Penguins Notebook: Line changes put into effect

Satan demoted, Goligoski scratched in quest for 'more intensity'

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NEW YORK -- Coach Michel Therrien doesn't believe the Penguins have to bring in new players to be successful, but that doesn't mean he's satisfied with what he's getting from his current ones.

Therrien proved that with changes made for the Penguins' game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden last night, when he demoted winger Miroslav Satan to the fourth line and scratched defensemen Alex Goligoski and Hal Gill to open space for Mark Eaton and Philippe Boucher.

Satan, who did not have a goal in the previous eight games, had been used almost exclusively alongside centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin before last night.

"We expect more," Therrien said. "More intensity from his game."

Therrien said he would put Tyler Kennedy on a line with Crosby and Pascal Dupuis for the second game in a row because "we want to give a good chance to see if that line is going to be successful," and applied the same logic to using Kennedy up front with Crosby and Malkin on the No. 1 power-play unit, which had Kris Letang and Ryan Whitney on the points.

He also rejected the notion that the Penguins need a personnel shake-up to pull out of their recent slide.

"You can't forget that we had the best start in franchise history, and that was with this group," Therrien said. "We trust those players. This is a good group, good people to work with.

"We're struggling a little bit right now, but we're going to get out of this. ... Every team has ups and downs over the course of the season. Ours is a bit longer than expected, but we've been through those things before."

A familiar face in Hedberg

It's not known who will be in goal for Atlanta when the Thrashers visit Mellon Arena tonight, although Kari Lehtonen is their go-to guy and has started four of the past five games.

Still, Johan Hedberg -- the Thrashers' backup and one of the heroes of the Penguins' run to the Eastern Conference final in 2001 -- clearly would like a chance to play there for the first time since leaving the Penguins as a free agent in 2003.

"It would be fun," he said recently. "I'm the kind of guy who likes history, and that rink has some feeling in it, and my own memories."

Hedberg, acquired from San Jose at the trade deadline, became a folk hero of sorts during the stretch drive and playoffs that spring and made foam moose antlers the height of fashion around Mellon Arena.

Hedberg downplayed the possibility that he'd have a lot of crowd support if Thrashers coach John Anderson opts to play him -- "I don't think so," he said. "I think they'll cheer for their own team" -- but it's almost unthinkable that fans wouldn't pay tribute to a player who ranks among the most popular and personable in franchise history.

"There's a lot of new fans there," Hedberg said. "Some of the older fans might remember I was there. For me, it's always going to be a special place."

Slap shots

The Penguins traded minor league defenseman T.J. Kemp to Montreal for a conditional seventh-round choice in the 2010 entry draft. Kemp, 27, had one goal and eight assists in 22 games with the Penguins minor league team in Wilkes-Barre. ... Center Bryan Little, who leads the Thrashers with 19 goals, is expected to miss the game because of a rib injury sustained during a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay Sunday.


Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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