So did getting knocked around in practice. The Penguins worked for more than an hour on Tuesday, with Crosby right in the middle of it. He mixed it up during drills and bounced right back up following a not-so gentle nudge from defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
It's a good sign, though Crosby knows the hits will be much more violent when they're coming from guys in different colored jerseys, particularly this late in the season.
"The intensity and the importance of the games is a little bit higher," he said. "I'm sure there's going to be a feeling out process and see how things go."
Crosby was the best player in the world before taking head shots in consecutive games in January 2011 that forced him to sit out the rest of the 2010-11 season and the first six weeks of this season. Now, he may not even be the best player on his own team.
Malkin leads the league with 84 points and carried the team on his back in mid-January after a six-game slide threw the Penguins into disarray. The Russian is in the race for the Hart Trophy and his numbers this season are similar to Crosby's at his peak.
Considering the way last season ended — with Crosby and Malkin both sidelined by injuries and the Penguins losing to Tampa Bay in seven games in the opening round of the playoffs — Bylsma is only too happy to figure out how they work together over the coming months and see who really is the best player on the planet.
"I hope they fight it out for that title," he said with a laugh.
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