Penguins' Crosby looks almost back to normal at practice
Sidney Crosby said nothing has changed.
That was not entirely true Thursday during Penguins practice at Consol Energy Center.
Crosby skated with his regular wingers, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. He also worked with the first power-play unit at his usual spot near the right half-wall.
Those were firsts for Crosby since he resumed practicing last Friday. He has not played since his jaw was broken when a puck hit his face during a game March 30.
Another first, at least since the injury: Troy Crosby watched his son practice from the stands.
“Nothing's changed,” Sidney Crosby said after a practice that, for him, did not involve contact.
Crosby said he has no scheduled meetings with doctors.
“It's kind of been a lot of communication throughout the whole process, anyway,” he said. “So that won't change.”
Crosby is known to have last met with medical personnel Tuesday, when he still wasn't cleared for contact let alone a return to play in games.
He will require medical clearance to play for the Penguins, who face the New York Islanders in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series Friday night.
The Penguins lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal, 1-0.
Occasionally burned by setting a timeline for Crosby's return during his 15-month concussion saga, the Penguins have been careful to avoid that during the jaw injury.
Crosby officially remains out indefinitely.
Coach Dan Bylsma reiterated that he will not provide injury updates or reveal lineups during the playoffs.
So, even though right winger James Neal did not practice and limped heavily favoring his right leg, he was not ruled out for Game 2.
Neal did not finish Game 1 after he was hit by Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic.
Jarome Iginla was the right winger for center Evgeni Malkin during practice, with rookie Beau Bennett playing the left side.
Bennett had worked the right wing on a fourth line in Game 1. That spot was filled in practice by forward Craig Adams, who was replaced at center on the fourth line by Jussi Jokinen.
Crosby, though, was the center of attention.
He said repetition with his regular linemates was “nice.”
“I think Dan knows I want to get in there once in a while,” Crosby said, adding that he was not permitted to “get into medical terms” regarding his jaw.
“It's just not ready to go,” he said.
Many of his teammates acted as though his return was imminent.
Defenseman Paul Martin opined that Crosby was “ready.”
“We're excited to have him back in,” Martin said.
Dupuis described the chemistry he has developed with Kunitz and Crosby, using terminology like “trust” and “comfort level” and offering the key to the top line's success, at least when Crosby has been healthy, over the past three seasons.
“We outwork opponents,” Dupuis said.
The MVP favorite and NHL scoring leader at the time of his injury, Crosby's return would make the Islanders' challenge of upsetting the top-seeded Penguins even tougher.
“He's one of the best, if not the best, player in the league,” Islanders left winger Matt Martin said. “He makes everyone around him better and brings a whole other dynamic to that team.
“One thing about (the Penguins) is it really doesn't matter who's out of the lineup. They're so deep with talent that they have somebody to fill in those spots.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.