Penguins Notebook: Kennedy's play at Wilkes-Barre leads to fast recall
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- After the Penguins' game-day skate Wednesday, coach Michel Therrien told reporters there was no timetable for bringing right winger Tyler Kennedy back from their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre.
"It depends on how he plays down there," Therrien said. "Performance always dictates if a guy will play in the NHL and ice time once they get here."
Well, Kennedy evidently played pretty well, pretty quickly, because about 12 hours later, he got the call to rejoin the Penguins for their game last night against Carolina at the RBC Center.
His recall came after he scored a goal -- Kennedy's second in three games with the Baby Penguins -- in Wilkes-Barre's 3-1 victory Wednesday at Norfolk.
He was recalled, at least in part, because forward Erik Christensen had to sit out the game against the Hurricanes last night with a shoulder injury received when he absorbed a hit from Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara in a 2-1 loss Wednesday to the Bruins.
Preliminary indications are that Christensen's injury is not serious, although he will be re-evaluated after resting the shoulder for a few days.
Kennedy, who had eight goals and four assists in 31 games with the Penguins before last night, was diagnosed with mononucleosis last month and missed eight games. He said it's "hard to say right now" how close he is to being 100 percent, but that "my energy is back."
In that regard, the three games he spent with Wilkes-Barre were a shrewd investment.
"When I got sent down there, I wasn't sure how I'd feel on the ice," Kennedy said. "But getting a couple of games and practices under my belt made me feel like I was getting back in game shape. I thought it really helped a lot."
Carolina was missing nine regulars because of injuries and illness last night.
The Hurricanes' personnel problems are so severe that they had to recall three defensemen -- Casey Borer, Tim Conboy and Joey Mormina -- from their American Hockey League affiliate just to field a full lineup against the Penguins.
In light of the Penguins' lackluster performance against the Bruins, to say nothing of their own ongoing injury issues, there didn't seem much danger of the Penguins taking Carolina lightly.
"Sometimes, if you approach [it] that way, it comes back to bite you," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "A lot of times when [teams] bring up young guys, they try to make good first impressions.
"It's a long season, but those guys are all full of adrenaline, and you know their effort is going to be there."
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's comeback from a high ankle sprain has hit a snag, but not for the reason team officials might have feared.
He hasn't had a recurrence of his injury but did have a flu-like ailment yesterday, general manager Ray Shero said.
Consequently, it hasn't been determined if Fleury will be in goal when Philadelphia visits Wilkes-Barre this evening, although Shero said he will either play against the Phantoms or when the Baby Penguins visit Bridgeport tomorrow.
Fleury stopped 30 of 31 shots in Norfolk during the first game of his rehab stint Wednesday with Wilkes-Barre, being beaten only by a power-play deflection.
"Fleury played great," Kennedy said. "He came up with huge saves when we needed them. He was solid all around."
Fleury said his ankle hurt when he dropped into -- and pushed out of -- the butterfly position, but that he can deal with the pain and isn't concerned about aggravating the injury.
If the pain affected his performance, it wasn't evident to Baby Penguins coach Todd Richards.
"You know you've got an elite NHL goalie behind you," Richards told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader after the Norfolk game. "That's not to take anything away from our goalies this season, but this is an elite goalie."
Sidney Crosby participated in the game-day skate but said he still does not have a target date for returning. ... The Penguins will conduct another father-son event next month, built around a home game March 16 against Philadelphia and one on the road two nights later against the New York Rangers.
First Published February 15, 2008 12:00 am