After skating away with a 2-1 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night, the Pens had a day of fun in the sun with their dads on Saturday afternoon in sunny Florida.
After an off-ice workout in the morning, the players and staffers met their fathers on the beach and spent the afternoon playing bocce and horseshoes in the sand before heading to a team dinner outdoors.
“It’s been good. I’m very fortunate my dad doesn’t snore much,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said of his father Andre. “It’s a big plus for me. Other than that, it’s been fun. We had that cool little horseshoe tournament, dinner at the beach. Good to spend some time with your dads.”
However, Marc didn’t pair up with his dad when it was their turn for horseshoes – opting to play with teammate Chris Kunitz instead.
“It was just nice to give him a lesson of horseshoes,” Marc said before adding with a grin, “it was good to beat his butt.”
Andre is a veteran of the Dads’ Trip, as his son is the longest-tenured Penguin on the team. But Marc said he doesn’t think Andre will be taking charge of the fathers.
“I don’t think they understand much of what he’s talking about or saying anyway,” Marc laughed. “I think it would be tough to lead them around.”
While the term ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ applies to all the dads and their sons, Sidney Crosby said it might be the most applicable to the Fleurys.
“It’s amazing to see kind of just the subtle things everybody does like their dads,” Crosby smiled. “Flower’s dad is pretty funny. His English gets better and better as the trip goes on and as the day goes on. He’s fun to have around. He’s been around for a long time, so it’s fun to see him.”
BACK TO BUSINESS
On Sunday, it was back to business as the Pens practiced at 1 p.m. at BB&T Center heading into their third and final matchup of the season with the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
The dads were in the stands watching and took a group photo with their kids before the session started, where all expected players were present.
The Pens’ lines and D-pairs stayed status quo…
Afterward, head coach Mike Sullivan was asked if he felt any obligation to get everybody into a game on the Dads’ Trip.
“No,” he replied. “For me, I’ve said this all along. The coaching staff is making decisions on a game-by-game basis. The lineup decisions that we make are what we feel gives us the best chance to win on that given night and that is the priority. That’s the business that we’re in. That will never change. We’re trying to win games here, we’re trying to climb in the standings and we’re going to try to make decisions accordingly.”
We’ll have to wait and see which goaltender is in net, as Sullivan told me they were still figuring out whether Fleury or Jeff Zatkoff would get the nod between the pipes on Monday.
Sullivan provided an update on center Evgeni Malkin, who’s missed the last five games with a lower-body injury and is currently back in Pittsburgh rehabbing.
“I talked to (athletic trainer Chris Stewart) when I got off the ice. (Malkin) had a good day today,” Sullivan said. “He is making progress. So that’s encouraging. Hopefully he continues to make progress. He’s that much closer. We’ll see. We’ll evaluate when we get back after this game.”
Sullivan also said there was nothing new to report on forward Nick Bonino, who’s missed 12 games with a hand injury.
“He’s on the ice and he’s skating, which is good,” Sullivan said. “He’s getting his skating legs back and trying to get them in shape that way. But he’s on the same timeframe.”