Penguins Notebook: Quality and quantity for Fleury
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Marc-Andre Fleury has played some pretty good hockey for the Penguins lately.
Enough of it, in fact, that he was named the NHL's No. 2 star for the week that ended Sunday after stopping 92 of 97 shots -- a .948 save percentage -- in road victories against Tampa Bay, Florida and Washington.
And the quality of his work lately has been surpassed only by its quantity; Fleury is expected to make his 17th consecutive start and 24th in 25 games tonight when Florida visits Mellon Arena.
Despite the workload, Fleury said yesterday that fatigue hasn't been an issue for him.
"I still feel pretty good," he said. "We've been lucky to have days between games, so it's been good to relax."
While it's conceivable that interim coach Dan Bylsma will give Mathieu Garon, who has logged just 86 minutes of playing time since being acquired Jan. 17 from Edmonton, a start when the Penguins play Ottawa and Boston on consecutive days this weekend, Fleury said he definitely won't request a day off.
"I've never heard of a goalie who did that," he said. "I'm not going to be the first."
Carolina center Eric Staal beat out Fleury for the distinction of being the league's No. 1 star by piling up nine points in three games, while Columbus left winger Rick Nash was selected the No. 3 star after recording four goals and two assists in three games.
Winger Miroslav Satan, assigned to the Penguins' minor league team in Wilkes-Barre last week, still has not reported to the Baby Penguins, but the situation could come to a head as early as today.
If Satan, who was sent to Wilkes-Barre to clear salary-cap space after the Penguins acquired right winger Bill Guerin from the New York Islanders Wednesday, does not go to the minors, he can be suspended, which would free the Penguins of their obligation to honor the balance of his $3.5 million contract.
The Penguins have the option of continuing to pay Satan's salary without compelling him to go to Wilkes-Barre, although there has been no indication they plan to do so.
Ryan Malone's knack for setting up in front of the opposing team's net, positioning himself to set screens and capitalize on deflections and rebounds, was a major factor in the success of the Penguins' power play last season.
And the addition of Guerin, who made Sergei Gonchar's man-advantage goal Sunday in Washington possible by obscuring the vision of Capitals goalie Jose Theodore, looks as if it might restore that critical element to the Penguins' work with the extra man.
"I think the thing I like the most [about the power play] is that we have a net-front presence," Bylsma said. "When you have that presence, shots are dangerous. There are second-chance opportunities. Once you retrieve those chances, it opens up seams for your skilled players to make plays.
"The best power play in the league for the past 10 years has been the Detroit Red Wings'. You can talk about the skill they have, but what they have is the best net-front presence in the league [with Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen]. That's something we now have."
The Panthers will be without two of their top players, forward Nathan Horton and defenseman Bryan McCabe, tonight. Horton will miss two to four weeks because of a severed tendon in his left ring finger, while McCabe has a fractured orbital and broken nose.
Penguins right winger Petr Sykora, who is believed to have a shoulder injury, did not practice yesterday and seems like a long shot to play tonight, although Bylsma described him as "day to day." ... Defenseman Philippe Boucher, who is recovering from foot surgery, skated with no apparent difficulty before practice yesteray at Southpointe. No target date for his return to the lineup has been announced. ... Winger Luca Caputi and defenseman Jonathan D'Aversa, demoted from Wilkes-Barre to their ECHL team in Wheeling last week after violating an unspecified team rule, rejoined the Baby Penguins yesterday. ... Yesterday's workout had been scheduled for Mellon Arena, but was moved to Southpointe because the ice surface had to be shaved and the lines repainted after an ice show was there.
First Published March 10, 2009 12:00 am