Shero relishes return of Big Three

Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby (front) and Evgeni Malkin (back) skate in a game against the Flyers...

Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby (front) and Evgeni Malkin (back) skate in a game against the Flyers in Philadelphia, Penn., Oct. 16, 2010. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:56 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - General manager Ray Shero was stalking the halls of the Consol Energy Center as the Pittsburgh Penguins reported Friday for their first day of training camp.

Shero had the highlight of the day as Penguins stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were all under the same roof.

That's progress.

"There were only two games last year when we had all three of them in the lineup at the same time," Shero said.

Remarkably, despite not having Malkin, Crosby and Staal together except for the Winter Classic and the following game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Jan. 5 (Crosby was lost to concussion after that), the Penguins still managed to rack up 106 points.

With Malkin back from a knee injury -- he said Friday it's about 90% healed -- and Staal playing the second half of last season, Shero and the Penguins are two-thirds of the way to having their Big Three intact.

Crosby remains the unknown.

"For us, we just focus on what we can do and who we have in the locker room," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who won coach of the year for his work in 2010-11.

"Obviously, we'd love for (Crosby) to be with us as soon as possible. Even toward the end of last year when he was out, we didn't have a choice but to work with the guys we have in here and go forward. A lot of guys stepped up and made some progress and did a good job while he was out.

"Last year we had success without Geno and Sid, but the potential ability of our team to score goals is greatly enhanced when you have a guy like Evgeni Malkin step on the ice. He can take over a power play. He can be a leader for a team. He has done that in the past."

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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