PITTSBURGH— The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have a morning skate in advance of their afternoon game against the Winnipeg Jets, but Sidney Crosby did.
Crosby and forward Arron Asham (concussion) worked out at Consol Energy Center before the Penguins played the first of back-to-back weekend home games. They take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.
This is becoming a familiar routine for Crosby, who hasn’t played since Dec. 5. He skates with conditioning coach Mike Kadar in advance of a Penguins practice or game as he tries to remain in shape while awaiting his return to playing status.
Crosby and Penguins general manager Ray Shero announced on Jan. 31, before the Penguins’ most recent home game before this weekend, that the sidelined star has a soft tissue injury in the top two vertebrae that could be contributing to his concussion-like symptoms.
Crosby is continuing to experience those symptoms but, as he receives treatment, both he and the Penguins are hopeful he can return later this season. There is no timetable for that return, and it depends on Crosby being symptom-free.
“I feel like I’m getting there,” Crosby said earlier this week. “I don’t know the timeframe. I wish I did.”
Crosby sat out the first six weeks of the regular season, and then had a pair of goals – both in his Nov. 21 comeback game against the Islanders – and 10 assists in eight games before the concussion-like symptoms returned following a Dec. 5 game against Boston. Crosby last went through a full practice two days later.
He skated with the Penguins in Montreal during a road trip that concluded Tuesday, but that was so he didn’t have to work out that day by himself. He has not yet been cleared for contact during practice.
The Penguins have played 87 games without Crosby the last two seasons – the same as Crosby’s number. They are 48-30-9 in those games, including a 25-17-4 record this season.
Pittsburgh did welcome back its other injured center, Jordan Staal, on Saturday. Staal played for the first time since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during a knee-to-knee hit with Mike Rupp of the Rangers on Jan. 6. The Penguins were 9-5-1 without Staal, who had 15 goals in 34 games before he left the lineup.
Asham, out since Jan. 15, appears to be getting close to returning as well.