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Category: Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby returning to action Monday

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The long-awaited moment finally came on Sunday afternoon: Penguins center Sidney Crosby will play against the Islanders on Monday night in Pittsburgh, according to a team announcement.

Crosby Watch, thankfully, has ended.

A concussion has kept Crosby (pictured above) out of game action since Jan. 5 with concussion-like symptoms, and there have been months of speculation about the future of player who is the face of the NHL. He was finally cleared for contact in practice situations on Oct. 13.

You might say the Islanders are probably the ideal opening opponent for Crosby. In 33 career games, he has scored 18 goals and 62 points against them.

After the Islanders game, the Penguins play host to St. Louis on Wednesday and Ottawa on Friday before traveling to Montreal on Saturday.

ALSO:

Red Wings end Kings' winning streak

Bruins beat Islanders for eighth win in a row

Kings keep Ducks stumbling in the dark in 5-3 victory

--Lisa Dillman

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press

Sidney Crosby skates while NHL general managers discuss head injuries

Crosby_350 Sidney Crosby skated Monday for the first time since sustaining a concussion more than two months ago, but the Pittsburgh Penguins center said he’s still not sure if or when he will be able to play this season.

“No real plan going forward,” he said in an interview on the Penguins' website.

Crosby’s skate comes on the day NHL general managers began three days of meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., with concussions and blows to the head the hottest topic.

Commissioner Gary Bettman began the proceedings by spelling out a five-point plan that includes instructing a safety engineering firm to evaluate every rink to determine if changes are needed and directing teams that have seamless glass to change to Plexiglass.

The protocol for evaluating and managing concussions has been revised, principally to have the team physician instead of the team trainer examine any player who reports any concussion symptoms.

No offense to trainers, whose quick thinking and caring have patched up many a player, but shouldn't an immediate examination by a doctor have been part of the protocol before now?

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Sidney Crosby. Credit: David DeNoma / Reuters

Kings to play enforcer Kevin Westgarth against Penguins

Although the Pittsburgh Penguins will be without superstars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) when they face the Kings on Thursday, Kings Coach Terry Murray said he won’t change his approach. Nor does Murray expect an easier game.

"Any time you lose top players like that in the game, it’s really unfortunate for the game of hockey,” Murray said after the Kings’ morning skate at the impressive, new Consol Energy Center. “But from our side of it, we have to come out and play the right way. We have to do the same things and know that we’ve got to work hard, that everything matters, every shift.

“Whether you have the top players of the opponent against you or you have a banged-up team, I know darned well that Pittsburgh is still a very good defensive hockey club. They’re going to bring a lot of intensity, a lot of hard play, and we’ve got to be ready to match that.”

The Kings are 2-0-1 after the first segment of the 10 straight road games they will play this month, and Murray said he planned only one lineup change Thursday: he said he will play heavyweight Kevin Westgarth in place of Brad Richardson. The Penguins weren’t planning to use one of their tough guys, Eric Godard, and their most penalized player, Matt Cooke, will sit out as he begins serving a four-game suspension for his deplorable hit from behind against Columbus’ Fedor Tyutin on Tuesday. But with Westgarth in the lineup the Penguins could bring Godard back in.

“Westgarth brings an element to the game that we feel we have to have when we come on the road,” Murray said. “Pittsburgh’s got some heavy players. As you take a look on the remaining part of the road trip, there are those kinds of teams that play hard.

“The Flyers are going to have a hard team and a hard lineup, so we’ve got to make sure that our bases are covered in the important areas of the game.”

-- Helene Elliott, in Pittsburgh 

Sidney Crosby: No timetable for return from 'scary' concussion

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Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, who was leading the NHL in scoring when a concussion knocked him out of the lineup on Jan. 6, said Thursday he expects to return this season but his progress is coming “at a slower rate than I’d want it to be,” and he could offer no prediction for his return.

Crosby, lightly tanned from a brief visit to a warmer climate, visited the Penguins’ locker room after their morning skate. He will miss his 15th game Thursday, when the Penguins face the Kings at the Consol Energy Center.

