By: Meesh Shanmugam
Last chance to tell me what you like/don’t like/want to see in the post-game thoughts this season!!
*End Preseason Intro*
Pens 2 Red Wings 0
Final Preseason Record: 3-3
Comeau (1) from Spaling, Scuderi
Sundqvist (1) from Spaling, Adams
Comeau (hooking) – Overly Aggressive (Hooks Jensen three times in the offensive zone, preventing him from skating forward with the puck)
Hornqvist (holding) – Unnecessary (Grabs Kronwall with his free arm and pulls him down in the offensive zone as they chase the puck)
Comeau (hooking) – Overly Aggressive (Hooks Jurco hard in the neutral zone and pulls him down from behind)
Comeau (cross-checking) – Unnecessary (Cross-checked Tatar in the ribs, sending him down along the boards)
Nick Spaling – Spaling had a quiet night on the third line, but figured in on both goals with a couple of primary assists. The first one came about as he won a battle for a rebound and knocked the puck over to Comeau, who slid it into a wide open net. The second one was the result of his shot creating a rebound that caromed to Oskar Sundqvist in the slot. He also drew an offensive zone penalty, intercepted a pass, and broke up a play in the defensive zone for a good all-around night.
Oskar Sundqvist – Sundqvist has turned a few heads in his attempts to make the NHL this season and a goal tonight surely helped his cause. He received the puck in the offensive zone, essentially took it through Craig Adams, took a shot that was blocked to Spaling, picked up the rebound to Spaling’s shot, and then slid it through Howard’s five-hole for his goal. He read the play well all over the ice with a couple of pass interceptions and continued to be a physical presence. Things look promising for Sundqvist right now, even if he did get knocked over by Craig Adams (battle for a roster spot?!).
Patric Hornqvist – Sundqvist wasn’t the only one knocked over by a teammate. Despite being taken down by Kunitz at one point, Hornqvist had another solid game all over the ice. He was limited to only one shot (since Crosby shot basically everything), but he had two takeaways, broke up two plays in the defensive zone, and only lost a puck once in the offensive zone. He did have an unnecessary holding penalty in the offensive zone as well, but it was a strong game for him overall.
Sidney Crosby – Crosby looked completely up to speed in his preseason debut, leading the team with seven shots and skating dominantly from the start. It took Crosby all of three shifts to start battling with Henrik Zetterberg low in each zone and both players were turning and twisting in regular-season form. Crosby was a little loose with the puck, committing four turnovers, but he also broke up two plays, forced a turnover, and had a takeaway. Overall, it definitely looked like Crosby is ready for the start of the season.
Blake Comeau – Comeau was the second star of the game, though I don’t understand why. He did have the first goal, which was a tap-in past Howard, who was already down. The rest of his game involved taking three bad penalties, losing the puck twice, and failing to clear it out of the defensive zone once. Much like Downie, Comeau has to find a way to bring an aggressive edge without crossing the line and being a detriment to the team. He struggled with that line against Detroit.
Rob Scuderi – Scuderi actually had a decent game and even notched an assist against the Red Wings. Rare offensive production aside, he broke up three plays in the defensive zone and another in the neutral zone. He also forced a turnover in the defensive zone. Meanwhile, he only had one giveaway. Puck skills are certainly not Scuderi’s forte, but he looked adequate in this game. His best sequence of the game was on the penalty kill in the 3rd period when he blocked two shots with perfect positioning in front of Fleury and then moved out of the way so Fleury could see a shot clearly instead of dealing with a partial screen. It’s not a popular thing to say, but Scuderi could be an adequate 3rd pairing defenseman still.
Simon Despres – Despres lost the puck three times, and notched three takeaways – all of which occurred right after he lost the puck. His battle-level for the puck was very impressive and he looked great in 1-on-1 situations against the boards and in the corners. Among the battles he won was a tussle with Henrik Zetterberg in the corner, which is certainly a promising sign. Despite being paired with Scuderi (and we’ve seen what that has done to other defensemen), he looked decent overall and the pairing survived.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Fleury was simply fantastic against Detroit, making several quality saves as the Penguins allowed a few too many chances within 20 feet of the net. He was tested early with a quick three-save sequence in the first period and looked sharp the rest of the way. His performance was highlighted by two specific saves – a left pad save on a puck that Crosby poked into the crease directly to Ferraro, and another sprawling one-on-one pad save late in the third period. Just like Crosby, Fleury looks quite ready for the regular season.
Chances Allowed – As I mentioned in the last post, the Penguins are allowing a high number of shots from in-tight that are originating from passes behind the goal line. Detroit had a string of chances in the first period that started exactly this way. Overall, the Penguins allowed way too many quality opportunities from inside the faceoff dots to Detroit tonight and Fleury got a piece of several shots that can’t be consistently expected. The Penguins haven’t allowed many goals and haven’t scored many either in this preseason. I expect both of those numbers to go up in the regular season.
Staying Onside – There were a few painful shifts to watch as players couldn’t stay onside, often because they couldn’t read what the puck carrier was doing. As the Penguins do carry the puck more often, expect a bit of a learning curve from the full NHL roster as they figure out each other’s tendencies and paces. This learning curve will probably come with several missed passes and a plethora of offside calls. That’s one frustrating downside to counter the unlimited upside of creativity with carrying the puck.
Roster Cuts – More roster cuts will be made soon. It’s pretty easy to assume that Greiss beat Zatkoff for the backup position. I have a feeling that Zatkoff will be able to get through waivers though. As for the forwards and defensemen, several moves will have to be made. Sundqvist has done a great job of making his case to play in the NHL. So have all of the defensemen remaining with the team. The forwards as a whole are an odd group as you compare guys like Kapanen and Sundqvist to a guy like Sill. I’ll post something in the next few days that will break down my full roster thoughts.
UPDATE (10/2, 8:20am): Daniel Carcillo has been released from his professional tryout contract. Quick thoughts: Carcillo was hampered by a foot injury and barely got a chance to show off what he can do. Despite that, the play of Sundqvist and most others ensured he wouldn’t have a spot on the roster regardless of the result. Would you rather see Sundqvist or Carcillo in the lineup?
Next Game: Season Opener, 10/9 vs. Anaheim, 7pm
Thanks for reading!!