Penguins Notebook: Pneumonia forces Roberts out of lineup

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PHILADELPHIA -- Gary Roberts recognized the symptoms, and probably had a pretty good idea of what might be causing them, too.

So it's unlikely Roberts, a left winger for the Penguins, was terribly surprised when he was told a few days ago that he has what Roberts described as "a minor case" of pneumonia.

It is, he said, the third time in the past two years he has had that illness, which forced him to sit out Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final against Philadelphia last night and has made it impossible to predict when he'll be able to resume playing.

"I've got to make sure it doesn't get escalated to the point where I'm in the hospital, like I was two summers ago," he said yesterday.

"I'll just take some days here and try to get this thing to settle down. Hopefully, I'll be able to resume some activity here in the next couple days, get back to skating."

Team officials said the diagnosis came down sometime after Game 3. Before that game, they had denied a Canadian report that Roberts had pneumonia, labeling his illness simply a "respiratory" ailment.

Roberts, who also is asthmatic and sensitive to high pollen counts, said he began to notice that something was amiss earlier this month.

"For two weeks, my lungs have been bad," he said. "I could feel my lungs tightening up. ... As soon as my activity level gets up, my lungs shut down, and that's not a good thing for playing hockey, obviously."

Roberts had respiratory problems in training camp, which caused conditioning problems for him. Missing more than three months while recovering from a broken leg and high ankle sprain didn't help, either.

"I've been trying to play catch-up all season, trying to get in shape," he said. "I'm trying to work hard, and part of me says I'm just not in shape, that that's why I'm wheezing like this.

"When I was working hard, working hard and it wasn't getting any better, I knew something was up."

No Coburn, either

Roberts wasn't the only prominent player to sit out Game 4.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn, injured when a shot was deflected and struck him near the left eye early in Game 2, was unable to play, even though he had rejoined his teammates for practice the previous day.

"We were hopeful [Wednesday]," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "He got on the ice a little bit, but is still not ready to play."

Coburn did not, Stevens added, have a medical setback that influenced the decision to keep him in street clothes last night.

Another honor for Lemieux

Former Penguins superstar and current owner Mario Lemieux was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame yesterday along with the first three women to be inducted -- Cammie Granato, Geraldine Heaney and Angela James. Other players inducted were Russian great Igor Larionov and Philippe Bozon, the first French player to skate in the NHL.

A constant, but no pattern

Looking for a constant in the Penguins' playoff run?

How about this: Three games into each series, the Penguins have held a 3-0 lead. And on each occasion, at least one media member -- and usually a lot more -- has noted that 33 years passed between the first and second times an NHL club rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

And that it has been, yes, 33 years since the New York Islanders pulled off that feat against the Penguins in 1975.

The talk of a 33-year cycle resurfaced again in some quarters the past few days. The Flyers undoubtedly were hoping it would do them more good than it did Ottawa or the New York Rangers in the previous two rounds.

Perhaps before these playoffs are over, someone will explain how a pattern can be set by only two series. No question that it was 33 years between the first and second comebacks, but why would that assure that it would be 33 more before it happened again?

Why not 34? Or 66? Of course, it's also possible -- likely, even -- that those were two random, thoroughly unrelated events, and that there is no pattern.

Downie loses lineup spot

Flyers winger Steve Downie, whose giveaways led to Penguins goals in each of the previous two games, lost his place in the lineup to Patrick Thoresen last night.


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