"There’s no timetable whatsoever," he said. "It’s impossible to kind of gauge or really put a number of days or a timetable."

Crosby, who took blows to the head in consecutive games on Jan. 1 and Jan. 5, has not been exercising and is not yet symptom-free.

“I’m getting better. It’s just slow. That’s the tough part. The progression, everything is improving, but it’s just at a slower rate than I’d want it to be,” he said. “But that’s kind of out of my control. You just kind of hope that with time and hopefully the quicker the better.”

His absence has fueled endless speculation, including rumors that he might not return this season. “That could happen, but am I sitting here packing it in? No,” he said Thursday. “I hope I’m back and geez, I hope I finish the year, but that’s the thing with these things. You don’t know. There’s no timeframe, like I said.

“I’m expecting to play this year, so I’m sure there’s a thousand different things being said out there and that’s one of them, but I expect to be playing.”

But Crosby acknowledged being unsettled by the experience.

“It’s really scary. There’s not anything you can really compare it to, as far as being out, being away, how to deal with that. Probably going back to when I hurt my ankle,” he said, referring to an ankle sprain that cost him 21 games during the 2007-08 season. “I’m sure that helps me a bit, but this is a little different when you’re talking about your brain.

“It’s scary, but like I said to a certain extent or certain point there’s nothing you can do except give yourself a chance to heal and hope that it happens sooner rather than later.”

Leaving town and avoiding the daily inquiries about his status helped him, he said.

“It’s not the easiest thing every day coming in and hoping to be able do something,” he said. “It’s great that everyone asks how you’re doing, but I think it’s just a constant reminder of the fact that you’re not playing, that you’re injured, things like that. So sometimes it’s just kind of good to get away from that a bit and have the opportunity to see my parents and hang out with them for a bit. It was just more or less just to kind of get away from the everyday questions.”

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who suffered a concussion while with the Vancouver Canucks last season, went to rest at a remote spot to get away from noise and distractions while he healed. However, fellow defenseman Drew Doughty said he stayed around Los Angeles while recovering from a concussion that cost him six games earlier this season.

Doughty knows all too well what Crosby is going through.

“It’s a pretty frustrating time,” he said. “There’s not really anything you can do to get back quicker. There’s nothing you can do to make the healing process faster. It’s just all about rest.

“It’s a little boring just kind of sitting around, but that’s what you have to do. It [stinks] and I’m sure he’s pretty frustrated right now but hopefully he gets back soon.”

More on the Penguins and Kings coming soon.

-- Helene Elliott, in Pittsburgh 

Photo: Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press.

NHL All-Star voting ends with Sidney Crosby at the top

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After more than 14.3 million votes were tallied, Sidney Crosby and three of his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates are among the first six players (three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender) selected for the NHL All-Star game on Jan. 30.

Crosby, who leads the league in scoring, collected the most votes of anyone: 635,509. Joining him are
Penguins' forward Evgeni Malkin, defenseman Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

Rounding out the first six are forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith of the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks.

The remaining 36 All-stars will be selected by the NHL next week. Under a new format, the 42 selected players will cast their own votes to decide the captains and alternate captains of the two teams.

The appointed team leaders will then choose their own teams in a televised draft.

Though Crosby was the top vote-getter, Letang, a write-in candidate, was next highest with 477,960 votes.

Of the Ducks and Kings? Not enough votes to get in the top six.

For the Kings, the forward with the most votes was Anze Kopitar at 64,142; for the Ducks, it was Teemu Selanne at 43,873. The top Kings defenseman in terms of votes was Drew Doughty at 166, 489. For the Ducks, it was Cam Fowler, a write-in candidate, at 14,160. Also noteworthy: Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, also a write-in candidate, collected 22,641 votes.

