A couple of observations from Saturday’s practices at Consol Energy Center:
= GM Ray Shero’s desire is for the Penguins to be “a tough team to play against,” so he had to like seeing the potential third-line grouping of feisty wingers Matt Cooke and Arron Asham. No matter the pivot, any line with Cooke and Asham could equally frustrate opponents heavy with skilled forwards, such as Washington, and answer clubs that play with an edge, such as Philadelphia.
= Forward Dustin Jeffrey’s game is so solid that he rarely sticks out on the ice. However, he also rarely is in the wrong position whether playing at center or on the wing. The Penguins should see how he looks in the middle on a line with forwards Craig Adams and Mike Rupp – role-playing veterans with whom a steady prospect might mesh.
Now for some notes:
= Player were not happy with the ice – though, considering the day’s warmth, the thousands in attendance and the previous night’s concert, perhaps the players’ were too harsh. Still, it’s worth noting this suggestion from one player: “Keep the building cold for concerts. People can wear sweaters.”
(Totally different subject, but while we’re on the subject of concerts I’d like to make a push for people staying in their seats. Moving on…)
= Defenseman Kris Letang is trying out a stick with a new curve, but said the change is not designed to help his right-handed shot. Letang, who dipped to three goals last season after scoring 10 the previous campaign, felt his old blade was too flat to receive pucks that weren’t flat. He believes the second he needed to cradle a pass can be gained back with this blade, which he assured is legal. That extra second could be the difference between a clearer shooting or passing lane, he suggested.
= Coach Dan Bylsma said new defenseman Paul Martin’s game more resembles that of Alex Goligoski’s than Letang’s style. “In terms of skating and defending with position, and your skating ability with a good stick,” Bylsma said, adding he isn’t sure any Penguins defenseman can compare with Martin’s “smarts.”
= FSN Pittsburgh broadcaster Paul Steigerwald told me this season will be his 30th around the Penguins. He’ll return as the play-by-play man this season, with former Penguin Bob Errey on color commentary. Another former Penguin, Phil Bourque, will again be the radio partner of legendary and Hall-of-Famer broadcaster Mike Lange.
A shameless plug: A certain hockey beat boy will join Pens HD Radio’s Steve Mears on the call of Sunday’s scrimmage at Consol, which starts at 10 a.m.
= So, I’d love to read some dear readers’ thoughts if Day 1 was your first at the new barn: email@example.com. Also, if you need a reason to show up Sunday, imagine this on the giant video board: http://penguins.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=537777&navid=DL|PIT|home