Pens' GM Shero dismisses Crosby reports
Monday played out like a game of "Fact or Fiction" regarding concussed Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
The facts, provided by coach Dan Bylsma, were a lot less attention-grabbing than the fiction provided by speculation on the Internet that Crosby would not play again this season.
"That really has not been a topic of conversation or a thought," Bylsma said. "When the doctor told us he had a mild concussion, we were not expecting it to last this long."
Crosby has not played, practiced or engaged in any strenuous activity since Jan. 5, when he was driven from behind into the boards at Consol Energy Center by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman. He had also been clipped from the blind side by Washington Capitals left wing David Steckel during the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day.
Multiple sources said over the weekend that Crosby would not resume normal exercise activity for seven to 10 days, and that the Penguins do not expect him to play against until at least March.
Nobody within Crosby's camp has ruled out the possibility he could miss the remainder of this season, including the playoffs - but only because recovery from concussions is impossible to predict.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero said "nothing has changed" regarding the status of Crosby, who is not symptom free and remains cleared for only light exercise.
Bylsma said Crosby, the NHL leader in goals and points at the time of his injury, will return to Pittsburgh "sometime this week" after spending the last several days resting at home in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
"There wasn't a definite date or day," Bylsma said. "Right now there's not a lot of contact; he's in contact with (Penguins head trainer Chris Stewart) every other day just to let him know how he's feeling.
"There's really not a time frame at this point for getting him back into town, and any kind of timetable (for a return to playing)."
The Penguins must keep playing without Crosby and fellow former scoring-champion center Evgeni Malkin, who is out for the season because of torn right knee ligaments. They are also down third-line center Mark Letestu, a promising rookie who had posted 10 goals.
Combined, their three injured centers have produced 57 goals, or 34.8 percent of their offense.
Even for a squad that rated second overall at 2.22 goals against, playing without players who have contributed that much offense seemingly should be a concern.
"You know, there's not a lot of worry offensively," left wing Matt Cooke said. "We're in a situation right now where we have to try to approach it like we have to win games 1-0 - not because we can't score, but because we're giving ourselves the best chance to win by playing that way."
Arguably, the Penguins' best chance to create scoring chances rests on the shoulders of Kris Letang, Alex Goligoski and Paul Martin. This trio of offensively gifted defensemen has combined for 19 goals and, more notably, 69 assists.
Letang rates first, Goligoski second and Martin fourth among currently healthy Penguins in terms of assists.
Letang said they can "do a better job of reading the play and joining the rush."
"But that's a tough game to play," he said. "If you start taking chances, and you end up trailing, that's when you need to score goals — and we don't have Geno and Sid, so (comebacks) will be tougher."Additional Information:
vs. BLUE JACKETS
7 p.m. today • Consol Energy Center
(FSN PITTSBURGH/WXDX-FM 105.9 and the Penguins Radio Network)
Season series: Penguins lead, 1-0-0. They won at Columbus, 7-2, on Dec. 4. Defenseman Paul Martin scored twice.
Who to watch: Right wing R.J. Umberber, a Plum native, recorded his second four-point game with the Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Trends: Columbus is 8-2-1 against Eastern Conference teams. ... The Blues Jackets are on a 5-2-2 run. ... Left wing Kristian Huselius scored twice Saturday after he was a healthy scratch Friday.