Jocelyn Thibault can’t wait to make his Mellon Arena debut in a Pittsburgh Penguins uniform.
He will have to wait until Oct. 20 when the Penguins welcome the New Jersey Devils. Since Thibault went on injured reserve last Saturday, he will not be cleared to play until Sunday. The Penguins welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Mellon Arena on Saturday night, but won't play again until the Devils come to town on Oct. 20.
“I want to come back for the weekend, but I am not sure as far as the [injured reserve] is concerned,” Thibault said after Wednesday’s practice. “I want to make myself available to play. If I can, great. If I can’t because I am still on the IR until Sunday, we’ll see, but I will be ready for the next game.”
Thibault, who came to Pittsburgh from Chicago in an August trade, was slated to start last Saturday’s Penguins home-opener. However, the butterfly-style goalie took a puck to an unpadded portion of his left knee in Saturday’s pre-game skate. Thibault had to be helped off the ice, but X-rays showed no fractured bones.
On Tuesday, Thibault shed his crutches and worked vigorously on an exercise bike during practice. He hit the ice with his teammates on Wednesday for the first time since last Saturday. He took part in all of the team’s drills along with goaltenders Sebastien Caron and Marc-Andre Fleury, who was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to take Thibault’s roster spot.
“Obviously, I was a little sore this morning, but I knew it was going to happen. As the practice went on, it got warmed up more and more and it felt a little better,” Thibault said. “It was a good first day. I didn’t expect it to feel better, but I felt pretty good. Hopefully it will get better over the next couple days. It’s Wednesday so there is a lot of time ahead of us. I am sure I will be ready to play for the weekend.”
Penguins head coach Eddie Olczyk was happy to see Thibault take the ice Wednesday.
“For not seeing shots for really since last Friday, because he got hurt so early in practice on Saturday, I thought he looked good,” Olczyk said. “It’s going to be where he is an hour from now tomorrow morning [after practice] as far as any swelling might be concerned because of his inactivity. He worked really hard [Tuesday], but once you get on the ice, it’s a little different. I expect a better estimate as to where he is [Thursday] after practice.”
Thibault has not seen game action since played in the Penguins’ season-opening loss at New Jersey on Oct. 5.