PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby was one of the first players on the ice this morning in his return to game action. Crosby who got a cheer from his teammates when they were huddled at center ice, opened the skate doing some work with the goalies, taking passes from behind the net, then worked on his shot from the slot before the team went into their normal line rushes and team drills. Crosby ended the skate taking deflections in front of the net.
Overall, Crosby looked sharp like he has for several weeks and the puck was flying off his stick….
Morning Skate Buzz & Notes
Crosby, as expected, took line rushes with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, followed by the Malkin and Staal units.
Pittsburgh’s lines in skate:
Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Sullivan – Malkin – Neal
Cooke – Staal – Kennedy
Asham – Park – Adams
Extras: MacIntyre – Vitale
Power Play Setup
Chris Kunitz is off the Penguins top unit in 5-on-4 situations with the return of Crosby.
5-on-4: The Penguins worked a top unit of Crosby (goal line) – Neal (slot/net front) and Malkin (right half boards) down low with Steve Sullivan and Kris Letang up high.
Crosby on the goal line was very active moving around quite a bit on the left and right sides. The plan appears to be to have Crosby being unpredictable on the power play with him moving around quite a bit. The Penguins in past had seen their power play be stationary when Malkin and Crosby are together on the power play.
Meanwhile, in 5-on-3 situations, Crosby worked the left point with Malkin at the right point. Crosby was used a distributor, something Kris Letang has struggled at in 5-on-3 situations.
Pittsburgh is 1-for-21 on the power play in their last four games.
Notes: *Joe Vitale and Steve MacIntyre were the odd-players out this morning, skating on the 5th line. Both will be healthy scratches upfront tonight.
Evgeni Malkin stayed on the ice much later than he usually does, taking one timers. Malkin comes into tonight’s game with an 8.6 shooting percentage, ranking 278th in the NHL.