CRANBERRY — Sidney Crosby didn’t have to be at the Pittsburgh Penguins’ practice Sunday afternoon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
He had, after all, been the team’s lone representative at the NHL All-Star event in Toronto, which meant he had been involved with that the previous couple of days, while most of his teammates were enjoying the waning hours of their week-long break in the season.
It is, in fact, standard procedure for all-stars to be excused from workouts for a day or two after their clubs resume practicing. The ones who want the time off, anyway.
And Crosby clearly isn’t one of them, because he attacked the Penguins’ 50-minute practice with the same vigor he brings to pretty much every workout.
“I just wanted to get back with the guys and get a couple of practices in,” Crosby said.
His team was eliminated in the first round at the all-star competition — “We played a pretty quick 3-on-3 game,” he said — but players’ obligations at that event are not limited to what happens on the ice.
“It was busy,” Crosby said. “That being said, it’s one of those things where it’s fun to be there, be around the guys and just experience everything.”
He acknowledged that he “talked to the coaching staff” about passing on Sunday’s practice, and did not rule out taking a short break in the near future.
“We’ve got a couple of days after the Winnipeg game (Tuesday), too,” he said. “So maybe I’ll grab one after the game.”
What does Monahan change?
Winnipeg made a major move to upgrade its roster Friday, acquiring center Sean Monahan from Montreal.
Adding him makes the Jets, who sit fourth in the Western Conference, even more formidable, but Mike Sullivan said that won’t have a major impact on how the Penguins prepare for the game against them.
“It doesn’t really (change anything),” he said. “It’s just another player that we’re aware of. He’s a good player, and he certainly makes their forward group stronger. He makes their center-ice position stronger. But I don’t think it really changes the game plan or the preparation process and how we go in to play against a team like Winnipeg. They’re a good, solid team.”
One the Penguins will face twice in five days, since there will be a rematch in Winnipeg Saturday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ final game before the all-star break was a 3-2 overtime victory against Montreal.
The Penguins had dropped their previous three games, so they’re hoping that beating the Canadiens gave them a boost that will persist when play resumes.
“It certainly helps when you find a way to have success in games like that,” Sullivan said. “That was a hard-fought game. It was a hard-earned two points, and I think it’s something to build on. Having said that, it’s over and done with. We’ve got to make sure that we get ourselves ready for that game right in front of us. We’ve got an opportunity to control our own destiny. Moving forward, we have to maximize every game we have to try to stay in that position.”