Penguins Notebook: Illness keeps backup goalie on the bench

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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Penguins like to get everyone on the roster into at least one game during their annual "Dads Trip," and they nearly managed to this time.

The only hitch was that the lingering effects of a flu-like ailment prevented backup goalie Brent Johnson from starting the game Monday in Florida, which seemed to be the original plan, or the one Wednesday night against Buffalo at HSBC Arena.

And while it's possible that forward Mike Comrie, who had dressed for just one of the previous seven games, played against the Sabres only because of the timing of the Dads Trip, coach Dan Bylsma made it clear what he needs to see from Comrie if he is to reclaim a regular spot in the lineup.

"Mike's a guy who can make plays," Bylsma said. "He's a goal-scorer. The best description of his game, and we've talked to some of the other teams he's played for, is that he's got a bite, an edge to his game that allows him to be that offensive player.

"That's not necessarily a physical, forechecking presence, but he's a guy who can be abrasive to play against and has to play with an edge when he's around the net. Battle level-wise, [in] puck battles and being in those dirty areas to score goals is what Mike has to bring."

Comrie had no goals and five assists in his first 15 appearances this season.

A short book

The Penguins didn't have much of a book on Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth going into the game.

Barely an index card's worth of information on him, really.

Although this is Enroth's third pro season in North America, he had appeared in just five NHL games, and even Penguins players who have spent considerable time in the American Hockey League weren't particularly familiar with him.

"I think I only played [Buffalo's AHL affiliate in Portland] once last year, so I don't know him," winger Chris Conner said.

Forward Mark Letestu was able to offer only this snippet of insight: "Bigger guy, or at least he looks big. Standard butterfly goalie. Don't know if I've had one on him, so not much of a scouting report coming from this guy."

Goaltending coach Gilles Meloche, who analyzes opposing goaltenders for the Penguins, expected to have a busy afternoon researching the finer points of Enroth's game.

"We don't have any [game tapes]," Meloche said. "[During the game-day skate], he looked like a typical butterfly. What I noticed was, he was starting way out [of the crease], then backing in."

The Sabres turned to Enroth because No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller has a groin injury, and backup Patrick Lalime, who is 0-4, appears to have lost the faith of his bosses.

"Winning is everything," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "He gave us a good effort in the games he's played, and we played well around him."

Local ties

Defenseman Mike Weber, a Seneca Valley product, got into the Sabres' lineup when Buffalo captain Craig Rivet was made a healthy scratch.

It was the fifth time Rivet has been held out of a game this season, and just the third NHL appearance of the season for Weber, his first since Oct. 26.

"We're going to have to play the guys who are playing the best right now," Ruff said.

"Mike hasn't been in, but we feel he gives us a physical defenseman, gives us a guy with some edge."

No home ice advantage

Although HSBC Arena can be a tough place for visiting teams, that hasn't been the case for most of this season.

The Sabres went into the game 3-7-1 on home ice and were 0-6-1 there before recording their first victory of the season.

"We're trying to make it a tough place for people to come in and steal points from us," Buffalo center Derek Roy said.

The Sabres have an appreciably better record on the road, 5-4-2, but apparently have not reached the point where they prefer to play out of town.

"I don't think so," Roy said. "Our fans are great. They're just waiting for us to put that effort forth, so they can cheer for us."

Tip-ins

The Penguins scratched forwards Arron Asham and Eric Godard and defenseman Ben Lovejoy. ... Center Jordan Staal, who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand, worked out on the ice after the Penguins' game-day skate.



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