CRANBERRY, Pa. — Sidney Crosby was on the ice for the Penguins’ practice Friday afternoon.
Crosby began the practice in a gray no-contact jersey, then swapped it out for a regular black jersey after 20 minutes.
Crosby said after practice that his situation still hasn’t changed, though. The reason he participated today was for the same reason he skated on Tuesday, ice time availability. He didn’t participate in line rushes, and said he still isn’t ready for contact. The change in jersey midway through practice can be attributed to him working with the power play, since all the power play players wear black.
Crosby worked with the top power play unit along with Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and Kris Letang, with Bryan Rust and Jared McCann alternating in the fifth spot.
“Getting on the power play and that kind of thing, it helps to have a few bodies out there,” Crosby said. “It’s more game like as opposed to skating by yourself. It’s a bit of a tease, too. It’s good being out there.”
Crosby said that while his situation still hasn’t changed, he still feels like he’s making progress.
“I think I’ve been progressing each week,” he said. “I’m happy about that. I love being out there right now. It’s just something that, when it’s time, I’ll be out there.”
Crosby seemed to be pushing himself in the drills, and stayed on the ice for an extended period after practice. Formal practice wrapped up at 12:35 after the noon start. Crosby didn’t come off the ice until 1:22, well after everyone else was off the ice.
Mike Sullivan was encouraged by what he saw from Crosby today.
“It’s great,” Sullivan said of Crosby’s participation. “I know it’s great for our team morale, our guys love it when he’s out there. He’s making progress, we’re excited about that. It’s great to see him back with the team.”
Crosby won’t make the trip to Montreal, and he’ll skate on his own during that time. He said he’s unsure if he’ll make the next road trip out west.
“We’re going to figure it out over the weekend,” Crosby said of potentially making the trip out west. “I’ll be skating over the weekend while the team is gone. It’d be great to be around the group, but it’s whatever’s best as far as me getting back.”
MORE FROM PRACTICE
• Sullivan announced that the Penguins are recalling Thomas Di Pauli and Casey DeSmith from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and both players will meet the team in Montreal. Di Pauli is insurance at forward since the team isn’t carrying any extra forwards.
DeSmith’s recall is because Tristan Jarry isn’t making the trip to Montreal. He’s not injured — he was a full participant in practice and Sullivan said he is scheduled to play against Florida on Sunday. But the Florida game is earlier in the day — 5 p.m. — so the team doesn’t want him to have to travel to Montreal to back up, and have to turn around and start early the next evening.
DeSmith won’t need waivers to return to Wilkes-Barre. He’s able to spend the same 10 game, 30-day window on the active roster before he’d need waivers again.
• Brian Dumoulin is no longer using a crutch after using one earlier this week, but is still using a walking boot.
• The Penguins used the following line combinations, the same as last game:
Alex Galchenyuk – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Dominik Simon – Jared McCann – Patric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Brandon Tanev
Dominik Kahun – Joseph Blandisi – Sam Lafferty
• The defense pairings rotated.
• The second power play unit was John Marino, Juuso Riikola, Dominik Kahun, Zach Aston-Reese, and Alex Galchenyuk.
• The first penalty killing unit was Brandon Tanev, Teddy Blueger, Jack Johnson, and Chad Ruhwedel.
• The second penalty killing unit was Sam Lafferty, Joseph Blandisi, Marcus Pettersson, and Kevin Czuczman.
• During the special teams work, Marino made a slick move where he put the puck through Blandisi’s legs and juked left to get around him, drawing a big reaction from the players observing. Blandisi just dropped to one knee and shook his head afterward in disbelief. I asked both of them about that moment after practice, and there was some friendly chirping on both sides.
“He got lucky,” Blandisi laughed. “The puck bounced and went between my legs. It made him look better than it made me look, I didn’t like it.”
“I’ve done that twice now, I’m two-for-three. He’s gotten me once,” Marino said with a laugh. At the same moment, Blandisi walked by in the locker room, shaking his head, then the two laughed again.
“That was just a weird play,” Marino continued. “I wouldn’t try that in a game. We have to get out there more often so I can pull that move more often. He just looked at me shaking his head, saying ‘That’s twice!'”
• After Thursday’s game, Sullivan said the top line of Galchenyuk-Malkin-Rust looked “decent,” but he wanted more time to look at film and think about it. Today he said they looked “decent.” So that’s that.
• The Canadiens, Saturday’s opponent, signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a one-year deal today.
• The Robert Morris women’s team took the ice after practice. This weekend is the Battle at the Burgh, a college women’s hockey tournament featuring No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 3 Northeastern, Colgate, and Robert Morris. More on that here.
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