Nash says Orpik hit was clean, and thoughts on Pens-heavy CLB crowd.


= LW RICK NASH said RW TYLER KENNEDYslew-footed him on the opening faceoff, which is why he went hard at D BROOKS ORPIKseconds later — a play that sent Orpik awkwardly into the boards. Nash added that he wanted to come out with a message-sending shift, regardless. Orpik was down on the ice for about 45 seconds, but he didn’t miss a shift. Nash said the hit was clean.

= Plum native and Blue Jackets C RJ UMBERGER on his club’s pitiful performance in front of Columbus’ third home sellout crowd, which was wildly supportive of the Penguins:  “It’s embarrassing of myself and my teammates. Playing against a good team, a team that gets a lot of national exposure. For the first couple of shifts we were in it. after that we weren’t.”

= A couple of points about that crowd:

–Hard to blame the Blue Jackets fans for not showing more support this season. Their club has made one trip to the playoffs in nine previous season, never winning a game. I’ve said the NHL has done Columbus no favors by placing the Blue Jackets in the West; an Eastern slot would give them more games against natural rivals such as the Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals. Still, the Blue Jackets have spent good money on payroll and this team, despite being fifth in the West before this game, hasn’t inspired a lot of confidence. Many less than inspiring first-round drafts, too. A loss like this one won’t help.

–Some Penguins fans were chanting “we want 10!” late in the second period. Apparently they have short memories. The Penguins are only five-plus SIDNEY CROSBY seasons from being a team that was a routine contender to give up 10 goals.

–The atmosphere kind of felt like a college bowl game, and about as competitive as one as the only college bowl game I’ve attended — a Gator Bowl drubbing of my WVU Mountaineers by the Maryland Terps.

–Not a crowd note, but: Great Civil War cannon on the alternate sweaters for Columbus. Probably my favorite alternate logo this side of the Scarf Skating Penguin.

–Best sign by a Penguins fans: “Another ‘HOME’ Sellout!” As RW PETR SYKORA would have said, “Pretty good, buddy.”

= D PAUL MARTINsays he wasn’t really thinking about scoring a hat trick. He would have become only the third defenseman in team history to do so: DUANE RUPP, RON STACKOUSE and PAUL COFFEY. None of them had two unassisted power-play goals in a game, or at least I can’t imagine they did.

= This from the Penguins media relations staff, working at it back home:

–Crosby’s 8 goals the past 4 games is tied for the best four-game goal-scoring stretch of his career. He also did so Nov. 28-Dec. 7, 2009 last season (He missed the Dec. 5 vs. CHI during that stretch). Since Nov. 28, 2009, Crosby has scored 62 goals through his past 83 games. That’s an average of 0.75 goals per game.

I’ll say it again, and call me a homer if you must, but I really hope people are paying attention to what’s going on with Crosby the last year-plus. He’s going to a place where few ever have, because few ever could. I’d like for somebody to show me a more consistently great pro athlete under the age of 25 right now. I won’t hold my breath.