Penguins Notebook: Therrien sets Fleury up for AHL run
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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sebastien Caron will be in goal for the Penguins when they face Florida at 7:38 p.m. today at the BankAtlantic Center.
That's partly a reward for Caron's play in his most recent start -- a 4-0 victory Saturday on Long Island -- and partly because coach Michel Therrien wants to guard against burning out No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Not because he's afraid Fleury will wear down before Penguins' season ends April 18 in Toronto, but because Therrien wants him to be fresh for what comes after that.
No, not the offseason. The American Hockey League playoffs. Fleury is penciled in as the go-to guy for the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre.
"The next two weeks, I want to make sure we prepare him well for the playoffs," Therrien said. "That means he's not going to play all the games.
"My plan is to make sure that when he goes there to Wilkes-Barre, he will be rested, sharp and ready to attack the playoffs."
Therrien did not detail how Caron and Fleury will split the work in the waning days of the season, other than to say Caron will start tonight and Fleury will play in Tampa tomorrow, but Caron said he won't sweat the finer points of the plan.
"Whatever [Therrien] decides he's going to go with, I'll be ready," he said.
While Fleury will be the Baby Penguins' top goalie in the playoffs, his backup has pretty fair credentials, too: Dany Sabourin was named a first-team AHL all-star yesterday.
No shootout, please
The Penguins don't usually fare well against Florida under any circumstances -- they've lost 12 consecutive games to the Panthers, the longest such slump against any opponent in franchise history -- but they might want to make a special effort to avoid a shootout tonight.
The Penguins are 1-5 in those, while the Panthers have won three in a row after dropping four of their first five.
"It seems like we have a lot more composure, a lot more poise now," Florida coach Jacques Martin said.
That's particularly true of center Olli Jokinen, who scored the winner in the Panthers' past two shootouts, and goalie Roberto Luongo, who has rejected 20 of the 27 shots he has faced in shootouts.
"That's why they're top players," Martin said. "What makes them top players is their ability to perform under pressure."
The Penguins probably shouldn't get too excited if they're awarded a penalty shot against Luongo, either. He has stopped all nine he has aced in the NHL, five of them this season.
A hole in the glove?
Fleury, who has an outstanding glove hand, was beaten high on that side no fewer than three times in the Penguins' 6-4 loss Wednesday in New Jersey.
Fleury tends to be highly critical of his own work but said he won't obsess over giving the Devils three glove-side goals.
"It hasn't happened too much this season, so I don't think I have to worry too much about it," Fleury said. "But we'll look at what went wrong."
The NHL will have its draft lottery April 27. Any of the 14 non-playoff clubs can win the lottery and move up a maximum of four spots in the draft order. Only the teams with the five worst records during the regular season can win the No. 1 choice. ... The Penguins will not conduct a game-day skate today, opting for a meeting at their hotel. ... Panthers defenseman Ric Jackman, acquired from the Penguins at the trade deadline, was a healthy scratch for Florida's 5-2 loss Wednesday to Atlanta. It was the first time he was held out of a game by the Panthers.
First Published April 7, 2006 12:00 am