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Niskanen Picking USA, But Wouldn’t Overlook Crosby

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)-Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen is back in Pittsburgh and on the ice gearing up for the NHL season after the Olympic break. He took time out to join “The Cook and Poni Show” on Thursday.

Niskanen, like all of us, has been watching his teammates at the Olympics and he knows the semifinals tomorrow will be two fantastic games, especially the USA and Canada. He also pointed out his teammate, Olli Maatta, and Finland have been outstanding.

KDKA’s Jory Rand with Matt Niskanen & Robert Bortuzzo:

But, who does he like?

“You have to like what the Americans are doing. They have looked really good and even though the Canadians have not been scoring, they haven’t given up anything either,” Niskanen said. “This is going to be a great matchup.”

Niskanen says the U.S. is not quite at the level of the Canadian teams yet, but they are getting there.

“We don’t have the depth they have,” Nisakanen said. “But in this tournament, we are right there. We have shown we can play with anyone.”

Niskanen is pulling for Team USA and thinks they have a great shot, but he tells the guys it would be foolish to underestimate Sidney Crosby.

“He only needs a little space and a couple of chances to take a game over,” Niskanen said. “He has the knack for living for those big moments.”

The Pens have moved up practice time so he and his teammates can watch the U.S. and Canada go at it.

Niskanen admits it’s a good question to see how Evgeni Malkin will respond to Russia’s early exit.

“The pressure was on those guys for sure,” Niskanen said. “I would imagine he comes back hungry. He wants to be the be the best at all times. He wants to have playoff success and wants to win more than anything.”

He says the guys that are still here are getting itchy to get back on the ice and he says they should be good and ready to go next week.

Niskanen also tells the guys that it’s good to see Kris Letang back at the facility and watching practice, but he doesn’t know when he will be able to return.

“We want him back that’s for sure. He would make us a better team, but he is our friend first and we are more worried about him getting healthy first,” Niskanen said.

Listen to the full interview here:

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