PITTSBURGH — The brand-new locker room humorist Evgeni Malkin is making fun of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates in two languages, and they're loving it.
Coach Dan Bylsma is pleased because Malkin is laughing at his dry-humor witticisms. Sidney Crosby doesn't have a goal in the Stanley Cup finals, yet he's smiling, too.
The yuk-it-up Penguins trail the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 going into Game 4 tonight, but it was difficult to tell from their off-day levity that they weren't ahead.
They're not acting at all like they did when they were down a game in this same situation last year, against the same opponent. And it's certainly not because Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk, who is capable of winning a game at both ends of the ice, expects to play after sitting out six games with a foot injury.
"It's a lot different than last year, that's for sure," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said Wednesday.
That was evident as Malkin repeatedly made fun of teammate Max Talbot, whose two goals during Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday included one into an empty net.
Malkin did it in English, too, rather than the native Russian that the NHL regular-season scoring champion used before this season, with defenseman Sergei Gonchar acting as his interpreter.
Malkin: "I'm seeing how Max plays, it's a lot of emotion ... and a little bit bad hands. He has a lot of scoring chances, but (does) not score. Just empty net."
Talbot: "I'm speechless right now, thanks Geno."
Later, teammate Bill Guerin said, "That's one side that I don't really think people understand. I think people think he (Malkin) is a quiet guy. But he's got a great sense of humor to him, yeah."
A pretty good set of hands, too, as Malkin has 33 points, the most in the NHL playoffs since Joe Sakic had 34 for Colorado in 1996.
Avalanche fires coach: The Colorado Avalanche has promoted Greg Sherman to general manager and fired coach Tony Granato and five others in a sweeping shakeup.
The team announced the moves Wednesday.
Sherman has spent the past seven years as the team's assistant general manager and replaces Francois Giguere, who was let go in April.