Sidney Crosby’s first game back will be...
As discussed yesterday on PHT, Sidney Crosby continues to play coy on when he’ll return to game action. No. 87 raised eyebrows by saying Friday’s game against Dallas is a possibility -- eyebrows that were dropped when he added all of Pittsburgh’s upcoming games are possibilities.
But since Crosby opened up Pandora’s Box, we should probably dive in (there’s gotta be a better way to say that.)
Here are Pittsburgh’s games over the next 10 days, with reasons why each might be the return date for Crosby’s comeback game.
Fri. Nov. 11 vs. Dallas: People have been circling this one on the calendar for a while. That includes yours truly, who actually made the “circling the calendar” hand gesture on NBC’s Sportstalk two weeks ago. I’m like a mime.
The Pens are in the midst of a six-day break, giving Crosby plenty of opportunity to practice with his mates. Other things to consider: This could be a matchup of the NHL’s top two teams (Pittsburgh first, Dallas second at the time of writing) and will be the first time James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Alex Goligoski face their former clubs since the Dallas-Pittsburgh trade back in February.
Sat. Nov 12 at Carolina: Even though Pens GM Ray Shero indicated he’d prefer Crosby return at home, having him debut on the road would definitely deflect some pressure. Of course, the organization would likely be ripped to pieces by the fans if this happened, especially the day after the Pens played at Consol. Pretty sure this one isn’t happening.
(Pittsburgh did sweep Carolina at the RBC Center last year, mind you.)
Tue. Nov 15 vs. Colorado: Big television exposure (game will be shown on both Versus and TSN2) with the potential for even bigger offense. The Avs seem to have a knack for engaging in wild affairs on the road -- prime examples include their 7-1 win in Ottawa, 6-5 shootout loss in Montreal, 5-4 shootout win in Chicago and 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas.
Thur. Nov 17 at Tampa Bay: The Lightning eliminated the Crosby-less (and, Malkin-less) Penguins from last year’s playoffs in stunning fashion. Pittsburgh jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 3-1 series lead before Tampa stormed back to win the final three...by a combined score of 13-4. This will also be the first meeting since the Lightning eliminated the Pens in Game 7.
Other intriguing dates:
Mon. Nov 21 versus New York Islanders: Bitter rivalry carrying over from last year. Also, a home game.
Sat. Nov 26 at Montreal: Return against Crosby’s boyhood team -- in Montreal, no less.
Thurs. Dec 1 at Washington: Crosby vs. Ovechkin. ‘Nuff said.
So, when do you think Crosby will return? Have your say in the comments section.