Penguins' Sidney Crosby practices for first time since breaking jaw

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Slowly, things are getting back to normal for Sidney Crosby after he suffered a broken jaw in a game against the Islanders on March 30.

The Penguins star returned to the ice on Monday, skating with Paul Martin and James Neal -- aka the other injured players for the Pens -- before practice in the next step in his return to the lineup. Not surprisingly, Crosby also had a new piece of equipment attached to his helmet (via Penguins Instagram).

Crosby at practice Monday. (Instagram)
Crosby at practice Monday.(Instagram)

The jaw guard should come as no surprise. You can expect to see Crosby wearing the extra protection for a while; the last thing he needs right now is to take another slap shot to a jaw that is still a work in progress.

The timeline for Crosby has never been set by the Penguins, but the best guess was probably six weeks, perhaps four weeks if things go really well and they push it. A return to practice now would seem to jibe with that aggressive timeline; there are still two weeks to get ready for the real season, the playoffs.

Somewhat amazingly, Crosby still has a four-point lead in the points race over Steven Stamkos despite being out the last two weeks, keeping him in the Hart conversation as the league MVP. That's how well he was playing before the injury.

Crosby returning for the playoffs was never really a question, but it's great for the Penguins to see his recovery continuing to progress and that he is already back on the ice. Just remember, there's still plenty of time left in his recovery.

Gosh, sounds fun.

Really though, there's no reason for the Penguins not to keep patience. They just need him for the playoffs where the Penguins could actually draw the Islanders in the first round.

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