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Penguins Penguins Report: 4/13/02

Saturday, April 13, 2002

By Dejan Kovacevic


Matchup: Penguins vs. Boston Bruins, 7:08 p.m. today, FleetCenter.

TV, radio: Fox Sports Net; WWSW-FM (94.5), WBGG-AM (970).

Probable goaltenders: Jean-Sebastien Aubin for Penguins, John Grahame for Bruins.

Penguins: Are 1-2 vs. Bruins, including 4-1 victory Dec. 6 in Boston. ... RW Aleksey Morozov has one goal in past 12 games, none in past eight. ... Have lost season-high five in row on road, not scoring more than two goals in any game.

Bruins: Are 0-2-1-2 in past five games but can clinch first place in Eastern Conference with win. ... RW Glen Murray, team leader with 38 goals, has nine in past 13 games. ... Have been outshot in only 20 of 81 games.

Hidden stat: Since being acquired by the Penguins Jan. 4, C Randy Robitaille has 10 more points than his far more famous namesake, Red Wings LW Luc Robitaille, in the same span. Randy has 10 goals and 19 assists in 39 games Luc 11 goals and eight assists in 37 games.


The Penguins scratched C Mario Lemieux (hip), C Robert Lang (hand), C Kent Manderville (ankle), C Wayne Primeau (knee), LW Martin Straka (ankle), RW Shean Donovan (elbow), D Ian Moran (hip), D Josef Melichar (shoulder) and D Janne Laukkanen. RW Alexei Kovalev aggravated a hip flexor in the second period and did not return. He will not accompany the team to Boston for its game tonight. Neither will D Hans Jonsson, whose shoulder was bruised in the first period. D Michal Rozsival returned after missing three games because of a groin injury. Tests performed Thursday to determine the nature of Laukkanen’s lingering fatigue and breathing problems were inconclusive. GM Craig Patrick described Laukkanen as a healthy scratch. The Maple Leafs played without C Robert Reichel (rib), LW Gary Roberts (rib), RW Mikael Renberg (hamstring), D Dmitry Yushkevich (leg) and G Tom Barrasso.

The Bruins will be without D Jarno Kultanen (knee).

Kovalev was named the Penguins’ Most Valuable Player in a pregame ceremony, one of four team awards he won. He also was recognized with the Leading Scorer Award and the A.T. Caggiano Memorial Booster Club Cup for having the most three-star selections, and he shared the Player’s Player Award with D Ian Moran. The latter goes to the player who exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, as voted by his teammates. Moran also won the Bob Johnson Memorial Award for character and dedication to the team. G Johan Hedberg was honored twice, too, as the rookie of the year and as the recipient of the Baz Bastien Memorial Good Guy Award for cooperation with the local members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Patrick expressed delight at seeing Kovalev receive multiple honors: “It’s nice to see. He hasn’t always been consistent throughout his career, so it’s nice to see him put together two good years. We know he’s the real deal.” Kovalev scored his 32nd goal last night, 12 fewer than last season but in 13 fewer games. He was touched by the warm ovation he received during the ceremony and afterward, when the players gave their sweaters to a select group of fans. “The people here have been great to me, so great to me,” Kovalev said. “That’s something I always want to give back to them.”

The crowd of 16,816 was 142 below capacity, leaving the Penguins with 17 sellouts in 41 home games and a final average attendance of 15,650. Last season, buoyed by Lemieux’s emergence from retirement, there were 26 sellouts and an average attendance of 16,398. “The fan support has been strong and enthusiastic, especially under the circumstances we had with losing so many players,” said Tom McMillan, vice president of communications. “I think the city responded well.” McMillan noted that the team began selling individual tickets Sept. 10, the day before the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. “The fans weren’t thinking about buying tickets, and we weren’t thinking about selling them. That put us behind before the season even started.”

G Curtis Joseph returned to the Maple Leafs for the first time since his left hand was broken Feb. 26 and stopped 27 of 29 shots. Toronto Coach Pat Quinn wanted Joseph to see some action before deciding if he, Barrasso or Corey Schwab would start the postseason. Joseph’s recovery took six weeks, which is the amount of time it had been projected he would remain in a cast, but a special bone-stimulating treatment accelerated the healing. “What happens is that the bone wants to grab onto something,” Joseph said yesterday, “and it grabs onto the other part of the bone.” He wore extra padding in his catching glove to minimize the pain and showed little discomfort.

After finishing their season tonight, the Penguins will gather for physicals and a team meeting tomorrow afternoon at Southpointe before going their separate ways.

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