Penguins star Sidney Crosby may return to the ice from a broken jaw for Game 1 of Pittsburgh's first round series against the New York Islanders, but there is concern he will not be able to produce at 100-percent.
"We haven't yet found a bubble that allows him to hold his stick outside of the bubble to stickhandle the puck," said head coach Dan Bylsma. "That is usually a big aspect of Sid's game. Right now he can only push the puck along the ice with his bubble as he rolls it. He's still making plays that way in practice, but it's not quite the same thing."
The Penguins have also struggled to keeps Crosby's bubble inflated, as his razor-sharp skates have repeatedly sliced through it, leaving him in nothing but a hockey helmet, protective face shield, shoulder pads and chest protector, elbow pads, padded gloves, padded hockey pants, knee/shin guards and reinforced skates — essentially unprotected.
"I don't think we can risk that happening in a game," said Bylsma. "Sure, he might be able to last a shift or two, but eventually he's going to get hurt. And hurt bad. He'll take a slap shot off the neck or 400-pound speaker from the arena ceiling will break loose, fall and land on him. It's just his luck."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly is considering forcing all players in the NHL playoffs to compete inside plastic inflated bubbles in order to help keep the league's most talented and marketable player on the ice.
"I think it could be the greatest hockey innovation since the FoxTrax glow puck," said Bettman.