Stickgate? 'It's no big deal'

May, 4, 2010

PITTSBURGH -- It was a day later, and there was still much discussion about Stickgate, or whatever we're calling Sidney Crosby's uncharacteristic display of emotion in Game 2.

The Penguins captain smashed his stick against Montreal's goal post and then flung the broken handle into the corner. Crosby wasn't available to the media Monday, but veteran forward Bill Guerin said it's no big deal.

"I think a lot of what happens with Sid is that he is so emotional and he invests so much into the game and sometimes he lets it show," Guerin said. "I don't see a problem in that, but I think a lot of the times, people take it the wrong way.

"Inside our dressing room, we don't. We know what Sid is about. It's only for good reasons. We all handle things differently, too. Yesterday, he was letting his emotions show and, personally, I don't have a problem with that."

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said he hadn't spoken to Crosby about the incident, but suggested the playoffs are about dealing with emotions and not letting them rule how you play.

"It was a situation in a game where I think he felt like we could do more and there was more to be done out there," Bylsma said. "Whether it's the power play or the referee or not cashing in on the chances that were there, there's sometimes that frustration is evident in everybody. That was maybe what we saw."

The coach said he thought the team as a whole, and Crosby specifically, worked around some of their frustrations even though they lost Game 2 by a 3-1 count.

"I think we readjusted as the game went on and Sid adjusted and got back to [being focused on] playing, as well," Bylsma said. "Those things do happen, but it's playoff hockey. You've got to fight through those situations and we know that and expect that having watched this team, scouted this team, and we expect that to be how the games play out."

It's four games and counting for Evgeni Malkin, who has not scored a goal since Game 4 of the Penguins' opening-round series against the Ottawa Senators. But if Bylsma is concerned, he sure wasn't showing it.

"I wish I had mini-slumps like this," Bylsma, a gritty winger in his playing days, quipped. "I think it's just an indication of five-on-five, where we've been at so far this series. It's not just Evgeni Malkin, but we have to do a better job of getting inside and we have to do a better job in certain areas in the offensive zone, and Geno and other players are part of that, as well. The great thing about playoffs is that it is always about your next game."

Cammy on a roll

Michael Cammalleri (he told reporters in Montreal on Monday he prefers it to Mike, but really doesn't care) has been on fire with eight postseason goals, one off the league lead as of Monday morning. He has scored in six of nine postseason games, including two goals in the Habs' big 3-1 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday that tied the series at 1.

It's a stark change from a year ago, when Cammalleri had one goal in six games for Calgary in a first-round loss to Chicago.

"Last year was my first playoffs. I really liked the way I played last year in the playoffs," Cammalleri said. "The puck maybe didn't go in as much, but I felt good about my game. I enjoyed it a lot. It was more a disappointment of the group. But there's no added pressure this year. I'm excited about being in the playoffs again."

Did he learn lessons from that experience in Calgary?

"Yup, I learned some valuable lessons. First was how really enjoyable it is to play in the playoffs," Cammalleri said. "Another is that I think we as a group came out of our game a bit in Calgary to try to play a certain way to beat Chicago, and reflecting on it in the summer, maybe we would have been better off to play to our own identity and allow that to win games for us. But you live and you learn."

The 5-foot-9 forward said he doesn't really understand the idea that the size of the Habs' small forwards, often referred to as "Smurfs," would be a factor in the playoffs.

"It's hockey," Cammalleri said. "The puck's on the ice. Sometimes I don't understand that notion. It's not basketball where the net's 10 feet in the air, but what can I tell you?"

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer




You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?