Courtesy of Point Park University

Crosby back at practice: ‘I feel pretty good’


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Sidney Crosby -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Sidney Crosby wasn't ready to pronounce himself ready to return.

Not after going through just one practice since he was injured last weekend.

But nothing about his play suggested that the bruised foot he sustained when hit by a shot was having a significant impact, and his upbeat banter with reporters did nothing to indicate that he's pessimistic about being in the lineup when the Sabres visit PPG Paints Arena Thursday evening for the regular-season opener.

"I feel pretty good," Crosby said. "I haven't talked to (athletic trainer Chris Stewart). I don't know the plan."

It's possible that there isn't one -- not a firm one, anyway -- just yet, although Mike Sullivan acknowledged optimism rooted in seeing Crosby back on skates.

The workout was Crosby's first since he was hurt during the Penguins' preseason finale against Buffalo Saturday.

"I was trying to get out of the way," Crosby said. "And it caught me. That happens. Either I should face it and block it, or get out of the way.

"You're asking me to talk about something that happens 1,000 times. It just got me in a good spot."

Crosby said he had gone on the ice for "maybe a minute" Monday, and he had taken a twirl of perhaps 10 seconds before the Penguins practiced Sunday.

While Crosby returned to practice Tuesday, Alex Galchenyuk did not. He has been out since last Wednesday because of an unspecified lower-body injury, and his status for the opener is unclear.

Jim Rutherford said Galchenyuk is scheduled to practice Wednesday and that a decision on whether to recall a forward from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton will be made after he's gone through the workout.

Because the Penguins had only 11 healthy forwards available Tuesday, defenseman Juuso Riikola filled in at left wing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Tanev.

Tanev had been playing alongside Crosby and Jake Guentzel of late, but Patric Hornqvist slid into that spot Tuesday -- one he has occupied a lot in recent years.

"We've played so much together, and we enjoy playing with each other," Hornqvist said.

After watching him in practice, Hornqvist certainly seemed to like the chances of Crosby being in the lineup Thursday.

"He was great," he said. "He didn't miss a beat. I would never be concerned about him. He works hard and he's the best player in the world."

Also Tuesday:

Matt Murray enters the season as the Penguins' undisputed No. 1 goalie, but said he does not have a particular number of starts that he would like to make. "I just try to be prepared for whatever the coach decides," he said. "I have no preference. That's not in my hands. That's out of my control. I try to be ready each and every night. And if my name is not called, I try to go out and have a good practice."

• The Penguins did a lot of special-situations work during the practice, covering everything from 6-on-5s (goalie pulled or delayed penalty coming) to 5-on-3s.

Brian Dumoulin described the mindset of his teammates this way: "I think everyone is pumped up and ready to go. At least, I am."

• Sullivan said the Penguins were "thrilled" that Casey DeSmith made it through waivers unclaimed, and said it was "within the realm of possibility" that the team would start the season with three goalies on the major-league roster. Rutherford said team officials would meet during the afternoon to decide whether to send DeSmith to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

• Crosby, on Malkin: "Even on nights when he feels average, he's still pretty dominant. There are high expectations, and he knows that. He's harder on himself than anybody."

• Sullivan praised the puckhandling ability of Tristan Jarry, who the Penguins kept ahead of DeSmith. "It certainly helps when you have a goaltender who can play the puck efficiently," he said. "That's one of Tristan's strengths." Sullivan also acknowledged that Jarry's salary-cap hit being smaller than DeSmith's played a role in the decision of who to put on waivers. "It's obvious the business of the game is part of the decision-making process," he said.

• The Penguins placed Bryan Rust and Zach Trotman on Long-Term Injured Reserve. That means neither can play for at least 10 games and 24 days.

• In addition to the line combinations mentioned about, the Penguins used these lines and defense pairings:

Jared McCann--Nick Bjugstad--Dominik Kahun
Zach Aston-Reese--Teddy Blueger--Dominik Simon

Brian Dumoulin--Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson--Erik Gudbranson
Jack Johnson--Justin Schultz
Chad Ruhwedel--John Marino

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