Sidney Crosby

Crosby sees leading concussion specialists; agent asks for “patience and understanding”

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There have been reports that Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby experienced headaches in the wake of his January concussion that caused him to alter his workouts. Today, the team confirmed the reports saying that once he reached ninety percent exertion in his workouts, “he started having some headaches again.” For fans following every single report as the superstar works his way back to the ice, today’s news simply confirms that Crosby experienced the concussion-like symptoms and had to slowdown his path to recovery.

Crosby finally issued a public statement, albeit a short, prepared statement that didn’t shed much light on his health. “I appreciate all the support I’ve received from my family, friends, teammates and fans and from the entire Penguins organization,” Crosby said. “I know they only want the best for my health, and for me to be fully ready when I return to game action.”

Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson had plenty to say as he stressed that today’s news is not a setback in anyway. Concussions take time and Crosby never had a specific date for full clearance. People around the hockey world may have put certain deadlines on his recovery, but neither the Penguins, nor Crosby have a specific date in mind.  As concussions aren’t black-and-white situations, Crosby has had the Penguins’ blessing to see a couple of leading specialists in the United States to aid in his recovery:

“We always knew this was going to be a progressive recovery – based on how he felt. With a concussion, there is not a finite recovery period like with a shoulder injury or a knee injury. That’s why we’ve never even set a specific goal for a return date like the start of training camp or Oct. 1 or anything else. He will play when he is symptom free.”

“We’ve had him see leading specialists because we want to make sure he gets the best care possible. The Penguins always encourage their players to get second and third medical opinions and have been very supportive of this. And we’ve been talking to Ray Shero every step of the way.”

It’s ironic that his comments (and his agents) come only a day after a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer said that Crosby owed it to the hockey world to keep everyone informed of his situation.

There’s no doubt that Crosby will continue to do anything he can to get onto the ice as soon as possible. The frustrating part of a concussion is there is no set timetable for recovery. As frustrating as an ACL injury can be to an athlete, at least all parties involved understand that it’s a 9-12 month recovery. No one asks a player if he’s almost ready to return three weeks after he blows his knee out. But in the case of a concussion—no one knows if it will take 10 days or 10 months to recover.

Or worse.

Bruce Arthur of the National Post understands that no matter when Crosby returns, there’s a chance that he won’t be the same player:

“So many players have never been the same after suffering a concussion this severe, or at least, that has lasted this long. Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya, Pat LaFontaine, Keith Primeau, Savard, on and on. Not every concussion opens a window to more concussions. Maybe this is the only brain injury Sidney Crosby will ever suffer, and he will fulfill the promise of being a generation-defining player. He is just 23.”

The worst part about Arthur’s comment is that he wrote it six month ago—yet we still have no more clarity today than we did in February. Obviously, speculation and negative forecasts are the last things on Team Crosby’s minds. Predictably, they are asking fans to remain patient as the four-time all-star tries to work his way back to the Penguins next season:

“We would appreciate patience and understanding at this time. There has been a lot of speculation swirling over the past several weeks. We wish we could provide more specific details about Sidney’s recovery, but a concussion is a different kind of injury. It’s not something you can check with an x-ray. And you can’t predict a precise recovery period. It’s all about the way he feels.”

For the good of the Penguins and fans all over the NHL, hopefully his recovery period is nearing its conclusion.

WATCH LIVE: Game 2 of Islanders – Lightning, Penguins – Capitals

Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) starts to celebrate his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) and Kris Letang (58) during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.

NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Some reading to get you pumped up:

– The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).

Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

– Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Dallas Stars right wing Valeri Nichushkin (43) takes control of the puck in front of St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 3-0. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.

The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.

Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.

Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.

Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:

Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

Pittsburgh Penguins' Conor Sheary (43) is greeted by teammates Brian Dumoulin (8) and Chris Kunitz (14) after scoring his first NHL goal, in the first period of the Penguins' hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Bruins' Brad Marchand is at lower right. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.

As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.

Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.

For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.

The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”

Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.

The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.

“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

The puck shot by Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel crosses the goal line as St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) attempt the stop during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Dallas. The Stars won 2-1. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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The Dallas Stars only beat the St. Louis Blues by one goal (2-1) in Game 1, but the feeling is that the score was deceptively close.

Blame it on fatigue from that epic series against the Chicago Blackhawks or not; the Blues looked out of rhythm and out of breath against the hard-charging Stars.

At least they’re not in denial about that, though.

“We’re not going to beat anybody giving up 40 shots on goal,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after their Game 1 loss on Friday. “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up the scoring chances we did today.”

Hitchcock added “we’ve got to find the energy to play our game, and we’ve got to find it quickly in the next 48 hours.”

Allowing 40 shots on goal might not be that common for the Blues, yet they leaned heavily on Brian Elliott against the Blackhawks in that series.

Just look at the SOG comparison in that series and in Game 1 vs. Dallas:

Game 1: Blues – 18 SOG, Blackhawks – 35
Game 2: Blues – 31, Blackhawks – 29
Game 3: Blues – 36, Blackhawks – 46
Game 4: Blues – 20, Blackhawks – 42
Game 5: Blues – 46, Blackhawks – 35
Game 6: Blues – 28, Blachawks – 36
Game 7: Blues – 26, Blackhawks – 33

Game 1: Blues – 32, Stars – 42

Such shot comparisons make you wonder if Game 1 provided evidence of a rest advantage or if this might just be the state of affairs for the Blues (at least against two electric offenses).

One area to watch is the transition game. The Stars seemed to tear through the neutral zone while the Blues sometimes struggled to get things going.

“They’re a team that wants to play real fast up the ice and through the neutral zone,” Jay Bouwmeester said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Yeah, we didn’t do a very good job of slowing them down. A lot of their chances were off the rush. That’s what you want to take away from them.”

File that under “easier said than done.”