Pittsburgh Penguins (7-8-3) team captain Sidney Crosby said after Monday’s morning skate at PPG Paints Arena that “things are going in the right direction.” He means with his upper-body injury. Things have decidedly been going in the wrong direction for the team overall.
Crosby joined his teammates for the skate but did not take part in line rushes. He said he will miss his third straight game Monday night when the Buffalo Sabres (12-6-2) visit for a 7 p.m. game but could be close to returning.
Center/winger Matt Cullen also won’t play. Coach Mike Sullivan said Cullen, the oldest player in the NHL at 42, is out “longer term” because of a lower-body injury. That means winger Daniel Sprong will dress.
Sullivan is going with backup Casey DeSmith in net. Matt Murray has been struggling, and the club believes he is having confidence issues.
The Penguins have lost three straight games and are on a 1-7-1 slide that has plunked them into the basement in the Eastern Conference. Crosby is hamstrung some as far as helping his team.
“I think just bring a good attitude to the rink,” Crosby said. “Whether you’re playing or not playing, injured or not, everybody’s got to be a part of getting out of that. It’s easy to get caught up in it, but the reality is there’s a lot of hockey left in the year.”
In a lot of recent seasons, Buffalo might be an ideal opponent in these circumstances, but these are not your father’s Sabres. They have won five in a row, are near the top of the Eastern Conference standings and seem to be brimming with confidence.
By the way, this is Sidney Crosby Bobblehead Night on the Penguins’ promotional schedule. While he won’t be playing, perhaps if the team breaks out of its funk he will be watching from the locker room bobbing his head in approval.
The expected lineup:[table “18” not found /]
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|