Dan Bylsma hasn’t asked Sidney Crosby for health updates this summer

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There’s been plenty of speculation about Sidney Crosby’s progress from post-concussion syndrome in the last week (and really, since he began missing games in January), but it seems like the ultimate takeaway is that his short-term future is still unclear. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero responded by saying that Crosby hasn’t been shut down for the summer, but didn’t give any concrete time frame for the star center’s return. The general message is that the Penguins are taking a wait-and-see approach with Crosby, which is a logical train of thought considering the murky nature of concussion-related injuries.

NHL.com caught up with Dan Bylsma at the 2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp to try to elaborate a bit on the situation, but they didn’t get much from the Penguins coach. Beyond the industry standard direction of keeping injury updates under wraps, Bylsma also was sparse with his details because of his personal policy with players during the off-season.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will not ask Sidney Crosby how he’s feeling or how he’s progressing until he sees him in Pittsburgh when it’s time for training camp.

Crosby continues to work out in and around the Halifax, N.S. area, but he has not been cleared for contact and the Penguins aren’t sure if he’ll be ready to participate with the club when training camp opens next month.

“Especially in the summertime, I try not to get involved in this type of, ‘How are you feeling’ conversation,” Bylsma told NHL.com from the NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp, where he’s serving as a coach. “There are things I would normally talk about with Sid and those are the captain’s stuff like scheduling with the team. If I was to talk to him now, I wouldn’t say, ‘How do you feel today?’ I would say, ‘Where are you now?’ I would ask, ‘When are you coming to Pittsburgh?’ I would ask, ‘How many fish did you catch up in Nova Scotia?’ “

While he hasn’t broached the subject with Crosby, Bylsma was honest enough to admit that he has considered different possibilities, including his plan for training camp if Crosby is unable to attend. If nothing else, the Penguins have become accustomed to dealing with injuries to important players – and not just in last season’s especially trying times without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby also dealt with a high-ankle sprain in 2007-08, a season in which he played just 53 games but eventually helped the team make it to the 2008 Stanley Cup finals.

With that in mind, Bylsma seems prepared to roll with the punches, even if the specifics of the challenges aren’t quite clear just yet.

“I’m not the coach that will say I haven’t thought of (what it would be like if Crosby wasn’t ready for training camp), but I think our team understands and knows how we’re going to play when everyone is not healthy. Part of our success last year was just that,” Bylsma said. “For instance, we don’t think we have to have Marc-Andre Fleury in net to win the game. We’re totally comfortable and confident when Brent Johnson goes in net. We think we can win. We don’t change the way we play. We don’t say, ‘Don’t make a mistake.’ It’s the same type of deal with everyone else, and that’s how we operated last year.

“We’re going to figure out how to be a good team starting right in training camp with whatever situation we have with any of our players.”

It remains to be seen if Crosby will be one of them, so we’ll keep an eye out for updates from the team.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.