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Penguins notebook: Brodeur expects Fleury to rebound

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a first-period save in front of the Devils' Patrik Elias on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

A Penguins official announced Thursday morning that Marc-Andre Fleury would not be granting interviews before the game, which is uncharacteristic for him.

New Jersey's legendary goaltender, Martin Brodeur, did the talking for Fleury.

Brodeur, who didn't start Thursday because he has missed close to a week of training camp following his father's death, spoke candidly about the Penguins' goaltender.

“I think he's a great goalie, a friend,” Brodeur said. “I think he'll be good.”

Fleury rebounded nicely, stopping all 27 shots he faced in a 3-0 victory over the Devils.

Brodeur was informed that Fleury has been seeing a sports psychologist at the Penguins' request.

The New Jersey goalie first made a joke about the situation — “I'm glad they (the Devils) never asked me to do that. We could have been there for a long time.” — but then suggested that Fleury probably was a mess mentally after being yanked against the New York Islanders in the first round of the NHL playoffs last spring.

“You could tell how he exploded (out of the crease) at times and looked out of control,” Brodeur said. “He didn't know what was going on.”

Brodeur also suggested the Penguins' frantic desire to play offensive hockey instead of playing a more conservative style probably has not benefited the goaltender.

“Chaos isn't good,” he said.

Brodeur seemed surprised Fleury was pulled against the Islanders.

“You don't get to two finals and then expect to be pulled from a playoff series,” Brodeur said.

“But that's how they did it, and I guess it worked out because (Tomas) Vokoun played well for them.”

Brodeur expects Fleury to recover in a big way this season.

“I love his style of play,” Brodeur said. “When you struggle, it can snowball on you, especially when expectations are so high. But it's part of being a goalie, that consistency you need to have every year. Sometimes you lose yourself, and it's hard to recover. But I think he's going to be fine.”

Neal hurt again

Right wing James Neal left practice abruptly Wednesday and did not participate in Thursday's morning skate, but was able to play against the Devils. He didn't stay on the ice for long.

Neal left midway through the first period after absorbing a hit into the boards. He walked gingerly to the locker room and did not return.

Vokoun a big hit

Superstars always receive the loudest ovation during pregame introductions on opening night, but fans at Consol Energy Center saved one of their loudest roars for a guy not in uniform.

Goalie Tomas Vokoun, who is out three-to-six months after blood clot surgery, received quite a reception and stood behind the bench during introductions with injured defenseman Kris Letang.

Lacking some punch

Two of the Penguins more physical players, center Joe Vitale and defenseman Deryk Engelland, were healthy scratches against the Devils.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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