Whitney could practice with Pens today

| Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

ATLANTA -- More help is on the way for the Penguins' ailing power-play attack.

Barring a setback, injured defenseman Ryan Whitney may join teammates for practice at Southpointe today. If not, he plans to participate in a session Monday, the Penguins' next scheduled off-day practice.

He will work only specific drills for about a week upon his return, including a "flow drill" that focuses on puck movement by defensemen.

Whitney has not played this season after August surgery to correct a left-foot deformity. There remains no set date for his return to the lineup, but Whitney told the Tribune-Review last week that a comeback in early December was possible.

The Penguins could use much of what a healthy Whitney can provide - specifically, consistent offense from the left point on the power play. He has scored 16 goals and recorded 55 points on the power play over the past two seasons.

Whitney rated 16th among defensemen with seven goals and 19th with 22 points on the power play last season, the entirety of which he played on one healthy leg.

The Penguins acquired defenseman Philippe Boucher from Dallas on Sunday to help their advantage attack, which is also without injured defenseman Sergei Gonchar (18 goals, 94 points on the power play the past two seasons).

Prior to their game Thursday at Atlanta, the Penguins were 7-for-52 on the power play in their past 12 contests and ranked worst on the road with a 9.1 percent efficiency rate.

Sabu on Saturday

Coach Michel Therrien has gone from hoping goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could play Saturday to all but declaring him inactive for a game against Vancouver at Mellon Arena.

Therrien said yesterday he "would be surprised" if Fleury was available for that game. Two days prior, Therrien said Fleury would "maybe" return against the Canucks.

Fleury missed a second consecutive game last night at Atlanta due to an undisclosed injury that is thought to be of a lower-body nature. He did not accompany the Penguins on their trip.

Dany Sabourin has been starting in place of Fleury.

Around the boards

Defenseman Mark Eaton was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in eight games. ... Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who started last night, guided the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup title last season. The Wolves' opponent was Penguins' AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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