Dan Bylsma has a problem on his hands — a problem 29 other coaches would love to have.
With the Pens set to face the Blues tonight in Sidney Crosby’s second game back from a concussion, Bylsma revealed he’s worried about No 87’s ice time.
“I’m still worried about the minutes Crosby is going to play and with playing four games in six nights, managing those minutes with our team,” Bylsma said in his morning presser. “Players don’t do very good jobs at managing their ice time. We’re going to keep an eye on it. The situation will dictate it. I would still like to see him be under the 18-minute mark for the next couple of games. Don’t hold me to that promise.”
Crosby played 21 shifts for 15:54 of ice time against the Islanders — seven shifts in the first period, eight in the second, six in the third — but saw his TOI decrease as the game wore on (7:10 in the opening frame, 8:44 after that). Playing Crosby a shade over 15 minutes was justifiable in a blowout win, but Byslma knows it’ll be tougher holding Crosby back when the games get tighter and the competitiveness fires up.
“I was hoping to keep him around 15 minutes when he was at seven in the first period,” Bylsma said. “I was a little concerned that it was too high. There were power plays that dictated that. He, however, was saying he felt great.”
In addition to the 18-minute thing, Bylsma also revealed we should expect to see Crosby and Evgeni Malkin playing together “in certain circumstances.” The two skated together a couple times in the third period against New York and were on Pittsburgh’s first-unit powerplay.
And as for what Crosby’s thinking in terms of ice time?
“That’ll be up to Dan,” he said. “We’ll see how the game goes. Hopefully with each game it will get a little bit easier to get more minutes. It really depends on the game. I would hope the minutes go up with each game.”