Lemieux Crosby

Lemieux on Crosby return: “It’s going to be exciting”


Mario Lemieux can’t help but get excited about Sidney Crosby’s impending return.

The Penguins co-owner — who, remember, played alongside Crosby during the 2005-06 season — answered some Sid-the-Kid-related queries following his statue unveiling on Wednesday.

Based on what No. 66 had to say, it sounds like the entire organization is fired up about No. 87 coming back into the fold.

“I know he’s anxious to get back. It’s been a difficult three months for him off the ice, but I think he’s turning the corner now, he’s looking a lot better,” Lemieux told NHL.com. “And I’m anxious to see him back.”

In a weird twist, Crosby (24 years old) is almost the same age Lemieux was when he first encountered health problems. After scoring a career-best 199 points in 1988-89, Lemieux only played 59 games the following year, then sat out the two-thirds of the 1990-91 season after having back surgery.

“It’s never fun to be on the sidelines, especially with Sid’s injury” Lemieux said. “It’s a little different than back surgery or hip surgery or anything else out there. You have to be patient. But I think he’s getting better, he’s getting close to being back on the ice.

“And it’s going to be exciting when he gets back.”

Lemieux’s not the only one excited about getting Crosby back — Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma has already started projecting potential linemates. In the past, Crosby’s usually skated with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis, but Kunitz has thrived alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal on the Penguins’ top line. Some think the trio should be reunited, while others think Steve Sullivan should take Kunitz’s place and get the chance to play with Crosby.

Bylsma admitted to thinking about it, but said no decisions had been made.

“I think it’s natural to have thought long before (Tuesday) about where Sidney would play and what line he would play on,” Bylsma said. “There’s certainly a lot of thought been given to that — had conversations with Sidney about that, as well. When we have a time where he’s going to be getting back, we’ll have a better idea.”

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: