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As a medium-sized prospect, D’Orio, an uncovered goalkeeper, did what most « newbies » do « should, and cleared the ice cream from pucks and nets in Cranberry on Wednesday after the penguins had practiced and scratched for almost two hours.
He ran to the northeast end of the rink to remove the net and clear the way for a maintenance team to clean the ice.
But just as he was crossing the red line in the middle of the ice, he was granted some kind of respite.
Sidney Crosby grabbed the net and ran it to the left boards before exiting the rink.
The name on the building where the penguins practice is Mario Lemieux and he is one of the owners of the team.
And he wants to do everything in his power to give him the best chance of winning.
When D’Orio – no better than fourth on the organization’s depth map on the net – feels comfortable in a line-up full of all-stars and the penguins even move a tenth of 1% closer to another Stanley Cup title , Crosby will exhaust everything on his disposal to make sure the rookie feels part of the team.
Before snapping the net, Crosby and defender Kris Letang spent a handful of minutes helping D’Orio pick up stray pucks.
« I know how excited he is this time of year, » said coach Mike Sullivan via videoconference. “He wants to win in the worst possible way. When he comes to the ice rink, he radiates it. The way he carries himself, how he interacts with his teammates, both on and off the ice. Our players recognize that. Of course, our coaching staff do. That’s part of what makes Sid the leader he is. »
Given that the Penguins were forced to field 35 players during the regular season due to traditional injuries related to hockey and the still evolving protocols related to Covid-19, Crosby had to use the welcome mat for more than one Few people roll out, from newbies to newbies perspectives like striker Radim Zohorna and battle-hardened veterans like defenseman Yannick Weber.
« There have been a lot of injuries and a lot of people in and out of the lineup, » said Crosby. « In my opinion, if you get involved and take on a lot of responsibility, it immediately helps you to feel good. As for the ice cream, I think that only the energy and excitement that the guys brought with them came to our team – whether they came from other places or from (Wilkes-Barre / Scranton) – whatever their situation, I think they came in and really took advantage of the opportunity and were really excited. It’s contagious. All year round There was great energy and enthusiasm, especially given the situation we are in.
The Penguins hope to avoid the situation they have been in the last two postseason when they couldn’t win a series. In 2019 they were swept in the first round by the New York Islanders. Then, during the qualifying round of the 2020 postseason tournament, they were upset 3-1 against the humble Montreal Canadiens.
« You’re always motivated to go to the playoffs, » said Crosby. “Having these two experiences fresh in your mind will increase motivation for the people who are a part of it. But it’s a new group and we played good hockey on the track. I think we have to take this to another level when the playoffs start. »
Regardless of their success this postseason, the penguins are likely to be entering a busy off-season. With a draft expansion, a flat salary cap, and new management, this franchise could look drastically different, especially given that Crosby’s longtime teammate Letang and striker Evgeni Malkin will step into the final years of their contracts.
If the prospect of this team being disbanded by the realities listed above is something Crosby and his company are thinking about, the captain is not tapping his hand.
« We don’t really talk about it, » said Crosby. « It is enough if you have to prepare and prepare for the start. We were excited. We were lucky enough to share many and important playoff games. They try to appreciate every opportunity. Make the most of it.
« Whatever the situation, you only have to take advantage of the opportunity when you get it, and we have one. We want to do something with it. »
Seth Rorabaugh is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.
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