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Sidney Crosby ramps up to “full capacity” with practice participation

The Pens’ captain is still officially day-to-day for tomorrow night’s game but....the tea leaves are looking good

NHL: MAY 24 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round - Islanders at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sidney Crosby was seen yesterday at Penguins’ practice doing some battle drills and getting faceoff work in, two areas he specifically mentioned last week where he still needed to improve upon as he looks to return from off-season wrist surgery.

Practice today showed another big step, as Crosby skated with regular winger Jake Guentzel for the first time. Lines were further bumped with Evan Rodrigues returning to his natural NHL position of winger. Previously when Crosby did line rushes he was only being a placeholder for another center, with no other changes to the lines.

The Pens’ captain was also working with the team’s top power play today.

The big question after seeing these changes would be if Crosby will play tomorrow against Calgary. As expected, coach Mike Sullivan had no concrete news to give with his response after practice.

Not looking to confirm ahead of time doesn’t mean Crosby is ruled out, it’s more a standard operating procedure for Sullivan. And as grating as the coach speak is, there’s a level of reason behind it. It does truly depend how Crosby feels tomorrow, and the team isn’t going to want to confirm or promise that he will return, only to unexpectedly have to revert on that word and see a key player miss another bit of time. Either way, the enthusiasm from knowing their captain is getting all the closer to returning is a palpable sense Sullivan is drawing from his players.

Whether Crosby is playing tomorrow night against Calgary, or doesn’t come back until Saturday or next week, he has been ramping up practice participation to new levels just about every single day. And by reaching “full capacity” now, it shouldn’t be too long now until No. 87 makes his season debut and gives the Penguins a badly needed boost to the middle of their lineup.