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Rossi: Habs maybe what Pens need most.

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As so-called dream opponents go, the Montreal Canadiens might top the list for the Penguins in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That is not to suggest the Canadiens would prove an easy opponent. They would not, because – and this is something to always remember – the playoffs are about styles, and the Canadiens offer a stylistic challenge to the Penguins.

This is to suggest that the Penguins might benefit from facing such a stylistic challenge early and that beating the Canadiens would require from coach Dan Bylsma’s squad an attention to detail that must be drawn from players for a successful Cup run.

The Penguins were not flawless Wednesday night, but they certainly were focused. They tend to get that way, especially at home, against the Canadiens. That is because they do not like a lot of Montreal’s players – P.K. Subban and Carey Price being Nos. 1 and 2 on that list.

The Penguins played with the right amount of distaste and discipline on Wednesday night. That combination works in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If you are one of those people wondering if this team has what it takes for playoff hockey, go back and watch how the Penguins looked on Wednesday night. Forget the score, or even the goals, and rather look at Evgeni Malkin’s aggressiveness on the puck, Kris Letang’s quick, short passes and Marc-Andre Fleury’s tone-setting play around the crease.

That was the important stuff that happened on Wednesday night, not a near goalies fight.

 

>> Canada unveiled its Olympic flag bearer on Thursday, and that person is not Sidney Crosby. This is likely how Crosby would have wished.

Carrying the flag at the Olympic opening ceremonies would have required Crosby to miss two regular-season games for the Penguins. Anybody who thinks Crosby would absolutely choose carrying Canada’s flag has never had a conversation with him about the importance of how he is viewed in Pittsburgh.

Crosby is all about loyalty, and loyal people never want to be in a position where they have to pick sides.

 

>> Forward Zach Sill was re-assigned to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday. Probably not the last from him that will be heard, but the Penguins, when healthy, and they are trending that way, are in a bind regarding players on one-way NHL contracts. Sill is not one of those players, so…

 

 

LINKS N’AT

>> Yohe contributed, but newest #TribHKY teammate Chris Adamski has a notebook that leads with Michel Therrien’s always emotional return to Pittsburgh: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5448135-74/penguins-fleury-coach#axzz2rENLyPBj

>> The story of the latest Penguins’ victory was a matchup that Bylsma made use of against Therrien: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/pensgalleries/5448134-74/malkin-crosby-penguins#axzz2rENLyPBj

>> Columnist Dejan Kovacevic on trading Letang: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/5448123-74/letang-trade-penguins#axzz2rENLyPBj

Be EXCELLENT to each other,

Rossi

 

 

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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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