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Penguins star Sidney Crosby says he's getting closer to contact practice @NHLdotcom

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Sidney Crosby believes he is getting closer to being cleared for contact.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' star was pleased after going through another trouble-free practice Monday, a day after taking part in a scrimmage in which hits were banned.

"Obviously, the more good days you have, the nearer you get, and, hopefully, we'll get there shortly," said Crosby, who is recovering from a concussion that occurred more than eight months ago.

Crosby, who hasn't played since Jan. 5, has not yet been officially ruled out for the Penguins' Oct. 6 opener at Vancouver. However, it seems highly unlikely he will be ready by then as he has yet to take part in any contact work.

Crosby sat out the Penguins' three pre-season games last week and isn't expected to participate in any of the three this week, all of which are on the road.

While Crosby skips any training camp scrimmaging that includes contact, he has looked fast and in shape while going through his regular on-ice work. He has been jostled during some drills, but has reported none of the concussion-related symptoms, including headaches, that bothered him for months after he was hurt.

"When you go through this for a while, you just want to feel good out there," Crosby said. "Right now I feel good. When it's ready to get that point (contact), I want to make sure I'm comfortable and confident."

Crosby said he has gone at a 100 per cent exertion level since camp began Sept. 17, if only to get back to playing at a game-like speed.

"I think our practices are pretty intense," Crosby said. "That's just one aspect. You throw physicality in there and it's a little different. It's a little bit more fatiguing. It definitely changes things a bit."

During Sunday's scrimmage, Crosby failed on a shootout attempt against goaltender Scott Munroe.

Crosby was on pace for his best season production-wise with 66 points in 41 games before he absorbed two hard hits in a span of five days in early January. He was subsequently diagnosed with a concussion that affects the vestibular system, the part of the brain that controls a person's movement and balance.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is giving no hints when Crosby might be cleared to engage in full contact in practice, the final step before he is ready to play in games.

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