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September 30, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Extras from Monday night in Minnesota

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Pascal Dupuis played in a hockey game, and his knee responded just fine. Steve Downie flashed some offensive skill. The battle to back up Marc-Andre Fleury in goal may be nearing a close, with Thomas Greiss a step ahead of Jeff Zatkoff.

Monday’s preseason game at Minnesota didn’t offer much in the way of a final score — Jason Pominville’s natural hat trick produced a 4-1 Wild win — there were a few more subtle storylines.

Dupuis had not played since Dec. 23, 2013, when he tore his ACL and MCL in a game at the Ottawa Senators. In 16 minutes, 28 seconds of ice time at XCel Energy Center, Dupuis was a minus-1, committed two penalties, tallied four shots, dished out two hits and blocked a shot.

Perfect? No. Better than Dupuis wearing a red, non-contact jersey? Absolutely.

Dupuis played on the right wing of a line that include Chris Kunitz at left wing and Nick Spaling at center.

“It’s all about getting into the flow and knowing what it feels like, what it’s supposed to feel like,” Dupuis said. “I’ve played enough games to know what it should feel and look like when I play. I’m not there yet, but it’s a big step.”

The Penguins practice Tuesday in Detroit and play the Red Wings at 7:30 Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Greiss, an offseason free agent acquisition, may have locked down the backup goaltender job ahead of Zatkoff, the incumbent. He stopped eight of nine shots Monday and looked more sound positionally, more comfortable in the crease.

Zatkoff wasn’t helped by a Pominville shot through traffic and a rebound that made him scramble a bit to try and stop the rebound stuff — which, obviously, didn’t happen.

“I went in and worked hard,” Zatkoff said. “I tried to work hard in practice every day and played well in the games. We’ll see what happens.”

Minnesota had only 17 shots in the game, meaning there was a lot of downtime for the goalies. Actually, the Penguins are allowing an average of 18 shots on goal over their past preseason games.

“I thought both guys were good,” Johnston said of Zatkoff and Greiss. “I thought Greiss looked really calm in the net to start the game. When you don’t have a lot of shots, you have to make sure you’re ready for when they take place.”

Some troubling trends continued. The Penguins allowed three goals in the third, bringing that total to six over five preseason games. They’ve coughed up five power play goals in five games. And the Penguins didn’t score on the power play, dropping that number to 12.5 percent through 16 chances.

One plus side was Downie, who had a beautiful finish on Letang’s shot in the second. He’s tough, but he also has hands. Just the other day I was watching Downie — a former first-round draft pick — stickhandle at practice, and it’s not what you would expect from a third-line tough guy.

“Downie has really good skill,” Johnston said. “Watch how he works the corners. He has a good stick down there. He has his head up all the time. He can make plays. A guy like him not only provides energy, but he is a threat.”

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

Tuesday’s #TribHKY Links
Healthy again, Dupuis savors game action
Wild beat Pens behind Pominville’s hat trick

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September 29, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pregame: Penguins at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

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So here we are, the fifth preseason game, a mere eight hours away from the expected debuts of Pascal Dupuis and Daniel Carcillo. Captain Sidney Crosby was a late scratch because of his grandmother’s funeral.

Tonight’s game at Minnesota also represents one of the last chances for the backup goalie job to be determined, as Thomas Greiss and Jeff Zatkoff will play about 30 minutes apiece, head coach Mike Johnston said. Greiss will start … and it was determined by a coin flip, or at least that’s what Johnston said.

News out of the skate:: A lot. … D Olli Maatta (shoulder) has not been cleared but will practice in Detroit on Tuesday. He will be evaluated there to see whether he can play Wednesday. … Johnston said D Robert Bortuzzo will be out three to five weeks. Bortuzzo left Thursday’s game against Minnesota early with an apparent knee injury, though Johnston didn’t specify the nature of Bortuzzo’s injury. … Johnston said he plans on using Crosby, F Chris Kunitz and C Evgeni Malkin to kill penalties. … Malkin has not yet skated. … D Derrick Pouliot is skating in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

To get ready, here are five questions I have for tonight:

1. Where does Kasperi Kapanen play? His goal Saturday was a thing of beauty. His play at Columbus earlier last week was not. From what I’ve seen, Kapanen looks much more comfortable playing with skilled players, not grinders. With Crosby out, how does head coach Mike Johnston mix and match his top two lines, which will likely include wingers Kapanen, Dupuis, Kunitz and Hornqvist? Nick Spaling was a late replacement for Crosby, but could he be your top line center? Will be interesting, for sure. Have to play Kapanen in the top six.

