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Notebook: Fleury's Confidence Is Contagious

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
At the Penguins’ practice on Sunday, one player dazzled the crowd with a beautiful spin-o-rama move during the team’s shootout—but it wasn’t a skater.

In front of a large crowd at the team’s Iceoplex at Southpointe practice facility, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did a complete 360 as Ben Lovejoy approached and subsequently managed to deflect the defenseman’s shot with his pad.

“We had a day off (on Saturday), so I had energy today,” Fleury said on his shootout antics. “Just had some fun with the guys. It was a big crowd there. They always cheer when (the players) score goals, so I tried to make them cheer for the goalie this time.”

In addition to his spin-o-rama, Fleury stoned shootout staples such as defenseman Kris Letang with stops that included push-ups, squats and windmills. He even made a save on defenseman Zbynek Michalek while flat on his back.

After starting the season with a 1-6 record, Fleury is now riding a 4-0-1 unbeaten streak after Friday’s 5-4 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes. His confidence is contagious, and his teammates are glad to see Fleury has his groove back.

“It’s huge to see, especially with his start,” forward Max Talbot said. “Now he’s back to himself. I think it gets everybody around him better, because we’re like just, ‘Okay, Flower’s there,’ and that’s awesome.”

Fleury made 30 saves in the Penguins’ victory on Friday, including some big stops in the shootout. While head coach Dan Bylsma may have shook his head a bit at the show his goalie put on in Sunday’s practice, he’s just happy to see Fleury back in the spot he needs to be in order for the team to have success.

“Part of Flower and his game is that confidence level,” he said. “Early in the year, he’s a serious competitor and a big competitor for our team, and not getting the results the team wanted affected him. But to see him play games in a row, to see him be confident, to see a little bit of the smirk and the smile underneath the mask in practice voices about where he’s at.”


Forward Evgeni Malkin did not practice on Sunday, while forwards Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz left the ice early.

Bylsma said that all three players should be on the ice Monday for the team’s morning skate at the Bank Atlantic Center as the Penguins begin their fifth annual ‘Dad’s Trip’ by facing the Florida Panthers.

“The players that are not on the ice and the ones that left are dealing with some aches and pains and soreness,” he said. “They are expecting to be on the ice (Monday) morning.”

Crosby confirmed that he would be ready to play.

“Usually you go off early and try to prevent things from getting too bad,” Crosby said. “So hopefully I was able to do that.”

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