Among goalies, Fleury had 426,305 votes. The Kings' Jonathan Quick came in ninth with 80,084, and the Ducks' superb net-minder Jonas Hiller deserved more than the 15,681 he received. He has had to face 1,159 shots against (more than any other goalie by far) yet still has 19 wins (tied for second in the league) and a 2.54 goal-against average (16th) and a remarkable .925 save percentage (fourth in the league).

Click here for the full lists of the final vote count: forwards and defensemen and goalies.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: Sidney Crosby. Credit:  Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press.

Waiting for rain: Live webcam at NHL Winter Classic

With rain due in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the NHL was forced to be prudent and move the start time of the Winter Classic on New Year's Day from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

But will the webcam the NHL has set up at Heinz Field, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, record the storm on Saturday? We can only wait and watch.

It's no surprise that the threat of rain worried the league. Water on ice with temperatures too warm are a bad mix when you're trying to play a hockey game, particularly a game that features two of the NHL's biggest stars, the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby and the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin. Anyone for slush? Not to mention the irritating drops on the visors of their helmets.

-- Debbie Goffa

Sidney Crosby keeps point streak going

One of the signs in the crowd at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh said it all: Sid-sational.

Sidney Crosby extended his point streak to 25 games with a power-play goal at 10:34 of the first period against the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday night. Then he scored another one late in the same period and collected two assists in the third.

He now has 26 goals and 24 assists during the streak and leads the NHL with a total of 32 goals and 64 points.

And to think it was only two weeks ago that Crosby had set a new career high -- 20 games in a row in which he had at least one goal or assist. 

For those of us who watched the Ducks take on Pittsburgh on Nov. 5 at Honda Center, who would have thought Crosby's two goals in that game would be the start of all this.

Crosby's streak is the longest since the Penguins' Mario Lemieux had a 28-game streak during the 1995-96 season. Lemieux also has the team record of 46 games in a row in 1989-90. A few years later, Mats Sundin had a 30-game streak for the old Quebec Nordiques during the 1992-93 season.

Crosby isn't even close yet to the NHL record of scoring in 51 consecutive games. That belongs to Wayne Gretzky.

Oh, and Crosby's Penguins beat the Thrashers, 6-3.

-- Debbie Goffa

Drew Doughty, Teemu Selanne lead the local teams in NHL All-Star voting

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The overall vote leader in the NHL's All-Star balloting is no surprise: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (pictured above). After two weeks of online voting, he now has 218,791 votes. 

The nicest surprise? The guy who jumped up to second place while no one was looking. That would be Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, whose 145,726 votes are the most among write-in candidates. That's right. Write-in. Price has been outstanding in goal so far this season.

Tampa Bay's scoring machine Steven Stamkos is third with 141,818 votes.  More than 6 million votes have been cast through last weekend.

But what about the Kings and Ducks?

Teemu Selanne is doing the best among Ducks with 25,545 votes. Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry aren't far behind him, though. Noteworthy write-in totals: goaltender Jonas Hiller has 9,791, Lubomir Visnovsky 7,137 and Cam Fowler 6,938.

The Kings?

Drew Doughty is leading the way with 94,606. Anze Kopitar has 31,923, while the very deserving Ryan Smith has 16,465. Noteworthy is team scoring leader Justin Williams as a write-in candidate with 8,486. Jonathan Quick comes in ninth among goaltenders with 40,140, while defenseman Jack Johnson has 12,871 write-in votes.

But it really makes you wonder what is going on when former Kings player Sean Avery (he currently ranks third in the league for penalty minutes) of the New York Rangers has 38,551 write-in votes. Even as a joke, this isn't funny.

Through Jan. 3, NHL fans will be able to select up to six players by position -- three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender -– without regard to the conference in which their teams play.

As part of a new format for the 2011 All-Star game, the three forwards, two defensemen and goalie with the most votes will be named first NHL All-Stars. Want to vote? Click here. Meanwhile, here are

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4 Ducks, 4 Kings make NHL All-Star ballot

The NHL released the All-Star ballot Friday, and the steady Kings and the newly surging Ducks each placed four names on the 100-name list.

