I'd suspect there was a little uneasiness around the Pens camp when Sid started to skate with the team again a little over two weeks ago. Uneasiness not because he might be rushing recovery from the injury but instead a certain aura of discomfort and anxiety as to when he'd officially return to the lineup.
Don't get me wrong - seeing your captain back on the ice is a great sign, especially when it looks like he's working above his recovery schedule. Yet all of Pittsburgh Penguins fandom came to the realization right around the six week mark that Sidney Crosby is, despite initial allegations, human after all.
The news today is that Sid is traveling with the team to Florida for the games against the Bolts and Panthers, as well as the trip to DC on Sunday where he is suspected to start alongside Marian Hossa. Again, these are just predictions and assumptions and should in no way be taken to heart. If one would have taken assumptions as official word at any point this season then Sid would've been back in the lineup two weeks ago.
Regardless, March 15 was the initially slated return for Sid and it seems like he's still rehabilitating above pace.
The month of March is met with plenty of opportunities for the Pens to really secure a position in the Atlantic Division. Granted they are atop the division now, but March will definitely pose as the clincher for them (and whichever team hopes to move up too).
There are eight division games for the Pens in March and two in April. Hell, there are ten division games left for the Pens this season. This is no doubt huge. They play the Flyers three times, the Rangers three times, the Devils twice and the Islanders twice. When you consider the Pens' otherwise lackluster divisional record this has the opportunity to turn things around for them in either direction.
Should they win at least half of the divisional games (and depending on how the cards fall for the other teams in the division) Pitt can very well have secured Atlantic. However, that all comes down to who they play - and personally it requires a lot of numbers and too much thought to even bother working out. Case and point - the Pens need to win against division opponents.
If all goes as planned and Crosby hits the ice sooner than later, Sidvechkin will make its last appearance of the season on Sunday to an already sold-out Verizon Center in DC. Should events go otherwise, then the Pens will continue to work through the injuries while still atop the Atlantic Division.
When you really get down to the heart of the matter, Crosby and Hossa really just pose as insurance to the Pens' already formidable season. Besides, Malkin was just named the NHL's number one star of the month.
Not that their returns will be met with much animosity.
But if it's animosity you want, look no further than Dunman's latest Tales of the Tape.