Leafs to keep blanket over Crosby

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

There will be no stopping Sidney Crosby from dominating today's morning skate in his first plunge into the wide Toronto hockey media pool.

But the Maple Leafs intend to keep Crosby under wraps tonight once the puck drops at the Air Canada Centre.

Toronto limited the game's heralded 21st century quasar to an assist in the first meeting on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, a 3-2 overtime win. But Crosby, now back at centre to stay under new Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien, was a threat all night.

This time, the home-team Leafs have last line change and if coach Pat Quinn desires, he can put Mats Sundin on the kid in a more comfortable best-on-best matchup. But Quinn was very impressed at how Clarke Wilm and to a lesser extent, Kyle Wellwood and John Pohl, attached themselves to Crosby at the Igloo where Therrien had the last change.

"I let it ride and didn't put our whole team in the situation where we had to make changes everytime out," Quinn said yesterday. "Yet he still had a strong game. We'll have to be mindful of him and certainly, who will be out against him."

Crosby got away from Wilm and Tomas Kaberle on a late power play, setting up Michel Ouellet from his knees with a nifty cross-crease pass. Toronto held Crosby to five shots and 10 faceoff wins in 21 draws in 23:22 worth of ice time.

Sundin is ready for whatever assignment Quinn gives him against the 18-year-old wonderboy.

"I don't mind (playing head-to-head)," Sundin said. "Usually, when you play the other team's top lines, there are more chances going the other way, too. That's fine with me."

But Crosby has turned it up a notch in recent weeks, even as outside criticism of his growing influence on the last-place team began surfacing. He had the overtime winner on Saturday in a 4-3 triumph over the Rangers and his two points put him just a couple behind Washington's Alexander Ovechkin for the rookie scoring lead.

"You can tell he's in a tough situation where they're losing a lot," Sundin said of Crosby.

"But the most important thing is that he keeps doing well himself and keeps developing as a player.

"The league needs the Crosbys, the Ovechkins and all these guys who are exciting to watch. It's fun to be out there playing against them."

Though Toronto will be a big stop in the Crosby road tour this week, he is looking forward just as much to the game in Montreal tomorrow against his favourite childhood team. It's also a homecoming for Pens' goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and ex-Habs' coach Therrien.

The Pens have won their past two games, after going almost two months without consecutive victories.

"We're playing pretty solid hockey right now and not making too many big mistakes," Crosby told reporters after Saturday's game.

"Five on five, we're making it really tough for teams to play us. We're skating, and we're not giving them a lot of opportunities in our end."


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