No easing in for injured Penguins players
Even the most perfect first year of marriage rarely passes without a few regrets.
Take the union between Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and captain Sidney Crosby, who has scored 47 goals in 76 games (counting playoffs) during their seven hockey months together.
Crosby notched his 20th goal of this season Monday night in a home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes; and while Bylsma appreciated that tally, he was a bit disappointed to have provided his superstar center so many opportunities to post it.
"I thought I had that notion (of monitoring ice time), and then I saw how many minutes Crosby played last game," Bylsma said of the 26 minutes and 32 seconds Crosby worked against Carolina.
That total marked a season-high for Crosby, who is fourth among NHL forwards with an average of 22 minutes. His teammate and fellow superstar center Evgeni Malkin is seventh at 21:32.
Getting arguably two of the sport's three best scorers on the ice for a third of the game is an understandable plan of attack by Bylsma. But even he concedes that, no matter the in-game circumstances, Crosby probably played too much against Carolina.
That was Crosby's first game back after missing a contest with a sore groin.
The Penguins, losers of two straight heading into a game tonight at Montreal, have provided Bylsma with a handful of opportunities to monitor ice time for players returning from various lower-body injuries — and many of them agree that the surface is more of a concern than the minutes they spend playing on it.
"The bad ice conditions we play on every night have a lot to do with the injuries," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
No NHL arena is used exclusively for hockey, leaving ice conditions predictable only as less-than-ideal.
"The softer it is, the more chance you have getting stuck in a rut or getting sore groins," Crosby said. "If there was a concert the night before there's really not enough time to make (the ice) that hard, and the chances of tweaking something are a little bit greater."
Orpik's said his four-game absence last month stemmed from catching his left knee in a rut at Boston on Nov. 10. He said "the same thing happened to" fellow defenseman Alex Goligoski on Nov. 28 at Mellon Arena.
That was Goligoski's first game after missing six previous with a groin injury. He has not played since and isn't expected to go against the Canadiens.
Winger Chris Kunitz, who said he will miss his 13th straight game tonight because of an undisclosed lower-body injury, acknowledged that returning players are concerned by the combination of bad ice and "trying to do too much."
"And getting hurt and missing more games," he said. "We've seen that it can happen."
Winger Tyler Kennedy missed 11 straight games after re-aggravating injuries to his groin and hamstrings on Nov. 3 at Anaheim. He recorded two assists in that contest and played over 13 minutes after having missed three straight games because of the injuries.
"I was probably trying to do too much," he said last week. "My body wasn't ready yet to come back."
Crosby, who has missed nearly a dozen games the past four seasons because of various groin injuries, said he was not concerned about his injury Monday night. Had he been he wouldn't have played at all - not to mention over 26 minutes.
"I felt like (my groin) was strong and as the game wore on, it felt better," he said. "I played a lot, but I felt fairly good. I didn't have any complaints. There was no red flag."
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.
- Penguins notebook: Pouliot heading west with team
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Stat dropoff, road struggles have Penguins seeking consistency
- Penguins minor league notebook: Rookie Wilson emerges as 3rd-line NHL prospect
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- Penguins notebook: Bennett a healthy scratch
- Penguins notebook: Malkin could return Wednesday at Edmonton
- Crosby banned from Jets game because he missed All-Star Game
- Rossi: Crosby’s debt to NHL paid in full
- Penguins’ Ehrhoff being tested for concussion
- For Penguins coach Johnston, it’s a matter of substance over style