NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Hockey fans will soon see the much-anticipated return of Penguins captain Sidney Crosby — right here in Manhattan.

He’ll return to the ice Thursday night, when Pittsburgh faces the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

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Crosby, battling concussion problems, hasn’t played since Dec. 5, and has only played in eight games this season. He also missed the final 41 games of last season, as well as a first-round, seven-game playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with the same issues.

“I feel good and the plan is to play,” he said Tuesday, according to the Penguins’ official website. “I had a good practice and I’m looking forward to getting out there Thursday.”

Crosby has two goals and 12 points this season. He scored those goals in his first game of the year, a 5-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Nov. 21 at home.

“I feel a little bit better knowing what to expect,” said Crosby. “It’s just easier going through it this time. That first game was pretty overwhelming. It was a lot of fun, but that being said I’ll take it more in stride this time.”

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His return is well timed, and against the right opponent. The surging Penguins trail the Rangers by just four points for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.

Many thought the return would come on Sunday, when the Penguins played host to the Bruins on national television. But after practice on Saturday, Crosby said he still wasn’t quite after missing more than three months when the symptoms resurfaced in early December. The 24-year-old former MVP was cleared for contact last week and hinted he could play vs. the Bruins, to no avail.

The Penguins practiced Tuesday, and will do so again Wednesday in Pittsburgh, before a pivotal three-game road trip begins in New York, and also features stops in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Crosby went back on the injured reserve when the symptoms returned following a loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5.

Can Crosby stay healthy? Sound off below…

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