Penguins' captain Crosby cleared to resume practicing

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Sidney Crosby won't win the NHL scoring championship this season, but he will have a chance to help the Penguins win a Stanley Cup.

Possibly from the very start of the playoffs.

Crosby, who has not played since his jaw was fractured by a deflected shot March 30, received clearance today to resume practicing with his teammates and is expected to do so Friday.

That is a significant step in his recovery, although no decision has been made on when he can try to play.

Crosby is expected to meet with the medical people overseeing his recovery again next week, at which time such a determination could be made.

He definitely will not play in the Penguins' game at New Jersey tonight or in the regular-season finale Saturday against Carolina at Consol Energy Center.

Dressing for Game 1 of the playoffs apparently has not been ruled out.

Although the playoff schedule won't be released for several days, the Penguins will open at home, almost certainly on Wednesday.

Crosby underwent several root canals today to repair some of the damage done when a puck slammed into his face nearly three weeks ago.

Regardless of when he returns, Crosby is expected to continue wearing a plastic shield that protects his jaw. That has been a staple of his equipment since he resumed skating.

Doctors used titanium plates to put Crosby's jaw back together -- it is believed to have been fractured into several pieces, as opposed to a simple, clean break -- and if he were to be hit in the jaw, the healing process might have to begin anew.

Crosby, a runaway leader in the NHL scoring race when he was injured, finally was caught Wednesday night by Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay.

St. Louis has 58 points, while Crosby and Stamkos are tied for second place with 56.

Crosby is not the only player who will sit out tonight's game against the Devils.

Defenseman Paul Martin (hand surgery) and winger James Neal (concussion) participated in the game-day skate in Newark, but will not play. They could return against the Hurricanes Saturday, however.

Defenseman Brooks Orpik and center Joe Vitale, both of whom have unspecified injuries, did not accompany the team to New Jersey and are listed as day-to-day by coach Dan Bylsma.

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Dave Molinari: and Twitter @MolinariPG First Published April 25, 2013 11:45 AM


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