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What’s next for Sidney Crosby?

Nov 22, 2011, 12:38 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby AP

Assuming you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 72 hours (and if you have, congrats on getting out) you know that Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby made a triumphant return to the NHL last night, posting 2G-2A in a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders.

So, what comes next for No. 87?

Game load: The timing of Crosby’s return was interesting. The Pens had lost three of their last four (including two straight in Tampa Bay and Florida) and last night’s game against New York marked the start of a mini three-game homestand at Consol (the Pens have St. Louis on Wed. and Ottawa on Fri.)

This homestand allows Crosby to get a few games under his belt before Pittsburgh’s most compelling stretch of the season. Not to take anything away from the Isles, Blues and Senators, but they’ll act as a warmup to the main event.

From Nov. 26 to Dec. 8 the Penguins will take on Crosby’s boyhood team, the Canadiens, in Montreal, the Rangers at MSG, the Capitals at Verizon (for the latest installment of Sid the Kid vs. Ovi), head home to host the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins before finishing up with a Keystone State battle against the Flyers in Philly.

Time on Ice: Crosby played 21 shifts against the Islanders — seven 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). Obviously this had to do with Pittsburgh holding a comfortable lead, but Crosby did say “I’m going to have to get ready to play a little more than that.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Dan Bylsma approaches the inevitable minutes increase. Prior to getting hurt last year, Crosby was averaging close to 22 a night.

Linemates: Crosby skated with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis last night, which was a huge boost for Dupuis — he finished with three assists, bumping his season point total to 17. (FYI: Dupuis is on pace for 66 points, which would be the highest total of his 12-year career.)

Gotta wonder if Kunitz sticks with Crosby, though. Pittsburgh acquired James Neal with an eye on eventually playing him alongside Crosby (outside of Marian Hossa, Neal is probably the most talented winger Pittsburgh’s had for Crosby.)

That said, Bylsma might be loathe to break up the Neal-Evgeni-Malkin-Steve Sullivan line that’s been good all season and combined for a pretty goal last night.

Update: Pierre McGuire and Jeremy Roenick analyze what’s ahead for Crosby.

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Also, here’s a breakdown of Crosby’s play in that dazzling debut.

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  1. Jeff - Nov 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    The Pens looked unstoppable last night, but then, they were playing the lowly Isles.

  2. jpelle82 - Nov 22, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    whats next for crosby? more points, more wins, more trophies.

    • hystoracle - Nov 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      More concussions? The Time bomb is ticking.

      • skimmer0220 - Nov 22, 2011 at 5:06 PM

        just wait till they play a real physical team, this game could not have favored him any more, worst match up and the media blew it out of proportion, so will every one stop blowing Sindy Crybaby, it’s just a matter of time

  3. sknut - Nov 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Not a Pens fan but happy Sid is back and will root for continued health and respect his game.

  4. hystoracle - Nov 22, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Blues will actually be an interesting test given their recent resurgence. Also, the fact they hit everything that moves with authority.

    • jpelle82 - Nov 22, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      crosby plays well after contact and if you watch his games he rarely goes down (very strong on his skates with low center of gravity) he spins off hits well, and often initiates contact in the corners. when he gets a defender committed to the check he usually makes a play…its a very under aknowledged part of his game…he plays a strong power game for his size

  5. toegoat - Nov 22, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    Crosby is so good he makes opposing fans hope for injury because he is that unstoppable

  6. sexyya - Nov 22, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    I wished a reporter had asked why it took so long to come back? headaches, fashes, I really wanted to know the symptoms that held him back and what went away that made him decide he was ready. To be out for 11 months is pretty serious.

  7. polegojim - Nov 23, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    How about…. the next game, just like the rest of the players in the league?

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