Pens anxious to even score

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Here's some advice to a select few that also serves as a very positive and exciting message for all viewers of, yup, The Biggest Hockey Game at The Bank since May 13, 2006: Hang on to your beer if you have a front-row seat.

Rest it on the ledge of the boards in front of you, and you're more liable than ever to be wearing it.

Those watching closely surely noticed the entire rink shift a couple of inches nearer Orleans when 243-lb. Georges Laraque ran 237-lb. Christoph Schu(be-do-be-do)bert into the end wall with time winding down in the third period of Game 1.

A day after his team's 6-3 loss, Penguins coach Michel Therrien was asked if George The Giant needed to be more of a physical presence in the series.

"No doubt,'' replied Therrien.

Why wasn't he, in Game 1?

"Ask him," said Therrien.

Yesterday, we did.

"You can't hit from the bench," reasoned Laraque.

The Fearsome Fella wasn't blaming Therrien for his lack of ice time (5:03) as much as he was the circumstances.

With 22 minor penalties whistled, special teams were the order of the day, and Laraque doesn't kill penalties or work the power play.

While there are Penguin followers who believe Ronald Petrovicky is a more effective player and should be activated to replace Laraque in the lineup, that's highly unlikely -- especially after Therrien's most recent declaration.

"They played a physical game," said Therrien, specifically mentioning Schu(be-do-be-do)bert's punishment of Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar on Wednesday. "We have to respond."

Brooks Orpik sounds like he's anxious to even a score, and not just the 1-0 series deficit his team takes into Game 2 this afternoon.

"A couple of their guys got carried away towards the end," the Penguins D-man told Pittsburgh reporters. "A couple of those guys know no one's going to jump them because of the instigator penalty. Like Schubert, he just runs around, leaves his feet.

''If they want to run guys like me and (Rob Scuderi) and Georges, guys who play physical, fine. But they're taking shots at Malkin and Gonchar. If they're doing it in a clean way, hey, that's part of the game. But when guys are leaving their feet, going after guys' heads, I think that's when guys have problems with it."

All that means is the German Missile is doing a good job of doing his job, both by getting in some kitchens and rattling the posts and pans.

It also means that the hit count from Game 1 (Sens 36, Pens 28) is likely to go up, just as are the chances that some of the select few will be leaving with beer-stained laps.

ICE CHIPS

It took a couple of days, but we've detected a flaw in Sidney Crosby's game. When the 19-year-old superstar addresses a packed media conference room, he often has his hands together under his chin. That position interrupts the voice waves going from his mouth to the microphones. Sometimes, you really have to strain to hear him. Other than that, Crosby remains pretty much perfect ... Peter McNab, who says he'll have the "greatest seat in all of hockey" when he fills in for Pierre McGuire (working the Rangers-Thrashers games) as the between-the-benches colour commentator for NBC today, was a Buffalo Sabre when Bobby Orr won the scoring title. He played against both Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, and maintains that the former "on his best night" was a "millisecond" better than the latter. "Maybe I was partial to big centres," said McNab, who was one himself. "But I marvelled at the things Mario could do." While it's obviously too early to tell if Crosby will work his way into that elite company, McNab believes that, whether it's this season or seasons not long down the road, The Kid will win some Stanley Cups. "I don't think he'll have comparable numbers (to Gretzky), but it's about impact. I think he'll have the same impact, and that's saying a lot,'' said McNab. ''Absolutely, there will come a time when he is the cornerstone of a championship team."

BACK TO THE POINT

Senators coach Bryan Murray never fails to crack up the audience at least once a press conference. When someone pointed out that he has no reluctance to use a forward (Daniel Alfredsson) on the power play, Murray replied: "Just against Buffalo." It was Sabres penalty killer Jason Pominville who beat Alfredsson to score the goal that eliminated the Senators last spring, you'll remember ... Mike Comrie is one of those guys who loves the playoff environment. "Look around," he said, casting an eye to a large media scrum in the Senators dressing room. "I'm not even sure who's talking over there. I can't see him." ... "I'm just asking, how many of Sidney Crosby changing do you need?" the Penguins media man said to photographers when The Kid sat at his stall and took off his jersey the other day. "Don't know," replied the Sun's Tony "Trigger" Caldwell, holding his ground. "I'll ask my bosses this afternoon and get back to you." About then, the subtle request turned to a demand, and the picture snappers were told to wait for Crosby with the other journalists in the conference room.


Videos

Photos