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Notebook: Pens' Fleury not ready to relax just yet

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A suggestion that the No. 1 goaltending job for the playoffs is Marc-Andre Fleury's to lose caused him to laugh -- a sign, perhaps, that he has learned to take nothing for granted.

" 'Is it my job to lose?' That's a very good way to ask the question, but it's the same question everybody's been asking," Fleury said. "Not really. That's my answer. I'm still taking it one day at a time, and like I said before, it's the coach's decision."

Coach Michel Therrien said his decision is to start Fleury against the Philadelphia Flyers in a noon game today at Mellon Arena. It will be Fleury's fifth start in six games, and he is 3-1-0 with a .944 save percentage over that span.

Fleury is 12-9-1 with a .910 save percentage and 2.78 goals-against average this season. He did not appear in an NHL game from Dec. 7 to Feb. 28 due to a high right ankle sprain.

Veteran Ty Conklin, who began the season in the AHL, is 18-6-5 with a 2.37 GAA and a league-leading .927 save percentage. He is 1-2-0 with a .854 save percentage in his past three starts.

"The way (Therrien) is, whoever plays well is going to play," Fleury said. "The guy that is playing well -- it's his job to lose."

Back to good

Right wing Petr Sykora always planned to play today, figuring his injury-plagued club needed him no matter the discomfort he felt in his achy back.

Sykora pronounced his back as "recovered" -- thanks, no doubt, to the Penguins' light schedule the past week.

"I caught a break ... got very lucky that we had only one game in six days," Sykora said. "I took advantage of it, and now I'm ready to play.

"(A sore back) is something you have to learn to deal with it. I've put total trust in this group of trainers. Mostly, it's been massage and a lot of heat, a little bit of stretching. I have three guys working on me morning and night."

No kidding

Right wing Marian Hossa and forward Pascal Dupuis shared a similar reaction yesterday morning upon learning a tornado had struck Atlanta late Friday.

"Somebody told me when I walked into the room, and I thought he was joking," Hossa said. "I lived there two-and-a-half years and nothing like that was ever close to happening. There were some really windy days, but you never think of tornadoes when you think of Atlanta."

Downtown Atlanta had not been hit with a tornado since record-keeping began in the late-1800s. CNN Center was heavily damaged. That building connects to Philips Arena, where Hossa and Dupuis played while with the Thrashers.

"I called my wife right away when I saw it on TV this morning, and she was sleeping, so I guess it was not as big a deal in the suburbs," Dupuis said. "But it looked really bad on TV. It looked like the entire downtown area was wrecked."

Dupuis said he was relieved yesterday when he remembered that the Thrashers played Friday in Washington, D.C.

"I guess you would call that fortunate scheduling," Dupuis said.

Around the boards

Defenseman Rob Scuderi practiced yesterday and said he would meet with a team physician today to discuss the status of his injured right ring finger. Scuderi will miss his eighth consecutive game. ... The Penguins will play 10 of their final 11 games against Atlantic Division teams. They are 9-11-2 against the Atlantic, four of whose five clubs entered yesterday holding a playoff spot.




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