Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby has been an integral part of almost every aspect of his team's games, except one. Now, going into his eighth NHL season, he can add penalty killing to his resume.
At times, he has gotten on the ice shorthanded briefly, perhaps to take a faceoff in the final seconds of an opponent's power play. We saw him take some regular shifts on the penalty kill during Wednesday's scrimmage, and apparently that wasn't just for show. Expect to see him there Saturday in the season opener at Philadelphia.
"It will be based on how many penalty kills we have in the game, but [Crosby] is definitely in the mix of our top penalty-killers," coach Dan Bylsma said, adding that the site of the faceoff will help determine when Crosby gets sent out shorthanded.
"That draw's an important thing," Bylsma said. "If the draw's on the left side and he's the best guy for that particular game and that situation, he may be first over the boards. If it's on the right side, it will go by the numbers and how our other guys are doing on the draw."
The Penguins were effective on the penalty kill in the regular season, raking third in the league at 87.8 percent. In their first-round loss to Philadelphia in the playoffs, however, they fell precipitously to 47.8 percent, easily last among the 16 postseason teams.
Partly because of that latter performance, and partly based on the opponent, the Penguins have made some tweaks besides having Crosby kill penalties.
"We will have a different look and a different mindset in some aspects of our penalty kill," Bylsma said. "There will be some that is the same – some of what we do, and do well -- and some of the things that we've focused on on teams that do certain things. Philly is one of those teams that kind of does gives a different look and a different setup, so we will be doing some minor adjustments."
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