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On comeback trail, Crosby back to making highlights

by Alan Robinson
Sidney Crosby didn't talk, and maybe it wasn't necessary that he did.

His workout Friday was telling enough. Especially considering the form he displayed in a highlight-reel move that saw him to his backhand and roof a puck past No. 3 goalie Brad Thiessen that found -- and exploded -- the water bottle sitting atop the net.

The Pittsburgh Penguins still aren't saying when their 23-year-old star will play.

"We've never gotten that far at all," GM Ray Shero told Friday afternoon. "From my standpoint or the team, there's no expectations at all that he's coming back. He's skating and that's another step in his recovery. That's a good thing, to make him feel better about himself. He's a world-class athlete, to get that sweat going, he's making progress. ...  It's step by step here, no expectations, no timetable in how he'd be played. That's down the road."

But,  there is no denying that Crosby's on-ice workout Friday morning before the Penguins' game-day skate offered numerous encouraging signs.

In video captured by the Penguins' Web site, Crosby flew around cones, stick handled like a player who hasn't missed a game of action and took a series of hard, on-target shots on net from the left circle while being fed the puck by strength coach Mike Kadar.

Bylsma didn't watch the workout, which also included forward Mark Letestu (upper-body injury). But Bylsma obviously was encouraged by what he heard.

"I do know that he's progressed -- the doctor has upped certain things on and off the ice," Bylsma said. "And it's not the same each day. I talked to him before he went on the ice, and he said he was going to try to keep up with Mark Letestu. I talked to Mark Letestu afterward, and Mark said he was trying to keep up with Sid."

Bylsma did not say what the next step of Crosby's rehabilitation would be, but the workout suggested Crosby might not be that far away from rejoining his teammates for some work.

When Bylsma was asked about defenseman Brooks Orpik's status as he returns from a broken finger -- he won't play against the Devils -- the coach said, "When Brooks is ready to play -- and Sidney Crosby is ready to play -- we're going to insert them both into the lineup."

The Penguins obviously are being very careful  with each stage of Crosby's progression, one that is monitored daily by Crosby's doctors. There is no set timetable for any player to return after receiving a concussion, and the team isn't about to risk bringing back its franchise player -- one who was well ahead in the NHL scoring race before getting hurt -- prematurely.

Crosby did not talk with reporters on Friday, and is being made available by the team only periodically.

"I do know that the doctor is writing a schedule every day, and there have been things that have increased and (Thursday) was almost a day off in his day to day," Bylsma said. "I do know that I laughed today when Sid said he was going to try to keep up, and Mark said he was trying to keep up."

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