For the 11-3-0 Kings, goaltender Jonathan Quick, forwards Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty made the ballot, while the high-scoring "core four" forwards from the Ducks made it -- Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have a league-high six players on the ballot: defensemen Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook plus forwards Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.

Twenty-year-old center Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, is making his first appearance on the ballot. He currently leads the league in goals and points this season, and his 51 goals last season tied him with Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby for the goal-scoring title.

Crosby also made the ballot. Here is a full list.

Voting, which begins Monday and runs through Jan. 3, will be entirely online -- including for the first time through Facebook (facebook.com/NHL) -- and through mobile devices. Fans can select up to six players by position -- three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender –- without regard to the conference in which their teams play.

The three forwards, two defensemen and goalie with the most votes will be named first NHL All-Stars.

Oh, and fans will also have the ability to write in a player of their choice. Anyone for Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler or forward Saku Koivu or Kings forward Justin Williams or defenseman Jack Johnson?

After the fans select the top six, the remaining 36 All-Stars will be named by the NHL from the list and write-in votes for a total of 42 All-Stars (three goalies, six defensemen and 12 forwards per team). In addition, 12 NHL rookies will be chosen by the NHL to participate in a skills contest for a total of 54 participants.

After the 42 have been selected, two captains will be chosen per team by the players. Then a draft will be held with all 54 during which the captains will draft the remaining members of their respective teams.

The All-Star game will be Sunday, Jan. 30, at RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

-- Debbie Goffa

 

 

 

Ducks' Fowler makes another good move . . . and so does Penguins' Crosby

Camfowler_300 Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler has shown an extraordinary talent for decision-making, making plays that are remarkably poised and smart.

So when club executives told him he would stay in the NHL this season instead of returning to his junior team, he made another wise decision after considering where to live.

Fowler has moved into a room at the Orange County home of future Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer, who has been doing some scouting for the Ducks this season while he explores his post-playing career options. Fowler, who will be 19 next month, fits in well because he’s only about seven years older than the eldest of Scott and Lisa Niedermayer’s four sons. So far he hasn’t been asked to do any babysitting, but he’s available.

“They gave me my own room kind of away from everything,” Fowler said Friday after the Ducks practiced in preparation for Friday’s game against Pittsburgh at the Honda Center.

“They have a lot going on. It’s awesome for them to open their home to me and just make me feel welcome. So I think it’s been a great fit so far.”

The best fit is at the dining table.

“As a young, 18-, 19-year-old kid I definitely don’t have as much experience in the kitchen as some of these other guys,” he said. “I think it’s good to always have a home-cooked meal there for me and just know that there’s a safe place for me to go where people care about me. I think it’s pretty special.

“I had some steak before last game and that was delicious. Better than room service in the hotel or anything like that. That’s what I mean. They take great care of me there.”

In living at the home of an older and illustrious player, Fowler is following the path taken by Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who has bunked at Mario Lemieux’s house since he entered the NHL. Crosby bought his own place but hasn’t moved in yet. 

“It takes time to get adjusted, to just kind of mature and become a real professional, so any time you can find a situation like that where someone is happy to open their home to you I think you should take advantage of it,” said Fowler, who is from Windsor, Canada.

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Blackhawks' Ladd questionable for Game 1 of Stanley Cup finals; Commish Bettman's anger toward IIHF beyond question

Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd, who suffered an upper-body injury in the finale of the team’s Western Conference sweep of San Jose, missed his third straight practice Friday. Tomas Kopecky replaced him alongside Kris Versteeg and Dave Bolland during practice at the United Center, Chicago’s final full workout before opening the Stanley Cup final Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said Ladd is day to day and was expected to return sometime during the series. “We’ll see about tomorrow,” Quenneville said.

Kopecky, lured away from Detroit as a free agent last summer, has played in 11 of the Blackhawks’ 16 playoff games so far. But he’s used to that, having played in only 12 postseason games the past two seasons during Detroit’s 2008 Cup run and its seven-game finals loss to Pittsburgh last spring.

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