The injury bug keeps biting the Pittsburgh Penguins. This time, goaltender Sebastien Caron is the latest victim.
He joins Andre Roy, Shane Endicott, Dick Tarnstrom and John LeClair on the Penguins’ injury list.
“It’s all part of the game,” Penguins coach Eddie Olczyk said. “Hey, those are the cards you’re dealt. It gives other guys the opportunity to play. They have to step up.”
Caron strained a quadriceps muscle making a save in Wednesday’s 5-0 loss in Atlanta. He left the contest with 2:53 to play in the third period. The Penguins placed Caron on injured reserve and recalled Marc-Andre Fleury from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Fleury is 7-0-1-0 this season with the Baby Penguins, posting a 1.49 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage. Fleury posted a 0-1-1 record in three games he played in Pittsburgh early in the season.
“I don’t think it’s anything too serious, but [Caron] definitely needs some time off and he couldn’t play if we needed him,” Olczyk said.
That means Jocelyn Thibault got the start in goal for the Penguins on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. Thibault played the final 2:53 Wednesday night in Atlanta. Thibault has not started a game since a 4-3 home overtime loss to Florida on Oct. 25.
“With Caron going on IR and Fleury coming up, Jocelyn will get an opportunity to play tonight,” Olczyk said. “Jocelyn has the opportunity and we have the confidence he is going to play and play well, but actions – you have to go out there and do your job and play well. It’s an opportunity for him to get back and play and play a lot. All we’re doing is looking at one game and that’s tonight against the Canadiens.”
The good news for the Penguins is that LeClair, a forward, returned to the lineup Thursday night. He suffered facial fractures when he was hit by a puck in the morning skate last Saturday. He missed the last three games.
“Johnny is a game-time decision,” Olczyk said. “I think just not skating for four or five days [might be a factor]. The swelling has gone down, which is great. We’ll see how he is after warm-ups tonight.”
LeClair donned a full faceshield – similar to what younger amateur players wear – attached to his helmet in Thursday’s morning skate.
“I played with a visor back in college. It’s all a matter of getting used to it,” he said. “I will need to use a visor for a little while. The vision is a little different in it, but it’s not bad. It fogs up. That’s part of it. You just wipe it off and away you go.”
LeClair believes the swelling near his right eye has subsided enough for him to return to game situations.
“There’s some pain in there, but it’s controllable,” he said. “I will talk to the trainer and we’ll figure out [whether to play Thursday or not].”
LeClair is sixth on the team with 10 points (5+5) and the power play has fizzled without his presence in front of the net.
“Johnny wants to play and we’ve missed him, that’s for sure – not only his experience, but his leadership and the things he’s done on his ice,” Olczyk said. It’s good to see him. I am sure with the apparatus [equipment manager Steve Latin] put together, it will probably remind him of his days playing minor hockey.”
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar should be on the ice Thursday night. He injured a groin muscle Wednesday night, but he played against the Thrashers and Olczyk doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
“He pulled his groin in warm-ups the other night, but he should be OK to play,” Olczyk said.
Endicott, who has missed every game this season, remains out of the lineup with a high ankle sprain.
“He’s still probably a little ways away. That high ankle sprain is something that’s real sensitive,” Olczyk said. “Right now I think we’re just going to keep going day-to-day and see how he is. Hopefully, he will turn the corner and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Tarnstrom injured a knee ligament early in a 7-5 home win over Atlanta on Oct. 27. Thursday morning, he skated with his teammates for the first time since the injury.
“Dick is still a ways away from playing, but he’s moving along nicely,” Olczyk said. “We’ll kind of see where he is maybe at the end of the weekened and have a better idea [of what to expect].”
Meanwhile, Roy, who suffered a broken orbital bone on Oct. 22, remains out for a while.
“He is still probably a couple weeks since he hasn’t been on the ice at all,” Olczyk said. “I think he has to be re-evaluated in the next five days. We’ll see where he is then.”