Penguins playing it cautious with Crosby

| Thursday, March 13, 2008

Something drastic -- say, an amputation of his injured leg - might force captain Sidney Crosby to miss the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.

A high right ankle sprain likely will not do it.

Then again, betting against that troublesome injury would seem unwise - especially for the Penguins.

"It's been that type of season," coach Michel Therrien said Wednesday, after Crosby exited early from a morning skate and pulled himself from the lineup for the Penguins' game against Buffalo at Mellon Arena.

"We're not forcing our players to play, and we've got to wait."

They waited nearly seven weeks from Jan. 19 to March 4 for Crosby to return from a high right ankle sprain, going 11-6-4 without him.

He hopes to play Sunday against Philadelphia at home. If not, at least in the final 10 regular-season games to follow that contest.

But with his inspiring return cut short at three games - all on the road last week - due to a soreness he has experienced "the past couple of days", Crosby seems willing to take a cautious approach.

"We have a few more days until our next game," Crosby said. "If there is a time to give it a rest, it might be now.

"It's one of those things where you might not get three or four days (off) again in the schedule."

After Sunday, the Penguins' longest stretch between games is three, before the regular-season finale in Philadelphia on April 6.

Of course, even if Crosby's ankle soreness proves no concern for the games beyond that finale, there remains uncertainty on the status of some teammates.

The Penguins entered yesterday with 227 man-games lost due to injury.

Forward Max Talbot did not play against Buffalo after re-aggravating a right ankle sprain this past Sunday in Washington D.C., and right wing Marian Hossa missed a sixth consecutive game with a sore right knee.

The Penguins hope Hossa will play Sunday. Talbot remains day-to-day. He previously missed five and 13 games due to the high right ankle sprain injury.

Left wing Gary Roberts, out since Dec. 29 due to a broken left fibula/high left ankle sprain, has targeted a return later this month. Also, defenseman Rob Scuderi did not dress for a seventh consecutive game due to a fractured finger on his right hand, and forward Adam Hall has not played since Jan. 19 due to a sports hernia injury.

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