Notebook: Aubin gets first start in
RALEIGH, N.C. — Jean-Sebastien Aubin got his first start in goal in more than two weeks Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. His last start was a 7-3 loss in Detroit on Oct. 25. Johan Hedberg started the six games since.
Coach Rick Kehoe told Aubin yesterday morning that he’d play, but Aubin said he expected to get the start all along. Hedberg and the Penguins played the night before in Tampa Bay, a 4-1 loss.
“Yeah it is,” he said when asked if it was difficult to start after such a long layoff. “But you’ve got to go with what you’ve got. I’ve had some pretty good practices lately so I think everything should be fine.”
Aubin got most of his starts on the road last season. He started 18 total games last season with 16 decisions and 13 of them were on the road. He had eight regulation losses, two losses in overtime, two regulation wins and one overtime win.
“I don’t really pay attention to that,” he said about the inflated number of road starts. “It’s the situation. You have to do it no matter what. It’s not that bad.”
Only a handful of players stuck around to get Aubin warmed up yesterday morning. The team arrived in the Raleigh-Durham area late after Friday’s game, and Kehoe made the morning skate optional. Most players did not participate with yesterday being their third game in four days.
SHAKING UP THE LINES
Kehoe changed the lineup, switching Alexandre Daigle and Alexei Kovalev. Daigle, who has two goals in two games and scored the only Penguins goal Friday, played with Mario Lemieux and Aleksey Morozov on the top line. Kovalev played with Jan Hrdina and Martin Straka.
Kehoe also put defenseman Janne Laukkanen back on the bench and gave Hans Jonsson his first game in the last seven. Jonsson was a minus-4 with no points in six games going into yesterday. He stayed on the bench in the first period.
The Penguins are adding bobblehead dolls in the images of Mario Lemieux (March 12 vs. Nashville), Johan Hedberg (Feb. 18 vs. Edmonton), Aleksey Morozov (March 4 vs. Phoenix), Rick Kehoe (Feb. 4 vs. Vancouver), Kevin Stevens (March 16 vs. Florida) and mascot Iceburgh (Feb. 23 vs. New Jersey). Those are six of eight promotional nights being added to the 2002-03 schedule because of the overwhelming success of the first three giveaways. The additional promos are Youth Street Hockey Stick Night (Dec. 21 vs.Calgary) and ball cap night (Jan. 4 vs. the New York Islanders).
VUJTEK HAS TAKERS
There are reportedly several teams in Europe with some interest in Penguins forward Vladimir Vujtek, according to a Finnish magazine. Vujtek played for HPK Hameelinna in the Finish league last year, totaling 19 goals and 39 assists in 45 games.
“We want Vujtek if he’s coming to Finland,” Hameelinna coach Jukka Jalonen told Veikkaaja Magazine. “We believe HPK is his first choice.”
The magazine reported a Russian team coached by Ivan Hlinka and a Swiss team are also interested in Vujtek. The Penguins are negotiating to buy out the forward’s contract.
Dan LaCouture was in the lineup and kept his early shifts short following a nasty hit behind the net against Tampa Bay. LaCouture missed part of the second period Friday because he couldn’t move his right shoulder initially. He came back for the third period and finished the game. He played only 1:55 in the first period on four shifts. … The Hurricanes scratched Jeff Daniels and Josef Vasicek. … The referees for the game were Don Koharski and Chris Rooney. … The game was a sellout (18,730). … The Penguins have four days off before playing against in Minnesota against the Wild. … Lemieux led all players in ice time in the first period with 10:53.
Karen Price is a former freelancer.