Sidney Crosby and coach Dan Bylsma differ over how Marc-Andre Fleury should be used

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One thing we’ve grown accustomed to from Penguins captain and superstar Sidney Crosby is that he’s generally a pretty bland guy when it comes to speaking out about anything. He’s careful with the media to a point where he’s virtually boring to talk to and when you’re arguably the biggest star in the league, you can’t help but feel just a little bit disappointed by that.

When it comes to speaking with him about his friends on the team that are struggling at the moment, however, it appears that Sid is a little bit easier to let loose with his thoughts. Such is the case when Crosby was asked about his thoughts on how struggling Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is being used while he’s playing poorly. Turns out that Crosby and Pens head coach Dan Bylsma differ in their opinions on how Fleury should be used. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gets the low down on the coach and the Kid having philosophical differences.

Coach Dan Bylsma strongly hinted otherwise Monday. He indicated Brent Johnson will start for the Penguins at home Wednesday night — adding that Fleury, the club’s struggling franchise goalie, “doesn’t have (confidence) right now.”

Crosby’s assessment differs. He thinks Fleury needs to play his way out of a funk.

“He’s going to have good games. It’s not like he can change overnight. He’s going to put strings of games together, and he can’t do that with one game. So, you’ve got to be patient, too, and let him get back there,” he said after a practice at Southpointe Iceoplex.

“With a goalie, you’ve got to give him time. He’s got to play four or five games maybe to prove that, but to sit here and question his psyche doesn’t really give him a chance.”

Before we get into this, let’s give it up for Sidney Crosby stepping up and saying something, anything, that’s at all worth discussing and generating discussion about things going on with the Pens. Many have gotten on Crosby’s case for being a captain at such a young age, but it appears he’s ready to start acting out in the media like a captain as well by letting his thoughts be known.

Fleury’s struggles this season are certainly a big deal for the Pens who have dealt with inconsistent play in goal as well as from their power play. The Pens problems certainly aren’t limited to goaltending but the team is still winning games so it’s tough to get really worked up about how things are going. If the Pens can’t get Fleury right, however, the long term effects of that on the team this season could lead to the Pens ending up fighting a bit harder for a top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.