Quite a few bits of news and notes came out of Penguins practice today with the team out in Calgary. Here were the lines today:
#Pens workflow...— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 16, 2019
One name missing is Bryan Rust. Rust has been a huge difference maker the past few games, he scored the only goal in a 1-0 overtime win against Columbus on Thursday night, then scored two goals (not including another in the shootout for good measure) to help the Pens defeat the Kings on Saturday.
Officially Rust’s status is day-to-day and the classic “game time decision” but judging how a similar illness has knocked Zach Aston-Reese, Jack Johnson and Evgeni Malkin all out this month, it would likely take a quick recovery for him to be able to play tomorrow night.
Speaking of Malkin, as you can see he practiced in his normal spot. He’s officially a game-time decision, but odds have to be pretty good that he will be able to return against the Flames.
That’s nice Malkin should be back, the loss of Rust is massive right now. Rust has scored 4 of the team’s last 6 goal in the last two games (counting the shootout goal as a goal, where Rust was the only player to score). That’s a big loss, if it comes to that.
One player not at practice, and not even with the team on their Western Canadian trip this week is captain Sidney Crosby. There hasn’t been much in the way of official news, but coach Sullivan threw out a small Crosby update.
Crosby has been skating for past 6 days. No target yet for return #pens -SK— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) December 16, 2019
Crosby getting back on the ice on December 10th puts him on a path about a week later than what defenseman Zach Trotman took after a a similar surgery earlier this fall. Which isn’t too shocking, every person is different, Crosby is a few years older and taking a few extra days to get back on the ice is no shock or negative development.
Due to the team schedule, and with their Christmas break looming following the Canadian road trip, it might be quite sometime until Crosby can take the next tangible step and join his teammates in a practice, even if in a limited role. That might wait until after Christmas, which is fine too.
Pittsburgh only plays three games in the next 11 days, so it’s a good time if a player had to be out to gain lots of days without missing too many games. Crosby getting back on the ice and starting the meat of his rehab shows he’s on track for a return to the lineup not too far into the new year, which is the best present of all.