Sidney Crosby resumes on-ice workouts for first time since April

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It’s been a couple months since the last Sidney Crosby update. Depending on your feelings on Crosby, that could either be the best news possible or an excruciating dry-spell without information. When the best player in the game misses the last four months of his season with post-concussion symptoms, it’s a big deal. When we go for a few weeks (or months) without any clue of progress—it’s a situation that can make Penguins fans wonder if he’ll be back for next season.

It sounds like Crosby has hit the rink for his offseason workouts. The on-ice workouts are the first since he tried to give it a go during the first round of the playoffs in April. He started to get headaches and the team doctors shut him down for the rest of the season. From that perspective, it’s great for Crosby to be back on the ice.

Rob Rossi from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has been tracking the story and broke the news:

“Penguins center Sidney Crosby has resumed on-ice workouts, the team and his agent confirmed tonight.

The on-ice workouts are part of his regular summer training program.

He last participated in on-ice workouts in April while the Penguins played in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before he was shut down because of headaches.

Crosby’s confidants believe those headaches were the result of a sinus infection and not a recurrence of concussion symptoms.”

News that the headaches in April could have been caused by anything other than post-concussion symptoms must be music to Penguins’ fans ears. It goes without saying that the Penguins are a different team with Crosby in the line-up. They were able to surprise the hockey world by finishing 4th in the Eastern Conference despite injuries to Crosby and fellow superstar center Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was able to step onto the ice in April as well, as he was recovering from a knee injury that he suffered at the beginning of February.

It’s a virtual certainty that Malkin will be available to start training camp—but Crosby’s post-concussion symptoms have been much harder to predict. Despite only playing in 41 games last season, Pittsburgh’s captain still finished with 32 goals and 66 points. His 66 points was good enough for 30th in the NHL and tied him with players like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Rick Nash, and Joe Pavelski. His 32 goals put him at 14th in the NHL and tied him with guys like Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, and Thomas Vanek (among others). He was able to put up those kinds of numbers even though he only played exactly half of the season.

Sometimes people forget just how dominant he was at the beginning of last season. The good news for Pittsburgh is that he’s right on schedule for a return at the beginning of training camp next year. He still hasn’t been cleared for on-ice contact, but that’s not something he’d be doing in the middle of July anyway. He’s out on the ice and he’s right on schedule. Sometimes the status quo is good news.

We’ll continue to update the story as the summer progresses. If things go well, he’ll be at training camp ready for contact for the first time since January 5th. Until then, all the Penguins can do is monitor how his body reacts to his time on the ice.

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.