Penguins Report: Funny Conspiracy Theory
Tuesday, 03.31.2009 / 2:51 PM / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
PAST WEEK'S RESULTS
The Penguins hold a shootout at the end of certain practices in which the “last player standing” – usually the only player to not score – has to complete some unenviable task. Matt Cooke is sporting a mustache as a result of his loss last month.
At Tuesday’s shootout, the loser had to deliver Gatorade to his teammates at the end of practice – something Bylsma was forced to do earlier this year after being the last man standing.
Bylsma was one-on-one with Crosby after the remaining players on the team tallied goals. It appeared that Bylsma would again become the “Juice Boy” after Crosby buried a puck behind Mathieu Garon.
Bylsma came down the lane and went backhand-forehand before flipping the puck over a sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury and into the cage, forcing another round. In the playoff round, Fleury stopped Crosby, while Bylsma scored on Garon to end the competition.
Thus, after practice Crosby filled cups of Orange Gatorade and hand delivered them to his teammates and the coaching staff. Crosby joked that he didn’t feel that he got a fair shake.
“Yes, it was (rigged),” Crosby said with a smile. “Flower is to be blamed for that but it’s alright. I didn’t like doing it but I had to.”
“Man, this is good Gatorade,” Bylsma joked after a sip.
But the coach wasn’t buying Crosby’s comical conspiracy theory.
“The rumor that it was fixed is not true,” Bylsma said with a smirk. “I did not give any money and I question Sid for not believing I can make a move like that. You have to come up with an answer why you’re the last guy standing. It just so happens it was Sid’s day to get juice.”
Crosby was a good sport when handing the drinks to his teammates. He was forced to play a servant for the second straight day considering the previous evening, he and his teammates served food and drinks at the annual Skates and Plates event. However, Crosby wasn’t pleased with how poorly his teammates tip.
“Not quite as good; not good at all," Crosby joked.
> The Penguins will be facing a familiar foe when the New Jersey Devils visit Mellon Arena Wednesday night for a 7:30 p.m. showdown. Another familiar face will stare back at the Penguins in goaltender Martin Brodeur, who missed 50 games this season with a bicep tear.
After nearly four months of inaction, Brodeur returned to win nine of his first 10 games and surpassed Patrick Roy (551) for the most wins in NHL history (Brodeur is currently at 553). He’s also recorded 101 shutouts in his career, second only to Terry Sawchuk (103).
“He’s a great goaltender because he’s been great over a long time and played great in big games,” Bylsma said. “He’s done it over and over again. Going into the game you don’t treat him differently than other good goalies in the league.”
“He’s a guy that competes,” Crosby said. “He doesn’t give up on pucks. A lot of guys these days are so technical and positional. He’s positional but he relies a lot on his reflexes and reading the play. That’s probably the biggest thing in my mind that stands out. He reads the play, he reads passes. He really studies the game so he knows where the pucks going a lot of the time and is able to make saves because of that.”
> Bylsma indicated that the Penguins are planning on making at least one lineup change with forward Craig Adams playing against the Devils.
“That is the plan for Craig to get back into the lineup,” he said.
But Bylsma hasn’t committed to a date for the return of defenseman Philippe Boucher, even though the blueliner is healthy enough to go.
“It’s a decision we weigh every day and we certainly want to get Philippe into the lineup and get some games,” Bylsma said. “But at the same time we’re playing good hockey. We’re winning hockey games and we’re still in a fight for getting into the playoffs and positioning. The six (defensemen) out there have played well. The team has played well in front of them. They’ve done the things we’ve asked. Different guys have stepped up into different roles that we’ve asked. It is a difficult decision and it’s a fortunate one I get to make.”
> The Devils were one of the best teams in the NHL this season. New Jersey had a comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division and were gaining ground on the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Oddly though, recently the team finds itself in a slump with a season-long five-game losing streak (0-4-1).
“I don’t know what it is but I know they’ll be desperate to get back to the level they know they can get too,” Bylsma said. “They’ll be focused, they’ll be intense, they’ll be urgent. Sometimes a team like that is more dangerous. We’ll be ready to go and we’re going to be ready for a team that is playing hard and desperate.”
Former Devil Bill Guerin knows that it’s only a matter of time before the Devils snap their losing streak and start winning some games. But he’s more concerned with when the Devils will do that.
“Nobody’s going to lose forever,” forward Bill Guerin said. “It’s inevitable that they’re going to win a game. I just don’t want it to be (Wednesday) night.”
> The Penguins had some special visitors at Tuesday's practice. Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed and long snapper Greg Warren watched from the seats and met with some of the Penguins after practice.