Dan Bylsma knows the look of greatness in the postseason.
He will not say if he has seen it from Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
“There's some tell signs that you occasionally do get from both those guys, and I'm not going to tell you if I've seen them or not or, really, say what those might be,” Bylsma said Friday.
Crosby and Malkin look primed for the Eastern Conference final, which opens at Consol Energy Center on Saturday night.
The tell sign came Wednesday in practice. During a faceoff drill, the MegaPowers went at one another.
Malkin cheated at every chance. Crosby countered by going lower, quickening his stick movement.
Crosby won all three faceoffs. An hour after practice, Malkin returned to the ice, firing weighted pucks against the boards using his backhand.
Greatness does not come easy, and the opportunity to grab it does not happen often.
Crosby and Malkin have lived the learning of that lesson over the last three NHL seasons. The Boston Bruins — big and bad by reputation; battered on the back end by a seven-game opening round against Toronto — stand between them and their first Cup Final since 2009.
Crosby and Malkin are the Penguins' franchise pillars, their highest-paid players, their former MVPs/scoring champions. They expect to be the difference at this stage.
That they have not had to be yet is a testament to general manager Ray Shero's deep roster, Bylsma's proficiency at managing high-profile forwards and the standout performance of Tomas Vokoun (1.85 goals-against average, .941 save percentage) since replacing Marc-Andre Fleury as starting goalie in Round 1.
Crosby is tied for the playoffs lead with seven goals. His 15 points are third, trailing the co-team lead of Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang, each at 16.
“There's been spurts of dominance by each guy,” left winger Chris Kunitz said.
In Round 2, Crosby turned a hat trick in Game 2, and Malkin played hash-to-hash while scoring a goal and setting up one by winger James Neal in Game 5.