Crosby will be game-day decision

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Sidney Crosby doesn't know yet if he'll be in uniform when the Penguins face Anaheim at Mellon Arena tonight, and he isn't terribly pleased about that.

He officially is listed as day-to-day with what appears to be an injured left knee, which means it's possible he'll be able to play against the Ducks, but also that he'll spend the evening in street clothes.

That decision figures to be made at the Penguins' game-day skate.

"I need to see if I can skate," Crosby said. "I'll test it out and see how I feel."

For a guy who's ultra-competitive down to the last corpuscle, that kind of coin-toss prognosis isn't very satisfying. Under the circumstances, though, it might have been the most encouraging news Crosby could have received after having his injury evaluated yesterday.

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Anaheim Ducks at Penguins, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.
  • TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Ducks.
  • Penguins: Have lost six of past seven home games. C Evgeni Malkin needs two goals for 100 in NHL. Have lost both games against Pacific Division opponents this season.
  • Ducks: Are entering a stretch featuring nine of 11 games on road. C Ryan Getzlaf has seven-game points streak. Have won eight games when outshooting opponents, but 14 when being outshot.
  • Hidden stat: Ducks have had more goals than penalties once in 45 games this season.

"I'm not happy with today," he said, "but it could have been a lot worse, that's for sure."

Crosby was injured with just over four minutes left in the Penguins' 6-3 loss Wednesday to Washington at Mellon Arena, when he got tangled up with Capitals forward David Steckel along the boards.

Steckel had lunged for a loose puck as Crosby was moving in to check him.

"He was diving for the puck, and I just got caught up with him," Crosby said. "I was just trying to bump him off the puck. There was kind of a loose puck in front of us.

"I was trying to get body position and get the puck. I think he thought he was going to kind of lose the race, so he just tried to dive for it, and I got caught up with him."

While Crosby and team officials declined to say anything about his injury other than that it was of the "lower-body" variety, Crosby allowed that he underwent a magnetic resonance imaging examination that did not detect any significant damage

He added that he "didn't have too much swelling" in the wake of his injury, but understands that could change when he gets back on skates.

"You have to see how you react when you're out there on the ice, as far as swelling goes," he said. "Sometimes, things flare up a little more, so I have to be careful about that."

Swelling already is a problem for defenseman Rob Scuderi, who left the Washington game in the first period after being struck in the forehead by a Mike Green shot. Like Crosby and Max Talbot, who got an undisclosed "upper-body" injury against the Capitals, Scuderi's status for the game tonight is uncertain.

What is clear is that the Penguins' penalty-killing unit, which has been lackluster in most recent games, will suffer against the Ducks if Scuderi can't play.

"He's doing a great job," coach Michel Therrien said. "He's blocking a lot of shots. He has a good stick, he's in good position. You could tell when we lost Scuderi that we lost an edge."

Crosby, Scuderi and Talbot were not among the 15 players who participated in an optional practice yesterday. Left winger Pascal Dupuis, who has missed the past four games because of what is believed to be a groin injury, skipped the session, too, although he skated alone before it.

Dupuis said he hopes to return before the all-star break, which begins after the home game Tuesday against Carolina, but Therrien said "I'm not quite sure yet" when he might play.

When a team is struggling the way the Penguins have been, injured players often feel an extra urgency to rejoin the lineup, even though doing so can be counterproductive over the long term.

"You feel a little bit more responsible … but you still have to be smart," Crosby said.

It's difficult to ignore the numbers, though. With a 21-20-4 record, the Penguins are on pace for 84 points, nowhere near as many as they likely will need to reach the playoffs.

"If you go by the last few years, 92 or 94 points is probably the number teams are looking for," Therrien said. "There's some catching up to do.

"It's going to be a battle to the end of the year. We understand, as a group, that we're fighting to make the playoffs. And we'll find a way."

Perhaps they will, but their challenge is compounded by having to rely on an injury-diluted lineup. It has been two months since the Penguins won consecutive games, and, if two more pass before they do it again, there won't be much need, let alone demand, for playoff tickets this spring.

"It hasn't been easy, but we're still in the picture here," Crosby said. "The season's not over. There's a lot of work to do."


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