“It’s just a progression over the past six weeks,” the center said. “I started skating without pucks and with one hand on the stick, I progressed a bit towards the handling of the stick. The shooting, finally. I had that progression, and obviously I was able to join the team once I could do a little bit more in the fighting and things like that.
“I think at this point it’s more a matter of seeing how this progression unfolds. This will determine, eventually, when I play. ”
Crosby was eliminated against the Toronto Maple Leafs at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, ATTSN-PT, ESPN +, NHL LIVE). Pittsburgh is 2-0-2 this season without Crosby and the second-row center Evgeni Malkin, who is expected to be out until at least December after undergoing knee surgery on June 4.
The initial recovery time for Crosby was at least six weeks from the date of surgery; Friday marks six weeks and two days.
“I didn’t really have any strength, whether it was faceoffs or lifting sticks, going up against guys, that sort of thing,” said Crosby. ” To fight. Push and push. These are things I couldn’t do. When I can do it comfortably and be able to do it painlessly, or just handle these things, I think that will be a big step. ”
After the surgery, Crosby first joined the Penguins for early morning practice before a pre-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 9. He worked with skills coach Ty Hennes before practice for most of training camp.
“An essential step for Sid is just to be on the ice with other players,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “Having 10 guys around him and that particular real hockey awareness that I think players need to go through. … With every step Sid takes, he becomes a little more confident.
Crosby said the injury had bothered him since March 23, 2014. The New York Rangers forward Ryan Reaves, then with the St. Louis Blues, took it on the wrist.
“The first time I got injured was seven years ago,” Crosby said. ” [Reaves] caught up with me pretty well at home here after the Olympics. It’s something that I have had to deal with since then. Was able to avoid having to really do surgeries or something until last year. It was something that I was still able to deal with somehow in the summer, just being able to rest.
“Over the course of the year it was something that would come back and I would get out of it. This year, it just wouldn’t come back for the summer. I tried to readjust it. You are trying to avoid surgery. It is the last resort. Sometimes it happened later in the summer. This year it is not. ”
Crosby said when his wrist isn’t responding as it normally would during the offseason, surgery has become the only way to avoid missing important games later in the regular season.
“So we all felt like this was something I wouldn’t have been through the season if I hadn’t taken care of it,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately I ended up running out of time here for a bit early on, but I guess they decided [it was better than] miss a lot more games towards the end of the year. So glad we took care of it. I hope I will come back and play here soon. ”
Crosby underwent arthroscopic wrist debridement surgery on the same hand on August 31, 2020.
“It was something different from that,” Crosby said. “It’s definitely something I couldn’t have done again. Maybe on the other hand, I could. But not this one.
Jeff Carter, who had been a frontline center in place of Crosby in the first four games, entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Thursday. Evan Rodrigues will probably center this line with the left wing Jake guentzel and right wing Kasperi Kapanen Saturday.
Pittsburgh is also without a front row right winger Bryan Rust, who is week to week with a lower body injury. Guentzel missed the first game of the regular season in COVID-19 protocol.
The Penguins are yet to lose in regulation, leaving Crosby in awe.
“Everyone plays the same, every line that goes over the board plays hard,” said Crosby. “Play fast and we don’t give the teams a lot of time and space. Our work ethic sort of sets the tone for everything else. … I have the impression that from the first game we got to our game quite quickly. So it’s good to have that identity early on. ”