Phase 3 of the training camp is officially over for the NHL in the return to play plans, and now the Penguins have traveled to their bubble in Toronto for Phase 4. The actual games!
And now they have released their 31-player traveling roster. You can see those and all the others here.
Here’s the Penguins’ list:
No huge surprises, though the team did leave 2019 first round pick Samuel Poulin behind. Poulin was with the team in Phase 3, though he did not play in the professional ranks this season like Adam Johnson and Phil Varone did. That experience and readiness gap (both Johnson and Varone have played NHL regular season games) factored in.
Another young player, P.O. Joseph, is going with the team as their 10th defenseman. Unlike Poulin, Joseph played this season in the pros, gradually getting more responsibility and expanding his role in AHL Wilkes-Barre. This is a great sign, as hopefully Joseph will work his way up the depth chart in the months to come.
Along with Poulin, the other Pens’ players to not make the cut from Phase 3 to Phase 4 were goalie Alex D’Orio and forward Sam Miletic.
The other big story for the Pens is the status and availability of Sidney Crosby. Crosby was injured on July 18th. He sat out a few days but has skated the past few days, mostly on his own though he did take part in the full team practice on Friday. Crosby was absent for scrimmages on Thursday and Saturday, but worked out on his own yesterday while the team was scrimmaging.
“Monday’s kind of the soonest I guess as far as [practicing] with the team,” Crosby said Saturday afternoon. “I’m hoping that I can skate with the team on Monday and just take it from there. Ideally, I’d be able to play in [the Tuesday exhibition vs. Philly]. If not, just kind of go a day at time from there. But I’m hoping that I can get in that game.”
The Trib’s Seth Rorabaugh had an observation:
The decision to hold him out of so many scrimmages and practices has been precautionary.
Identifying the specific nature of Crosby’s ailment is a matter of speculation but given most workouts appear to focus on edge work and involve him skating in tight, confined motions, it is a reasonable assumption his malady is what most coaches might label with the popular but nugatory “lower-body” designation.
“I felt pretty good,” Crosby said. “I had skated on my own on the [second rink] for a good amount of time. It was just good to get out there with the guys and have a little bit more game-situation stuff going on. But I felt good.”
Ironically enough, Crosby’s words yesterday talking about hoping to join the team at a practice in Toronto tomorrow, and keeping the door open for participating in Tuesday’s exhibition game were more information than the team has been able or willing to give.
“I think the fact that I’ve been able to skate for a good chunk of time will help kind of getting through that,” Crosby said. “But it’s one of those things that I’ve skated on my own a long time, didn’t really feel like I needed another week of it. But that being said, things are moving in the right direction, so hopefully get in that exhibition game.”
So, at least there’s that declaration that playing Tuesday is the goal, and appears to be attainable right now. It would be a great sign if Sid is with the full team tomorrow and still on track to play on Tuesday. Either way, he almost certainly will be playing on Saturday against Montreal. The only real question now is probably whether or not he’ll be dealing with a nagging and possibly limiting injury that might be a nuisance for the rest of the season.
To watch Crosby’s whole media availability, check out this video: