Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury went on the ice in shorts before the team's morning skate yesterday.
It was the first time he skated since he got a high ankle sprain Dec. 6. He moved around the ice, shot pucks at the net and didn't want to come off when trainer Chris Stewart summoned him at the end of his 20 minutes.
"It's been so long since I've skated," Fleury said.
He said the injury is slowly improving, but he has not been given an idea of when he might be able to resume full practices, much less play. According to the original estimate, he could be out another four to six weeks.
"There's not really one date," said Fleury, who has been frustrated by the time off.
"Right now, it's already past my schedule."
Center Maxime Talbot, who also has a high ankle sprain, joined Fleury on the ice before the morning skate.
Winger Ryan Malone, who resumed practicing with the Penguins Wednesday after missing four games because of a leg infection, took part in the morning skate but did not play last night against Washington at Mellon Arena. He said he was hopeful of getting medical clearance to play tomorrow night at home against Buffalo.
Coach Michel Therrien said at this point it's more about Malone being in game shape.
"We have to be cautious with conditioning," Therrien said.
On Thanksgiving, the Capitals promoted Bruce Boudreau from their Hershey minor-league club to interim coach. Wednesday, they made the move permanent.
It has been a long path to NHL coach for Boudreau, 51.
He played 141 NHL games over eight seasons, but had a long and productive minor-league playing career, followed by a successful 15-year run as a minor-league coach.
One stop as a player was with the Baltimore Skipjacks when they were a Penguins minor-league team.
"Bob Errey was my left winger. Phil Bourque was a mainstay of the blue line," Boudreau said of two players who went on to be part of the Penguins' two Stanley Cup teams and now are team broadcasters.
Boudreau joined the Skipjacks in February, 1985, two games into a 16-0 streak. The team finished strong and was 8-1 in the playoffs before it ran into Sherbrooke, a Montreal affiliate that had future Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy and sniper Stephane Richer -- and Therrien.
"We were really confident as a team, and then we lost the first two games at home [to Sherbrooke] and we thought, holy smokes," Boudreau said. Sherbrooke prevailed in that final series, four games to two.
"If it wasn't for Patrick Roy and Stephane Richer coming out of junior to play for Sherbrooke, we would have won the Calder Cup," Boudreau said.
With Rob Scuderi joining Sergei Gonchar, the other Penguins defensive pairings with Mark Eaton (knee) out were Darryl Sydor-Ryan Whitney and Brooks Orpik-Kris Letang. "Orpik and Letang have played together before," Therrien said. "We need guys to play on the right side, and Whitney is capable of playing on the right side, and Darryl has really upgraded his game in the last three weeks or so." ... Boudreau, before the game, on the prospect of coaching against Crosby: "Jokingly, I would say, get me an autograph." ... The Penguins had no healthy scratches.
Shelly Anderson can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1721.