Several drills in the Penguins' 75-minute practice yesterday were designed to promote one thing: shots.
Although coach Michel Therrien has said he prefers to judge the offense on scoring chances, there is little doubt the team could benefit from directing the puck at the net more often.
The Penguins have been outshot in all four of their games and are averaging 20.5 shots per game. That ranks last in the NHL and they are one of just three teams that aren't getting at least 27 per game.
"This is one aspect of our game that I'm not quite satisfied with," Therrien said. "We're trying to be a little bit more fancy, and that's not the way we want to play. When there are times to put the puck on net, we have to put the puck on net to try to get the ugly goal, try and get the second scoring chance on the rebound.
"This is something we stress a lot with our players, and we work on it."
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury doesn't remember having his helmet knocked off during a game before. When it happened Saturday night during a scrum near the net in the second period, he got kicked in the face, leaving him with a gash above his left eye.
In hindsight, it was a rather close call with a skate blade.
"It happened pretty quick, so I didn't have time then to think too much," Fleury said. "It was close to my eye, though, so I didn't like that."
Therrien said Fleury is fine to play tomorrow night, but he declined to name a starter. Jocelyn Thibault relieved Fleury against Carolina after the incident for his first playing time this season.
Fleury is 2-2 with a 2.87 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
He has one big fan in prospective Penguins owner Jim Balsillie, who attended the team opener when Fleury recorded a shutout against Philadelphia.
"I think Fleury has this combo of Patrick Roy movement with Eddie Belfour in his prime positioning," Balsillie said.
Back on the ice
Defenseman Eric Cairns, who missed training camp because of a broken ankle and a torn meniscus and is on injured reserve, practiced with the team for the first time.
He said he feels strong, but he struggled skating at times.
"It feels good to be out there skating with the guys instead of by myself," Cairns said. "But it's always tough when you're not skating for a while and you have a broken ankle and cartilage damage in your knee to come back and skate right away."
There is no timetable for when Cairns might be ready to join the lineup or activated.
Forward Ronald Petrovicky (hip) continues to skate by himself before practice. ... The team has three games in four nights beginning Wednesday, then plays just two games in 10 days before a West Coast trip. ... The players donned game jerseys at the end of practice and returned to the ice for promotional videos.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.