Some positive, if tempered, news regarding the health of two of the Penguins most-high profile players today.
Captain Sidney Crosby announced today he has been cleared for contact for practice. He has not played since facing the Bruins Dec. 5.
Crosby who not suggest a time table for his return to the lineup but said it would be no earlier than Sunday's home game against the Bruins:
Said Crosby, “I’ll give myself days with contact. We have two more practices this week. No sooner than Sunday, I would say, but I’m not going to sit here and put a date on it. It would be total guesswork. I just want to make sure I get through these days fine and that would be a great decision to make if I get to that point.”
In eight games this season, he has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists).
The news with Kris Letang was a little bit uncertain, but certainly positive. He participated in a some off-ice activity today. Head coach Dan Bylsma said Letang has symptoms, but has no been formally diagnosed with a concussion.
Letang has not played since he was struck in the head by Stars forward Eric Nystrom Wednesday in Dallas. In 40 games this season, he has 31 points (nine goals, 22 assists).
EN Says: Obviously this is tremendous news on Crosby, but don't get too excited. If we've learned anything with this injury and this player, he still has a little ways to go before he's out of the woods. He took a fair amount of contact in practice today by all accounts and that's obviously a good first step, but it's one thing to have Ben Lovejoy jostling you around in practice. It's another to have Zdeno Chara slamming you into the boards or in Crosby's case, take a fairly non-descript elbow to the face from David Krejci.
Go ahead and be happy about this news but temper your expectations.
With Letang, it appears his health isn't as bad as initially feared, but he still doesn't sound like he's close to returning, and frankly, he's more important to this team than Crosby and perhaps even Malkin. He accounts for so many minutes in so many situations for this team and given the personnel on this team, he's probably the one skater this team can't replace internally.
Letang's availability will impact the Penguins' Stanley Cups more than any other player other than Marc-Andre Fleury.
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)