Crosby to rejoin team on trip
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WASHINGTON -- Penguins center Sidney Crosby is about to get back on the ice.
Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby, who has not played since Dec. 5 because of what the team calls "concussion-like" symptoms, will accompany the Penguins on their current road trip, which includes weekend stops in Florida and Tampa, and will skate before they return home.
There is no timetable for his return to the lineup.
While Bylsma did not specify that Crosby will skate on his own, as opposed to doing it in a team workout, a Penguins spokesman said that likely is how he will proceed.
Bylsma added that Crosby "at some point in time, in the near future" will discuss his situation with reporters.
A team official said Crosby is likely to skate and do interviews Friday.
Resuming skating clearly seems like a step forward in Crosby's recovery, although Bylsma balked at characterizing it in any way.
"I'm not sure what's fair to say," Bylsma said. "Obviously, he has been working out and having light exercises in the weight room and [stationary] bike. ... We're certainly glad to see him on the ice."
Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion last Jan. 6 and did not rejoin the lineup until Nov. 21. He played eight games, putting up 12 points, before being re-injured against Boston Dec. 5.
Forward Dustin Jeffrey , who had appeared in just six games this season because of a knee operation last winter and its lingering effects, returned to the Penguins lineup Wednesday night.
Even with that development and the encouraging update on Crosby, not all the Penguins' injury news was positive.
Bylsma said rookie defenseman Simon Despres , injured in the first period of a 5-1 loss against Ottawa Tuesday, has been diagnosed with a sprained knee and is expected to miss "roughly two-to-four weeks."
Despres has one goal and three assists in 14 appearances with the Penguins this season.
James Neal did not have a goal in five games, easily his longest dry spell this season, before the Penguins played Washington Wednesday night at the Verizon Center.
Jordan Staal did not have an assist in 17 games before he injured his left knee Friday.
Matt Cooke did not have a point of any kind in 11 games before the Penguins faced the Capitals.
Tyler Kennedy had two goals in the previous 18 games.
Joe Vitale had one goal in his previous 28, while Steve Sullivan had one in the previous nine.
Suffice to say that, while the Penguins' staggering number of injuries -- especially to prominent players -- undoubtedly is their greatest concern these days, the number of players struggling to make it onto the score sheet lately is only slightly less troubling.
The Penguins had scored only six goals in five games, all losses, before taking on the Capitals, and had gotten just one in each of the previous four. That kind of production is fine if a team can shut out every opponent it faces; if not, it is in trouble.
But, while it might seem that players would feel increased pressure to score when their team is struggling, Cooke said the opposite is true, at least in his case.
"If anything, it might be easier, because now there's not a focus ... it's not like we're winning, and I'm just not scoring," he said. "There's no time to just sit and think about it.
"Right now, I need to go out and play, do what my team needs to be successful. There's no time to sit and think [about personal slumps] or be so selfishly centered that I look at my own situation. I need to look at what's best for the team and go out and do it."
The Penguins waived left winger Steve MacIntyre Wednesday.
If he is not claimed by another NHL team by noon today, they can assign him to their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, although they are not obliged to do so.
MacIntyre, an enforcer who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, had no points and two penalty minutes in 10 appearances this season. He averaged just two minutes, 33 seconds of ice time in those games. His NHL salary is $600,000; if he plays in the AHL, it is $105,000.
First Published January 12, 2012 12:00 am