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Crosby To Return Thursday Night

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby is back again.

The Penguins captain will return to the lineup Thursday night when the New York Islanders visit Mellon Arena.

“I am playing,” he said. “My ankle feels great and my conditioning is as good as it can get, really, without playing. It always takes a few games, but I feel good.”

Crosby has missed 28 games this season because of a high ankle sprain, including the past seven after coming back for a three-game stretch. Crosby feels much better in this comeback attempt than he did earlier in the month and thinks there is less chance of aggravating the injury again.

“I feel confident. I think it’s one of those things that will come down to luck, but I feel strong,” he said. “I feel a lot better than I did coming back the first time. I am more confident and that’s big.”

Crosby has 67 points (22+45) in 49 games this season. He had four points (2+2) in his three-game return March 4-9, but thinks it will take him less time to get acclimated to the speed of the game in this return.

“I hope to be a little bit quicker than before with being out a month and a half,” he said. “It’s going to be more physical hockey down the stretch, but I expect to come along a little faster. Last time, as far as conditioning and game shape and being hit, I wasn’t where I needed to be. You can’t get that unless you play. It doesn’t matter how much you practice. Being hit, falling down, backchecking and things like that, that’s just stuff you have to go through. It got better with each game and I hope it’s that way this time, too.”

He expects to skate on a line with Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.

“I am excited. This is time of year you want to play, especially, with every game being so big and every point being so important,” Crosby said. “It’ll be nice to be out there competing again.”

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