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Rossi: Neal as Mr. “Invisible”; Crosby reaches out to concussed Nash


New York City!!!

Greetings to the Dear Readers from Madison Square Garden, where the Penguins and Rangers are set to play a not-quite-a-rivalry-night game on Wednesday; the latest after each club’s morning practice:




Well, see, there is not much to report as the Penguins spent their time on the world’s most infamous ice working the power play and penalty kill. Line rushes were not taken.




= Chris Kunitz practiced after missing the last two days as part of maintenance. His status is “game-time,” per coach Dan Bylsma.

= RW Beau Bennett practiced, again, and is targeted to play at St. Louis on Saturday night, Bylsma said. Bennett has not played since sustaining a lower-body injury on Oct. 12.

= James Neal (upper body) practiced with teammates for the first time since he was injured Oct. 3.
Actually, that is not entirely true.

Neal was considered an “invisible player” during the practice, and he was primarily on the ice for a post-session workout with trainers.
“I don’t anticipate James rejoining practice until Friday,” Bylsma said.

Neal has now skated the last three days, and his response to the first two of those sessions was “positive,” Bylsma said.
“He’s had good progression,” Bylsma said of Neal’s past week.
Neal is the regular right winger for center Evgeni Malkin, who has gone eight consecutive games without a goal. The Penguins’ second-line right wingers have contributed a goal and two assists in 15 games this season.




Center Sidney Crosby knows concussions, having missed all but eight games from Jan. 5, 2011 to March 15, 2012 because of symptoms.

Still, despite at one point being the poster boy for concussion, Crosby does not want to be a spokesperson on behalf of other players dealing with the injury.

That includes Rangers Rangers RW Rick Nash, out since Oct. 8 with a concussion – the result of a hit from Brad Stuart of the Sharks.

Crosby said Wednesday he has sent Nash a text message as a way of checking in – but stressed he does not reach out to every player going through the trials of a concussion recovery.

“I’ve met (Nash), played with him at the (2010) Olympics,” Crosby said.

The Rangers are not commenting on treatment being sought by Nash, though recent days were accompanied by reports of him seeing concussions specialists.

On Wednesday, Crosby reminded that the cloud of uncertainty that follows a concussion diagnosis – and the lack of similarities between one concussion and another – “can definitely make it a tough thing to go through.”

“You just don’t have a lot of answers,” Crosby said. “It’s a unique injury. It’s frustrating.”




= Josh Yohe on the Penguins and, well, everybody else in this new Metropolitan division:




Rossi on the radio: The David Todd Show (4:30 p.m., 970-AM); Penguins Live with Brian Metzer (5:20 p.m.,


Be Excellent to each other,





Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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