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What Sidney Crosby’s injury means for the Penguins

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It’s never a good thing when the captain goes down

NHL: NOV 09 Blackhawks at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Penguins got a monkey off their back by beating the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time since the sixth grade picnic, but the lasting memory the day after is Sidney Crosby getting hurt in the third period.

Crosby got torqued over on his leg awkwardly and then later in the sequence got struck with the puck in the foot while blocking the shot. Shortly after he gingerly skated to the bench and would not return to the game.

Per tradition, coach Mike Sullivan was typically unhelpful with post-game comments.

“[Crosby] went out in the 3rd period with a lower-body injury,” Sullivan said. “He is being evaluated as we speak. We will get more information on Monday.”

The Penguins are off today, thus no update. It remains to be seen how much information will be forthcoming tomorrow.

There’s never a good time for Sidney Crosby to get hurt, but at least as far as the schedule and circumstances go, this isn’t really the worst time. First and foremost, Evgeni Malkin (and to a lesser extent Nick Bjugstad) are healthy. If this happened to Sid two or three weeks ago, the Pens would have been in a real world of hurt without much center depth.

Malkin is back from his injury and has been dominant as of late, scoring five points (a goal and four assists) in the last three games. Even if the Pens won’t have Crosby for their next game, they still have a legitimate No. 1 center, which is as it has ever been the greatest advantage of one team being fortunate enough to have both Crosby+Malkin on their team.

It’s long been known that Malkin “raises his game” or whatever you’d like to call it, finding a lot of success and even better than normal career production while Crosby is on the shelf. But Malkin has been playing wonderfully since he’s returned, so he really doesn’t have to “raise” anything, he’s simply got to keep doing what he’s been doing over the past week or so and he will be just fine.

Second, the schedule is still favorable for the Pens. Today starts a stretch when they play just one game in five days, coming on Tuesday night against the Rangers. NYR is just 7-6-1 on the season, though they have won four of their last five games and been playing better as of late. Still, not exactly a team that’s terribly intimidating and then Pittsburgh gets another long layoff until their next game on Friday night. They’ll then be playing at New Jersey, which again, not exactly a top team should Sid be out for about a week.

Ideally for the Pens the Crosby issues were minor and wore off without much lasting damage. And that could be the case — it wasn’t too long ago that Crosby was pulled from the team’s last preseason game after blocking a shot with his foot not totally dis-similar from the last action that knocked him out of the game last night.

If Crosby has to be out, it’s never a good thing and the silver lining’s don’t really matter all that much. But with Malkin, Bjugstad, Jared McCann, Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty the Pens still have plenty of solid center options, even in their captain’s absence. Hopefully that depth won’t be tested for too long, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.