2. Who wins the backup goalie job? Don’t be naive enough to think it’s all riding on tonight; Zatkoff and Greiss been evaluated continually throughout camp. But if someone gives up four goals and looks badly out of position, I doubt that will qualify as a ringing endorsement.

3. What will the defensive pairings look like? Bortuzzo hasn’t skated since incurring what looked to be a knee injury with about eight minutes left in last Thursday’s Minnesota game. Remember, Maatta not yet been cleared. Which leaves us with something like Kris Letang-Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin, Simon Despres … then, what? Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington have a chance to make an impression tonight, probably even more so given Philip Samuellson was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this morning.

4. What will Carcillo do? There aren’t many questions about what he can do, but given the fact that he’s on the cusp of a roster spot, you think he tries to offer a bit of a reminder? Me think so.

5. How’s Dupuis’ knee? He’s looked great so far, no setbacks, only the first six days of non-contact limitations. The speed’s been there. Dupuis he hasn’t played an NHL game since last December. It’s debatable whether some preseason games qualify as actual NHL comeptition, but having him in the lineup — even if it’s not necessarily on Crosby’s wing — wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

News out of the skate:

TV/Radio: Root/105.9 FM

About Minnesota: Offseason acquisition F Thomas Vanek is expected to make his home debut for the Wild. … G Darcy Kuemper is expected to play the entire game. … A fairly decent lineup will play: forwards Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, Vanek and Matt Cooke, as well as defenseman Ryan Suter. … This is the third preseason game for Minnesota. … The Wild are 2-1 and coming off a 4-3 home victory over Winnipeg on Saturday that included three power play goals.

The series: Pittsburgh secured an overtime win, 3-2, at Consol Energy Center on Thursday, Sept. 25. … C Brandon Sutter tapped in the rebound from a Simon Despres shot at 2 minutes, 23 seconds of overtime to finish off a two-goal, four-shot performance. … Zatkoff stopped 16 of 18 shots while playing a full 60. … Despres added a pair of primary assists.


Next up: Wednesday at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.

Links
The Trib’s Penguins page
The Penguins’ home page
The Wild’s home page
NHL.com’s preview

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September 28, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pens’ lineup for Monday’s game at Wild

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Here’s a look at the Penguins’ lineup for Monday’s preseason game at Minnesota.

Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Daniel Carcillo will make their preseason debuts.

6 Scott Harrington D

7 Paul Martin D

8 Brian Dumoulin D

9 Pascal Dupuis F

10 Christian Ehrhoff D

12 Daniel Carcillo F

14 Chris Kunitz F

17 Blake Comeau F

23 Steve Downie F

25 Andrew Ebbett F

27 Craig Adams F

38 Zach Sill F

42 Kasperi Kapanen F

49 Oskar Sundqvist F

55 Philip Samuelsson D

58 Kris Letang D

72 Patric Hornqvist F

87 Sidney Crosby F

1 Thomas Greiss G

37 Jeff Zatkoff G

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September 28, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Some fun with numbers

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Four games is hardly a huge sample size.

But it is enough to provide at least a tiny peak into how the Penguins plan to play this year.

In my mind, anyway.

Through four games this preseason, the Penguins are averaging 33.3 hits per game. They averaged 26.4 per game in 2013-14. The Penguins are on pace for 2,731 hits over an 82-game regular season. Columbus and Los Angeles tied for the league lead last year with 2,609.

Penguins goalies are seeing an average of 23.0 shots per game, down from 28.8 a season ago. The current number, again, would have led the league in 2013-14.

A third eye-popping stat so far is faceoff wins. The Penguins are 117-101 in the faceoff circle for a success rate of 53.7 percent. Top team in the NHL last season? Nashville at 53.1 percent.

