Penguins Notebook: Players share in Minnesota's equipment pain
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BUFFALO -- It's not unusual for an NHL player to need new equipment.
Hey, things break. Equipment bags get lost. Stuff happens.
But not stuff like this.
Friday, there was a fire in the truck carrying Minnesota's equipment from Ottawa's practice facility to Scotiabank Place, where the Wild and Senators played last night.
By the time the fire was discovered and extinguished, all but nine Minnesota players had had some -- if not all -- of their equipment damaged to destroyed.
Penguins right winger Bill Guerin said he has never seen anything close to that, noting also that he has had the same shin pads and shoulder pads for his entire career. "That's unbelievable.
"A guy gets call up and his [equipment] bag gets lost? Yes. Not a fire in the truck."
Among those experiencing a total loss were goalies Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding, which prompted Wild GM Chuck Fletcher to summon goalie Anton Khudobin from Minnesota's farm team in Houston.
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury winced when he heard what happened because he understands how long it takes players at his position to break in gear.
Maybe a month for a chest protector, he said. A couple of weeks for leg pads. Almost that long for a glove.
Forwards Mikko Koivu, Martin Havlat and James Sheppard and defenseman Nick Schultz also had nothing survive the fire, and virtually no time to get replacement items ready for the game.
"That would be tough," Guerin said. "It's such a bizarre story."
Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers is difficult to overlook, and not just because he stands 6 feet 8.
Though Myers is just 19, he entered last night against the Penguins averaging 22:45 of ice time per game, the most of any Sabres defenseman, and has been playing with poise and presence.
"[The transition to the NHL] has gone more smoothly than I thought it would," he said.
Although Myers is guilty of suspect decision-making on occasion -- "There are unnecessary risks sometimes that I take," he said -- he might be a factor in the Rookie of the Year voting if his caliber of play doesn't decline.
"I don't worry about it too much," he said. "There's still a lot of season to be played."
Buffalo backup goalie Patrick Lalime, who made his fifth start of the season last night, broke into the NHL with the Penguins, and set a record that might never be broken.
He went 14-0-2 in his first 16 decisions in the league, the longest such streak by a goalie at the start of his career.
"Obviously, that was nice," Lalime said. "You don't know what to expect when you start. You just try to go game-by-game."
His streak ran from Dec. 6, 1996, to Jan. 21, 1997, although Lalime said he never got caught up thinking it could go on indefinitely.
"You just take it one day at a time," he said. "But it sure was a lot of fun."
Buffalo was the latest in a long line of opponents in recent weeks to face the Penguins in the back end of games on consecutive days.
Asked if he had been paying off the NHL schedule-maker, coach Dan Bylsma laughed and said. "It feels like maybe I am," before suggesting, "I think it's just the nature of this year's schedule."
Center Sidney Crosby, meanwhile, pointed out that the Penguins were on the wrong side of such matchups earlier this season. "It eventually [evens out]," he said.
Winger Pascal Dupuis nearly took a puck in the face when an Evgeni Malkin shot sailed over the crossbar in the game-day skate, but it struck him in the neck and did no significant damage. "Obviously, you get a little scared when the puck's coming at your face," Dupuis said. ... Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who grew up in suburban Buffalo, on there being no snowfall here when the East Coast is being savaged by a major storm: "It's kind of an ironic twist, coming here to get away from it."
First Published December 20, 2009 12:00 am