Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was a full participant in practice on Friday but did not take part in the full team scrimmage on Saturday. Instead of participating in the high-energy battle, the Penguins star center resumed skating by himself on the Penguins side rink, alone.
Crosby left the Penguins first intra-squad scrimmage last Saturday early in the second half. He did not appear to be in discomfort, but he also knew his day was over as he grabbed his stick and went to the locker room.
Crosby skated solo on Wednesday morning before practice but did not participate. Friday morning, he received good-natured ribbing and stick taps as he joined practice just as it began.
Per NHL rules, head coach Mike Sullivan cannot comment, or even offer the nebulous “upper body” or “lower body” descriptions. However, Sidney Crosby can be a little more forthcoming.
“I’m hoping I can skate with the team on Monday and take it from there,” Crosby said after the scrimmage. “I’m hoping I can get in the exhibition game … I felt pretty good when I skated with the team. It was good to get out there with the guys.”
That Crosby spoke to the media at all is a good sign things are not serious. If Crosby’s condition were in doubt, per hockey tradition he would not be available to the media.
Per Penguins Twitter, Crosby smiled about getting into the exhibition game on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, which will be the Penguins first and only exhibition game inside the Toronto NHL bubble.
“I’ve skated on my own a long time, didn’t really feel like I needed another week of it,” Crosby joked. “Things are moving in the right direction, so hopefully, I’ll get in that exhibition game.”
This season, Crosby missed 28 games due to a sports hernia and subsequent core muscle surgery. He scored 47 points (16g, 31a) in just 41 games.
If Crosby can’t go on Tuesday, he said he and the team would take it day-to-day from there.
“Ideally, I would’ve liked to get in a little more of the scrimmages and game situation things,” Crosby said during his post-scrimmage media chat. “I think the fact that I’ve been able to skate for a good chunk of time will help me get through (the lack of scrimmage participation).”
The Penguins depart for Toronto on Sunday to begin the most unique Stanley Cup tournament in history. The NHL expanded the playoff format, so 24 teams will have a chance to win the Cup. The 12 teams from each conference will be sequestered in the NHL bubble cities, Toronto (Eastern Conference teams), and Edmonton (Western Conference). The Penguins exhibition against Philadelphia is Tuesday at 4 p.m., and Game One of their Qualifying Round, best-of-five series against the Montreal Canadiens, is at 8 p.m. on Aug. 1.
Game One against Montreal will get the national TV audience on NBC.