Penguins Notebook: Crosby to miss two more games
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Sidney Crosby has been all but officially ruled out of the Penguins' showdown Saturday with New Jersey at Mellon Arena.
Crosby, who is resting a high ankle sprain he got Jan. 18, will sit out his fourth consecutive game tonight when Tampa Bay visits Mellon Arena.
He is scheduled to resume skating on his own today, but coach Michel Therrien said he doesn't expect to have Crosby available for the game against the Devils, with whom the Penguins are competing for first place in the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division.
"He's not going to play this weekend," Therrien said. "He's going to be on the ice [today], with the conditioning coach [Mike Kadar]. That's the first step."
If Crosby misses the New Jersey game, his next opportunity to return will come Monday when the Penguins visit Long Island. They will face the Devils in Newark the next night.
"He has to go through the weekend, skating, and we'll see how he feels" before deciding if Crosby will play in either of those games, Therrien said.
He was adamant that the Penguins will not rush Crosby back, and that Crosby, like other injured players, will have the final say on when he's able to return.
"If they feel good about themselves, feel confident, feel strong, we're going to use them," Therrien said. "It's up to the player to let us know when they're ready to play."
While the Penguins plan to get Crosby some game action during the closing weeks of the regular season, their priority is to have him as prepared as possible for the postseason.
"The most important thing for us is that he's ready for the playoffs," Therrien said. "At this point, we have to make sure he's going to be ready."
Petr Sykora has been part of one of the top lines in the NHL this season, playing alongside Ryan Malone and Evgeni Malkin.
That's a pretty good group, but not the best Sykora has been part of. Not yet, anyway.
When he played for New Jersey, he teamed with Jason Arnott and Patrick Elias on what came to be known as the "A Line," one of the most productive units in recent NHL history.
Not surprisingly, Sykora is reluctant to compare the two groups.
"When I was in New Jersey, we were together for four years," he said. "Now, we've been together for 30 games. You can't really compare."
Nonetheless, Sykora obviously is enjoying his current assignment -- "It's really fun to be out there with those guys because you know that, just by working hard, you're going to get your chances," he said -- and seems convinced that what is a very good line can get even better if it remains intact.
"We're still giving up a lot of scoring chances," he said. "[Sunday], we scored three or four goals, but we gave up one. I think we still have to play a little better defensively."
Sykora, who didn't practice yesterday as a precaution because of a sore back, has 25 goals, including four in the past four games. He recorded a career-high 35 with the Devils in 2000-01.
Marc-Andre Fleury, winner of eight of his past nine starts, will be in goal tonight.
Fleury backed up Ty Conklin in a 5-2 loss Tuesday to the New York Rangers and has emerged as a clear front-runner to be the Penguins' go-to goalie when the playoffs begin.
"Part of our plan is to try to have both goalies sharp," Therrien said. "But at the same time, there's a fine line to make sure one is really, really sharp. ... Right now, I like the way Fleury is playing."
Penguins winger Georges Laraque will complete his three-game suspension tonight for elbowing Buffalo defenseman Nathan Paetsch. ... Tampa Bay took its first three-game winning streak in two months into its game last night at Buffalo. The Lightning power play was 4 for 11 in those three games, when Tampa Bay generated an average of 4.7 goals.
First Published March 20, 2008 12:00 am