Nobody associated with the Penguins seemed to want to say much about Sidney Crosby's potential return for Game 7 of their first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
They didn't have to.
Crosby's ear-to-ear grin as he returned to practice Saturday at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex said plenty. So did the Penguins captain zipping around the ice, his legs clearly underneath him, and also some of the sublime stick work he showed off that has long been a signature staple of his game.
Officially, coach Mike Sullivan was non-committal on Crosby's status. He's day-to-day and will travel to New York, nothing more. Yet for Penguins fans near and far, there's arguably nothing more meaningful than Crosby returning to the Garden one last time this season.
His presence alone should inspire significant hope that the outcome of this wacky series — one loaded with borderline hits, blown leads, violent momentum swings, third-string goalies and Vezina Trophy candidates who have been harassed and pulled — is not a foregone conclusion.
"Sid's Sid," Jeff Carter said. "He's the leader on and off the ice, a calming presence in the room. See what happens."
What happened Saturday was certainly encouraging. During an optional skate, a setting where line rushes are almost never a thing, Crosby took them between Kasperi Kapanen and Rickard Rakell.
Could Sullivan be trying to recreate at least some semblance of game-like structure? Wouldn't be crazy.
Crosby also spent time parked in front of the crease, tipping point shots. He might've missed one. On another sequence, he cut in on goal, fired a wrister from the circle, spun and whacked in the rebound. It wasn't a burly defenseman burying him into the boards, but it wasn't nothing, either.
"He's in good spirits," Sullivan said of Crosby. "He's in a good place. He's doing his very best to get himself back and ready as quickly as he can. We'll see how that process goes."