Sidney Crosby Returning Thursday Against Islanders

After speculation on Tuesday that he would return to the lineup soon, it was announced today that Captain Sidney Crosby will be back on the ice with the team as they host the New York Islanders on Thursday night at Mellon Arena.  Crosby has missed the last 7-games and 28 of the past 31 due to a high right ankle sprain.  On Tuesday, Crosby noted that his return was just waiting on conditioning and that he felt pretty strong as far as his ankle injury. 

Today, Crosby stated, “My ankle feels great and my conditioning is as good as it can get, really, without playing. It always takes a few games, but I feel good.”  Crosby stated that he feels a lot better than he did when he came back for a brief 3-game stretch on March 4-9.  “I hope to be a little bit quicker than before with being out a month and a half,” he said. “It’s going to be more physical hockey down the stretch, but I expect to come along a little faster. Last time, as far as conditioning and game shape and being hit, I wasn’t where I needed to be. You can’t get that unless you play. It doesn’t matter how much you practice.  Being hit, falling down, backchecking and things like that, that’s just stuff you have to go through.  It got better with each game and I hope it’s that way this time, too.”

Thursday will mark the first time that Sidney Crosby will get to play with his new linemate, Marian Hossa, who came to the Penguins via trade on February 26th.   Hossa, considered one of the best wingers in the league and the most anticipated transaction at the trade deadline, was injured in his first game as a Penguin and missed playing with Crosby during his brief 3-game return.  It is a matchup that has been anticipated for a month, both by the fans and by Crosby and Hossa themselves.  Crosby commented on Hossa, stating “I’ve done my best watching him, done my homework so to speak.  I’ve seen some of his tendencies. We play a similar way – he’s not afraid to go into traffic, get his nose dirty.”  Hossa has stated that he can’t wait to play with the reigning league MVP. 

With just 5-games remaining in the regular season, the Penguins will be looking for some instant chemistry between Crosby and Hossa.  They will also be looking for Crosby to rapidly return to game shape.  It is anticipated that Crosby, Hossa and Pascal Dupuis will share the ice, a combination of speed, intensity, creativity and skill.  While it may take a few games to get the timing down, great things are expected from this talent packed combination.  Add to that the red hot line of Malkin, Sykora and Malone and the superb play of Marc-Andre Fleury and it appears that the Penguins may be poised for a deep run into playoff season.  The win against the Devils on Tuesday night put some separation in the Penguins’ Atlantic Division lead and put them just 1-point behind the Eastern Conference leading Canadiens.  Sit down and buckle up for what promises to be one heck of a ride! 

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