Crosby addressed the speculation after Monday's practice in Pittsburgh.
"I haven't really thought about it," Crosby said. "I thought more about getting through this week. It's a possibility (playing Friday), just like however many games left there are.
"I'd love it to be (Friday), but I would've loved it to be on the West Coast trip, too, but I didn't play there. There's a lot of different guesses, but everybody's guess is as good as mine."
Well, in this case, I figure Crosby's guess is a lot better than mine or that of any one else. Last month, Pens GM Ray Shero said that once his franchise center was cleared for contact, the decision to play would fall on the player's shoulders. And, to that end, Crosby has said repeatedly that he won't play until he feels he's 100-percent ready.
"We've got a few practices (this week), so I think whether I was trying to get contract in or not, I think this was a good week of practice to get some intense practices in and make the most of it. It's a good time to really go hard and see how things go." -- Penguins captain, Sidney Crosby
"We've got a few practices (this week), so I think whether I was trying to get contract in or not, I think this was a good week of practice to get some intense practices in and make the most of it," Crosby said, referencing the club's break in the schedule. "It's a good time to really go hard and see how things go."
As for my guess, he's clearly getting closer to a return and I wouldn't be surprised if it happened Friday. Crosby's preference, according to Shero, would be to return on home ice. We could check that box on Friday night.
The Penguins do, however, get right back at it against the Hurricanes on Saturday night in Raleigh. Would he jump in and play on back-to-back nights? Of course, he could play Friday and sit on Saturday, as a precaution.
Or, Crosby could wait until next Tuesday, Nov. 15, when the Pens face off against the visiting Avalanche. In that scenario, he could play six games before having to work on back-to-back nights.
For now, we continue to watch and we wait.
Here's the Tuesday 10:
Tuesday night, he'll step back behind an NHL bench when the Blues host the Blackhawks. In the mid-90s, in his first big-league job, Hitchcock guided the Stars up the standings, winning a Stanley Cup in 1999 and earning a ticket to the Cup Final in 2000.
In his second job, he pushed an older, banged-up Flyers team to a seventh game of a conference final in '04. Five years later, he led the undermanned Blue Jackets to the only playoff appearance in franchise history.
There are some who'll tell you that the 59-year-old Hitchcock's time has passed. That he can't relate to today's players.
I'm not buying that. He's got some good players on his bench in St. Louis. That would be several more than he had in Columbus. I'm thinking that Hitchcock will find a way to get the Blues moving up the standings. Certainly, there's nowhere else he wants to be.
He says he'll employ a simple plan.
"I know what works in watching other teams and we're going to copy," Hitchcock told NHL Live on Monday. "The year that we copied Detroit and San Jose when I was in Columbus, we were in fifth place on the power play. I'm flat copying four of those top six (power-play units). I see what they do and we're going to do the same thing and see if it works."
They'd like to ice, at least for a few games, the team they put together during the summer when they traded for center Jeff Carter and signed free agent D James Wisniewski. Due to injury (Carter) and suspension (Wisniewski), the two players have yet to work together in Columbus.
That could change on Thursday. Carter plans to practice today and he could rejoin the lineup for Thursday's home-ice game against the Blackhawks.
There are a lot of things wrong with Ohio's hockey team. At this point, I don't know if firing GM Scott Howson or head coach Scott Arniel would make much of a difference. And, if they do opt to make a change or changes, ownership would need to find some high-end candidates to fill those vacancies. That kind of search takes time.
I guess we'll see if the Jackets can get any traction during their upcoming three-game homestand. If they can't, some sort of change might be unavoidable.
A third-round pick in 2008, Henrique was sent back to the AHL briefly in October, but received a quick recall due to injury. In this opportunity, he's getting some time prime time with captain Zach Parise and fellow star Ilya Kovalchuk (who'll likely miss his second-straight game Tuesday due to a leg injury).
"I think the coaching staff has felt real comfortable with him (Henrique)," Parise said. "If he keeps playing the way he has been over the last several games, he'll be here."
Henrique has shown the ability to produce offense both at the junior and minor-pro level. The Devils would love that trend to continue in the NHL.
SOG: 35 | +/-: 6
While no one questioned Fleischmann's talent, there were concerns about his health after he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism last January, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season in Colorado.
After reading the medical reports, Panthers GM Dale Tallon decided to out-bid a couple of other clubs, including the Red Wings, for Fleischmann, signing him to a four-year, $18-million deal. While there's a lot of time left on that contract, the early returns in South Florida have been very favorable for the Czech-born sniper.
In 28 career games against Calgary, Backstrom has a 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. He's also won his past four starts against Jarome Iginla's crew.
I don't know if I agree with the move, but you can't really argue with those numbers. And so far, Yeo has been pushing all the right buttons.
GAA: 2.33 | SVP: 0.929
In the club's first 13 games, they've been outshot by their opponent 12 times. The only time they outshot their opponent, on Oct. 29, Rinne blanked the Ducks, 3-0. Barry Trotz's team might want to try that a little more often.
On the road, they've had no such trouble, putting up 30 goals in eight games. Not surprisingly, they're a much-better 6-1-1.
Colorado's home woes date back to last season. In their past 23 home games, they're a beyond dreadful 4-18-1. At some point -- soon! -- they're going to have to get that fixed. They can't compete for a playoff spot without being better at home.
On the season, the big Czech has 6 goals and 15 points while playing to a plus-6 rating.
Those a pretty good numbers for a 39-year-old forward who hasn't played in the NHL since 2008. It will be interesting to see if he can continue scoring at his current pace, which would have him challenge the 100-point mark.
"I'm superstitious," Crosby admitted, "but I wouldn't let that affect whether I came back that night or not. When I'm ready, I'll be back as soon as I can be, no matter what the date is."