CANONSBURG, Pa. - No, Sidney Crosby is not about to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they open the NHL playoffs Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma made that clear right at the start of his post-practice scrum on Tuesday, shortly after Crosby took part in just his second full non-contact game-day practice with his teammates.
"No change in Sidney Crosby's status," Bylsma said before anyone could ask the question. "The fact he's practicing with the team has not changed his progression. He's not been able to progress to the next standpoint yet.
"He is not able to participate in the contact portion of the drills. The players are aware of that and know to stay away from him."
The next step for Crosby, who has not played since Jan. 5 because of a concussion, is to be cleared by the doctors for the limited contact in an NHL practice. No one is willing to say when that might be, although some optimists are hoping Crosby will be able to play at some point in the playoffs.
Just when that will be, no one can say, other than it's clear it will not be the first round against the Lightning.
Still, Crosby looked awfully good flying around the ice at the Penguins' practice rink on Tuesday. He showed off a lot of his moves, even though goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury appeared to rig the shootout contest that concludes every practice so that Crosby would lose.
Crosby did not seem to have any trouble keeping up during the high-tempo practice that ran a little more than an hour. But he did seem a little more winded than some of his teammates at times.
But this is all moot until it is decided Crosby can take the next step, which is taking the odd bump from his fellow Penguins.
The final clearance will not come until the doctors are satisfied neuropsychological tests of Crosby's memory and motor skills compare favourably to the results of his baseline tests, done before training camp when he was healthy.