DETROIT -- You can count the number of days until the season opener on one hand, and that's not enough time for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby to be ready to play.
After practice Saturday at Joe Louis Arena, Crosby said things are going well in his comeback from a concussion, but not so well that he could play Thursday at Vancouver.
"No. I wouldn't expect it," he said.
Crosby has been practicing since the Penguins hit the ice for the first time at training camp Sept. 17 and again Saturday participated in a scrimmage without contact but with traffic and puck battles.
- Game: Penguins at Detroit Red Wings in the final exhibition game, Joe Louis Arena.
- When: 5 p.m.
- TV: PCNC.
Before he will be cleared to play, things will need to go well for an unspecified amount of time after he begins hitting and taking hits in practice. It's not known when he will be allowed to have contact, but it might well be at least eight days from now.
Crosby is expected to travel with the Penguins on their trip to western Canada, but beyond the opener against the Canucks, it seems doubtful that he will play in the two other games, Saturday at Calgary and next Sunday at Edmonton.
He said he touches base with his medical team every few days, but he expects his next medical evaluation to come "probably when we get back from that trip."
Coach Dan Bylsma concurred that with the opener "just a few short days away," Crosby isn't expected to play. He added that Crosby's rehabilitation "is positive."
Crosby, 24, a former NHL scoring champion and MVP, was diagnosed with a concussion Jan. 6 and missed the rest of the 2010-11 season. He has seen a lot of improvement over the past several weeks.
"At this point, I just want to make sure that things keep going well," he said.
When he got hurt, he was playing arguably the best hockey of his career and was leading the league with 66 points in 41 games, but he is finding that the longest layoff of his life has left him needing to rebuild a lot in his game.
"Even just lately, being involved in scrimmages, it's different," Crosby said.
"You're expending a little more energy, and I'm just trying to get used to all that. All that stuff,
"It becomes so routine and you get so used to it, but, when you get back in it, you realize it takes good habits and learning that stuff again."
NOTES -- Defensemen Brooks Orpik (abdominal surgery) and Alexandre Picard (unspecified) returned to practice. ... Forward Dustin Jeffrey (knee) practiced for the first time since being cleared for contact and is concentrating on getting to game level. "I realize I have some more work to do before I'm ready to come back to the lineup," he said. ... Center Evgeni Malkin was given the day off from practice and will not play today in the preseason finale against Detroit, but Bylsma said that is only because Malkin already has played in the team's prescribed four games. ... Forward Arron Asham, who missed the win Friday at Chicago because of illness, practiced Saturday.