Penguins notebook: Fleury getting wish of heavy workload
Before the preseason started, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he wanted to get as much game action as possible to knock off the rust from an unusual offseason.
Fleury's wish has come true.
He started six games in 10 days to open the season, only watching 20 minutes from the bench, the third period of Saturday's 5-1 loss to Nashville.
On paper, the results have been mixed. Fleury is 3-2-1 with a .904 save percentage. In the locker room, there has been widespread praise for Fleury's ability to keep the team in games during times of struggle.
Either way, Fleury said he doesn't regret wishing for a heavy early-season workload.
“It's nice,” Fleury said. “I wish it would be more wins by now, definitely, and there are still little things I need to get better at, little timing things, but it's been good. I've seen a lot of pucks in a lot of different situations.”
Fleury's workload likely will ease up in the near future. Matt Murray took part in a full team practice Monday in Cranberry, saying his return was getting “closer and closer every day.”
Murray said the nature of his injury, a broken hand, allowed him to stay in shape while he recovered, which is more critical for a goalie than many realize.
“In general, I think goalies are the highest heart rates during practice,” Murray said. “Everybody always makes the joke that you're not moving or not doing anything. Skaters, maybe it's a little more lung capacity because you're skating for longer periods of time. For us, it's more muscular endurance, maybe. I know my heart rate's off the charts every practice. It's a different kind of conditioning, but at the end of the day, you've got to be in good shape.”
Ageless winger Jaromir Jagr will make the first of two scheduled visits to town this season when the Penguins host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
For years, opponents have expressed how difficult it is to defend Jagr, who uses his massive lower body to protect the puck like no one the game has seen.
Fleury said that ability also creates problems for goaltenders.
“Sometimes you don't think he's going to get a shot off, but his body, how he moves, he can protect the puck and all of a sudden, it's tough,” Fleury said. “He's a little sneaky that way sometimes.”
When Fleury discussed Jagr's career accomplishments — Thursday night he became the third player in NHL history to hit the 750-goal mark — he literally took the Penguins baseball cap off of his head.
“It's amazing. All the records he's got and there were a couple of lockouts in there and he went to Russia for three years,” Fleury said. “Hats off to him.”
Playing in purple
The Penguins will wear purple warm-up jerseys Tuesday night as part of a Hockey Fights Cancer fundraiser. The autographed jerseys will be auctioned off at pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.com, with proceeds going to the UPMC Cancer Center and Mario Lemieux Foundation.