BUFFALO - Call it the Philly flu.
Or, just call it the Penguins handling Sid the Kid with kid gloves.
Either way, Sidney Crosby won't make his first pilgrimage of the season to South Philadelphia. He will miss the next two games as a precaution after being run over by teammate Chris Kunitz in an open-ice collision on Monday night.
Crosby missed 68 straight games - from Jan. 5 to Nov. 21 - with postconcussion syndrome.
The Flyers won't be complaining. Crosby has torched them for 62 points (26 goals, 36 assists) in his 36 career contests against them. And they can use all the help they can get against a Penguins team (16-8-4) that entered last night first in the Eastern Conference, despite missing the league's top player for 20 games this year.
According to Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero, Crosby passed a baseline concussion test on Tuesday. Coincidentally, Crosby logged the most ice time (21 minutes, 3 seconds) of his young season on Monday night.
"Sidney took a hard hit during our game against Boston Monday night and wasn't feeling 100 percent," Shero told the Penguins' website. "He saw Dr. Micky Collins of UPMC today and took an ImPACT test, which showed no problems. However, we all think it's best that he sits out the next two games as a precaution."
Crosby has played eight games with the Penguins this season, collecting 12 points. He was spectacular in his debut on Nov. 12, when he netted two goals and two assists in a storybook return against the Islanders.
Unfortunately, with the HBO cameras rolling, Crosby's absence likely will overshadow Max Talbot's first game against his former team. Tonight marks the first of six matchups this season between the Flyers and Penguins.
Talbot and Crosby have known each other since they were teenagers on the 2003-04 Canadian World Junior team. They also played against each other in the Quebec Major Junior league and with each other in Pittsburgh over the last five seasons.
"You never really hear anything negative about him," Talbot said of Crosby, one of his closest friends. "There's a reason for that; everything he does is thought out. He's a really smart guy. And his preparation, the way he thinks about the game and gets ready for it, he is so passionate. He wants to be the best player out there and I think it shows."
For Talbot, there undoubtedly will be money on the board with his number on it in the Flyers locker room, as his teammates ask him to produce. That's all he has done so far for the Flyers: He added another goal last night to increase his season total to seven, one shy of tying last year's eight with the Penguins over all 82 games.
Talbot said his teammates have been giving him a hard time in anticipation of tonight's game, telling him to "cut the cord" from his time in Pittsburgh.
"Personally, it's going to be really emotional for me," Talbot said. "I still talk to a lot of those guys and I had a lot of fun playing there. I made a lot of friends there. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be a good challenge."
Just when it appeared that Peter Laviolette might be able to pencil in his first fully healthy lineup at forward since Oct. 26, Brayden Schenn was left off the ice.
This time for Schenn, the Flyers are calling it an upper-body injury. Schenn did not make the trip to western New York with the team but is possible for a return tonight against the Penguins. This is Schenn's third separate injury since training camp started. He had a shoulder injury during camp, then he missed 14 games with a fractured left foot from Oct. 26 to Dec. 2 and played just two games before having to sit out again.
With James van Riemsdyk back for the first time in five games, Schenn's injury meant Harry Zolnierczyk remained on the Flyers' fourth line.
Gaudreau makes USA prelim roster
South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau, a freshman standout on the No. 3-ranked Boston College Eagles, was named to the preliminary 29-man Team USA roster this week for the upcoming World Junior Championships.
Gaudreau, 18, is from Carney's Point, N.J. He will represent the United States in a pretournament camp in Camrose, Alberta, that includes exhibition games against Russia, Switzerland and Slovakia before the roster is pared down to the maximum 22 players. If Gaudreau makes the cut, he'll play in the tournament from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Calgary and Edmonton.
Gaudreau was a fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in June. Out of the 23 players on the Flyers' roster, 17 of them represented their home country in the prestigious tournament, including Brayden Schenn, who played for Canada last year.