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Penguins Locker Room: Crosby Close, Sprong In, Cullen Hurt

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins captain and superstar Sidney Crosby will miss his third straight game, Monday. Crosby’s healing from an upper-body injury, which appears to be progressing after Crosby was a participant in the Penguins morning skate, Monday.

“I feel good. I’m out tonight, but things are going in the right direction,” Crosby said. “Things are going in the right direction.”

For Crosby, they may be going in the right direction. For the Penguins, things are decidedly not headed in the right direction. The Penguins have lost eight of nine games, including three in a row. Saturday, they lost to the unheralded Ottawa Senators. During this stretch, the Penguins also lost a pair of games to the previously Eastern Conference cellar-dwelling New Jersey Devils.

Now, it’s the Penguins who are in last.

“It’s human nature. When you’re losing, you feel (desire to play) even more,” Crosby said. “Especially when you’re losing, you want to try to contribute and help in any way you can. It’s tough watching.”

Crosby is out due to an upper-body injury, so Monday’s hard skate was as much about keeping in shape as it was being a part of the team.

“If you can keep your legs and stay in shape, that’s a big plus,” he said.


Derick Brassard

Brassard will play in his second game after missing a few weeks with a lower body injury.

“Hopefully I can get into (the game) more. Have better plays,” said Brassard. “I was a little hesitant out there in the first period. I felt better in the third but the game was already done.”

Brassard logged over 15 minutes against Ottawa, Saturday but did not record a point. Nor did his linemates, though his original wingers with Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel were shuffled around the lineup.

“Late in shifts, the lungs and legs, and everything. (More ice time) is a little harder, but it’s better to get out there more,” Brassard said.

Daniel Sprong

Call it reading something into nothing, but it appears Daniel Sprong is fitting into the locker room structure. Monday, players chirped Sprong about light-hearted topics, as he chirped back.

Such things were not present weeks ago.

And trust me, acceptance in the locker room makes a player a full stride faster and six inches taller.

Sprong appears ready to get a sweater, Monday against the Buffalo Sabres. He had multiple shot attempts from tough or bad angles, Saturday but hit the post in the third period on a slicing crossover move.

Matt Cullen

According to head coach Mike Sullivan, Matt Cullen will be out “longer term,” after suffering an injury in Ottawa.

“Matt’s quietly played a solid game for us,” said Sullivan. “I use his line in a lot of instances, situationally…he’s done a good job.”

Sullivan offered praise for his fourth line center and, “His leadership speaks for itself.”

Casey DeSmith

DeSmith will make his fourth start in six games for the Penguins, as Sullivan also said, “we acknowledge (Matt Murray’s) struggles. DeSmith has a .930 save percentage and a 2.25 goals against average.

Patric Hornqvist:

Sullivan also said he “asked” Hornqvist to wear a helmet in warmups, after Hornqvist was bloodied by his own shot which ricochetted off the crossbar and hit him in the head.

…Hornqvist agreed to wear a helmet going forward.