Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will join Team Canada for next month’s World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.
Crosby’s only other appearance at the tournament was in 2006 where he had eight goals and 16 points in nine games as Canada finished fourth in Latvia.
The 27-year-old had two goals and two assists in the Penguins five game series with the New York Rangers.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he was not approached by Hockey Canada to join the team.
Evgeni Malkin, who was invited to play for the Russians, says he’s unsure if he’ll participate due to health reasons.
Despite nearly missing the playoffs and then bowing out in five games to the New York Rangers, Mike Johnston and Jim Rutherford’s jobs are safe.
According to Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pens’ executive David Morehouse has “never given any consideration” replacing Johnston or Rutherford.
Molinari reports the Penguins brass believes the season was lost due to injuries. He adds that if the Rangers had been without key defensemen as the Penguins were, it could’ve been a different series.
The Penguins also have no interest in abandoning the “two-center model” featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Pittsburgh finished the regular season with their lowest point total (98) in an 82-game season since the 2005-06 season (58), which is the last time they failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers battled fiercely for five games. Each contest was determined by just one goal and the final two went to overtime.
But at the end of the day, the Penguins could only win once and the Rangers officially eliminated them with a 2-1 victory tonight.
Carl Hagelin scored the overtime marker:
This is the sixth straight year Pittsburgh couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. This time around though, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t the story. He did all that could be expected of him in this series, posting a 2.12 GAA and .927 save percentage in five contests.
Instead fingers will likely be pointed at Evgeni Malkin, who fired six shots on goal Friday night but still finished the series without a single point. The Penguins lacked offensive depth in this series as well as Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist accounted for half of Pittsburgh’s eight goals.
At the same time, it would be wrong to ignore the fact that the Penguins were missing defensemen Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, and Olli Maatta as well as forwards Pascal Dupuis and Beau Bennett due to injuries. That’s a lot of talent to be stuck on the sidelines.
Still, another Penguins season that began with Stanley Cup aspirations is over while the Presidents’ Trophy winning Rangers are moving forward. The Rangers fell in the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. They’re one step closer to getting back there now.
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Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury have been at the top of their game so far tonight, so in a way, it seems appropriate that Pittsburgh’s first marker of the contest came under unusual circumstances.
With the Penguins down 1-0 and facing elimination, Sidney Crosby took a shot on goal that was stopped by Lundqvist. However, he could not control the rebound under the circumstances and it ended up hitting Nick Spaling in the arm as he crashed towards the net. The play was initially reviewed to determine if Spaling batted it in with his hand, but it was determined to be a good goal.
The NHL Situation Room issued this statement:
At 17:23 of the second period in the Pittsburgh Penguins/New York Rangers game, video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that the puck deflected off Nick Spaling and into the New York net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 78.4 “If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed”. Good goal Pittsburgh.
Spaling only had nine goals in 82 games during the 2014-15 regular season. Coming into this contest, he had two career markers in 32 playoff contests.
The game remained tied at 1-1 going into the second intermission.
The Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t making any lineup changes for tonight’s do-or-die game in New York against the Rangers.
Coach Mike Johnston confirmed it this morning, saying the Pens “don’t have any injured players available.”
So no Derrick Pouliot, and no Beau Bennett.
The Penguins trail the Rangers, 3-1. Lose tonight and they’ll be eliminated in the first round for the first time since 2012.
While no team likes to use injuries as an excuse, injuries are indeed a major factor for the Penguins. Three of Pittsburgh’s best defensemen — Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, and Olli Maatta — are out, and star forward Evgeni Malkin has been playing hurt.
“That’s part of the playoffs,” captain Sidney Crosby said, per NHL.com. “That’s what you see around the league, and this time of year it’s not easy. Everyone’s battling through stuff, especially [Malkin]. He gets a lot of attention out there.”
Related: Pens coach draws on personal experience of trailing series 3-1 and winning