Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/10/11

NEW YORK - JANUARY 25: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on against the New York Rangers on January 25, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-2. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

By Robbie Naugle

Three hundred and six days. It has been 306 days since we last saw Sidney Crosby play in an NHL hockey game. It’s hard to believe it has already been that long since he last stepped on the ice in a real game situation. It has been a long haul for the fans having to watch their team play without its biggest star. The fans are sitting on pins and needles as news has began to leak that Crosby may be closer than ever to returning to game action. The fans are hungry and it looks like their needs are about to be met.

Before I preview the games in which he could return I want to make it clear that when he does decide he is ready to play, it will all but assuredly be during a home game at the Consol Energy Center. This will be the biggest comeback in Pittsburgh Penguins history since Mario’s return in 2000. That comeback was planned to be at home and so will this one.

Let’s take a look at the upcoming games in which Crosby could return to action…

Friday, November 11 vs. Dallas Stars: If you have been following social media at all this week you most likely know that there is a lot of speculation about this being the game in which Crosby returns. As of the time that this article was written, no announcement either way has been made by the team or by Crosby himself. As we get closer and closer to gameday the fans become more and more anxious to here whether or not he will play. Given the recent roster moves and the trade of center Mark Letestu to Columbus my gut feeling gets stronger that he will be on the ice Friday night for the first time since January 5th.

If Crosby doesn’t make his debut Friday night, here are a few other games that could be a possibility…

Tuesday, November 15 vs. Colorado Avalanche: This will be the beginning of a long stretch with the Penguins playing every other day. The Dallas game is followed the next night by a game in Carolina. If the Pens don’t want to put Crosby in a back to back situation right off the bat, this game could work nicely with the upcoming schedule.

Monday, November 21 vs. New York Islanders: This is the first game of a three game homestand that takes us into Thanksgiving. The only thing that concerns me about this game is the fact of who they are playing. Everyone knows the tension between these two teams going back to last year. Though the two games this year have gone rather smoothly, I don’t know if the Pens will be willing to take the chance.

Wednesday, November 23 vs. St. Louis: No under lying scenario that would make this game special to bring him back in. Should be a good atmosphere with a lot of kids there being the night before Thanksgiving. I’ll also be in attendance for this game so being at his first game back would be something to see.

Friday, November 25 vs. Ottawa Senators: The last home game in the month of November and it the first of back to back games. If he isn’t back by this point then I would expect a wait until January. The interesting thing about this game though is the game after this is at the Bell Center is Montreal. The Canadiens are Crosby’s boyhood team. Interesting scenario, but I still think his first game will be at home and the idea of playing him in back to back games right off the bat.

Those are the home games that the Pens will play in the month of November. Anyone of them could feature the return of Sidney Crosby. For all we know, everyone of them could feature Crosby. I believe that his return will occur at sometime in November, everything we have been hearing indicates that. If it would not be this month there are a few intriguing home games in December that would fit the situation nicely. Until the moment it happens, we all just have to sit back and see what transpires.


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