The official word from the Pittsburgh Penguins is that Sidney Crosby is a game-time decision, though it sure looks as though the game’s brightest star will be making his season debut Tuesday.
Crosby, 29, has missed all six of the Penguins’ outings this season after suffering a concussion days before the campaign began, but he was finally back participating in full practice Monday after days of skating on his own. There was further proof Crosby could be ready to get back into action Tuesday, though, as he took part in another full practice and spent time skating with linemates Scott Wilson and Patric Hornqvist.
“He had a really good practice yesterday,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey. “He responded very well. He had a real good practice this morning. Everything’s pointed in the right direction that he feels comfortable that he’s ready to go back in the lineup. If that’s the case, then he’ll play.”
That Crosby could be making his long-awaited return to the lineup less than three weeks after he suffered the concussion is good news given his history with head injures. During a two-season period from January 2011 until the end of the 2012-13 campaign, Crosby was forced to miss 101 games due to concussions, and the concussion suffered in October marked the first time in three seasons that he had again suffered a head injury.
However, the good news was that the Penguins and Crosby were both in a spot where there was no rush for him to return to action and the proper time appears to have been taken with getting him back up to full speed. Crosby said that leading up to practices he has spent “a good chunk of days” without symptoms from the concussion.
"Ultimately to get to that step yesterday of having contact, you have to go a number of days being symptom-free,” Crosby said Tuesday, according to the Penguins Inside Scoop's Sam Kasan. “That's been the case.”
Getting Crosby back into the lineup would be a boon for the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, who aren’t struggling but not exactly showing any signs of dominance, either. In their past four games, the Penguins are 1-2-1 and have been outscored 15-7.
"He's the best player in the world, so I think when you put him on the ice it challenges the other team to match that,” Penguins winger Carl Hagelin said of Crosby, according to Penguins Inside Scoop’s Michelle Crechiolo. “We're happy to have him back and we need to get rolling here."
Before the campaign, Crosby was named World Cup of Hockey MVP after potting three goals and 10 points in six games and capturing the World Cup title with Team Canada.
Crosby is also coming off of winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after posting six goals and 19 points in 24 post-season games, and was the league’s hottest player in the back half of the 2015-16 season. Over the final 41 games of the past campaign, Crosby registered 24 goals and 54 points. He finished third in league scoring with 36 goals and 85 points.
UPDATE: The Penguins have confirmed that Crosby will make his debut Tuesday night, and will skate on a line with Wilson and Hornqvist. In addition, goaltender Matt Murray, who has missed time with a broken hand, is back in the lineup backing up Marc-Andre Fleury.
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