Penguins center Sidney Crosby visited with his teammates Monday at Southpointe and met with reporters briefly for the first time since he got hit in the mouth with a puck March 30.
Crosby did not have a specific answer for the most asked questions regarding his status -- he does not know when he will be cleared for practice or games after surgery for a broken jaw, and he isn't sure how many teeth he had knocked out.
"It's gotten better," Crosby said. "I feel a lot better than I did after the first couple of days.
"I'm sure they'll wait and see how everything heals. It will be a process over the next little bit. I'm not too worried about the teeth. I'm more worried about making sure I'm healed. Hopefully, that's sooner rather than later."
Crosby, who leads the NHL with 56 points in 36 games, is not joining the team for a three-game road trip that begins tonight at Carolina. He said he plans to meet with his doctor this week.
His speech was mildly affected, and he smiled frequently, revealing a gap where at least three bottom front teeth are missing. He already had his upper front teeth repaired but faces more root canals and other dental work.
"I really don't know what I lost or what's going to be saved," Crosby said of his teeth.
Crosby is waiting for surgically implanted metal plates and screws that are stabilizing his jaw to set.
"Whenever [the doctor] feels comfortable that everything's set in and I can go out there and skate and exert," he said of getting back to workouts. "That's something I'll wait to hear from him."
For now, he is not eating solid foods.
"It's been shakes," he said. "It hasn't been too enjoyable that way. Hopefully, maybe this week, I'll be able to start [eating different things].
"There were some milkshakes early on, but I'm trying to keep it a bit more healthy now. It's pretty much impossible to keep weight [on] right now. I'll be excited when I can eat."
Asked if he will be able to regain the pounds he loses, Crosby said, "I'm not too worried about it," causing teammate Matt Cooke, sitting nearby, to double over in laughter.
Crosby was hurt on his first shift in a win against the New York Islanders. Teammate Brooks Orpik took a slap shot that deflected upward off of New York's Brad Boyes and right at Crosby.
"I didn't see it at all," Crosby said. "Felt it, but didn't see it. It was kind of a weird bounce and just one of those things that happens."
Center Jussi Jokinen is in one of those awkward situations.
He's not even a week removed from being with Carolina, but said he's ready to dish whatever information he can to help his new Penguins teammates and coaches get the better of the Hurricanes.
"It's going to be weird," Jokinen said of facing his former club. "I have really good friends on that team. And those are the guys I've been battling really hard with."
Jokinen was with Carolina for all or part of five seasons before the Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline Wednesday for a conditional draft pick.
The Hurricanes are struggling and can set a dubious club record tonight with an eighth home loss in a row.
"They really care," Jokinen said. "It's a great group of guys. It's been tough the last three weeks, even when I was there. I feel that team is very fragile right now. They are working hard, but they are not getting bounces."
Save the celebration
There were no banners in the dressing room at Southpointe. No empty champagne bottles. Nothing at all that would indicate the team celebrated clinching a playoff berth, which happened Sunday night when New Jersey lost to Buffalo.
"It's always nice to have the 'X' get put up there and know you're going to the postseason. ... But it's a first step," coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins have nine regular-season games left. The NHL playoffs start April 30.
"I just think it's a matter-of-fact thing," Cooke said of clinching. "It doesn't have any bearing on our mindset, how we're going to approach the next nine games, because at the end of the day we want to be approaching the playoffs hitting a high."
First Published April 9, 2013 4:00 AM