New Castle News


April 19, 2012

Ron Cook: Crosby lets his play serve as answer to his critics

PHILADELPHIA — That was a really nice gesture Wednesday by Philadelphia Flyers forward Max Talbot, rushing to the defense of Penguins star Sidney Crosby after the Philadelphia Daily News put out a cover sheet that was more juvenile and embarrassing to the newspaper profession than it was humorous or hurtful to Crosby.

 But Talbot, a good pal of Crosby since the two were kids, knows the truth better than anyone. In this town, Crosby is more than capable of taking care of himself.

With the usual venomous "Crosby Sucks!" chants pouring down on him Wednesday night from the Wells Fargo Center crowd of 20,172, the Penguins captain put together a one-goal, two-assist performance to lead the Penguins to a touchdown win — 10-3 — against the Flyers to force a Game 5 Friday night in Pittsburgh in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

They just don't get it here. The more they abuse Crosby — "Public Enemy No. 1 in this city," according to Flyers winger Scott Hartnell — the better he plays against their team. The Cowardly Penguin? I don't think so.

"He has had some pretty good games in this building, hasn't he?" Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik asked facetiously.

Crosby's name was taken in vain at least a million times since Sunday when the Flyers beat the Penguins, 8-4, in Game 3 to take a 3-0 lead in the series. Crosby fought Flyers star Claude Giroux in the first period and was in the middle of a number of scrums in a violence-filled third period, which ultimately led to suspensions for Craig Adams and James Neal.

At one point, Crosby, in a childish move, pushed away Flyers winger Jakub Voracek's glove as Voracek bent to pick it up.

"I don't like him," an angry, frustrated Crosby said afterward. "I don't like anyone on their team."

Do you think that sound bite made the Philadelphia sports talk shows?

Ridiculing Crosby became a popular way to pass the time, even more so than usual. The Daily News hit rock bottom with its Wednesday cover, portraying Crosby in a lion's costume in a takeoff from "Wizard of Oz." "The Cowardly Penguin" was the headline. "Time To Finish Off Sniveling Sidney."

"I think it's a stupid cover," Talbot said at the morning skate. "That doesn't reflect what Sidney Crosby is."

Crosby said he was given a copy of the paper and shrugged off the character assassination.

"It's not the first time something like that's happened," he said. "I'm not surprised that it happened here. It's no big deal. I don't get caught up in that stuff. It's talk. That's all it is."

Crosby insisted he is no more motivated to play against the Flyers than he is any other team. His career numbers say otherwise. In 19 regular-season games in Philadelphia, he had 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points. In six playoff games, he has four goals and six assists for 10 points.

"They'll keep screaming at him. He'll keep playing," coach Dan Bylsma said.

Crosby was almost defiant in the three days after Game 3. He said if people thought the Penguins embarrassed themselves with their out-of-character cheap shots in that third game, well, that was their opinion, but the Flyers weren't exactly angels, either. He said he and his team were focused only on playing a strong Game 4 and extending the series. So it happened even though the Penguins were severely short-handed, playing without the suspended Neal, Adams and Arron Asham.

"Everybody played well tonight," Crosby said. "We gave ourselves a chance to get back to Pittsburgh. That's all we could ask for tonight. But we've got to do it again and again and again. That's the playoffs. That's the situation we're in."

Said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette: "They seemed to have a little more jump in their step than we did. That team is a very talented group and came out and were a desperate team. They were better than us tonight."

Crosby did his part. He had an assist on a Matt Niskanen goal for a 2-1 Penguins lead. He re-directed a Niskanen shot for the goal that tied the score, 3-3. He then set up Kris Letang for a power-play goal that gave the Penguins a 5-3 lead.

It seems appropriate to bring back words from Bylsma from before the series. This was after it seemed as if everyone was piling on Crosby, from Laviolette to Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube to New York Rangers coach John Tortorella to NBC broadcaster Mike Milbury.

"I would think that experience says that talking about Sidney Crosby hasn't been a good thing in the past for the opposition," Bylsma said. "I'm not sure I would be talking too loud if I was trying to get him off his game."

That's sound advice. No wonder Talbot was so upset when he saw the morning paper.

(Ron Cook is a sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to 93.7 The Fan.)

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Pens_Coach.tiff NHL Hockey: Penguins hire Mike Johnston as coach

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have insisted during their extensive front office overhaul that the on-ice product doesn’t need to change much for the franchise to return to the NHL’s elite. Small tweaks, not big ones, are required.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg Penguins fire Bylsma, hire Rutherford as GM

    Jim Rutherford doesn’t believe the Pittsburgh Penguins need to undergo a massive overhaul to regain their spot among the NHL’s elite.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • ray-shero.jpg NHL Hockey: Penguins fire general manager Ray Shero

    The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Ray Shero as general manager eight years ago with the mandate to build a roster around two of the game’s brightest stars and turn ticker-tape parades through downtown into an annual rite of spring.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Playoffs: Rangers cap comeback, top Pens in Game 7

    New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had trouble finding the words to describe goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “He’s OK,” Vigneault said finally with a small shake of his head.

    May 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • NHL Playoffs: Malkin’s 3 goals power Pens to Game 6 clincher

    Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally flexed their offensive muscles. And they needed every bit of scoring they could muster. Malkin had a hat trick and the Penguins almost blew a four-goal lead before holding off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 last night to clinch their first-round playoff series in six games

    April 29, 2014

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Jokinen leads Pens past struggling Kings

    Jonathan Quick’s Olympic goaltending audition for U.S. national team coach Dan Bylsma ended after three Pittsburgh goals in one rocky period.

    January 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • NHL Hockey: Crosby lifts Pens past Vancouver

    Sidney Crosby tied the score late in regulation and added the only goal in a shootout to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins past the slumping Vancouver Canucks 5-4 last night.

    January 8, 2014

  • penguins.jpg Penguins rally by weary Winnipeg, 6-5

    Evgeni Malkin scored twice in his return from injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 on Sunday afternoon.

    January 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Bruins snap skid against Pens with OT win

    The surging Boston Bruins said they weren’t fazed by Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal. They proved it in overtime. Torey Krug scored 34 seconds into OT and the Bruins beat Pittsburgh 4-3 yesterday night, snapping a seven-game, regular-season losing streak to the Penguins in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

    November 26, 2013 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Pens erupt in third to down Ducks

    When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma shuffled the lines in search of a spark for his slumping offense, putting Evgeni Malkin and rookie Brian Gibbons on the ice together wasn’t what he had in mind. Still, he’ll take it.

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

House Ads

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fell from the sky in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. Many are speculating that Russian rebels (supported by Vladimir Putin) are responsible for downing the aircraft. What do you think?

Yes. All evidence points that way.
No. Everyone is so quick to point fingers, but there's not enough evidence to support claims of Russian guilt.
I'm not sure. I'll just wait until the investigation is over to make up my mind.
What is up with these Malaysian Airlines planes? I know one airline I won't be flying any time soon...
     View Results