Sidney Crosby returns to new linemates, Panthers' revenge?

Sidney Crosby is returning to the lineup tonight for the Pittsburgh Penguins, which should have the Bashers using a squeegee on their keyboards -- due to the saliva generated while thinking about a Crosby-less four-game winning streak ending against the Florida Panthers upon Sid's return.

(Never mind that Marc-Andre Fleury's been lights-out in three of the four wins; it must be Sidney's fault, right?)

Crosby skated with two new faces at practice: Chris Kunitz, who has five points in his first three games with the Penguins; and Bill Guerin, who the Penguins are evidently going to use as a top-line player despite being Bill Guerin. After dragging Miro Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko up and down the ice this season, Sid should be prepped for Guerin.

But tonight's game at the Florida Panthers offers another rather interesting storyline: It's the first game between the teams since Jan. 3, when the Panthers won 6-1 and Crosby jumped Brett McLean off the face-off for a quick and dirty fight:

The Panthers weren't exactly pleased with Crosby's actions, with defenseman Nick Boynton (back in the good graces of the team, by the way) calling them "pretty immature and childish" and McLean later disputing Crosby's interpretation of the build-up to the fight. 

Panthers beat writer George Richards asks, "Does Crosby get run for his Jan. 3 mugging of Brett McLean? Time will tell."

Don't hold your breath. Too much time has passed, and this is basically a playoff game for the Panthers with a two-point lead over the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings. No shenanigans ... one would assume. Although who knows what's festering deep in the soul of Brett McLean after a public flogging at the hands of noted pugilist Sidney Crosby.

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