Penguins’ Crosby suffers concussion, will miss at least 1 game
The Penguins have all the motivation they could ever need heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
They would rather have their captain back.
Sidney Crosby was diagnosed with the fourth documented concussion of his 12-year career, coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon.
He will miss Game 4. After that, his status is considered day-to-day.
“He will go through the protocols that we always put our guys through when they’ve been diagnosed with a concussion,” Sullivan said. “The nature of these things is that they’re all very different. Sometimes, they come around quickly. Other times, they don’t. My experience of dealing with these in the past with players is that they’re day-to-day things. We rely on our medical staff to advise us the right way.”
The Penguins lead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 4, where avenging their captain probably won’t be too far from their minds.
“After he got hurt, we started playing with a lot of intensity, a lot of emotion,” winger Carl Hagelin said. “If he’s not playing next game, we’ll play that one for him.”
Crosby suffered the concussion when he was cross-checked in the head by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen in the first period of Game 3 on Monday night.
Niskanen received a major penalty for cross-checking and a game misconduct. That was apparently enough punishment for the NHL’s department of player safety, which did not schedule a hearing for Niskanen on Tuesday to discuss any further discipline.
In general, Sullivan and the 11 Penguins players who took part in an optional practice Tuesday in Cranberry steered clear of commenting on the lack of a suspension.
“I’m not a ref. I play hockey,” winger Patric Hornqvist said.
Sometimes, though, their disgust was hard to hide.
“I’m not going to comment on anything, but it looked like a dirty hit to me,” Hagelin said.
Crosby missed the better part of two seasons when he suffered his first two documented concussions within five days of each other in early 2011. After his third concussion, suffered in practice last October, he returned to the lineup 18 days later.
“He’s very upbeat. He’s very positive,” Sullivan said. “We’re very optimistic. We’re hopeful that we’ll get him back in a timely fashion.”
According to experts, Crosby is more susceptible to concussions because he has a history with the injury.
“The biggest risk factor for a concussion is actually history of concussion,” said Dr. Michael Jonesco, who specializes in sports medicine at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “We think that number after you’ve had one goes up to maybe three times as likely. Exponentially it goes up after that.”
Whether concussions will have a long-term deleterious effect on Crosby’s health isn’t necessarily determined by how many he has suffered, however.
“Every concussion is its own unique beast,” Jonesco said. “I don’t go by numbers of concussions, at least not that simple algorithm, as far determining who’s done. It’s not like if you’ve had four concussions, you’re now done and your career is over. What’s more important to me is how people recover from that concussion. What is the progression to recovery? Does it take several weeks? Are the symptoms severe for several weeks? Is a lower mechanism required to cause a concussion?”
In the short term, the Penguins will look to find a way to finish off the Capitals without their top-line center and locker room leader.
Crosby was the driving force for the Penguins as they won the first two games of the series, scoring twice in a span of 52 seconds in the opener and setting up a pair of goals in Game 2. That type of production is nearly impossible to replace.
The team did, however, win 50 games in the regular season despite missing Crosby for six games, Evgeni Malkin for 20 games and Kris Letang for 41 games.
“They always respond in the right way,” Sullivan said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll do that again.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review sports columnist. You can contact Kevin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .