Q: I know that Sidney Crosby's ankle is not 100% healed and won't be until after the off-season. If you're Michel Therrien, why not say, "Sid, thank you very much, but it is so much more important to us that you are healthy for the playoffs. We have our spot guaranteed now, I am going to give you two games to play before the playoffs." Let's face it, if he had swelling a week or so ago, Crosby will be, at best, 85 percent. That's better than most players, but if I can get Sid to 90 percent and have him for the full playoffs, I can wait an extra week.
Derrick McEachern, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
MOLINARI: If the Penguins had any reality-based reason to believe that holding Crosby out of the lineup until the final two games of the regular season would guarantee they'd have him for their entire playoff run, you can assume that he would continue to rest his high ankle sprain until then. Unfortunately, Crosby doesn't figure to be fully recovered until next fall, and the hard truth is that his injury could be aggravated or recur at any time, regardless of how long he stays out of uniform.
High ankle sprains appear, to a layman, to be a fairly mysterious condition, with no conclusive medical evidence -- like, say, an X-ray that shows a broken bone has mended -- that confirms when a player can safely return to work. From all indications, the Penguins have been extremely cautious with Crosby, as befits a player of such exceptional value to their franchise. No one has suggested that he was rushed back into the lineup prematurely, whether it was for the three games he played early this month or his return against the New York Islanders last night.
The simple fact is that at some point, when there are no medical data to suggest that it would be unwise for a player to participate in a game and the player pronounces himself ready to try, all concerned simply have to cross their fingers, take a deep breath and hope for the best. And, in Crosby's case, continue to do it until the season is over.
Q: I don't understand the logic of moving Ryan Whitney to wing (or Brooks Orpik, for that matter). If Therrien is unhappy with the guy, make him a healthy scratch. Moving him to a position where he looks completely lost only serves the purpose of bringing down the overall play of the team. Clearly, there are other guys in the system who can fill a wing spot better than Whitney or Orpik.
Kevin, Boulder, Colo.
MOLINARI: Forget the many problems inherent in playing defensemen like Whitney or Orpik on the wing; what kind of message does it send to a prospect like Ryan Stone when the Penguins would rather put a defenseman on the wing for the first time in his career than to promote Stone to fill a temporary void in their lineup?
Admittedly, Stone hasn't done anything terribly impressive during his six games in the NHL this season -- if he had, he'd probably have a permanent place here -- but he didn't require on-the-job training before stepping in.
Of course, Therrien probably was trying to do more than just fill a spot up front when he moved Orpik and Therrien there. Swtiching a player's position makes it pretty clear that the coaches are unhappy with his performance, and that certainly was the case with Whitney and Orpik when they were transplanted to the wing.
Getting chewed out by your boss is one thing; having him rework your entire job description takes that criticism to a whole different level.
Q: What happens when a goal is scored while there is a delayed call for a five-minute penalty against an opposing player? Does the guilty player still receive the penalty?
Richard Cole, Baltimore
MOLINARI: Per Rule 15.4, major and match penalties are assessed in the normal manner, regardless of whether the other team scores during the delayed-penalty portion of play.