PITTSBURGH – The dust has finally settled in Pittsburgh after a disappointing 1-0 Game 7 loss on home ice Wednesday night.
Sidney Crosby Admits Setback
Rehab speculation began to swirl last week when Crosby was no longer a participant in team practices. On Friday he admitted that he suffered a setback in his attempted return from a concussion almost four months ago:
The news is certainly anything but promising for the face of the NHL. Crosby says he has no concerns about being ready to go by next season – sentiment GM Ray Shero shared – but it’s tough to feel comfortable about his ability to handle the next ‘big hit’ when it inevitably occurs.
Evgeni Malkin Discusses Knee Injury Rehab
Malkin also addressed the media regarding his rehab process following a torn ACL/MCL in February and seemed fairly upbeat. The team has confirmed that the injury was not quite as serious as once thought and Malkin seems to be progressing nicely. He even said that had the Penguins advanced in the playoffs, an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Finals would not have been out of the question:
Malkin said he’ll continue his rehab for the next two weeks in Pittsburgh under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
Kadar devised a day-by-day plan for Malkin to follow once he returns home to Russia. Malkin even said that Kadar will potentially come to check in on him in Moscow at some point in the coming months.
Dupuis, Talbot Talk Free Agency
GM Ray Shero has his hands full heading into the offseason with 12 forwards on the NHL roster up for restricted or unrestricted free agency.
Of the dozen, Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot are the two players that have been in Pittsburgh the longest. They discussed the offseason, their status as UFA’s and their hopes for returning next season.
Pascal Dupuis on returning to Pittsburgh:
Yes, I want to be back. Yes, I want to be part of this team for the long run, but there’s a business side of it. [My] agent has got to talk to Ray [Shero] and they’ll take care of it.
Dupuis on what makes him valuable to a team like the Penguins:
I think I can play any role. I can play the left side, right side. I can kill penalties and get my share of goals here and there. I can bring leadership, I’m 32 so I’m getting old and can bring experience as well [laughs].
Dupuis was at a loss for words on Wednesday after the Game 7 loss and still hadn’t been able to get the sour taste out of his mouth two days later.
He also discussed what makes Pittsburgh special to him:
There’s so much. How the city loves their sports. It’s a great place to live. I myself have four kids and everybody’s happy to be here, everybody loves it. At the same time you come to the rink and see all the fans and everybody’s wearing the black and gold outside and it’s such a sports city that you want to play here and you want to live here.
Talbot on Pittsburgh and his unrestricted free agent status:
I’ve been here the longest after Brooks Orpik so you guys know how much this team means to me. Ray [Shero] is going to talk to Dan [Bylsma] and we’ll see if I’m still in the plans and that’s where it starts.
Everybody knows how much I want to stay here so we’ll see what happens in the next couple days. It’s the first time in my career that I’m in this position so it’s not something that’s fun because it’s uncertain, but at the same time we’ll see what happens.
Talbot seemed a little uneasy/concerned about the fact that Shero had not talked with him or his agent about the possibility of a new contract, but he said he’s in no rush:
I have no timeline, no expectations. I’m not sure what to think right now. It’s not something where Ray told me ‘oh we’ll talk in the next three days’ or something.
Penguins in the World Championships
James Neal (Canada) and Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic) decided to join their respective teams in the World Championships that got underway today from Slovakia.
Neal said he was looking forward to the international experience:
I’m excited. Any time you can play for your country it’s an exciting experience. I’m looking forward to getting over there and having some fun and keep the season going. To keep playing is good. It’s another chance to put on the Team Canada jersey. To represent your country is an exciting experience. Any time you’re chosen for Team Canada you want to be a part of it.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Canada) and Kris Letang (Canada) said they were also invited, but chose to decline invitations.
Fleury said he just wanted to rest and Letang refused to discuss why he chose not to attend.
Fleury on whether he was disappointed not getting nominated for the Hart Trophy as league MVP:
It would’ve been nice, a great honor, but that’s not such a big deal. I wish we could’ve kept winning instead and gone farther in the playoffs. That’s what I’m more disappointed [about].
The goaltender was the first Penguins player to admit the ‘what if’ idea had crossed his mind – thinking about what the team could’ve accomplished with Crosby and Malkin in the lineup:
Oh geez, I think, you know…I think we will [wonder]: What if? Once again, I think everybody gave all we had, everything we got, and it just didn’t go the right way.
Other Notes and Quotes:
~ Dustin Jeffrey (torn ACL) got off crutches a few days ago and said he’s progressing well in his recovery. Jeffrey said he’s disappointed that he can’t help his former teammates in Wilkes-Barre (AHL) as they battle for a Calder Cup:
It’s tough when you’ve spent half the season [down there] and most of those guys I’ve been around for a year or two. We have a team that’s going to compete for a Calder Cup. They’re a team that’s really strong and any time [like this] you wish you could be playing.
It was the same thing with the playoffs here [in Pittsburgh]. I would’ve done anything to be able to put skates on or put something on and be able to play, but I just wasn’t able to.
~ As the series against Tampa Bay progressed, the calls for Deryk Engelland to get a chance on defense grew louder and louder. Bylsma stuck with his usual lineup in Game 7, but Engelland says he was aware of the public campaign to get him on the ice:
I’ve seen a little bit of it here and there. It would’ve been awesome to get in [the lineup] and get some experience in the playoffs and stuff but the other guys were playing great too.
I’m definitely not a big point guy so I couldn’t have helped on [the offensive] half, but the physicality and stuff might’ve paid off, might’ve not. It’s tough to say.
~ Ben Lovejoy discussed what he thinks he needs to work on in the offseason to improve his game:
I miss the net too much and I get a lot of shots blocked. That’ll be one thing that I certainly focus on. We have a net in my backyard and I will hopefully shoot plenty of pucks.
I’m not going to be aiming for my mother’s dryer! [laughs] But I’m going to go out and shoot 100 pucks a day and hopefully get better at that.