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Pittsburgh Penguins Right To Be Cautious With Sidney Crosby

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The Penguins are sitting Sidney Crosby for two games. Are they being too timid with their superstar? No. No they're not.

ATLANTA - APRIL 10:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates to the penalty box against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on April 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA - APRIL 10: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates to the penalty box against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on April 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Since the news came out late Wednesday afternoon that Sidney Crosby would miss two games on a precautionary basis after a collision with teammate Chris Kunitz, I've read a lot of reaction. In no particular order:

Hope it's not more serious.

Can't believe the Pens rushed Sid back.

Sidney Crosby is afraid. Or the Penguins are afraid. Some combination of the two.

Yeah, that last one is actually true, too. People said that

We don't really need to dismiss that ridiculousness because it kind of goes without saying that Crosby himself is "afraid," especially of playing the Big, Bad Philadelphia Flyers, a team he has more success against than any other in the league. But in a sense, maybe the Penguins are actually a little timid. That's what cautiousness is, right? 

All the signs say that Sid is fine. We'll quote Penguins general manager Ray Shero here:

"Sidney took a hard hit during our game against Boston Monday night and wasn't feeling 100 percent," Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said. "He saw Dr. Micky Collins of UPMC today and took an ImPACT test, which showed no problems. However, we all think it's best that he sits out the next two games as a precaution."    

ImPACT tests are used to determine the presence of head injuries. They aren't fool proof, but this wasn't about Crosby's knee or anything else. This was about his head. And that's why he's sitting out two games.

If we've learned anything about the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2011 calendar year, it's that if it comes to Sidney Crosby, they are extra, extra cautious. They're going to make absolutely sure that he's going to be at 100 percent, even if that means sitting him down for two games against two division rivals. Even when it doesn't look like anything is wrong.

They didn't rush him back from his first injury. Not in the slightest bit. And sure, maybe they are a little timid with him, but you can understand that. He's the best player in the game, and the Penguins are right to sit him for two games in December when he has more Stanley Cups to win down the road.

It's not a sign of serious injury or anything else. They're just playing it safe, and that's the right call.


Speaking of Sid's newest injury, everybody automatically assumed it was a result of his collision with Chris Kunitz in the third period on Monday night vs. Boston. We even wrote that above. But via Mike Colligan at The Hockey Writers, is it possible the new injury came as a result of David Krejci's elbow?

Possible, for sure.


Again, speaking of the Penguins, Thursday night will be the long-awaited matchup between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It's not a matchup that's exciting because the teams hate each other -- okay, maybe that's part of it -- but moreso because of the two reunions that will occur.

It's Jaromir Jagr's first game against the Penguins after going all Traitor on them over the summer, and it's Max Talbot's first game against them... well, ever. The game isn't in Pittsburgh, so we won't get the full excitement of the CONSOL Energy Crowd booing the two each time they touch the puck, but we will get to see them playing against their former clubs, and that enough is exciting.

In the case of Jagr, he's clearly been worth the risk to the Flyers, who gave him $3.3 million over the summer while the Penguins wouldn't even come close to that number. On a top line with budding superstar Claude Giroux, Jagr is on a point-per-game pace heading into Thursday night's matchup with the Pens. There are times where he simply looks like he's 25 years old again, dazzling even the opposing defense to the point where they stop and marvel at him.

Talbot obviously isn't on Jagr's level, and the Flyers certainly overpaid him for his role on the team at $1.75 million a year for five years. But he's still been a key cog for the team over the first quarter of the season. He has seven goals and six assists in 26 games so far this season, well on his way to topping his career high of 13 goals.

He's been playing solid defensive hockey as well, starting most of his shifts on the defensive end of the ice and successfully pushing the play in the opposite direction. Add that to his contributions in the locker room and it seems like the Flyers have found a winner in Talbot, even if he's overpaid.

The only question remains: Will he be a winner against his old team on Thursday night?


Morning Skate is a daily NHL column. It runs Monday through Friday. Check the archives.