolo
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have consistently played on a line together during games ever since head coach Dan Bylsma started sending them over the boards for regular shifts with Chris Kunitz in Game 5 of the first round against Columbus.
The two superstar centers sharing the ice during even strength play is something neither of them was used to, as before this, Bylsma would only put them on a line together on certain occasions – after a penalty kill, at the end of a period or when the Penguins were pressing for offense.
But so far, it seems to be working. In the six games they’ve played together, Crosby has five points (1G-4A) while Malkin has five goals and eight points. And perhaps more importantly, the Penguins have won five of those contests.
After their second game together, where Malkin scored a hat trick, he said the key for them was communication as both players are natural centers and it was a big adjustment for him to move over to the right wing.
“I don’t play a lot on the wings. I played there the first time all year (in Game 5),” Malkin said. “It’s a little bit tougher. But today I had more confidence and played a little bit better and ‘Sid' helped me, of course. It was a little bit tough to support each other (before) and today it was a little bit better.
“Sid likes playing behind the net. Me too. We talked - when he goes there I stay a little bit in front. And if I go behind the net he stayed in front of the net.”
Entering Game 5 against the New York Rangers, I asked Crosby how he felt playing with Malkin had been going and how different it was skating with him compared to the other right wingers he’s had.
“It’s something that’s new, but I don’t think much has changed,” he replied. “I think it creates a little more space hopefully for both of us. He carries the puck a lot, so unlike guys that have played there in the past – maybe with the exception to Beau (Bennett) – most guys like to give it and then either forecheck and get open, whereas he’s a guy who likes to carry it a little bit more. So I think just knowing that and making sure you find him when he’s open. But I think just making sure we read off each other and support each other is probably the most important thing.”
Both players are famous for constantly talking with and directing their linemates during games, so I asked Crosby if there was a lot of discussion between the two of them. He just laughed.
“A little bit,” he smiled. “I think you just try to read off of ‘Geno.’ He’s always looking for open ice and opportunities to go, so just try to be aware of it.”
The importance of Kunitz to that line cannot be overlooked. He has points in all but one of those games for a total of six (2G-4A). Crosby and Malkin draw so many opposing players to them in coverage, which leaves a ton of space open for Kunitz. It's up to him to get to the right areas and then to finish when those two get him the puck, and he's been doing that.
"You know what you’re going to get from 'Kuni' every night," Crosby said. "He’s going to play hard, physical, finish his hits. He’s going to be around the front of the net, so just would expect a lot more of that."--Michelle Crechiolo
QUOTE 'EM--Sam Kasan, Michelle Crechiolo & Addison Smith
Head coach Dan Bylsma gave the same opening to his media availability as he has all postseason: no injury updates; line-up game-time decision; Marc-Andre Fleury starting.
But he followed that with, "You're welcome for the informative bit of information."--Sam Kasan
RANGERS INFO --Sam Kasan
Depending on Orpik's status for tonight, Bortuzzo may find himself back in the lineup. Bort bort bort (stick tap: LGP_netwolf)
Conner and Crosby share a chuckle
No doubt the Pens' 2nd best postseason player this season (behind Fleury, though an argument could be made that Martin is No. 1).
The General's beard is coming in nicely
Sutter has had a breakout postseason. Clutch goals and incredible energy
Adams with a grey/wise beart #Harvard
Pens coaches Bylsma & Martin discuss hockey things
The Pens go as the flow goes
Malkin with his serious face--Sam Kasan & Addison Smith
The Pens are on the ice for their morning skate. Only defenseman Brooks Orpik, who left Game 4 after the first period with an undisclosed injury, is not on the ice. Orpik missed five games prior to Game 4 with a different injury.
The Pens are using the following workflow...
(Pyatt, Conner, Glass)
The defense rotated in groups of three.
PP1: Martin, Letang, Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz
PP2: Niskanen, Maatta, Neal, Jokinen, Sutter--Sam Kasan
PENS-RANGERS GAME 5 INFOGRAPH
START THE DAY
Hello hockey fans! The Penguins have pushed the Rangers to the brink of elimination, as they have the chance to clinch their Eastern Conference semifinals series in front of their fans in tonight's Game 5 at CONSOL Energy Center.
It's a "heck of an opportunity," as Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said following Game 4, and one they need to take advantage of. "We don’t want to give them any life," head coach Dan Bylsma said yesterday. "We don’t want to give them any opportunity and we have that ability coming back here at CONSOL with our fans and our building to get the fourth win."
Here's a few game notes to get you ready for the big game...
- Tonight the Penguins and New York Rangers play Game 5 (TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 105.9 the X) at CONSOL Energy Center.
- The Penguins are 19-5 all time against the Rangers in the playoffs. A win tonight would allow the Penguins to improve to 5-0 all time in playoff series against New York.
- During the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era, the Penguins are 5-0 in series when they have a 3-1 lead (excluding the 2011 series against Tampa Bay when both were hurt). In those five prior instances, the Penguins have finished off the series in five games three times and six games twice.
- The Penguins are 9-2 all time in series when they hold a 3-1 lead. Their only losses were the 1975 Quarterfinals against the NY Islanders and the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals versus Tampa Bay.
- Pittsburgh is 24-19 all time in Game 5s, including a 17-7 mark at home.
- Pittsburgh enters Game 5 having allowed a total of just five goals through the first four games of this series. That gives the Penguins an opportunity to establish a franchise single-series record for fewest goals allowed. The fewest goals Pittsburgh has ever given up in a five, six or seven-game series are as follows: 8, 2000 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Washington (5 games); 10, 2001 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs. Washington (6 games); and 17, 2009 Stanley Cup Final vs. Detroit and 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Buffalo (7 games).
Stick tap: Pens PR--Michelle Crechiolo