It is becoming a recurring theme that Sidney Crosby could live without.
"It's really frustrating," the Penguins center and captain said yesterday of his latest groin issue. "I work really hard to try to prevent it.
"Obviously, the more often it happens, the more I focus on it because I don't want it to happen. All I can do is everything in my power to prevent it and help it, but it's going to happen sometimes."
Crosby was on the ice for 20 minutes before the team practiced at Mellon Arena, skating hard at times and taking shots at goaltender Brent Johnson, then retreated to the locker room and later reported improvement in his sore groin.
The problem forced him out of Thursday's preseason game at Columbus in the first period and could keep him out of tonight's exhibition finale at Detroit. He is expected to skate this morning to gauge his progress.
Coach Dan Bylsma said there is no pressure on Crosby to play.
"We know this next game is a preseason game and not a regular-season game, so we'll treat it a little bit differently than we would a game where points are on the line," Bylsma said.
Crosby's goal is to be healthy for Friday's season opener at home against the New York Rangers, and he believes he will be.
"I've done these enough times now to have a pretty good gauge for where I'm at and how far I am from contact and leaning on it a bit more," he said. "It shouldn't be more than a couple days."
Crosby, who is entering his fifth NHL season, has had trouble with groin pulls sporadically. In what seemed to be his most severe case, he missed four games late last season.
If he sits out tonight, Crosby will go into the season having played only two full exhibition games. He has two goals, one assist.
"The practices we had were really good. We had some intense practices," he said. "I'm happy with that, and I don't feel like I'll lose a whole lot, but as far as timing, I'll have to work hard in the practices coming up to make sure I'm where I need to be."
In practice yesterday, center Jordan Staal moved up to play with Crosby's regular wingers, Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz, and took Crosby's place on the top power-play unit. Craig Adams centered Staal's usual wingers, Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1721.