The way Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby has danced around questions regarding his immediate future has not been unlike the way he dances around defenders and goaltenders on the ice.
The center has been hounded by Canadian and American media since being cleared for contact on Tuesday.
“When will you return to game action?” “Do you feel comfortable enough to play in a game yet?” “Will you be playing Sunday when the Penguins take on the Boston Bruins?”
Surprisingly, Crosby has actually answered these questions in a more direct manner than expected.
“No earlier than Sunday,” he’s told us many times.
While the 24-year-old isn’t yet sure if he’ll make his return from a three-month injury layoff on Sunday, he says he’ll know by tomorrow.
Crosby, who has scored two goals and 12 points in eight games this season, has been taking contact in practice since Tuesday and has skated every day since then. The Penguins were given the day off yesterday after recording their seventh consecutive win Wednesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Crosby, though, took the ice with teammates Dustin Jeffrey and Eric Tangradi. Sid stickhandled in the corner of the rink while Jeffrey and Tangradi knocked him off the puck and, a few times, to the ice. The drill didn’t simulate anything like game contact, though, and Crosby knows it.
“It went pretty good, but we haven’t practiced a lot,” Crosby told NHL.com. “I probably haven’t been as tested as much as I would like.”
I personally wouldn’t risk playing him Sunday. He’s gotten one team practice in plus two morning skates (Wednesday and Friday) and Thursday’s session. Regardless of what he and the team do Saturday, I’m not sure bringing him back against a physical Bruins squad is a terribly smart decision.
Plus, Sid took about a month’s worth of contact in practice before returning to game action in November and wasn’t able to play 10 games without his symptoms reappearing.
If Crosby doesn’t play Sunday, he could potentially get three days of solid practice with contact in before the team’s next game. The Penguins face the East-leading New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday before back-to-back road games against the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers next weekend.
Having Crosby dressed for the game in Philadelphia would essentially ensure him a hat trick plus a few assists and watching him dominate Flyers fans’s “Crosby Sucks” chants like old times would be great, though.
Regardless, we’ll know tomorrow whether or not Sid will attempt comeback number two on Sunday. Hopefully he’ll be able to put these injury issues behind him whenever he decides to return. Most agree a healthy Crosby takes the Penguins from Stanley Cup contenders to full-on favorites.
Follow Troy on Twitter @TroyPfaff