CHICAGO -- Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby thought this would be his kind of town, but, when he arrived at United Center yesterday, his left groin was still too sore to play.
"A bit better, but still not where I want it to be," he said after participating in the team's optional morning skate and being on the ice more than an hour, far longer than any of his teammates -- but not going full speed.
"Just keep going, I guess, keep trucking. ... I was kind of hoping I'd be able to play [last night]. It just didn't happen."
Crosby, who missed his second game in a row with the injury, had been looking forward to playing against the Chicago Blackhawks' two young stars, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, for the first time. The three have developed a friendship off the ice.
Kane playfully wondered if Crosby -- who had a knee injury and missed a chance to play against Kane in the All-Star Game in January -- is trying to avoid him.
"I don't know what it is," Kane said. "I can't get out there with him."
Crosby laughed at the thought. "That's not it, but I'm not surprised he said that."
Crosby was injured Sunday in a 5-2 loss at Washington and said he felt "way better" than earlier in the week but still is having problems.
"Turning and cutting, I felt a little better, but it's still there," he said. "I can't really open it up and go too hard yet.
"You want to make sure you're out of the woods as far as it being a nagging thing. It's not an easy thing to judge all the time."
Crosby is hopeful he can return at some point on the next four stops in the team's longest road trip of the season.
"I think by not skating hard it's not going to go backward," he said. "We'll just have to see each day how it gets better. Every night when I go to bed, I'm hoping to wake up and not feel it."
Good news for Letang
It was a big swing for defenseman Kris Letangover the past week and a half.
He went from being scratched three games in a row by interim coach Dan Bylsma to getting what he interpreted as a vote of confidence from Penguins management when Ryan Whitney was traded Thursday to Anaheim.
Like Whitney, Letang is a puck-moving defenseman, but five years younger.
"I was sitting out, but I think it was not about my game; it was more about my work ethic," Letang said. "To me, [the trade] means that they trust me. They know I can do the job for the future."
The Blackhawks' Joel Quenneville was part of the first NHL coaching change this season when he replaced Denis Savardfour games into the schedule. It was the second time he has taken over a team after the start of a season.
He is confident Bylsma, who replaced Michel Therrien Feb. 15, is facing a relatively smooth transition based on the character of NHL players.
"A coach coming in in different situations, sometimes it can be tricky," Quenneville said.
"But I think the players are very professional in how they approach it and handle it. You can get their attention immediately."
Penguins forward Chris Minard cleared waivers, enabling him to be reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The Penguins scratched Crosby and forward Bill Thomas. ... Chicago scratched defenseman Aaron Johnson and winger Craig Adams. ... For the second time this season, Minard gave up his uniform number to a newly acquired player. He wore No. 32 until goaltender Mathieu Garon arrived last month and No. 14 until winger Chris Kunitz arrived Friday. ... Penguins winger Eric Godard joined players from 25 teams participating in a weekend drive for the international humanitarian organization Right To Play. He pledged to make a donation based on minutes played last night. Fans can donate at www.righttoplayusa.org.