Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.
Sidney Crosby is “a whole lot closer” to returning to the lineup, coach Mike Sullivan said Monday.
The Penguins captain, recovering from wrist surgery Sept. 8, participated in a second straight practice Monday. Crosby has missed Pittsburgh’s (3-0-2) five games this season, most recently a 7-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
“Obviously, we want to get Sid in the lineup as quickly as we possibly can,” Sullivan said. “He’s that much of a difference-maker for us. But we also want to make sure that we do it in a safe manner. That’s an important aspect of it as well. We’ll rely and trust on our medical team.”
Crosby was the center on a line with left wing Jason Zucker and right wing Danton Heinen during rushes. He also worked with the second power-play unit.
Evan Rodrigues remained in Crosby’s normal spot at first-line center with left wing Jake Guentzel and right wing Kasperi Kapanen.
The Penguins host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, ATTSN-PT, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
In addition to Crosby, the Penguins are without forwards Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust, and defenseman Kris Letang.
Malkin and Rust skated together before practice Monday. Malkin, usually second-line center, is expected to be out until at least December after having knee surgery June 4. Rust, normally right wing on the first line, is week to week with a lower-body injury sustained Oct. 14.
Carter and Letang are in NHL COVID-19 protocol. Carter had been the center on the first line with Crosby and Malkin sidelined. When available, Letang plays on the top defense pair. — Wes Crosby
New Jersey Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood could return to practice this week after the goalie missed the first four games of the regular season following heel surgery in June.
Jonathan Bernier, who won his opening two starts of the regular season, has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury.
Neither is expected to play when the Devils host the Calgary Flames at Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
“[Blackwood and Bernier] both skated today, both got a good workout in early this morning and are day to day to rejoining some type of practice,” coach Lindy Ruff said Monday.
Scott Wedgewood and Nico Daws were the goalies participating in practice.
Blackwood, who was the only Devils player not vaccinated for COVID-19, received his first Pfizer shot for the virus last week, according to a team spokesman. He will receive his second dose in two weeks and the Devils said he should be eligible to travel and play for the Devils in their first game in Canada at the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 3.
“For me that’s a decision that he made,” Ruff said of Blackwood. “For our team that’s a great decision and our group is happy that he’s taken that first step.”
NHL COVID-19 protocol for this season states, “Unvaccinated individuals may be subject to restrictions related to their ability to cross the Canadian/U.S. border, which may ultimately limit an unvaccinated individual’s ability to attend or participate in NHL games or practices.” — Mike G. Morreale
John Klingberg will play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
The defenseman was injured early in the first period of the season opener at the New York Rangers on Oct. 14 and has missed the past four games.
“He moves the puck so well, hopefully we spend less time in our zone,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said Sunday. “He has offense, which we need badly. Joining the rush, so he’s a big impact player offensively. The power play was good last game. It struggled without him for a while, so he’ll improve that as well.”
Forwards Jason Robertson (upper body) and Blake Comeau (upper body) each practiced Sunday but will not travel to Columbus. Neither has played this season after being injured during the preseason.
“At least they’re out there with the group right now, so that’s progress,” Bowness said. “They’re day to day, so maybe Wednesday (against the Vegas Golden Knights), maybe Friday (against the Ottawa Senators).” — Taylor Baird