CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Only a few members of the Pittsburgh Penguins took part in an optional practice Tuesday in their opulent suburban practice facility. Their captain was one of them. Sidney Crosby is a true rinkrat on off days and, after all, what player doesn't still want to have work to go to as the calendar goes past Memorial Day?
"I just felt pretty good and haven't been skating a lot on game days," Crosby said at the Lemieux Sports Complex. "Sometimes it's nice. They're not that difficult of skates when you only have a handful of guys out there. You're able to touch the puck a little bit more. Sometimes it's more beneficial I think to get out there for that."
The Penguins have played back-to-back seven-game series heading into the Stanley Cup final, and can get halfway to another championship with a win in Game Two Wednesday in PPG Paints Arena. It's a long season but the motivation has never been higher than it is right now for the game's marquee player.
"Everybody's in that situation at this point with a long season. Some guys have played in different things," Crosby said. "It's been a little bit longer but I think you just have to manage it. It's not something you just start doing in the Stanley Cup final. I think that's something as you move along throughout the year, you try to find days when you can rest so that when you get to that point, your body is in as good of shape as it can be. Sometimes it's nice, too, not to have too long of breaks, kind of keep going."
"On and off the ice, he's just an example to follow," injured Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said Tuesday. "We won the Cup last year, and we had a couple chats. He really wanted to get in shape right away to get to the World Cup, win the World Cup, come back and say, 'We can win this again.' We have a lot of young guys, a lot of energy. The details, what he wants to accomplish, it's pretty incredible."
Crosby had two assists but admitted the Pens' 5-3 win in Game One was not the normal blueprint for success. Pittsburgh had just 12 shots on goal in the game -- and none for a 37-minute stretch until Jake Guentzel's tie-breaking goal with 3:17 left in the third period.
"We create chances. We found ways to execute," Crosby said. "I don't know if it was perfect. We got a good bounce there on one of them, made a couple good plays. You have to be able to do that sometimes. We were able to do that. But we know that's not necessarily a way you want to play the game every night."
Crosby knows the Penguins have to be better offensively and said he expects Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne to bounce back from his Game One troubles.
"Their goalie is really good at handling the puck," Crosby said. "You have to put the puck in good places to forecheck. They've got some 'D' that can skate themselves out of trouble. When I look at that, I think our forecheck has got to be a little bit better. There were some chances we had that we didn't execute. We missed the net or hit a skate on a pass that could have set up a shot."
Letang, who has been serving as an eye in the sky in these playoffs following neck surgery, laughed at the nay-sayers who said the Penguins were toast when he went down with his injury.
"You've all seen Sidney Crosby's demeanor, what he wants to accomplish," said Letang, who scored the Cup-winning goal last year in Game Six at San Jose. "When you have a guy that you can look up to, I was confident to say that in front of a lot of people. That's what's happening right now."
Letang said his recovery is progressing well and he's had his skates on a couple times in secret already. He said he has another medical check-up in a couple weeks. Asked if he wore the skates on the ice, a sheepish Letang laughed and said "close."
Nashville fans throw catfish on the ice in Bridgestone Arena, much like Detroit fans toss octopus in Joe Louis Arena. Pittsburgh fish markets have taken to ID'ing customers this week so no Tennessee fans are buying the fish but one was smuggled into the arena Monday and landed on the ice in the first period.
Jacob Waddell, 36, of Nolensville, Tenn., was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing an instrument of crime and disrupting a meeting. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he vacuum-sealed the fish in his compression shorts to smuggle it into the arena and then unwrapped it in a restroom before his toss.