Penguins center Sidney Crosby has been cleared for contact -- even getting a bit during practice today -- and said he could return to the lineup in a matter of days.
He did not specify a comeback target. But he suggested that, barring a setback, he could resume playing as early as Sunday, when Boston will visit Consol Energy Center.
"I'm going to give myself days, for sure, of contact," Crosby said. "If you look at our schedule, we have two more practices, I think, this week. No sooner than Sunday, I would say. But I'm not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork. I just want to make sure I get through these days fine."
Coincidentally enough, he has not played since being injured in a game against the Bruins Dec. 5.
Crosby's injury initially was believed to be a concussion, but later a doctor diagnosed a soft-tissue problem with his neck.
He said he has been symptom-free for several days. Remaining that way now that he is being hit in practice, he said, is key to determining when he will get back in the lineup.
He got what he described as a "decent amount" of practice-level contact today, much of it in drills after the formal portion of the Penguins' workout had ended.
"I don't think you're ever going to get what you're going to get in a game," he said. "There's the odd time in practice where that may happen, but as far as getting an elbow to the head or a shoulder to the face or something like that, it's not really going to happen in practice. You just want to make sure you go through all the right steps to prepare for a game, then when a game comes, hopefully, everything goes well."
Dave Molinari: email@example.com and on Twitter @molinaripg First Published March 6, 2012 5:30 PM