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Satan toils in relative anonymity

| Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

Things tend to change over the course of seven days.

A presidential race can tighten. Temperatures can turn. Markets can crash, spike and level.

Seemingly the only certainty in life these days is that Penguins fans will not forgive winger Miroslav Satan for being himself.

Of course, Satan's teammates don't mind one bit him being exactly that - a natural, if understated, goal scorer.

"He's a smart player, and he's going to find those holes (in the defense)," center Sidney Crosby said of Satan, who has scored four goals in five games. "He knows where to go to get shots on the net."

Satan has registered 11 shots over the past four games, scoring on 3 of 8 in his last three contests.

He is on pace for a 47-goal season. That would leave him tied for the 13th-best single-season total in club history with teammate Evgeni Malkin (2007-08) and former captain and five-time scoring champion Jaromir Jagr (1996-97).

Only 10 players in franchise history have scored at least 47 goals in a single season, just three over the past 12 years. Those three players• Six-time scoring champion Mario Lemieux, Jagr and Malkin, who finished second in the Art Ross Trophy race last season.

Satan, though, is not one to discuss goals - his or those tallied by others.

"I don't ever like to talk about scoring," Satan said Monday after he scored against the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden. "It's a thing that comes and goes sometimes. You get good streaks and bad streaks."

That much is true in the NHL.

In fact, a certain right wing playing in Detroit has scored only one goal on 23 shots through five games. Penguins general manager Ray Shero, however, would rather everybody stop comparing Satan to departed forward Marian Hossa, who starred for the Penguins during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"Everything is about replacing Hossa," Shero said. "Well, we didn't get (Satan) to replace Hossa. We got him to play as a top-line forward, help us on the power play, give us a good set of hands and be a guy that would care about playing."

Shero didn't add the word "here" to that thought. He didn't have to.

Satan may not be Hossa - "We're not the same guy," he said - but one of them wanted to play hockey in Pittsburgh after watching Crosby, Malkin and the Penguins come within two wins of the Stanley Cup last season.

Hossa spurned three long-term offers from the Penguins, each at more than $7 million annually, to sign a one-year deal in July with the Red Wings. He said they gave him the best chance to "win the (Stanley) Cup."

Coincidentally, Satan joined the Penguins for the same reason. He signed a one-year deal worth $3.5 million not long after Hossa joined the Red Wings.

"I played against these guys a lot the last couple of years," Satan said, referring to his battles against the Penguins during his three-year stint with the New York Islanders, with whom he produced 35-, 27- and 16-goal seasons. "I could see them getting better, getting closer to being a Cup team.

"I've never touched that Cup. I came close in Buffalo, a couple wins from it (1999). I want to get back. I thought, 'This team can help me to do that.' They had everything - great centers, a very good defense and the great goalie. They lost some goal guys. I thought, 'Maybe I can help them to go from getting close to getting the Cup.'"

Helping the Penguins get that Cup might be the only way Satan can win over his new hometown fans.

He doesn't need to win over his new teammates.

"He's getting comfortable with the system and the guys," Crosby said. "It's going to take some time, but that's it - it's only a matter of time for 'Miro'."

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