Crosby: No ill effects from contact

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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Sidney Crosby was back on the ice Wednesday morning at Consol Energy Center, the strongest possible evidence that he'd made it through a workout that included contact -- his first in more than three months -- the previous day without suffering a setback.

That doesn't mean Crosby is ready to announce when he plans to return to the lineup yet, but it's another hurdle cleared on his way to getting back in uniform.

"You try not to think about things too much," Crosby said. "You never know how long the process is going to be, so you don't want to think too far ahead."

Such caution is understandable, although his coach, Dan Bylsma, acknowledged that he has spent a little time pondering precisely where Crosby will fit in once he returns.

"I think it's natural to have thought long before [Tuesday] who would play [with Crosby], where he would play, what line he would play on," Bylsma said. "I've certainly given a lot of thought to that.

"I've had conversations with Sidney about that, as well. When we have a time where he's going to be [closer to participating in games], we'll have a better idea, or you'll see what that might be."

Bylsma did not identify Crosby's potential linemates, but did not sound as if he's interested by breaking up the Chris Kunitz-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal line.

"Kunitz and Malkin and Neal have played spectacular and been possibly the best line in hockey for two months, 2 1/2 months," he said.

Crosby, being treated for a soft-tissue neck injury and concussion-like symptoms, missed his 38th consecutive game when Toronto visited Wednesday night.

Another chance for Strait

Injured defensemen Kris Letang and Deryk Engelland sat out the Maple Leafs game, which allowed Brian Strait to dress for his third NHL game.

He was recalled from the Penguins American Hockey League team in Wilkes-Barre Monday, and recorded four hits and four blocked shots in the 2-1 victory against Phoenix that night, despite getting just 12 minutes, 19 seconds of ice time.

First Published 2012-03-07 23:02:04

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