One stat that doesn’t represent a drastic improvement is blocked shots. The Penguins averaged 14.5 per game in 2013-14 but are current getting 12.0 per game, a number that would have had them ranked 27th out of 30 teams.

Take that last number with a grain of salt, though, because the Penguins have 32 blocked shots over their past two games — both wins — after totaling just 16 in the first two.

“I think you can see the work ethic,” said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 18 of 19 in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Columbus. “Saturday) in the game, you see a little more how many blocked shots there were, guys going back hard and trying to get in shooting lanes.”

The club is off today. They skate at 11 a.m. Monday at Consol Energy Center, then travel to Minnesota for an 8 p.m. game at Xcel Energy Center.

Enjoy Sunday everyone.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 27, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Pregame: Penguins vs. Columbus, 4 p.m.

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Differences between old and new have been discussed a time or two Consol Energy Center over the past eight days.

What Dan did. What Mike does. How far along Mike is. The defense jumps in. Speed, pace and puck-possession. Not shortage of common topics.

Here’s one new wrinkle that’s about to become extremely relevant: The stars are coming back. Forward Chris Kunitz will play today against Columbus. Sidney Crosby was supposed to play, but the death of his grandma has him traveling back to Nova Scotia to be with family.

If all continues to go well, defenseman Olli Maatta and forward Pascal Dupuis could play Monday at Minnesota and Wednesday at Detroit.

No, nothing new on Evgeni Malkin. Except for this. Still hasn’t skated. Four or five days away, head coach Mike Johnston said.

Crosby said he prefers to play two or three games in the preseason game and that it’s tough to replicate game action in practice. If he’s back from Nova Scotia by Monday, the most he could get is two in three days.

As for the system and Johnston’s style of play, we know this: He likes shooting the puck, he likes player who can skate, and he likes the defense to join the rush. Johnston also doesn’t have everything installed yet.

Here’s his (long-winded) answer to a question posed by the legendary Mike Lange on how far along he is installing things:

“It’s a work in progress,” Johnston said. “What we try to do every game is we take the building blocks from the last game. The Detroit game, there were some bits and pieces. The Columbus game, I thought there was a big chunk of what we did was exactly how we wanted to play (42 shots).

“(Thursday), at times I thought we were really good. Minnesota forced us to make some mistakes with the puck that we’ll have to learn from.

“But as we review video every day, we review the game. We start to build on what we’re doing. How long does it take with a new group and a new coaching staff? Sometimes it takes a little bit to get everything ingrained. But we’re trying to make sure the most important things are set and ready for Anaheim.”

News out of the skate: No skate this morning. Only a non-game group practice, and those guys weren’t available to the media. Head coach Mike Johnston will talk today at 2 p.m., seemingly to address Beau Bennett’s situation after further testing that went on yesterday. Here’s guessing he’ll also get asked about Crosby.

TV/Radio: : CW/NHL Network/105.9 FM

About Columbus: Blue Jackets are 4-0 in the preseason and are coming off a 5-4 win at St. Louis on Thursday. … Columbus went 3 for 7 on the power play in that game and are clicking at a 28-percent rate with the man-advantage this preseason. … Five different players scored Columbus’ goals against the Blues.


The series: Columbus earned a 2-0 win over the Penguins at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday, Sept. 23. … Michael Chaput and Cam Atkinson (empty net) had the goals for Columbus. … Thomas Greiss played the entire game in goal for the Penguins and stopped 26 of 27 shots. … Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s expected to play today for Columbus, made 30 saves in two periods as the Penguins rang up 42 shots.


Next up: Monday at Minnesota, 8 p.m.

Links


The Trib’s Penguins page

The Penguins’ own gameday page

The Blue Jackets’ gameday page

NHL.com’s preview

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September 26, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: A Malkin update and the Penguins’ lineup vs. the Blue Jackets

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Evgeni Malkin works out earlier this month. (Chaz Palla  |  Trib Total Media)

Evgeni Malkin works out earlier this month. (Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media)

 

Penguins coach Mike Johnston offered his most detailed update yet on injured center Evgeni Malkin on Friday following a pair of practices at Consol Energy Center.

