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Penguins Penguins Report: 11/24/01

Saturday, November 24, 2001

Compiled by Dejan Kovacevic

SCOUTING REPORT

Matchup: Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:38 p.m. today, Mellon Arena.

TV, radio: WCWB; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970).

Probable goaltenders: Johan Hedberg for Penguins, Martin Biron for Sabres.

Penguins: Lost at Buffalo, 4-1, Oct. 14 in final game before Ivan Hlinka was fired as head coach. ... C Robert Lang has four goals in past five meetings with Sabres. ... Are 15-2-4 at home vs. Buffalo in past 10 years.

Sabres: LW Miroslav Satan has 10 goals in 17 career meetings with Penguins. ... Have 2-6-0-1 road record that is among NHL's worst. ... LW Slava Kozlov, who scored twice vs. Penguins Oct. 14, has no goals in past 15 games.

Hidden stat: Penguins are 4-0-1 when RW Stephane Richer scores.

NOTEBOOK

The Penguins scratched C Mario Lemieux (hip), LW Martin Straka (leg), C Milan Kraft, D Hans Jonsson and D John Jakopin. Lemieux did not make the trip and is doubtful for tonight. He likely will target the Tuesday home game against the Devils for his return, but he could be out longer. Straka is out until late February. The Predators played without RW Petr Tenkrat and D Andy Berenzweig.

The Sabres will be without D Dmitri Kalinin (thumb) tonight, but D Rhett Warrener is expected to return after missing 13 games because of a partially torn groin.

Kraft and Jonsson were healthy scratches for the first time this season. Both struggled in the Penguins' previous game, a 4-1 loss Wednesday at home to the Canucks, but Coach Rick Kehoe insisted he wasn't singling them out for punishment. "We had a lot of guys who could have gotten scratched after that one," Kehoe said. Kraft, in his first full NHL season, has no points in his past 10 games, but Kehoe maintained the team has no plan to demote him to its AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre. "Sometimes, it just helps to be off to the side and watch." Jonsson was a minus-1 Wednesday and was booed by the crowd for passing up chances to shoot. Kehoe didn't rule out the chance one or both could play tonight.

D Janne Laukkanen played in his first game of the season, following major knee surgery early in the summer, and expressed relief at having returned: "There was a lot of hard work that went into this. You have to work harder -- twice as hard -- to heal your injury and keep the rest of your body in the same shape. It's been a long five months, a long time to be out. I'm pretty happy to be back." Laukkanen was paired with D Andrew Ference and took a regular shift. Also, Kehoe wasted no time in placing Laukkanen on the left point of the top power-play unit. "We need to get him under the fire right away," Kehoe said.

Last time the Penguins and Predators met, they were in Tokyo for a two-game set to open the 2000-01 season. "It was kind of like another world, another lifetime that we were all across the big ocean," Predators RW Tom Fitzgerald said. "It really doesn't seem like it was just last year. You know, at first, I was a bit reluctant about that trip because of the travel. But I'm so glad I got to do that. I thought it was a great experience, just to see another part of the world that I'll never see again."

Predators D Andy Delmore, who torched the Penguins for five goals in the Flyers' second-round Stanley Cup playoff victory two years ago, appears to have found a home in Nashville. The Predators acquired him from Philadelphia in June and have been pleased with his work. "I think that slowly but surely, I'm finding a way to fit in," he said. "I think one of the reasons I'm here now is to help in an all-around defensive game and, when I do get a chance to chip in, go for it." He has fond memories of that series against the Penguins, after which some were labeling him the next Brian Leetch. "Yeah, that was a fun time, to win that series and get into the conference final. It was a great ride. It's going to be something that will be hard for me to match, I think."

Nashville is scoring more and allowing more, breaking from the mold it had formed in the franchise's first three seasons. Coach Barry Trotz credited that to a wave of young, skilled players such as C David Legwand, C Denis Arkhipov, LW Scott Hartnell and RW Vladimir Orsagh. "We're in a little bit of a transition," Trotz said. "We were an expansion team, so we didn't have a whole lot of offense. Our mandate was to draft some offensive players. We've gotten a little younger every year, and some of those draft choices who are offensively inclined are playing for us now. At this point, we're trying to play a similar style, but we're a little more offense-minded. It's just that we're a little more dangerous now."

Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for the game at Mellon Arena tonight.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT
THURSDAY'S RESULTS

WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON (3-15-3-1) did not play. C Shane Endicott leads AHL rookies with nine goals.

WHEELING (7-8) beat Trenton, 3-2, at Wheeling Civic Center. C Chris Wells scored the decisive goal in the shootout. C Dylan Gyori scored his eighth goal, D Mark Moore his second. G Joel Laing stopped 37 of 39 shots.

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