For the Pittsburgh Penguins
, it must have felt a rerun of a television show.
Once again, media members were asking them how they would cope without Sidney Crosby
in the lineup.
The Pittsburgh captain will miss a game here Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers
(7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) and Saturday against the New York Islanders
as a precaution after Crosby took a few hard hits Monday against the Boston Bruins
It was Crosby's eighth game back after missing more than 10 months with a concussion from January.
The most obvious incident Monday was a third-period collision with teammate Chris Kunitz
, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma
said it wasn't any one particular play that forced Crosby back to the sideline.
"Not a one-time incident in the game," said Bylsma following the Penguins morning skate at Wells Fargo Center. "He took a couple hits in the game and didn't feel 100-percent after the game. That was an indication. He went and saw Dr. (Micky) Collins the next day. His ImPACT test was exactly what it was when he returned to play. Dr. Collins said there's no indication of a concussion at this point in time."
Crosby practiced with the team Wednesday, but Bylsma said that's when the decision was made to bench Crosby for the next two games as a precaution.
"After practice yesterday he had a slight headache," Bylsma said. "He knows his body well. He spent a long 10 months (out with a concussion), and as a precaution, just take tonight's game off and through the weekend."
Crosby told the Penguins' website that he agreed with the decision to hold him out for a few days.
"I just want to be smart with this," he said. "It's been a long road back and we want to err on the side of caution. I've taken some good hits over the past few weeks and am happy with the way my body responded … but after discussing things with doctors, it was better to make sure I was cautious before returning to play."
Bylsma said there's nothing right now that Crosby will have to do before the game Tuesday against Detroit to show he's ready to return to the lineup.
"I haven't gotten that far," said Bylsma. "He's having today off and anticipates working out tomorrow. That's where he's at right now."
For the players, not seeing Crosby is something they've gotten used to.
"Obviously you want Sidney to be in the lineup," Pascal Dupuis
said. "But at the same time we know this team, what this team can do without him. We've done it in the past."
"We went for a long stretch last year without him, too," added Craig Adams
. "We're used to playing without him. We'd much rather have him, but our job is to go out and play the same way regardless of whether Sid's in the lineup or not."
The Pens haven't seemed to miss a beat when the game's best player has been out of the lineup. They went 23-13-5 without Crosby last season, and began this campaign 11-6-3 and tied for the most points in the conference without him.
"We'd always rather have Sid in the lineup, that's a given," Adams said. "It doesn't change this game at all from our perspective. Doesn't change the importance of it and how we feel we need to play."
For Bylsma, he's more concerned about who he has in the lineup and what's at stake Thursday. The teams are separated by just one point for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We're going to play against the Philadelphia Flyers
," Bylsma said. "They're 7-3 in last 10 games, their power play is five of the last 13. They're a good team. This game is for the most points in our division. It's got the rivalry. We've got (Claude) Giroux looking at us in the face, he's been playing really well. They have other facets to their game, with (Jaromir) Jagr and (Danny) Briere, (Scott) Hartnell has 22 points and we'll see his hair tonight. It's going to be a great game."
That great game, however, won't include Crosby, but the hope is it's only a two-game absence and then he can return to having the same impact he had prior to this bump in the road -- Crosby had two goals and 10 assists in those eight games, including his memorable two-goal, two-assist return game Nov. 21 against the Islanders.
"The fact that he needs a little rest can only be good for us," said Dupuis. "If he gets rest and comes back with a four-point performance, we won't complain."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK