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Bylsma Forced To Tweak Lines In Crosby’s Absence

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Holding their first full practice without captain Sidney Crosby, the Pens moved Tyler Kennedy to center to replace him.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Kennedy said. “Playing with two great guys and trying to make the most of it.”

Head coach Dan Bylsma said his first instinct when Crosby went down in the game against the Islanders on Saturday, was to have Kennedy fill in.

“Having TK in the middle of those guys (Kunitz and Dupuis), speed and the tenacity he brings. We’ll see that Tuesday (against the Sabres),” Bylsma said.

Bylsma had no update to Crosby’s condition or a timetable to when he might return.

“I don’t sense any heads down in the room or that type of situation,” Bylsma said. “We have a couple of players in Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Crosby not on the ice for us right now. But we have capable guys in that room and ready to go and you saw that in the last game.”

“It’s a huge loss, losing him sucks, but at the same time we have some pretty good depth on this team. It’s definitely a chance for some new guys we acquired to step up and I think we’ll be okay. He’s had just tough breaks. It’s the last thing you want to see, especially with Sid. You feel bad for him. He was just starting to be there (at the top of his game), it’s tough, everything happens for a reason. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the playoffs,” James Neal said.

One of those new guys is Jarome Iginla, who remains on a second line with Neal and Evgeni Malkin.

“It’s definitely terrible to lose Sid. I was really looking forward to being in the locker room with him and being on the same team. But, hopefully, he will be back sooner than they say and be ready for the playoffs. He’ll be flying. It’s a big hole not having Sid in. These guys have been battling along and finding ways to win,” Iginla said.

Dupuis stopped by the hospital on Monday morning and said Crosby is in great spirits.

“You can replace teeth,” Dupuis added. “It’s just a matter of time now. It’s not something that will slow him down for the rest of his career, which is great if you can take any positive from what happened. We have Geno back and we have some new additions that can help during that time,” Dupuis said.

Dupuis also said they’ll play the same when centered by Tyler Kennedy.

“Kunitz and I won’t really change our game. We’ll still go to the net and make our plays we do usually. We’ll still be playing together. We’ll just be missing a little bit of Sid on the puck,” Dupuis said.

Listen to Bylsma’s full interview here: