PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien is sick and tired of hearing the New York Rangers whine about Sidney Crosby.
The Rangers, on the other hand, claim they don't know what all the fuss is about.
Welcome to the "He Said, She Said" series. What a delicious turn of events.
A sombre Therrien got the controversial ball rolling yesterday during his post-practice news conference by announcing his frustrations concerning what he perceives to be all this Crosby-bashing.
"Enough is enough. That's enough!" Therrien said as part of a well-thought out, softly-spoken tirade that lasted two minutes, 45 seconds.
Therrien is fed up with the so-called allegations coming from New York coach Tom Renney and some of his players that Sid The Kid engages in diving and other theatrics in order to draw penalties. The Rangers already were sensitive about this subject prior to this best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal, then aired their displeasure once again after Game 1 on Friday night at the Mellon Arena.
With the game tied 4-4 late in the game, the Rangers' Martin Straka was called for an interference penalty when his pursuit of Crosby down the right wing culminated with the Pittsburgh captain tumbling to the ice.
With a livid Straka in the box, a Crosby blast deflected off teammate Evgeni Malkin for the winning goal with just 1:41 remaining, giving the hosts a 5-4 victory and a 1-0 lead in the series.
As the Penguins skated off the ice, Straka flapped his gums in protest at the referees, earning a game misconduct for his efforts.
"I was just saying he was diving -- that was the only thing," Straka said.
After the game, when Renney was asked about the controversial call he remained silent for several seconds before finally saying: "I just answered it."
When the question was repeated, the Rangers coach said: "Did you see it?
"Draw your own conclusion."
Rangers veteran Brendan Shanahan also chipped in, referring to the penalty as "weak" and claiming Crosby "embellished."
Cue Therrien's rant yesterday, one that, while delivered without any yelling, did not lack for emotion.
"I'm kind of disappointed ... (Renney trying) to give attention to the referees and complaining about the penalty at the end of the game," Therrien said.
"We know what he is trying to do but I'm convinced the referee doesn't buy into those things," he continued.
As for the criticism aimed at Crosby, Therrien replied: "Why don't we give credit to guys who play in traffic? Who will get shots? They never saw the shot in (Crosby's) face in the first period by (Sean) Avery.
"Sometimes (Crosby) is going to draw penalties, sometime there is not going to be any penalty. But he's going to keep going there."
Armed with all this verbal ammunition, the media could not wait to hear the anticipated juicy responses to Therrien's barbs. Only they never came.
Political correctness, thy name is the New York Rangers. At least on this day anyway.
"I don't recall ever suggesting Sidney was an issue," Renney claimed. "What I do recall suggesting is that before every series you meet with the supervisor of officiating and you talk about the rules of the game in general.
"Certainly (Friday) night, I think by my answers I didn't suggest anyone was outside the rules of the game. I left that for others to conclude."
Thanks Tom. We can read between the lines.
Next came this nugget from Shanahan.
"I don't think he's necessarily diving but he's the type of player who will dive for loose pucks and dive for second and third efforts. And I think (because) he plays an all-out, all-effort style, sometimes the referees can confuse (that) with somebody fouling him," Shanahan said of Crosby.
Interestingly, before the opening game of the series had even been played, Crosby insisted to reporters Friday morning that "I don't dive."
Maybe it's the bad ice that makes him fall. Maybe he'll stay on his feet more now that NHL ice guru Dan Craig has arrived in Pittsburgh to see if he can improve on the Mellon Mush the teams were forced to play on in Game 1.
Either way, this story is a long way from reaching its conclusion.