- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Sidney Crosby? No. Evgeni Malkin? No.

But Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier? Yes, they’ll all be on the ice this week.

And that’s why, for a change, the Pittsburgh Penguins enter a playoff series with the lesser-known players. For once, they are the team more concerned about containing the high-end offensive talent its opponent has.

Stamkos was second in the league in goals, St. Louis was second in points, and Lecavalier, a former No. 1 overall pick, finished his season with 14 points in the last 11 games.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, veered from recent tradition and relied on defense after Crosby (concussion) and Malkin (knee) were lost for most of the season’s final half.

Indeed, it is a new feeling.

“It’s a completely different feel than the past few years,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said, “with the teams we’ve had and the expectations.”

Game 1 is 7 p.m. Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

“We know what we’re getting ourselves into,” Stamkos said. “I think both teams have some strong weapons, strong defenses, and strong goaltenders, for that matter. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who wants it more. Who plays with more desperation. Who is going to sacrifice.”

Stamkos shared the Rocket Richard trophy for NHL’s top goal scorer with Crosby last season. And the two had quite the early-season race going this year, until Crosby was hit by Washington’s David Steckel in the Jan. 1 outdoor game, and then again four days later by Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. He hasn’t played in the 41 games since.

On Tuesday, Crosby took part in a non-gameday practice with the entire team for only the second time since being cleared to skate last month. All of his other workouts were either during the less-brisk morning skates, on his own or with only a handful of others, usually the team’s other injured players.

Although he was not permitted to take part in anything that involved contact, Crosby appeared to participate in most of the drills with the same vigor as if he was healthy.

“He looked great today,” former linemate Pascal Dupuis said.

But coach Dan Bylsma said there is no change in his status and Crosby will not play Wednesday.

“The fact that he’s practicing with the team has not changed his progression,” Bylsma said. “He’s not been able to progress to the next standpoint yet.”

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