When the book on this generation of Penguins hockey is written, a notable chapter -- or two -- must be devoted to the constant, dramatic list of injuries that always seems to plague hockey's most talented team.
Only one game into the playoffs, the theatrics have again begun.
Sidney Crosby, out since March 30
with a broken jaw, practised for the fourth time in five days with the Penguins on Thursday at Consol Energy Center.
But this workout was different for a number of reasons.
Crosby, for the first time since returning to practice on April 26, skated with regular linemates Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. And, for the first time since returning to practice, Crosby practised at length with the Penguins' top power play unit.
Crosby's father, Troy, was sitting in the crowd during practice. He doesn't make a habit of travelling from Nova Scotia to Pittsburgh unless his son is close to playing.
That said, neither Crosby nor Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that the superstar will play in Game 2 of Pittsburgh's series
with the Islanders on Friday. But there are plenty of signs that the face of hockey is close to returning to hockey's biggest stage.Neal hurting, Orpik eyes return
Even if Crosby returns as early as Friday, there will still be injury concerns with the Penguins.
Right wing James Neal, injured in the second period of Game 1
, was visibly limping while walking out of Consol Energy Center on Thursday. Per team policy, Bylsma made it quite clear that the Penguins won't be revealing any injury information.
Do not, however, expect Neal to play on Friday.
Defenceman Brooks Orpik might be a different story. Orpik has skated with the Penguins for two consecutive days and again participated in drills during Thursday's practice.
Like all the injured Penguins, Orpik explained that he isn't sure if he will be able to play in Game 2.Isles look to bounce back
While the Penguins weren't much interested in discussing their injuries, the Islanders didn't mind discussing the reality that their performance in Game 1 simply isn't going to help them advance past the Penguins.
Islanders star John Tavares didn't even register a shot on goal in a Game 1 that was dominated by Pittsburgh.
The Penguins said they expect the Islanders to make many adjustments in Game 2 and acknowledged the second game can be difficult to win because of alterations that are inevitable.
In fact, the Penguins have dropped Game 2 at home in their past three series. They won Game 1 in two of those series, and went on to fall in all three.
They'd like to see a better result this time around, and if goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury plays like he did in Game 1, they'll be just fine.
Fleury pitched a shutout in Game 1, one year after a disastrous playoff performance against the Flyers.
While walking out of Consol Energy Center on Thursday following practice, Fleury was reminded that his shutout didn't receive much publicity, and that he never seems to get attention when his team wins.
"That's OK," Fleury said with a smile. "I like when I don't get the attention."
Should the Penguins maintain their winning ways, the attention will follow.
Chances are they won't complain, unless you ask about their health.
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