Treatment not helping injury
CANONSBURG, Pa. -- Mario Lemieux, out with a strained left hip flexor muscle since Nov. 1, will miss at least three more games because the injury hasn't responded to treatment.
Lemieux tried to skate during practice with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, but left the ice after only six minutes and did not return. Coach Eddie Olczyk said Lemieux would definitely miss games at New York on Wednesday and at Buffalo on Friday, as well as Saturday's home game with Florida.
Lemieux, 38, will not try to skate again for at least a week as he tries to recover from an injury that initially wasn't thought to be serious. The goal now is for Lemieux to be ready for a Nov. 19 home game against Minnesota.
"He will not do anything until next Monday," Olczyk said Monday. "That's where it's at right now."
Lemieux declined comment after skating for the first time since a pregame skate on Nov. 4 at Toronto. He did not play that night and has missed all but a few minutes of the last four games.
Before getting hurt, Lemieux had a goal and eight assists in 10 games and became the sixth player in NHL history to reach the 1,700-point mark. His eight-game scoring streak matches the longest in the NHL this season.
Without Lemieux, the Penguins' power play has slipped to 29th among the 30 teams; they've converted just 10.9 percent of its opportunities. Lemieux's absence has also hampered the Penguins' implementation of a new defensive system.
"He was doing so many things that, if you didn't know our team and you didn't know much about our game, he was doing a lot of little things," Olczyk said. "It's a big loss. We haven't had him for the last couple games and, I don't want to say teams play differently against us, but certainly their focus is on him when he's on the ice."
This isn't the first time Lemieux has missed time with a hip injury. He missed two-thirds of the 2001-02 season with recurring right hip problems, scoring 31 points in 24 games. He played in only one NHL game after helping lead Canada to the Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City, then sat out the rest of the season.
"Nobody's going to take his place," Olczyk said. "They're going to take his ice time for a while and that's about it."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press