Penguins coach Michel Therrien reconfigured his forward lines a few days before the season opened, placing Sidney Crosby between Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora on the No. 1 unit.
While that was an intriguing combination, it didn't take Therrien long to decide that he didn't like it. Not enough to keep it intact, anyway.
He plugged Mark Recchi into Sykora's spot for the start of the Penguins' 5-4 victory against Anaheim at Mellon Arena Saturday and, even though Sykora got some work there over the course of the evening, so did Recchi. And Georges Laraque.
Consider it the latest evidence that Therrien isn't shy about blowing up his forward lines and rebuilding them.
"I'm used to it now," Crosby said. "It seems like there's always a bit of juggling going on. You've just got to go out there and do the same thing, no matter who the guy is. Everyone knows their role."
While Crosby wouldn't mind having a fairly permanent set of linemates, he understands that isn't likely to happen.
"Sometimes, that's not the way it works," he said. "Sometimes our line might need to pick it up, or another line might need a boost so they take a guy off our line.
"That's hockey. We all understand that. Sure, it would be nice to settle on all four lines, but that doesn't happen usually."
Crosby, clearly affected by a Francois Beauchemin shot he blocked with the outside of his right foot early in the first period, set up Ryan Malone's winning goal Saturday for his only point of the night. He put up a total of two goals and three assists in his previous two home openers.
A once-in-a-season matchup
The game Saturday commanded considerable attention in hockey circles, since it pitted the Stanley Cup champions against a club many expect to compete for a title in the near future, but the Sorel-Tracy region of Quebec might have been more interested than almost anywhere else.
So much so that a radio station from that area, CJSO, got permission from the NHL to broadcast the game. Not to carry a broadcast, but to send its own two-man crew to Mellon Arena.
It's not just that fans in Sorel-Tracy appreciate a good early-season matchup; they had a personal stake in the game, because it's the only time this season two favorite sons, Beauchemin and Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, will face each other. Unless they meet in the Stanley Cup final.
Beauchemin logged a game-high 31 minutes, 20 seconds of ice time and had three assists, while Fleury made 19 saves and earned the victory.
Anaheim feeling road-weary
Anaheim played well Saturday -- coach Randy Carlyle said the Ducks "competed extremely hard" -- but clearly showed the effects of being at the end of a 13-day road trip that carried them from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to the far side of the Atlantic.
The Ducks played two games against Los Angeles in London last weekend, then visited Detroit, Columbus and the Penguins in a four-day span after returning to North America.
That might explain why, disappointed as Anaheim was that it didn't get at least a point Saturday, the Ducks weren't planning to dwell on it during the postgame flight back to California.
"I think we're too tired to be angry," defenseman Chris Pronger told reporters. "It'll just be nice to get back home."
The Penguins had yesterday off. ... Numbers on the sleeves of the Penguins' sweaters had to be lowered slightly because of the shoulder patch being worn in recognition of the city's 250th anniversary.
First Published October 8, 2007 4:00 AM