When Penguins center Sidney Crosby was recovering from a concussion and related problems the past couple of seasons, there was a prescribed protocol he needed to follow to get back into the lineup.
He progressed through light workouts, light skating, increased workouts, practice, practice with contact and, finally, games -- all while being monitored for symptoms.
Things aren't so clear in the wake of jaw surgery last Saturday and ongoing dental repairs.
"I don't know what the steps are in his recovery right now," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Bylsma added, though, that one concern is infection, something that could set Crosby back.
"You can't be having that," Bylsma said.
Crosby missed his third game Friday night when the Penguins played the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center. He has not skated or practiced, and there is no timetable for his return.
Although there were questions about whether Crosby might have gotten another concussion because the injury came when he was hit in the mouth with a puck, Bylsma reiterated that,
"There is not and has not been any symptoms of a concussion with Sid."
Sutter on faceoffs ...
The first period is Penguins center Brandon Sutter's feeling-out time in the faceoff circle.
"Sometimes, you feel really strong standing in [the circle]," he said. "Other games, it seems like you've got to work a little harder to find the puck. Once you get into the second period, that's when you kind of find out how it's going to go the rest of the night."
Sutter's winning percentage in his first season with the Penguins is 51.3 -- "You just try to stay above 50," he said -- but he has been on a relative tear lately.
In an area where anything more than 50 percent is a bonus, Sutter was winning faceoffs at a 58.5 percent clip (55 of 94) in his five previous games.
He finds the art of the draw can range from rewarding to frustrating with little warning.
"It's one of those things where some games you do really well, and some games you struggle," Sutter said. "A lot of nights it's kind of 50-50. You can do the same thing one game and it might work a lot, and the next game it doesn't work at all. And you do different things against different guys."
He has found the schedule for this lockout-shortened season to be an advantage.
"Playing [against] only the Eastern Conference, you get to know a lot of the guys," Sutter said. "You know their tendencies. You know what they do."
A limit to Boyle's versatility
The Rangers' Brian Boyle has played all three forward positions, lately center. He said Friday he also has played defense.
So, he was asked with a wink, why not make the cycle complete and put on the goaltending pads sometime?
At 6 feet 7, 244 pounds, Boyle certainly would be imposing in goal.
"No. Not at all," he said of the idea. "You have to do splits and stuff. I can't do that."
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (toe) had a strenuous, 45-minute workout on the ice Friday with conditioning coach Mike Kadar, but missed his fifth game in a row. ... Defenseman Paul Martin (hand surgery) missed his fourth game in a row. ... . Defenseman Mark Eaton returned after missing the game against the Rangers Wednesday because of illness. ... The Penguins scratched forwards Joe Vitale and Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman Simon Despres. ... Rangers rookie forward J.T. Miller, a former Pittsburgh Hornets player who grew up in Ohio and has ties to Coraopolis, traveled here but did not play because of a sore wrist. ... The Penguins have a three-day gap before they visit Carolina Tuesday. It's their first three-day stretch without a game this season. They have another April 14-16.
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @pgshelly. First Published April 6, 2013 4:00 AM