Sidney Crosby believes Marc-Andre Fleury needs to play.
Coach Dan Bylsma strongly hinted otherwise Monday. He indicated Brent Johnson will start for the Penguins at home Wednesday night -- adding that Fleury, the club's struggling franchise goalie, "doesn't have (confidence) right now."
Crosby's assessment differs. He thinks Fleury needs to play his way out of a funk.
"He's going to have good games. It's not like he can change overnight. He's going to put strings of games together, and he can't do that with one game. So, you've got to be patient, too, and let him get back there," he said after a practice at Southpointe Iceoplex.
"With a goalie, you've got to give him time. He's got to play four or five games maybe to prove that, but to sit here and question his psyche doesn't really give him a chance."
Since becoming the youngest captain in NHL history three years ago, Crosby has crafted a reputation for walking the company line. His support of Fleury -- off to a dreadful start and pulled early from a win Saturday night at Phoenix -- is an indication of his maturing leadership qualities.
Certainly, yesterday marked his first expressed difference of opinion with a coach.
Maybe he was just having the back of a long-time friend whose famous smiles have been few and far between this season.
Fleury, who declined comment, is not playing up to the standard of a goalie who garnered a big-game reputation during consecutive runs to the Cup Final in 2008 and 2009. In contrast, Johnson, a respected veteran backup, has played to a Vezina Trophy level.
He was fourth in goals-against average (1.63) and save percentage (.943) -- though he missed practice because of illness.
Johnson has won the confidence of Bylsma and teammates, many of whom believe the Penguins (7-7-1, 15 points) cannot afford to …