Pens won’t say if Crosby will rest this weekend; Malkin nearing return

Pens won't say if Crosby will rest this weekend

TORONTO — The Pittsburgh Penguins have two games left in the regular season with nothing on the line, and whether Sidney Crosby will play in one or both remains a mystery.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan declined to say whether the team planned to rest their captain either against the desperate Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday or against the New York Rangers on Sunday night.

“We have a game-plan that we’ve sketched out and we’ll take each game as it comes,” Sullivan said with a smile following a limited practice on Friday afternoon.

The Penguins have already sealed up home-ice advantage in a first round playoff series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Crosby seems to have locked up his second Rocket Richard trophy. His 43 goals in only 74 games well in front of Auston Matthews, Nikita Kucherov and the suspended Brad Marchand.

Resting the 29-year-old seems to make a lot of sense, especially for a team that’s been battered by injuries as it chases a second straight Stanley Cup.

Conversely, Saturday’s game means everything to the Leafs, who need two points in their final two games to clinch a first playoff berth since 2013.

Even if Crosby sits — probably less likely on Saturday night than Sunday — there’s a chance Toronto might have to face Evgeni Malkin. The Russian star, who’s missed the last 11 games with an upper body injury, skated with a limited group of teammates at practice and expressed hope of getting in over the weekend.

“I feel normal,” Malkin said of playing Saturday. “Why not?”

Malkin, who has 72 points in 62 games this season, noted that he’d yet to take contact, but was feeling better and better each day. 

“We’ll see how it goes,” Sullivan said. “We’re taking it each day at a time.”

Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press