Crosby is Back; Will Play Thursday at New York
Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 12:50 PM ET / Features
By Sam Kasan
Sidney Crosby is back. The Penguins captain will return to the lineup Thursday night in New York against the Rangers. "I feel good and the plan is to play Thursday," he said following practice on Tuesday at Southpointe. "I had a good practice and I'm looking forward to getting out there Thursday."
Crosby, who began full contact practice a week ago, has been out of the lineup since Dec. 6 with concussion-like symptoms and a neck injury, missing the last 40 games.
Crosby worked on a line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy at practice, as well as on the point on the top power-play unit. And those are the spots he will start off playing Thursday.
"We want to get him back in the mix, but keeping his minutes a little bit closer to 15," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "That's one of the reasons for him putting him with (Cooke) and (Kennedy). I've always told him he could be a Selke winner. He's going to have his chance here with Cooke and Kennedy."
Crosby agrees with Bylsma's decision.
“I wouldn’t see coach (Bylsma) putting me with a different pairing after missing this much time," Crosby said. "I’m sure he’s trying to get guys used to playing with one another. In any game different line combinations are common, but for the most part that’s who I’ll be with.
“(Playing the point) is a different spot for me. I played there in juniors so it’s been a few years since I’ve been back there. I like it. I’m able to see a lot of the ice and have (Evgeni Malkin) with the big shot on the sidewall. My job is to distribute the puck amongst everyone. When he’s shooting the puck like that, just give it to him in that area.”
Crosby was off to his best professional season in 2010-11 with 32 goals and 66 points in 41 games before suffering a concussion in January 2011. The injury caused him to miss 61 consecutive games.
Crosby returned to the ice Nov. 21, 2011 against the NY Islanders, posting two goals and four points. He would play eight games, totaling 12 points (2G-10A) before suffering from the recent setback following a Dec. 5 game against the Boston Bruins.
On Jan. 31 Crosby was diagnosed with a soft-tissue neck injury that could be causing neurological symptoms, which are similar to concussion symptoms. He was treated with an injection by Dr. Robert S. Bray, a neurological spine specialist based in Los Angeles, to alleviated inflammation in the C1 and C2 joints of the neck.
Crosby said he feels much better about his recovery this time around as opposed to his previous comeback in November.
“I feel a little bit better knowing what to expect,” he said. “It’s just easier going through it this time. That first game (against the Islanders) was pretty overwhelming. It was a lot of fun, but that being said I’ll take it more in stride this time.”
Crosby isn’t sure how many minutes he’ll play against the first-place Rangers, but he plans on slowly working his way back into form.
“We’ll make sure I get better every game, but I’ll pace myself a bit with the schedule,” he said. “It’s going to be draining enough to get back into it.”