At least Sidney Crosby didn’t have to field questions Wednesday about never having scored against the Kings.
He did just that on March 20, 2009, against goalie Jonathan Quick at Pittsburgh.
The “new” story angles about the Pittsburgh Penguins star and freshly minted captain of Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics are few and far between, so much so it became a story line in Edmonton earlier this month that Crosby had never scored against the Oilers.
(He took care of that gaping hole on his resume, by the way.)
Crosby simply hasn’t played much against certain teams in the Western Conference because of previous NHL schedule imbalance, his injury history and last season’s lockout, which kept the conferences apart.
Thursday night’s contest between the Penguins and the Kings will be only his third game at Staples Center, a rare chance for Southern California hockey fans to see Crosby in person. His last game at Staples Center was Nov. 5, 2009.
“I like it. It’s nice to play different teams, get those different matchups, and just preparing for who you are going to play against, going against each night,” Crosby said after the Penguins practiced in El Segundo. “It’s good for the fans to see different teams.”
It breaks up the schedule’s monotony too. The Kings get their fill of San Jose and Phoenix, just as the Penguins see more than enough of Philadelphia and the Rangers.
“You know how those teams play after a few games, but it’s nice to have to adjust and think a little bit different and not have to think the exact same way,” Crosby said. “You’re going against a different set of [defense] pairing, a different center man who might do something a little different than the six times you play against the center man from Philadelphia or New York.”
Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, who rejoined Pittsburgh as a free agent in the summer after spending four seasons with the Kings, took note of Crosby’s career development.
“I think he’s just had some maturity as far as seeing things for himself off the ice,” Scuderi said. “That will help him a lot as a player and as a person. He’s always been good, great at both, but I think it’s just something that you see with maturity.
“As a player, he’s also grown. It’s scary to think that he’s gotten better. But he has. The decisions he makes, in and out, on different areas on the ice, are better than when I played with him last, which is a scary thing to think of.”
Scuderi spoke fondly about his days with the Kings. Crosby and his teammates took note of the picture of the Kings’ Stanley Cup team in 2012 and Scuderi’s spot.
“I think they were asking me why I wasn’t a little closer to the Cup,” Scuderi said. “I’m more of a back-row guy. I was tucked away in the back. I was still in there.”
He got off a few good lines about coming back to Southern California.
“I went to park in my normal spot and someone was in it,” Scuderi said.
As much as the Kings miss his steady presence, the Penguins are just as pleased to have Scuderi back in Pittsburgh.
“He shows a lot of poise back there.... He’s pretty calm back there and keeps it simple,” Crosby said. “Sometimes we need to simplify things a little bit.”
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.
Etc.: The Penguins have brought their mothers along to Southern California, instead of the usual father-son road trip. Crosby’s mother, Trina, is along, and she and Crosby’s father, Troy, will be going to the Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia. “I think the dads are still in shock they aren’t on the trip this year,” Crosby said. “It’s nice to have the moms.”