There's no positive in the Monday diagnosis of Sidney Crosby having another concussion. The Penguins said it happened on Friday but coach Mike Sullivan didn't offer any further details of what the specific incident was that caused the trauma. Crosby reported not feeling well on Saturday morning, after completing a full practice on Friday and was held out of the final preseason game. Crosby was able to attend the Penguins fan fest on Sunday, appearing pretty normal before taking the concussion test today.
So while his timetable remains unknown pending the any future symptoms (ugh hate that sentence) the NHL season is still going to go on. The Penguins will face the Washington Capitals on Thursday, almost certainly (but not yet officially) without their captain. So what are the options?
Pittsburgh will need a forward to play, since Bryan Rust is injured as well. While they could use Eric Fehr as the 4th line center, they've mainly been prepping him as a right winger and have a couple of good options that they recently sent to the minor leagues.
Carter Rowney was one of the Penguins better players in the preseason games, earning a jersey for 5 of the six games and scoring 2 goals, turning a lot of heads while showing he could play at the NHL level after working his way up from his an AHL contract as recently as last year.
Another option could be Oskar Sundqvist, who the coaching staff is also very high on and management was comfortable with as the 4th line center if they couldn't re-sign Matt Cullen.
Crosby may be concussed but having Evgeni Malkin means the Pens will still have a bonafide #1 center. The success of the HBK line sliding up as a #2 line makes a lot of sense too. Cullen can slide into the role that Crosby would have been, although this line wouldn't be used as much nor receive the top checking assignments from opponents sans #87.
Giving a possible opening night lineup something like:
Scott Wilson - Evgeni Malkin - Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin - Nick Bonino - Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz - Matt Cullen - Conor Sheary
Tom Kuhnhackl - Rowney/Sundqvist - Eric Fehr
Luckily if the top line wasn't clicking the Pens could also adjust on the fly and boost Kunitz - a player who's had success with Malkin in the past - up to the #1 line.
Pittsburgh's roster loses a lot of firepower without Crosby, their power play in particular was ineffective last week with Bonino running with the top unit. There's no way not having Crosby wouldn't hurt.
However, the NHL regular season is a marathon and Pittsburgh has a good enough lineup on paper to at least stay afloat while their captain heals up.