Dan Bylsma is ready to proceed with Sidney Crosby’s comeback, but he’s going to proceed with caution.
That was the message Thursday as the Penguins head coach explained how he’ll handle the allotment of No. 87’s ice time.
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“I think this time, shooting for around the 15-minute mark in the game is more likely,” Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Given the fact we’re playing three [games] in four [nights] and getting him back in the lineup again for the first time in a while.”
Crosby’s ice-time — or, how to manage it — was an issue during his initial comeback. While Crosby was limited to just 15:54 in his first game against the Islanders, he quickly regained his usual heavy workload, culminating with a season-high 21:03 of ice time against the Bruins on Dec. 5.
That, of course, was the last game he played.
To his credit, Bylsma has developed a pretty clever plan to limit Crosby’s minutes this time around — he’ll skate No. 87 on the third line with Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke, who average 14:43 and 15:43 respectively.
Here’s Bylsma’s full explanation (from the Penguins website):
If there was another combination or if it was [Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis], it would be a lot tougher to keep him at 15 minutes. Last time, when he hopped back in there, he was right back with 14 and 9 and he was right at 19, 20, 21 minutes right in his first couple of games.
Again, wanting to get him back in the mix, but also a little bit more – well, you don’t pace Sidney Crosby – but keeping his minutes a little bit closer to 15 is what we’re looking at. That’s one of the reasons for putting him with 24 and 48.
I’ve always told him he could be a Selke winner. He’s going to have his chance here with Cooke and Kennedy.