On Friday, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby again joined his teammates on the ice for their practice session at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex because it was the only available ice time for him to skate. He did the same thing on Tuesday.
Afterward, Crosby - who had surgery to repair a core muscle injury on Nov. 14 - said his status remains the same. He has not been cleared for contact, and until that happens, he will not be able to officially return to practice.
"That's a big step. Once you're cleared for contact, then you see how things respond from there," he said. "I'm not ready for that yet. Until then, I think I'll probably flip flop between doing my own stuff and skating with the injured guys and then going with the team depending on the practice."
Crosby will not play this weekend when the Penguins face the Canadiens in Montreal on Saturday and host the Florida Panthers on Sunday. It is yet to be determined whether or not he will be joining the Penguins for their three-game road trip through Vegas, Colorado and Arizona next week.
"We're going to figure it out over the weekend here," he said. "I'll be skating over the weekend while the team is gone and stuff. It'd be great to be around the group. It's been a while. But whatever's best as far as me getting back."
Crosby did not participate in line rushes during today's session, but he did spend a little bit of time working on the power play just for fun.
"I think getting on the power play and that kind of thing, it helps just to have a few bodies out there and have it be more game-like as opposed to skating by yourself," he said before adding with a laugh, "But it's also a bit of a tease, too, you know? It's still good to be out there with the guys, though."
Overall, Crosby - who last played on Nov. 9 against Chicago and has missed the last 23 games - is pleased with the way he has been progressing in the seven weeks since undergoing surgery to repair the core muscle injury, which he had been dealing with prior to that.
However, there is no timeframe for his return. He's just focused on trying to do more and more each week.
"I think I've been progressing each week and I'm happy about that," he said. "Obviously, I would love to be out there right now, but it's just something that when it's time, I'll be out there."
NOTE: Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said that the Penguins will be recalling Casey DeSmith and Thomas Di Pauli from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They will be joining the team in Montreal.
The Penguins left Tristan Jarry at home in Pittsburgh because the Penguins host the Panthers on Sunday at 5 p.m.
"(With the) back-to-back, we just think it makes sense," said Sullivan, who said Jarry will start against Florida.
Meanwhile, Di Pauli was recalled because the Penguins did not have any extra forwards following Jake Guentzel's shoulder surgery.