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Penguins Report: Goligoski Faces Hometown Team for First Time

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski has seen the Minnesota Wild before while growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“I always went to the games and it was fun,” said Goligoski, a Grand Rapids native. “I was in high school when they first got there. I followed them ever since, through college.”

Goligoski will get to see his hometown team once again on Tuesday night when the Penguins host the Wild at Mellon Arena at 7 p.m. Only this time, instead of watching the Wild from the seats, he’ll get an up-close and personal experience.

“It’s definitely cool, I’ve been following them for a long time now,” said Goligoski about playing the Wild. “I have a bunch of friends (back home) that are Wild fans, obviously that will be watching. So it’ll definitely be cool to play against them.”

Goligoski is part of a generation of Minnesota-area hockey fans that grew up without a professional team after the North Stars left for Dallas in 1993.

“I was too young for the North Star,” Goligoski said.

Minnesota is a hotbed of rabid hockey fans. The city suffered through a seven-year drought until the Wild entered the league as an expansion team in 2000.

 “I can’t believe they went that long without a team after the North Stars left,” Goligoski said. “I think they’ve sold out every single game since they’ve been there. The fan support there is unbelievable. They’re real excited to get a team back.”

> Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury missed practice for the second straight day on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury and will not be in the lineup for the Penguins when they take on Minnesota. Fleury is listed as day-to-day and a return date is unknown.

It’s tough to say how much time it’s going to take. It’s a tough injury. - Marc-Andre Fleury
“It’s tough to say how much time it’s going to take,” Fleury said. “It’s a tough injury. The trainers want to be safe and not rush anything. If it gets worse then it could come back in the season. I don’t want that. I want it to be done right away and not think about it the rest of the season.”

“It's not a major injury but we don't want to take any risks,” head coach Michel Therrien said after practice on Monday. “That's why we want to be really cautious with his injury.”

Fleury will rest and see how he feels later in the week. The toughest aspect of the injury for Fleury is that it keeps him away from his teammates on the ice.

“I think it’s just tough not being with the team,” Fleury said. “Just to be sidelined and not be a part of practice and games.”

> With Fleury out of the lineup, Dany Sabourin will make his first start at Mellon Arena against Minnesota.

“We played a really good game last year against the Wild,” Sabourin said. “It was really intense, like a playoff game. They trap, they crash the net hard and like to play behind the net. We have to be ready for that.”

With Fleury’s day-to-day status and unknown return, Sabourin will take over as the Penguins top goalie for the foreseeable future. It’s a familiar role for Sabourin, who briefly took the reigns last season when Fleury was lost to a high ankle sprain.



“I learned a lot from last year how to be No. 1 and what it takes, how to handle the media, the pressure and the distractions,” Sabourin said. “It’s more off the ice and mentally than on the ice. I think everybody can play but handling the pressure and stuff like that, to be a No. 1, that’s what it takes.”

Pittsburgh recalled goalie John Curry from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to backup Sabourin for Tuesday night’s game.

“It happened pretty quickly,” Curry said of his quick turnaround to join the Penguins. “I had a flight scheduled that ended up getting canceled so I ended up driving. It’s a solid four hours (driving) and I went a little slower with the storm.”

Curry posted a 3-4-0 record in eight games with the Baby Penguins while recording a 3.36 goals against average and .897 save percentage.

> Recently acquired Philippe Boucher will be in the lineup on Tuesday night for the Penguins. The right-handed defenseman, who was acquired on Sunday from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Darryl Sydor, will make his debut for Pittsburgh.

I’m not usually nervous before games but I was a little out there this morning. - Philippe Boucher
“I’m a little nervous right now,” the 35-year-old Boucher said. “I’m not usually nervous before games but I was a little out there this morning. I can’t wait to join them on the ice and move forward with my new team.”

It is certain that Boucher will play, though it is unclear who his defensive partner will be. Therrien continuously rotated his defensive pairings at Tuesday’s morning skate. Boucher skated alongside every Penguins defenseman but his partner won't affect his style.

“It’s nothing different,” Boucher said. “I’m going to play my game. I’m not going to change too much. I might be more of an offensive role here, which I’ve done in the past. I’m looking forward to doing that.”

Boucher did get some practice time with Pittsburgh’s power-play unit.

“I was playing some power play (with Dallas),” Boucher said. “It looks like I might get a chance to be on the power play here.”

> On Saturday night the Montreal Canadiens will retire Patrick Roy's No. 33 jersey. As a Quebec native, Fleury said the Canadiens' great had a major impact on his career.

"When I was a kid, on the street, pretending I was Patrick Roy making those saves," Fleury said. "He’s one of the first to play the butterfly. It’s something I try to work on to be like him. That’s the guy I watched play and he was doing well. He was winning. So I wanted to be like him."


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