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The Inside Scoop: Crosby Day-to-Day, Letang Practices

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby was the only expected player missing from the Pens’ Sunday practice at CONSOL Energy Center.

Head coach Mike Sullivan said the captain has a lower-body injury and right now, his status is day-to-day.

“We’ll see how he is (Monday),” said Sullivan, who added that he believes the injury happened in the third period of the Pens’ 2-1 loss to Carolina on Saturday night. Crosby did not miss a shift in the game, finishing with 19:17 minutes of ice time.

When asked if there was a temptation to keep him out of the lineup Monday against Columbus so that Crosby could get a full week of rest seeing as their next game isn’t until Saturday in Minnesota because of the holiday break, Sullivan said there was not.

“If Sid can play, he’ll play,” Sullivan said. “That’s the type of guy that he is. We’ll make that decision tomorrow. We’ll see how he is.”

With Crosby absent, the Pens used the following line combinations…

On a positive note, defenseman Kris Letang skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury in the Pens’ 4-3 win over Colorado on Dec. 9.

“We’re obviously excited to see him out there,” Sullivan said with a smile. “That means he’s that much closer to playing. That’s certainly an important step for us.”

Letang stayed on the ice for the duration of the practice and wore a yellow no-contact jersey. Progressing to contact will be the next step.

“I felt pretty good,” Letang said. “It was the first step. Obviously it’s better than skating on your own and doing drills by yourself. It’s improving. Tomorrow we’ll try to get a little bit more in and see how it goes.”

Overall, Letang – the Pens’ top-scoring defenseman who ranks sixth among league blueliners in time on ice per game with an average of 26:15 – has missed five straight games and seven of the last eight games with two different injuries.

Being sidelined is tough enough in itself. But with the team struggling like it has and the changes on the bench that happened while Letang has been out, it’s been even more difficult for him to be stuck watching.

“With the coaching change you want to kind of prove yourself to the new staff to show them what you’re capable of doing,” Letang said.

Hopefully that opportunity will come soon.
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