Penguins Notebook: Crosby might return tomorrow
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Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby appears to be close to putting his high ankle sprain behind him.
"It's all been positive so far," Crosby said after joining his teammates for the morning skate yesterday.
"I've felt really good the last couple days. I felt like it's been strong and no pain. I think I'm pretty close."
Crosby, who took a week off to rest his right ankle before he began skating on his own Thursday, didn't play last night against New Jersey at Mellon Arena. He will travel with the Penguins and did not rule out playing in games tomorrow night against the New York Islanders and Tuesday in a rematch with the Devils.
"You never know. It could always happen," he said. "I feel like I'm better off than I was the first time I came back. It feels stronger."
Crosby was injured Jan. 18. He returned following a 21-game absence but, after appearing in three games, pain and swelling forced him to sit out the past five.
"I'm still trying to practice and get in game shape, but I feel a lot better than I did a week ago," he said.
Early in the skate, Crosby took Petr Sykora's spot on the right wing with center Evgeni Malkin and left winger Ryan Malone. Sykora, Marian Hossa and Sergei Gonchar did not skate.
That's not where Crosby will line up when he returns, of course. He has been scheduled for weeks to skate with Hossa, who was acquired from Atlanta nearly a month ago at the trade deadline.
Crosby doesn't expect an extended period of acclimatization for the future linemates.
"I don't think it's going to take too long," he said. "From watching him, our two styles, I think we play pretty similar."
Coach Michel Therrien was coy about who might play on the left side with Crosby and Hossa.
"I've got a plan," Therrien said, then smiled. "I don't have to share it with you."
The Penguins and Devils will continue to battle it out for first place in the Atlantic Division when they meet again Tuesday in Newark, N.J. If the Penguins wind up winning the division -- or at least finish ahead of New Jersey -- they might feel obligated to send some mail-order gifts to the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
The Devils are 1-5-1 against the last-place Islanders with a game left against the Islanders April 1, and are 0-3-3 against the third-place Rangers with games left Thursday and an April 6 regular-season finale.
"We gave way too many points away against these guys," Devils left winger Sergei Brylin told The Record, a New Jersey newspaper. "It's like they've got our number this year."
There's every reason to believe Crosby will be back for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and there's nowhere else he would rather be playing. However, in his dream schedule, he would also be able to play for Team Canada in the IIHF World Championships, which are May 2-18 and are being split between Quebec City and Crosby's hometown, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"The perfect situation would be to win a Stanley Cup and then have the World Championships in Halifax," Crosby said with a big smile.
Penguins owner and former star Mario Lemieux, who is Crosby's landlord, is scheduled to be inducted to the IIHF Hall of Fame during the worlds.
With winger Georges Laraque back after serving a three-game suspension, the Penguins reassigned forward Connor James to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. ... The Penguins scratched goaltender Dany Sabourin. New Jersey scratched forwards Patrik Elias (knee/flu) and Arron Asham (hand) and defensemen Vitaly Vishnevski, Sheldon Brookbank and Bryce Salvador.
First Published March 23, 2008 12:00 am