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Sidney Crosby's wild side isn't helping Pens

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, right, shoves his glove and stick into the face of Philadelphia Flyers Brayden Schenn during a multi-fight brawl in front of the benches during the third period of Game 3 in a first-round NHL Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series, Sunday, April 15, 2012, in Philadelphia. The Flyers' 8-4 win puts them ahead 3-0 in the series.

TOM MIHALEK/Tom Mihalek/2012/All Rights Reserved

He has a share of the team lead in scoring, with five points, and despite playing for a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has allowed a franchise record 19 goals in three games, is only a minus-1.

So from a statistical point of view, you can't pin a whole lot of the Penguins Round 1 problems on Sidney Crosby.

What you certainly can say is that his performance on Sunday in Game 3 was a little bit unbecoming for the Penguins captain, even if his on-ice reputation was never as squeaky clean as his owner Mario's.

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Rather than leading his team to a much needed win, Crosby was in the middle of the funny stuff, swatting away a Philadelphia Flyers player's glove, punching and shoving after the whistle and a bunch of other assorted nonsense that didn't help Pittsburgh accomplish much of anything in another ugly loss.

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Crosby, however, dismissed the idea they (he) had become frustrated and off their game.

"I think a lot of things go on out there," he said. "A lot of things. That's kind of the result you get. That's what happened.

"You know what, there's more than one team getting in those things. So you can make a story all you want about us getting frustrated, but we're playing playoff hockey. They're doing the same things we did. It's intense. You can say that we got frustrated; we didn't."

Crosby has spent nine minutes in the penalty box in this series, which puts him sixth on his team, and while James Neal and Arron Asham both have disciplinary hearings for crossing Brendan Shanahan's blurry line, the captain remained out of the league's disciplinary doghouse.

What you're seeing in this series though is what has led to some opposing coaches like the New York Rangers' John Tortorella and Flyers assistant Craig Berube calling Crosby "dirty" or a whiner in recent weeks.

A few teams have the ability to get under Crosby's skin, and the Flyers are at the top of that list. That's part of what makes this such a trying matchup for the Penguins, who by average weight are the smallest team to make the playoffs and tied for 27th in the league in the category.

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Philadelphia, despite their youth and having Danny Briere up front, are sixth overall, averaging about six pounds bigger.

The Penguins, in other words, are not really built for a punishing, physical series against teams like Philadelphia or Boston, and that leaves their captain trying to fight far too many of his own battles.

The problem also lies with him creating so many of those battles and expending far too much energy doing so.

Crosby had the right approach last week when he dismissed all the off ice comments as garbage and nonsense, essentially refusing to join in a war of words with someone like Tortorella.

"They are trying every which way to gain an advantage," he said at the time. "Go ahead, try it, but we're not paying a lot of attention to it. It's just old."

What Crosby is paying a lot of attention to, however, are the sideshows going on in this series, and it hasn't done his team any favours. And he needs to realize he is far better served being on the ice than in the box and scoring goals rather than throwing punches.

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Just like he did when the Pens won the Cup three years ago, three rounds after handily beating the Flyers in six games.

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