Penguins coach Dan Bylsman said there is a "statement element" to game with Lightning
Good for Penguins coach Dan Bylsma who said what everyone has been thinking: that the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh seem as if they will meet in the playoffs and tonight's game at the St. Pete Times Forum includes a "statement element."
Bylsma called the Lightning a "very good team, a scary team." He said of the game, "It's going to be an interesting meeting."
Asked if there was an advantage to seeing a team so close to the start of a potential playoff series, Bylsma said:"There's a benefit, but they're also going to see us."
The other significant news today was that Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, out since January with post-concussion syndrome, skated with his teammates for the first time. Bylsma said there is no timetable for Crosby's return, though some reports have said he might be back for the playoffs. If he is back, Lightning coach Guy Boucher predicted trying to deal with Crosby would be "a nightmare."
Boucher, of course, coached Crosby as a junior for Rimouski in the Quebec league.
"So, I've been on the other end and it was a dream, a nice dream, but on the other side it's a nightmare. But I hope for him that he's back, and I hope for the game that he's back. If we do make the playoffs and we do face that team, he's going to be a nightmare like he always is."
Said Crosby: "It's a matter of me making sure I'm healthy. If that takes two months, then it takes two months. If it doesn't, great, but I can't control that. I can just do the right things to feel good and get back to where I need to be. I'm not trying to look too far ahead at all."
He called Thursday's skate "a small step."
Other stuff from the morning: A victory clinches a playoff spot for Tampa Bay. The team has never clinched a playoff spot at home. ... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net. ... Wing Ryan Malone will start the game on a line with Teddy Purcell and Sean Bergenheim, Boucher said. ... The coach added that Malone likely will sit out Sunday's game with the Blackhawks and the season finale with the Hurricanes, as a precaution. "We want to get him in there but we want to be smart about it too," Boucher said. .... Defenseman Victor Hedman has been included as having contributed to Crosby's concussion with his (and you can't even call it a check) on Crosby in Pittsburgh. That came only a few days after Crosby was knocked woozy by David Steckel in the Winter Classic. Asked if he believed Hedman's hit contributed to his concussion, Crosby said, "It probably didn't help." Hedman said, "I still think it wasn't my hit that created the problems." ... Sun Sports has picked up and will show Sunday's game with the Blackhawks at 7 p.m.