Still wasn’t much, but, hey, it’s an injury to a hockey player. What do you expect?

Johnston said that Malkin, who’s out with an undisclosed injury, is not skating or working out right now, but that he expects him to start doing so within the next four or five days.

Keep in mind, this is what Johnston last Thursday, the day before the Penguins began training camp practices, when it was announced that both Malkin and captain Sidney Crosby would be held out of the beginning of training camp as a precautionary measure.

Crosby skated for all but a three-on-three, between-the-blue-lines scrimmage session the next morning.

“I know I’ve said that before,” Johnston said of the four-to-five-day timeline. “It just seems to be one of those things where, if I believed it was going to be long term, I’d tell you it was long term. I believe it’s not going to be long term. But it’s still a few days away before he’s going to be able to work out and be on the ice.”

Johnston paused for a second then explained why he didn’t think the missed time — now four practice dates and three games — was going to be a big deal for Malkin, whom Johnston visited in Russia over the summer.

Much like Crosby began skating regularly earlier this week — Johnston said his captain will play Saturday at home against Columbus — Johnston expects Malkin to seamlessly work his way back into things.

“I know he had a hard summer of training because I was over there and I watched him train,” Johnston said. “I’m excited to know that his conditioning is at a high level, much like Sid. Sid was out. You guys watched him practice. He came back for practice, and it looks like he wasn’t out at all.”

Lastly, Johnston said the coaches have been going through video work with him, teaching the system and explaining what will be expected of him once he does return.

“Geno’s going to have a little more catchup, but we’ve been doing video work with him,” Johnston said. “So at least he knows how we want to play, what changes there are, what adjustments he has to make.”

Pens lineup vs. Columbus

29 Marc-Andre Fleury G
37 Jeff Zatkoff G
6 Scott Harrington D
10 Christian Ehrhoff D
13 Nick Spaling F
14 Chris Kunitz F
16 Brandon Sutter F
17 Blake Comeau F
23 Steve Downie F
32 Pierre-Luc Leblond F
34 Bobby Farnham F
38 Zach Sill F
42 Kasperi Kapanen F
44 Taylor Chorney D
47 Simon Despres D
49 Oskar Sundqvist F
55 Philip Samuelsson D
57 Marcel Goc F
58 Kris Letang D
87 Sidney Crosby F

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 25, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Pregame: Penguins vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m.

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The shots are there. Goals? Not so much.

In two preseason games, the Penguins have amassed 78 shots on goal.

Just one of them has gone in.

“That’s what we want to make one of our identities: getting a lot of pucks to the net and creating rebounds,” defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said after Tuesday’s 2-0 loss at Columbus. “We had the chances (Tuesday). We just didn’t finish them.”

Which is sort of the point, right?

So the Penguins get back at it, their third of four preseason games this week, when they host Minnesota tonight.

Expect plenty of shots.

“We want to put a lot of pucks to the net,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “We want to make them defend off the shot. That’s our goal. We want to start games that way. So we’re trying to push the shot total early in the game. I think we did that.”

I wrote Kasperi Kapanen for today’s Pittsburgh Trib. Full disclosure: He looked tentative in his debut against Columbus and finished with just two shots; defenseman Kris Letang had a team-high nine.

“I should have shot more,” Kapanen said. “Our team got good shots. Couple crossbars, two or three. We have to start putting those in, and it will come eventually.”

News out of the skate : Forwards Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz were full participants in the non-game group practice prior to the Penguins’ morning skate, the second consecutive practice for both of them. Johnston said he expects that, if all goes well Friday, they’ll be cleared to play Saturday at home against Columbus. … Forward Pascal Dupuis has been cleared for full contact. Johnson is hopeful the Penguins will have Dupuis for the final two preseason games. He’s previous said the same about defenseman Olli Maatta. … Forward Daniel Carcillo is dealing with a lingering foot injury, one that carried over from last season. Johnston is hopeful he’s able to skate Friday and play Saturday. … Center Evgeni Malkin hasn’t skated since Sept. 8 but was seen around the locker room. He said Malkin has required no additional testing or evaluation.

