Offensive impact of Crosby's return

What having Crosby back means for Malkin, Penguins' offense

Updated: March 13, 2012, 7:14 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider
Sidney CrosbyJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWhat will Sidney Crosby's return mean for teammates like Pascal Dupuis?

Sidney Crosby is once again returning to the lineup, scheduled to take the ice Thursday against the Rangers.

The 24-year-old former MVP was remarkable in his return from a 10-month layoff in November, scoring twice in his season debut against the New York Islanders and amassing 12 points in eight games before concussion-like symptoms sidelined him again.

His team also has been remarkable in his absence. The Penguins have won nine in a row and have a record of 42-21-5, four points ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference.

Crosby is widely acknowledged as the NHL's premier player, and his return provides coach Dan Bylsma with some options -- but some tough decisions to make as well.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.