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More Crosby stuff, an update on TK, and how I’m helping the Pens win.



Some thoughts and observations after the Penguins’ 7-4 victory at Ottawa on Thursday night in Game 4 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series.

— The Penguins are up 3-1 after four games against an East playoff opponent for the fourth time in seven series dating to 2008. They’ve swept two of those series. The Penguins are 3-1 in Game 5s over this span.

C SIDNEY CROSBY’S point-per-game average (2.75) is better than former C MARIO LEMIEUX’S 1992 rate (2.42) over seven games against Washington, during which he amassed a franchise-record 17 points.

— A more realistic franchise record for Crosby: former C RON FRANCIS’ 11 assists in a 1995 series against Washington, another seven-game affair. Crosby has seven assists in this series.

— Crosby’s regular-season tally against Ottawa: 2 goals, 13 points in 17 games. Crosby’s postseason tally against Ottawa: 9 goals, 24 points in 13 games.

RW TYLER KENNEDY did not look comfortable as he hobbled to the bench early in the second period. He was run into the boards by Ottawa D ANDY SUTTON, whose clean hit appeared to pin Kennedy’s right leg as momentum dragged them a couple of strides. Kennedy lifted his right leg as he approached the bench and did not return. He finished with only 3:37 of ice time, and HC DAN BYLSMA said he had no update on Kennedy’s condition.

— An interesting quote from RW CRAIG ADAMS that captures the feeling among Penguins: “We’re certainly not playing a perfect game out there. … I feel like we keep saying we’re a work in progress, but we’re headed in the right direction.” Adams added that the Senators have “given us everything we can handle” – a sentiment that seems to fit my working theory going into the playoffs that Ottawa was a tough matchup for the Penguins, and the best recipe for their seemingly malaise late in the regular season.

D BROOKS ORPIK has been credited with 18 hits through four games. Reason No. 1,856 since I’ve taken over this beat that I don’t trust most non-scoring status on final NHL scoresheets.

Off to Syracuse, N.Y., and then back to Pittsburgh for Game 5. A quick story first:

Before the Penguins’ morning practice Tuesday, I approached Bylsma and asked him to plead with the team to “win the next two games for me.”

To fend off the journalism ethics police: No, I wasn’t rooting for a team, just a situation that would allow me to avoid another drive to Ottawa for Game 6.

Bylsma’s response: “I’ll be sure that this is our motivation.”

I offered to sweeten the pot.

“Tell you what,” I said. “Wrap this up in five games and you’ll probably have a few off-days between the next series. I’ll not show up for most of them; so, by winning, you get to see less of me.”

Blysma smiled … at the prospect, I can only presume.

“Is anything with you not self-serving?” he said, tongue firmly in cheek.

“No,” I said. “But I think a few days of not seeing me would be in your best interests, too.”

I’m not saying he told Crosby to go out and make a run at ending this series fast because there was the carrot of me not covering a few off-day practices.

I’m not ruling it out, either.





Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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