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PENS LOOKING FORWARD TO DIVISION RIVALS THIS WEEKEND

By Zach Fedynich

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins are back in action with a pair of East Division matchups this weekend.  They travel to Syracuse to face the Crunch on Friday night, before returning home for a 7:05 tilt against the Hershey Bears on Saturday.

And while points against division opponents are important, head coach John Hynes is more focused on his own team improving during the early part of the season than about where they sit in the standings.

“Right now the standings aren’t a big focus for us,” he said.  “It’s about making sure we become a better team, and truly get better as the year goes on.

“We just want to make sure we get our game in order and make some improvements to what we want to do.”

The Penguins are winless in their past three contests, a stretch which includes a 4-3 shootout loss against the Crunch on November 6.  But Hynes isn’t looking to that recent defeat for ways to shut down the skilled Syracuse attack.

It’s not necessarily so much just on Syracuse.  It’s just certain components of our game that we want to get better,” he said.  “Some of our puck decisions under pressure and some things offensively where we think we can create more just with some better decisions and habits.  And that’s really what we want to focus on this weekend.  All of those concepts will translate into the different opponents that we play.”

The Pens will receive a little lift with the return of Nick Drazenovic to the lineup.  The center has missed the past three games due to injury, after recording nine points (1+8) in the team’s first 10 games, good for fifth place on the team in points.

“I had a good week of practice so far, and everything’s good again,” said Drazenovic.  “We had a tough couple of games there, but we’re ready to bounce back.

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