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East final – pre-Game 4 update

A quick update prior to Game 4 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, which the Penguins can wrap with a win over the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.:

VIEWS FROM THE ROOMS

I’ve learned two things from covering the past three Stanley Cup playoffs: 1) Momentum rarely carries over from game to game in a series; and 2) reading anything into the tone from players following game-day morning practices is fairly useless.

However, for what it’s worth, the Penguins continued to exude cautious confidence and the Hurricanes – well, they’re almost positive they can win tonight.

Penguins LW Matt Cooke, who joined the team this summer because he was so impressed with their run to the Cup final last season, passed credit for his club’s collective composure to RW Bill Guerin.

“He’s been here before,” Cooke said of Guerin, who won the Cup with New Jersey in 1995. “He has a calming effect on this group, and I think on Sid.”

Sid, of course, is C Sidney Crosby, whose high spirits were noticeable after the morning practice. One of his teammates told me Monday that Crosby seems to be enjoying this playoff run more than any stretch of his career.

If I was five wins from raising the Cup and being named playoff MVP, I’d probably be having fun, too.

THE FAN VOICE

Dear readers ask, and I answer. From Andrew Alberico of East Palestine, Ohio:

“Just a prediction. Evgeni Malkin will not be a long-time Penguin. The Pittsburgh news media will not let him. The news media here has a man-love for Sidney Crosby. … After Malkin’s performance last week against Carolina it was astonishing to me how little credit he got in the Pittsburgh media. Strange, isn’t it? It is as if our eyes are playing tricks on us, as if we are not seeing the same thing local reporters are seeing. If you would write that the Penguins can win without Crosby, but can not win without Malkin, you would be considered deranged. But isn’t that EXACTLY what happened the past two years, especially the 07-08 season?”

The Rossi Response: Well, Albert, based on e-mails I receive, many readers are seeing something different than I do. Still, I do agree there has been somewhat less appreciation of Malkin by the Pittsburgh media than there should be given Malkin’s rightful standing as a MVP candidate.

I put some of that on Malkin, who is not always free with his time for media interviews. However, I also put that on the Pittsburgh media, many of whom have shown little interest in getting to know Malkin because of the language barrier, and because it seems the easier act is talking to Crosby, who always is free with his time for interviews.

Still, there are a few reporters that have taken time to know Malkin, and that is the reason you can find in the Tribune-Review exclusive interviews with him such as the one that generated my story today:

Trib/Malkin

. Send your thoughts via e-mail.

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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