Sidney Crosby will miss at least 1 game, not on trip with Penguins
The season is less than six weeks old, and already the Pittsburgh Penguins have played stretches without more than half their projected forward lineup and multiple games without multiple possible future Hall of Famers.
But the unfortunate injury news Penguins players heard Monday was different. This time, it was regarding their captain.
Sidney Crosby will not play in Tuesday’s game at the New York Rangers because of an undisclosed ailment, and he did not join the team as it left for a five-day trip to the New York City area.
“He will not play against the Rangers (on Tuesday), and when I get further information, I will let you know,” was the extent of the update that coach Mike Sullivan provided from the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex after a practice in which Crosby did not participate.
Crosby did not play over the final 18 minutes, 9 seconds of the third period of the Penguins’ 3-2 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena. The team has not released the nature of his injury, but it will force its captain to miss a game for just the 20th time since the start of the 2013-14 season. Crosby has played in 490 of the Penguins’ past 509 regular-season games.
“I don’t think the guys are deflated by any stretch, (but) obviously he’s a critically important player for us,” Sullivan said. “He’s not an easy guy to replace with everything he does and the way he helps our team and the contribution he makes. No one person is going to pick up that slack. We all are going to have to try to make sure that we pull together as a team. Everybody is going to have to elevate their game. We still believe we have capable people in the lineup. And that’s the way we look at it.”
Crosby leads the Penguins in points with 17 (five goals, 12 assists) in 17 games after he had a team-high 100 points last season. The remainder of his resume needs no recitation: top three, (at age 32) among active NHL players in career goals, assists and points, two Art Ross trophies, two Rocket Richard trophies, three-time Stanley Cup winner, unofficial “face of the franchise.”
“I think we have a lot of good guys who do a good job stepping up,” said Crosby’s usual left wing, Jake Guentzel. “It’s going to be by committee, so we will see what happens, but if (Crosby is out) we have to adjust to it.”
Sullivan did not outright rule out that Crosby could join the Penguins before Friday’s game at the New Jersey Devils., but he did not come across as optimistic he could, either.
Asked if Crosby’s injury could keep him out “longer-term,” Sullivan said, “Well, what’s longer?”
When a reporter suggested “weeks” or “months,” Sullivan said, “I don’t know.”
“I think right now all I know is he’s continuing to be evaluated,” he said, “and then when I have further information I’ll update you.”
After injures plagued the early part of his career, Crosby had become durable since approaching and entering his 30s. Crosby has missed just three games over the past three seasons, all coming almost exactly a year ago because of an upper-body injury. The Penguins went 1-1-1 without him during a three-game road trip.
The only other times Crosby has missed a multiple-game stretch over the past 6 ½ years were in when the mumps kept him out for three games during December 2014 and when he sat out the first six games of the 2016-17 season because of a concussion. The Penguins went 2-0-1 and 3-2-1, respectively, during those absences.
Jared McCann stepped in Crosby’s spot centering the top line between Guentzel and Alex Galchenyuk during practice Monday.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .