Sidney Crosby

Crosby expects ‘motivated’ Leafs team

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The Toronto Maple Leafs used a recent embarrassment at the hands of the Boston Bruins to provide motivation for Wednesday evening’s game against that same Bruins side.

The tactic seemed to work, given the Leafs pounded the B’s, 6-1.

Well, guess what? The Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, the same team that smoked them, 5-2, on Oct. 11.

“You expect them to be pretty motivated,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and two assists in that 5-2 win. “They feel pretty good about their game right now; they’re confident.”

Meanwhile, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle, perhaps mindful of his team’s past inconsistencies, warned against getting “too far ahead of ourselves. Sure, we feel good about ourselves right now, but who’s coming [tonight]?”

Not to mention, the Pens were embarrassed themselves the other night in New York, falling 5-0 to the Rangers. That loss broke Pittsburgh’s seven-game win streak.

Is Crosby expecting a bounce-back?

“We’ll see tonight, right?” he said. “You see how you respond after a game like that.”

Crosby understands why McDavid decided to fight

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The knee-jerk reaction is to say that Connor McDavid was foolish for fighting, especially with the aid of hindsight considering his lengthy injury prognosis. Sidney Crosby agrees that the super-prospect should keep his gloves on more often than not, yet he also told QMI that he understands what it’s like to be a marked man.

“I know that’s not his job, but sometimes — I did not see the play or what happened — I am sure he has a target on his back,” Crosby said on Thursday.

“It’s not easy sometimes.”

Crosby admits that he probably only engaged in “half” of a fight during his dominant QMJHL run, but the 27-year-old’s developed something of an edgy game (five career NHL fighting majors). In fact, a temper emerges that sometimes makes the Pittsburgh Penguins star a bit of a polarizing figure among hardcore hockey fans.

(Not to mention opponents … just ask Claude Giroux.)

As Crosby mentions, it’s not really McDavid’s role to throw the gloves, yet star players sometimes feel the need to assert themselves if they feel like they’re being targeted. There’s also just the sheer emotion and tension that comes from playing a contact sport.

While there’s some risk involved, others beyond Crosby understand why McDavid did what he did, including Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson.

It’s also worth mentioning that the 17-year-old wunderkind’s injury might have had as much to do with bad luck as it did with questionable decision-making, as Darren Dreger pointed out in this video (around the one-minute mark):

Is it the ideal solution? Maybe not, but sometimes even stars need to get their hands dirty (and ideally not broken).

Related: OHL commissioner says they can’t put McDavid in “bubble wrap.”

Pens’ streak halted at seven following loss in New York

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New York scored three times less than 15 minutes into the first period and went on to blank the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0 on Tuesday night.

With the loss, the Penguins seven-game win streak is over. Pittsburgh had not lost in regulation in 10 games. With the win, the Rangers avoided losing their third straight.

Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Klein scored first period goals for New York. Penguins coach Mike Johnston called a timeout following St. Louis’ fifth of the season, but could not right the ship.

Derick Brassard added his sixth of the season in the third and Rick Nash scored his league-leading 12th of the season in the third.

“We weren’t ready to compete,” Sidney Crosby said post-game. “That’s really what it came down to.

“We got outworked. It’s not fun having to say that after games. You know you don’t want to be able to say that, but we got outplayed.”

The lone bright spot for the Penguins is defenseman Kris Letang returned to the game in the second period after suffering an undisclosed injury at 11:45 of the first.

Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves for his 53rd career shutout and third against the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 shots in the loss.

“It’s from the coaches to the players,” Johnston said. “We had to be a lot better prepared in the first 10 minutes than we were.”

The Penguins and Rangers meet again Saturday when New York travels to Pittsburgh.

PHT Morning Skate: Leafs, Sens come together to honor fallen Canadian soldier

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators were scheduled to play on Oct. 22, but that game was postponed after the fatal shooting that killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was performing his ceremonial duty of standing guard at the Canadian National War Memorial. The Maple Leafs and Senators made up that contest last night, but before the game the two teams came together at the War Memorial to pay their respects to Cirillo:

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Benoit Pouliot is fitting in nicely on the Edmonton Oilers’ top line. (Edmonton Journal)

Jay McKee, who played with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh and now serves as a coach on Connor McDavid’s Erie Otters thinks the comparisons between the NHL superstar and highly regarded prospect are “very valid.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

A look back at the impact Peter Forsberg has had on Sweden. (NHL.com)

Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice thinks coaches salaries will be driven by Mike Babcock, who is in the final season of his contract with Detroit. (Toronto Star)

Brad Harrison’s name isn’t one you’re likely to be familiar with given that he’s the assistant equipment manager with the Edmonton Oilers. He worked in his 1,000th professional game on Friday though, so the Oilers gave him the game puck and a custom built wine bottle that the entire team signed. Joanne Ireland also wrote an article to provide readers with some insights into the life of one of the many people that work behind the scenes in the NHL. (Edmonton Journal)

Video: Crosby, Penguins march on to victory over listless Sabres

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This one was never close.

Predictable given the plight of the Buffalo Sabres, at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, and the Pittsburgh Penguins who are at the complete opposite of the spectrum.

The Penguins dismantled the Sabres 6-1. They led 2-0 before the game was even four minutes old, and it pretty much went downhill from there for the Sabres. Sidney Crosby had five assists and below is a video of each and every one them from this evening.

He’s now up to 24 points in 13 games. Quite a pace. Meanwhile, the Sabres were left to answer for yet another brutal loss.

“We’re running out of things to say here. Once again, it’s a matter of regrouping and coming back to work,” said Sabres’ forward Drew Stafford, as per John Vogl of the Buffalo News.