It sounds as if Mario Lemieux is going to have at least one new linemate Tuesday at Vancouver. Lemieux played with Stephane Richer and Jan Hrdina for most of Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
“Mario needed a little more help,” coach Rick Kehoe said. “After a while, we tried some different combos. There are a lot of things we could try.”
Kehoe declined to mention names, although it’s worth remembering that Lemieux had some success with Toby Petersen earlier this season.
Richer said he does not expect to be reunited with Lemieux. Instead, Richer expects to play with Dan LaCouture and Kris Beech in Tuesday’s game.
Kehoe said he won’t play Lemieux with Robert Lang and Alexei Kovalev, believing it would enable the Canucks to concentrate all their defensive efforts on one line.
“We’ve tried that,” Kehoe said. “But you’re letting the other team put their checking line and their best defensive defensemen against them and eliminate them, especially on the road (the home team has the last line change). We might do it for a shift here and there but not a regular shift.”
Penguins winger Aleksey Morozov made a fairly impressive return to the lineup Saturday after sitting out several games because of a shoulder injury.
Morozov did finish minus-2, but he went to the net hard, drew a penalty and registered four shots playing mostly with Lang and Kovalev.
“He played hard,” Kehoe said. “For coming off the injury, he gave it what he had.”
Left winger Kevin Stevens didn’t practice yesterday, making it seem unlikely that he would accompany the team to Vancouver for its three-game road trip. Kehoe said he wasn’t sure if Stevens would accompany the club.
Stevens, who left the team Thursday in Buffalo before its game against the Sabres, has been considering retirement.
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
The Penguins aren’t the only team taking tons of bad penalties. The Vancouver Canucks led the league in bench minors as of Friday. They are having particular trouble with too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties.
In a recent overtime loss to Detroit, the Canucks took a too-many-men minor with 22 seconds left in the third period of a tied game. They killed it but never mounted a threat in overtime before Kris Draper won it for the Red Wings, who overcame a 4-1 deficit. Vancouver took three too-many-men minors in the third period of a Dec. 27 game against Calgary.
“It’s happening too much, and we have to make sure we don’t go on for the wrong guy,” coach Marc Crawford said.
Defenseman Janne Laukkanen, who missed Saturday’s game because of the flu, was one of 17 players who took part in a mandatory practice Sunday. Lemieux, Kovalev, Lang and Darius Kasparaitis were rested. Ian Moran missed practice because of the flu. … Kehoe said that he was not punishing center Kris Beech by playing him for only five shifts Saturday. “It’s not anything against him,” Kehoe said. “It was just the way the game was going. (Toby) Petersen’s line was playing good.”