Crosby skates in full-contact practice, but return for Game 5 not guaranteed
Sidney Crosby took part in a full-contact practice Friday morning in Cranberry and did not rule himself out for Game 5 against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, which will be played five days after he suffered the fourth documented concussion of his career.
“I felt pretty good right on from the next day to now,” Crosby said. “Probably as good as you could expect.”
Crosby said he did not feel he was rushing to get back in the lineup.
“Having gone through this, I like to think I’m pretty aware of my body at this point,” he said. “I understand the importance of making sure you’re good before you come back. I have a lot of belief in our staff here that they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure I’m good when I come back. I trust them. I trust the process that you have to go through. Whenever it’s time, I’ll be ready.”
Crosby was injured in Game 3 on Monday night when he was tripped, slashed and high-sticked by Alex Ovechkin, then forcefully cross-checked in the face by Matt Niskanen as he slid to the ice.
Crosby seemed to absolve Ovechkin for his role in the play.
“I think the slash, he’s just trying to prevent a goal,” Crosby said. “That’s a pretty common play, I think, for the most part. There are kind of different levels of how hard, but I think that’s just standard as far as going to the net with the puck. Guys are trying to prevent you from shooting.”
He wasn’t as quick to clear Niskanen because he said he couldn’t easily discern the former Penguins defenseman’s intent on the play.
“It’s hard to say. I’m not going to sit here and guess,” Crosby said. “That’s not one that happens too often.”
Crosby said he wasn’t sure how the recovery process would go at the time he left the arena Monday night.
“I don’t think you ever know,” he said. “I don’t think you know until you get a day or two in and see how you feel. I don’t think you try to lean either way. You just kind of wait it out.”
He said by the next day, though, he was confident it would go smoothly.
“They’re all different. The next day, you’re seeing how you respond and things like that,” Crosby said. “I felt pretty good. It’s kind of a day-by-day thing, but the next day is always kind of an important one, I feel like.”
Crosby participated in practice without any restrictions.
He skated with regular linemates Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist during line rushes and was on the first power-play unit during special teams drills. He took part in offensive-zone drills that involved a modicum of physical contact around the net.
On Thursday, Crosby skated with teammates Conor Sheary, who also is recovering from a concussion, and Carl Hagelin.
He said the schedule for his recovery largely is dictated by doctors.
“I tell them how I feel. They tell me the next step,” Crosby said.
When Crosby was first diagnosed with a concussion, coach Mike Sullivan said the Penguins captain would miss Game 4 then be considered day-to-day. He did not change that designation Friday.
“It’s the same as it was yesterday. He’s day-to-day,” Sullivan said. “He’s going through part of the process. He was in a full-contact practice today. We’ll see how he responds, and we’ll go from there. Right now, his status hasn’t changed at all.”
Sullivan also expressed confidence that Crosby is not rushing back.
“He’s going through a process just like all of our players go through a process,” Sullivan said. “We rely on our medical staff to advise us and help us make the best decision. The priority has always been on the health of our players first and foremost, and that will never change.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.