Fleury could dress vs. Jets; Letang out 7-10 days
By Josh Yohe
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 12:06 p.m.
The injury news could have been worse for the Penguins.
Still, the team's attempt to break the NHL's all-time record for most consecutive victories will continue against Winnipeg on Thursday without top defenseman Kris Letang and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Letang is out seven to 10 days with a broken toe, while Fleury's availability is questionable because of a neck injury.
The news regarding Fleury is not grave. In fact, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Wednesday that Fleury could serve as a backup Thursday against the Jets.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was scheduled to start against the Jets and will do so as the Penguins attempt to win their 14th consecutive game.
The NHL record for most consecutive wins is 17 and was set 20 years ago by the 1992-93 Penguins.
When Fleury will play again remains uncertain.
“He is continuing to get evaluated,” Bylsma said. “I don't have any more information in that regard. I don't have any information as of yet. He hasn't been ruled out of being the backup as of yet.”
Fleury was injured during the final minute of the second period against Montreal. Canadiens forward Brian Gionta shoved Penguins right wing Tyler Kennedy toward the net. Kennedy's forearm hit Fleury in the head.
Fleury is suffering from neck discomfort but is not believed to have a concussion.
Although Fleury initially appeared to grab to his leg, Bylsma made it clear that the goaltender is only dealing with “an upper-body injury.”
The Penguins were furious following the play. No penalty was called even though Rule 69-1 states that a player should be penalized if he intentionally shoves another player into a goaltender.
Bylsma has mixed feelings about the incident.
“I think if it was reversed, if it was a defending player pushing an offensive player, It gets called a little more,” Bylsma said. “It's not something that's called very often by the referee. Does it happen a handful of times in every game? Probably it does to some degree. It's a hard one to call, a hard one to notice.”
It was fairly easy to notice that Letang wasn't himself upon making his return from a three-game absence. Letang missed the three games earlier this month with a groin injury.
He suffered a broken toe in the first period against the Canadiens. Even though he remained in the game, he did not play with his customary speed. Defenseman Simon Despres has been recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Center Evgeni Malkin could return to the lineup against Winnipeg, but his availability remains uncertain. Malkin skated with the Penguins at Wednesday's practice.
He has skated with the Penguins during each of the team's past eight workouts.
“He continues to be day to day,” Bylsma said.
Note: Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo remains on the Penguins' 23-man roster but has been sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a conditioning assignment. Bortuzzo has not played since the Penguins' last loss, a 4-1 setback at Carolina on Feb. 28. Bylsma said Bortuzzo will return to the team soon and will remain on the roster.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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