OUT OF ACTION:

Defenseman Ray Bourque of the Boston Bruins will miss about two weeks with a right shoulder sprain. Bourque suffered the injury Wednesday in a game in Vancouver. He returned to Boston and was examined yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital.

ON SCHEDULE:

Pittsburgh General Manager Craig Patrick said Mario Lemieux's aching back is "much improved" and that the all-star center is recovering on schedule.

Patrick said that for the next three weeks Lemieux will remain with his current program of antibiotics to treat an inflamed disk. Team doctors estimated Sept. 27 that Lemieux would be sidelined for about three months because of the inflammation.

He missed all but one of the Penguins' last 23 games last season because of severe pain, and had surgery July 11 on a herniated disk that is unrelated to the current problem.

ADVICE FOR CHELIOS:

Montreal center Denis Savard has some advice for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Chris Chelios: "You will never understand Mike Keenan, so stop worrying about things he does."

Savard also directed a jab at his former coach, saying that while Canadiens Coach Pat Burns is tough like Keenan, he has a quality Keenan does not: "He's honest with his players."

Told of Savard's comments, Keenan replied: "I am honest. Maybe that's what Savard was always confused about. He didn't understand what the truth was. Sometimes the truth hurts. Then it helps. I've never lied to a player."

Savard made his remarks Thursday night. Chelios and Savard were swapped in a major deal last June.

Savard was benched at times and was the object of what he called "Keenan's mind games" the previous two seasons. Chelios was annoyed to be benched a large part of the first period of the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss in Detroit Tuesday night.