Despite some encouraging signs in practice, Sidney Crosby's broken jaw sidelined him for the Penguins' playoff opener.
By Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins never targeted a date for Sidney Crosby to return to their lineup.
Still haven't, for that matter.
Crosby, though, had been hoping to get medical clearance to resume playing by the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
And while he apparently came close, Crosby had to sit out Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series against the New York Islanders Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center after his doctor determined that his fractured jaw hadn't mended quite enough.
"He said everything was good," Crosby said. "He just wasn't prepared to declare me [ready] to play. Obviously, I would have loved to have had a chance to play [in Game 1], but that's not the way it is. I wanted to make sure I'm ready when the time comes."
Whether that will happen in Game 2 Friday night at Consol Energy Center apparently hasn't been determined.
Crosby said Wednesday he did not have another appointment scheduled, but added that "I'm sure he'll be around and checking on things pretty closely."
Crosby hasn't played since March 30, when a slap shot by teammate Brooks Orpik deflected off Islanders forward Brad Boyes and slammed into his face, fracturing his jaw and knocking out an unspecified number of teeth.
He had to undergo surgery, during which titanium plates and screws were used to hold the pieces of his jaw together, and has had extensive dental work, with more to come.
Although he acknowledged being frustrated that he couldn't dress for the opener, Crosby took a fairly pragmatic perspective on his recovery and return.
"It's out of my control," he said. "It's something I've come a long way with. It's been a long time. I just hope that eventually -- soon -- I will be able to get out there."
Crosby worked out on the ice with conditioning coach Mike Kadar before the game-day skate and participated in the skate itself, albeit as part of the fifth line.
"Whenever I take a regular morning skate," he said, "I'm sure that will be a pretty good sign that I'm in."
Orpik skates with team
Orpik participated in the game-day skate -- his first time on the ice with his teammates since he left a game April 23 because of an undisclosed injury -- but joined Crosby as the only two Penguins who missed Game 1 because of injury.
"They didn't really give me a time frame," said Orpik, who had been skating on his own for a few days. "I was hoping somewhere around here [for getting back to practice]."
Orpik said it's frustrating missing the opening of the playoffs, but noted, "Having Sid to talk to is not a bad thing."
The Penguins' healthy scratches were forwards Joe Vitale and Dustin Jeffrey, and defensemen Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo.
Outside game definite
The NHL made official what was reported some time ago: The Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks will play a regular-season game outdoors March 1, 2014, at Soldier Field, the home stadium of the NFL Chicago Bears. It will start at 8 p.m. and be part of an NHL Stadium Series of outdoor games. More will be announced soon.
Big change for Fleury
Leading up to the playoffs, Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury fielded a lot of questions about how he and the team might play differently than they did a year ago in a first-round loss to Philadelphia.
One thing is decidedly different for Fleury -- he is now a father. Baby Estelle was born last week.
"It's fun to go home to that little face. It's life-changing," said Fleury, who joked that it's never too early to start indoctrinating his daughter to the ways of hockey. "I showed her the butterfly. She should be good to go soon. Very flexible. More than me."