Thoughts: Preseason Game 4 – Kapanen Scores in a 2-1 Win over Columbus

By: Meesh Shanmugam

*Preseason Intro*
Welcome back everyone! With a new season, new coach, new GM, and new hope (at least temporarily), I’ll be working on some new formats for the postgame thoughts before the regular season arrives. Ideas and suggestions are very much encouraged; let me know what you want to see and read about! Goal assessments and descriptions will return when the regular season starts.
*End Preseason Intro*

Penguins 2  Blue Jackets 1

Preseason Record: 2-2

Goals
Kapanen (1) (PP) from Goc, Comeau
Ebbett (1) from Ehrhoff, Sundqvist

Penalties
Spaling (Tripping) – Careless (knocks Dubinsky down with his stick)
Sill (Interference) – Stupid (knocks over Calvert away from the puck)
Farnham (Roughing) – Stupid (knocks over Ponich after a whistle)
Leblond (Fighting) – Inconsequential (Ponich received a fighting major as well)

Pre Gm 4 Goals

Notable Players

Forwards

Pre Gm 4 Forwards

Kasperi Kapanen – Kapanen showed a significant amount of improvement on Saturday. There were still times when he read the play a little slow coming out of the defensive zone, but three takeaways and two broken-up plays tells a good portion of the story. The rest of the story is his wicked wrist shot that somehow snuck between Bobrovsky’s shoulder and the post for his powerplay goal. The version of Kapanen that we saw on Saturday is definitely one that could earn a spot in the NHL this season.

Kapanen is already improving quickly in the preseason. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Kapanen is already improving quickly in the preseason. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Chris Kunitz – Kunitz played his first preseason game and…well, it showed. He had five turnovers (four in the offensive zone) in his return to game action. The most interesting part of his game to me was how the coaching staff used him on the powerplay. Steve Downie was put in front of the net and Kunitz was used more around the goal line towards the right corner. Kunitz won’t usually play with most of the players he joined on Saturday, but could that be the 2nd powerplay of the future if Kunitz gets bumped off of the top one?

Steve Downie – Downie had a quiet game around the puck, but he was extremely noticeable as a pest and in front of the net. He drew two penalties, caused chaos in front of Bobrovsky in several different situations, and did a solid job of chasing down loose pucks in the offensive zone. If he stays under control, this acquisition could look brilliant in a couple of months.

Bobby Farnham – I cannot tell you why Bobby Farnham is still in Pittsburgh right now. While he might be a little ball of energy, that’s about the only positive thing I can say about him. He had two turnovers, fanned on a good shooting opportunity, and took a stupid roughing penalty with a hit after the whistle in the offensive zone. He might be exciting due to his intensity, but his skills (or lack thereof) just don’t belong on this team.

Farnham means well, but.... (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Farnham means well, but…. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Zach Sill – Sill is frustrating on a different level. He’s a smart player who knows where to be and what to do, but he struggles to execute too often. He had three takeaways, but he also lost the puck twice, failed to clear it from the defensive zone once, and also took a bad interference penalty in the defensive zone. Much like Farnham, he’s an “energy” guy, but it isn’t consistently useful without the puck skills. I want to root for him, but he has to be better with the puck to belong in Pittsburgh. I’m just not sure that’s within his skill-set.

Defensemen/Goalies

Pre Gm 4 Defense

Christian Ehrhoff – Ehrhoff took a small step back from his preseason debut, but you generally know what you will get from him and it’s generally going to be good. He showed off his hard shot again, landing five on net. He also demonstrated some speed and his ability to read the play as he skated up into the offensive zone with the puck to set up Ebbett’s goal. On the bad side, he did get beat by his man twice and had a couple of bad giveaways, but it was a decent game overall.

Philip Samuelsson – Samuelsson continues to impress me, but he had some struggles in the defensive zone against Columbus. He did break up a couple of plays and force a turnover, but two failed clears were noticeable as he was weak with the puck along the boards. One of my favorite things to watch with him is his calm demeanor when blocking a shot. He does an excellent job of dropping down to one knee to take away everything low while still being able to get back up right away to stay in the play.

Samuelsson will leave the Penguins with a very interesting decision to make. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Samuelsson will leave the Penguins with a very interesting decision to make. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Taylor Chorney – Chorney has played unexpectedly well for the Penguins, adding even more depth to a deep position. He had a takeaway and a forced turnover in the defensive zone to go along with solid overall coverage. He’s another player that is very willing to get the puck on net (3 shots) and though he doesn’t do anything flashy, he hasn’t made many mistakes this preseason. The Penguins seem to have unlimited depth on defense right now.

Misc. Thoughts

Roster Update – As you probably know by now: Beau Bennett will be out roughly six weeks, Evgeni Malkin should start skating in the next few days, Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby will make their preseason debuts on Monday, and three players (Jayson Megna, Reid McNeill, and Dominik Uher) were sent down to WBS. As I mentioned in the last post, Megna barely played and this group of coaches didn’t seem too interested in seeing what he could bring to the table. Also, Daniel Carcillo will make his preseason debut on Monday

Penalty Kill – The Penguins allowed another powerplay goal (to Brian Gibbons!), but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about yet. It was a very nice play and perfectly placed shot to beat the defense and Fleury. Despite allowing several PP goals this preseason, there doesn’t appear to be a systematic weakness that is getting beat or a specific problem that is leading to the lack of PK success. We’ll see how it plays out once more regulars are in the lineup.

Next Game: Saturday, 9/29 @ Minnesota, 8pm (on Root Sports)

Thanks for reading!!