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Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins: Pechursky Who?

Pittsburgh PenguinsFor those who have not heard the story, I am hear to tell it. It starts with an unknown injury to Brent Johnson which has him on IR as of last week. John Curry was called up from Wilkes-Barre to fill in as a backup until Johnson was back. It was expected that Johnson would not miss much time and Curry did have some NHL experience from last year just in case. Then comes Thursday night in which Marc-Andre Fleury ends up breaking a finger, but still finishing the game strong with a 3-2 win in Edmonton. Come to find out Fleury is going to be unable to play Saturday night against Vancouver.

Okay, things could be worse, the Penguins can just call up Brad Thiessen, the backup goaltender in Wilkes-Barre behind Curry.

Problem #1: Thiessen just played Friday night on the East Coast and flying him out in time for the game against Vancouver was not an option.

So, the Pittsburgh Penguins turned to their 5th round draft pick in 2008, 19 year old Alex Pechursky. Pechursky had just arrived in North America one month earlier and could not speak a word of English.

Okay, so no reason to panic yet. John Curry is still the starter and he played well last year while filling in when Fleury was out. Unless Curry is injured or is chased from the net, their is no reason to worry, right?

Problem #2: Curry gives up 5 goals (3 of which were in a matter of approximately 5 minutes).

Coach Dan Bylsma makes the tough decision. He had to take Curry out and throw the 19 year old Pechursky to the wolves. So here comes a kid who has zero games of experience in the NHL or AHL for that matter. He had played well so far while he was in North America (4-1-1 with two shutouts) but those were against junior players.

Pechursky came in and played well all things considered. He made no major mistakes and only gave up one goal on the power play. Even Marc-Andre Fleury would have been unable to make that save as Ryan Kesler tipped in a bouncing shot by Mason Raymond. Pechursky made a total of 12 saves and did a great job sticking to the basics and playing fundamental hockey.

At the end of the game, Pechursky was awarded the third start by Vancouver which shows a lot about Vancouver. It has been reported that when he was announced as the third start the crowd stood and applauded him. Pechursky had to ask his coach to repeat himself when he was told he would be flying to Vancouver to play with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He had to have Ruslan Fedotenko translate for him in the locker room.

What a story. Yes, after the game he was sent back to the KHL to continue his development and most likely still has a few years before we will be seeing him again. Yes, the Penguins got their butts handed to them. Pechursky, however, had a very large smile. What a day for that kid and what a performance.

Note: I have to give respect to Vancouver and it’s fans. I guarantee that at least half of the NHL’s team’s fan base would have had no idea the circumstances in which the visiting team’s backup goalie came in under. Vancouver fans did and they showed it. A standing ovation for a 19 year old kid playing for the visiting team that was easily handed defeat by the Canucks…impressive.

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2 comments for “Pittsburgh Penguins: Pechursky Who?”

  1. I love stories like that! Didn’t some team have their webmaster play goal last year? Sorry to hear you’ve got more injuries again - is this going to keep him out of the Olympics?

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | January 19, 2010, 10:08 am
  2. No, I believe Fleury will be ready in a week or so. I am sure Fleury will do anything possible to be ready for the Olympics even with Brodeur starting.

    Brooks Orpik, who was selected to team USA for the Olympics, has also been out for the past 4 games.

    Posted by pittpenNo Gravatar | January 19, 2010, 11:45 am

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