In an unexpected turn of events, it was announced this afternoon that Sidney Crosby will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup tonight as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Florida. It was expected that he would travel to Florida with the team as they start a 3-game road trip that ends in the nation’s capital on Sunday, but his return to the ice had not been projected.
On Monday, Sidney Crosby practiced with the team and afterwards spoke to the Penguins’ Director of Content and Publications, Joe Sager. Crosby confirmed that he would make the trip but that his return was still unknown. However, after going through a solid morning skate in TampaBay, Crosby decided to return to the lineup. In the interview on Monday, Crosby said, “I feel pretty good. I haven’t really had a chance to do much contact. With the way the schedule is, we don’t really practice. We’re pretty much practicing on game days and that’s it. So, as an injured guy trying to get back, it’s a little difficult to difficult to gauge where you’re at because you’re not really practicing with contact and stuff like that. So, the tough part is knowing when it’s time and also, when it is time, making sure that your skills are there and everything are ready to go. I am not sure where I’m at right now, but time will tell.”
Crosby missed 21 games and the NHL All-Star Game while he has been out with the high ankle sprain. Crosby’s return has been much anticipated and will likely be a big boost for the Penguins, who just got goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury back in the lineup. Fortunately for the Penguins, their play didn’t suffer in his absence. Forwards Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Malone and Goaltender Ty Conklin all stepped up for the Penguins who went 11-6-4 while Crosby was sidelined.