G Fleury back, but Penguins undecided when he will play

Updated: February 24, 2008, 7:46 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury was recalled from his minor league rehabilitation stay on Sunday by Pittsburgh and is expected to play his first NHL game since Dec. 6 later this week as the Penguins, for now, will carry three goalies.

Fleury has been out with a high ankle sprain, the same injury that has sidelined Penguins star Sidney Crosby since Jan. 18. Crosby did not skate before the Penguins' games Saturday or Sunday and his return remains uncertain.

Fleury played well in all five starts at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL, allowing seven goals. He was 3-2, with both losses occurring in 1-0 games.

"The first couple of games I was rusty but, as a couple of games went along, I felt better," Fleury said. "It seems like forever since I've played in a game here, and I'm looking forward to having a chance to play again."

Fleury, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, still has some pain in his right ankle but said, "I can play through it."

Before getting hurt against Calgary, Fleury had won his last four starts and was 9-8-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average. He tied for third in the NHL with 40 victories last season.

The Penguins play their next three on the road, starting Tuesday at the New York Islanders. Ty Conklin has a 16-4-5 record as the starter with Fleury out, but Dany Sabourin (10-9-1, 2.75 goals-against average) is also expected to stay with the team.

Asked when Fleury might start, coach Michel Therrien said, "I don't know. He hasn't practiced yet."

Therrien said previously it can be unwieldy trying to keep three goalies sharp, but that none of his three currently deserves to be in the minors.

"We all get along very good, so I'm sure we'll find ways to adjust to it and show everybody we'll be fine," Fleury said.

Fleury will make an equipment change once he returns: He is discarding the bright yellow goalie pads he has worn since his rookie season in 2003-04 and will wear white pads, as Conklin and Sabourin do. During his injury layoff, Fleury was shown statistics that goalies who wear brightly colored pads tend to give up more goals than those who wear white pads.

The theory is the white pads tend to blend in with the ice, while the colored pads stand out and give shooters a better look at the goalie.

"They've been doing good," Fleury said of his new pads, which he broke in during his minor-league stay.

With Fleury returning, the Penguins reassigned forward Connor James to Wilkes-Barre.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE