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McKenzie: Neal, Martin Could Play Against Carolina. Crosby Should Start Playoffs

With the playoffs around the corner, three stars could be returning to the lineup at just the right time.

Justin K. Aller

In the world of hockey mixed with unreliable internet, I live by a code:

It isn't true unless TSN's Bob McKenzie says it is.

Today, McKenzie announced exactly what Pens fans have been waiting to hear:

McKenzie on Sid injury (via HF Captain Hook)

s/t to Allie for the video link.

There's a chance, but not guaranteed, that [Sidney Crosby] could be medically cleared by the doctor to begin playing after Thursday or Friday...there's an excellent chance that if he's cleared by the end of this week, you will see him next week in the playoffs...

...It's expected that Paul Martin and James Neal are likely to return for Saturday's game for Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, Dejan Kovacevic and Rob Rossi discussed Crosby's potential return, also mentioning Crosby's desire to get a practice in before dressing for a game. With Crosby skating since April 15, conditioning shouldn't be a big problem which makes for a more seamless return.

And it couldn't be happening at a better time. It would be ideal if Martin played Saturday to get a game in and shake off any rust before the playoffs. Same goes for Neal but with him missing only seven games, it isn't a necessity. Plus, the last thing we want to do is rush a concussed brain. When they're ready, they'll return.

Still no news on Brooks Orpik's condition, but the Pens could potentially start the playoffs with a healthy roster which hasn't happened since acquiring Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, and Jussi Jokinen. Now add Crosby, Neal, and Martin to what has been a magical mix?

Bring on the playoffs.

Go Pens.