Sidney Crosby is expected to be back in action Thursday night when the Penguins take on the New York Islanders.

Let’s hope for his owners’ sake, Sid the Kid lasts longer than the last time he returned.

After missing 21 games with an ankle injury, Crosby came back on March 4, but after just three games, he was sidelined again. He’s missed the last seven games since then.

This time, however, Crosby says he feels great – better than he did three-plus weeks ago.

In 49 games this year, Crosby has just 22 goals, 45 assists and 67 points, dream totals for most, but a disappointment after he averaged better than an assist per game and reached the 120-point plateau last season.

Crosby didn’t show rust in his last comeback, potting a pair of goals and a pair of assists in the three games, so if he can step right in and produce over these final five games, perhaps he can help salvage somewhat of a lost season.

His return will also provide a boost for owners of Crosby’s anticipated linemates, Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis, almost assuredly available in your league, could be a nice pickup for the final few games. Sure, he’s just an average player surrounded by superstars, but because he’s getting special teams time with all of the Penguins’ guns, he’s an intriguing option.

The Pens, based on their win last night, have already sewn up a playoff spot, but the Atlantic Division title is still on the line. Pittsburgh has won three of its past four – two of those wins coming over the second-place Devils (who have a game in hand) – to open up a four-point lead atop the Atlantic.

Pittsburgh needs to win its final five games to match last season’s point total, and that’s going to be a tall order considering it has a sub-.500 record against its division mates and besides the Isles tomorrow, has a home-and-home series against the Rangers next week.

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