The Pittsburgh Penguins and Atlanta Thrashers had a monumental home-and-home series that ended with Atlanta laying a thrashing on the Pens. They clearly focused on Crosby
, pursuing a physical game and getting under his skin by having him take 12 minutes in penalties in those two games. One of the penalties lead to Ilya Kovalchuk scoring the game winning goal after which he skated by the penalty box and pointed his finger at Crosby. Ilya is no stranger to such tactics - during the 2001 World Junior Championship in Moscow he went nuts after scoring an empty net goal in the gold medal game against Canada.
It is not often that you see this type of public taunting in hockey, let alone the NHL. The game has long had a "code" of on-ice justice and this was again brought out by comments made by Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry. "I've seen a lot of things in my life, but I've never seen a guy pointing to a guy in the penalty box," said Cherry. "Someone should have broken [Kovalchuk's arm], but they didn't." It goes without saying that such comments condoning physical retribution against Ilya are totally off base. But it goes to show that the Pittsburgh Penguins have been unable to protect their prime asset against the type of abuse that a burgeoning 18 year old superstar would be better off without. This lack of toughness has lost them a couple of games but it is also giving Sidney Crosby a reputation across the league as a "whiner".