After being hit in the face with Matt Niskanen’s stick last night—for which the Washington defender received a penalty and game misconduct, but no further discipline—Sidney Crosby has been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely. Crosby’s linemate Conor Sheary has also been diagnosed with a concussion, and both will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
Crosby has now suffered at least four concussions during his career, with several other head, jaw and neck injuries that have been related. His last one came in October of last year in practice, while his first (that we know of) happening in 2011 at the Winter Classic against these same Capitals. It was coming back too early from that first concussion that stole almost an entire year of his career, a lesson that should be remembered this time around.
Should the Penguins re-insert him during the playoffs, hopefully the risks are understood completely. Earlier this year, Aaron Ekblad was put back into the lineup for the Florida Panthers only to shut down his season after one game and a decision Tom Rowe blamed himself for. While that seemed to also have connections to the neck injury Ekblad suffered in the World Cup, it is a similar timeline for Crosby and one that should be considered. For a player who was just announced as a Hart finalist, his future, and not just the immediate opportunity the Penguins find themselves in, should be paramount.
Sheary is almost as big of a loss for the Penguins, though he’d been held in check for the playoffs so far. In just his second year, Sheary scored 53 points in 61 games and was a big part of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup run last season. The team will now have to rely even more on Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to provide offense against the Capitals for the rest of the series, something that proved difficult last night against Braden Holtby and the Capitals stifling defense.