PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Penguins captain Sidney Crosby continues to practice in hopes of returning from a concussion that has kept him out of the lineup since Jan. 5.
On Tuesday he took another step in the right direction, engaging in some significant contact for the first time. Crosby and defenseman Deryk Engelland engaged in enough bumping to send Crosby off his feet and sliding across the ice at practice at Southpointe.
Both agreed afterward that the end result may have looked worse than the hit actually was.
“I was making a move and standing up straight,” Crosby said, according to the team’s official website. “He didn’t even get me that hard. I was off balance. I went for a bit of a ride there.”
“I didn’t really hit him that hard,” Engelland said, jokingly adding the he thought Crosby “might have embellished it a bit.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said the types of practices the Penguins are engaging in allow for more opportunities for Crosby to see contact.
“There were a few times he got some bumps out there today,” Bylsma said. “With this type of practice and this amount of practice time, you get a few more situations. We were in D-zone coverage and he got bumped a few times. It’s more and more of that.”
As one could imagine, Crosby’s teammates haven’t been begging to be the first ones to initiate contact. The last thing any player would want is to be the one that sends Crosby back into a non-contact role or away from practice again entirely.
Contact, Crosby says, is something that gets easier for everyone as time progresses.
“As I get more comfortable and guys get more comfortable battling against me, it will become more normal,” he said. “It’s always like that for anyone coming back.”
- Forward Jordan Staal and defenseman Kris Letang did not practice Tuesday but Bylsma said he expects both to play in the team’s upcoming road trip to California.
- Forward Tyler Kennedy is still inactive because of a concussion.
- Defenseman Ben Lovejoy went chin-first into the boards at Tuesday’s practice and was forced to leave. Bylsma said afterward that Lovejoy will be fine.