Radio/TV: 105.9 FM

About Minnesota: Minnesota is 6-1 in the last seven games played in Pittsburgh and has outscored the Penguins, 26-13, all-time on the road. … Zatkoff is 1-1-0 with a 3.00 GAA and an .870 save percentage in two career starts vs. Minnesota. … The Wild are to the Penguins as the Arizona Cardinals are to the Steelers. F Matt Cooke played in PIT from 2008-13; D Darryl Sydor the same from 2007-09; current Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was an assistant here from 2006-09. … Pascal Dupuis played for the Wild from 2006-09. … Zach Parise will play tonight, along with G Ilya Bryzgalov, D Stu Bickel, F Mikko Koivu, Cooke, F Thomas Vanek and F Jason Pominville. … Minnesota made the playoffs despite having four goalies make at least 10 starts, becoming the first team since Edmonton in 2005-06 to do it.


The series: The Penguins and Wild are playing in the preseason for the first time since 2011. Pittsburgh and Minnesota traded a pair of home victories during the 2013-14 regular season. Here’s a snapshot:

Dec. 19 at Consol Energy Center
5-2 Penguins
Chris Kunitz two goals … Olli Maatta becomes second defenseman in club history to score on a penalty shot.

April 5 at Xcel Energy Center
4-0 Wild
Ilya Bryzgalov made 20 saves.


Next up: Saturday vs. Columbus, 4 p.m.

Links

The Trib’s Penguins page

The Penguins’ own gameday page

The Wild’s gameday page

NHL.com’s preview

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 25, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Who’s playing Thursday vs. Wild

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Here’s a look at who will play for the Penguins on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild at Consol Energy Center.

Notice no Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz or Evgeni Malkin. Crosby and Kunitz practiced (mostly) on Tuesday. The club was off Wednesday. Evgeni Malkin hasn’t skated (that we can see or the Penguins will acknowledge) since Sept. 8.

Head coach Mike Johnston said he wanted Greiss and Zatkoff to get full games. Greiss played all 60 minutes at Columbus Tuesday. Figure Zatkoff will get the whole thing against the Wild.

Still no Daniel Carcillo. Curious to bring a guy in, give him a tryout contract and not play him. Will be interesting to see how  Johnston organizes his forwards and defense. Probably looking at defense-wise: 4-7 … 41-47 … 6-8. Again, just a guess.

Forwards, maybe: 23-16-19 … 42-57-72 … 38-13-17 … 49-25-59? If it were me (and obviously it is not), I would give Megna a look in a top-six role. He’s had, in my completely useless opinion, a very strong camp.

1 Thomas Greiss G
37 Jeff Zatkoff G
4 Rob Scuderi D
6 Scott Harrington D
7 Paul Martin D
8 Brian Dumoulin D
13 Nick Spaling F
16 Brandon Sutter F
17 Blake Comeau F
19 Beau Bennett F
23 Steve Downie F
25 Andrew Ebbett F
38 Zach Sill F
41 Robert Bortuzzo D
42 Kasperi Kapanen F
47 Simon Despres D
49 Oskar Sundqvist F
57 Marcel Goc F
59 Jayson Megna F
72 Patric Hornqvist F

Will have pregame stuff from Consol yesterday morning. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 23, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Pregame: Penguins at Columbus, 7 p.m.

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One of the most intriguing battles for the Penguins this preseason features backup goaltenders Jeff Zatkoff and Thomas Greiss.

Not wanting to rotate the two from period-to-period, head coach Mike Johnston said Greiss will play the entire game at Columbus tonight.

“I think for the goaltenders — and I talked to them a little bit about it, I talked to (goaltending coach) Mike Bales — to have a game and know you’re in the game, I think that’s a better evaluation,” Johnston said after the team’s morning skating and a non-game group practice. “They want us to have a good evaluation of them as we move through camp.”

The Blue Jackets are here on Saturday, and I would expect Zatkoff to play in that one.
Tonight, I would expect forwards Steve Downie and Scott Hartnell to introduce themselves to each other — like they don’t know each other already.

Here’s guessing someone tries to stir the pot and soon.

Rookie first-round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen also makes his NHL debut tonight. I asked Johnston about his anticipation seeing Kapanen play against someone other than his own team.

“He comes into this camp, and he’s a little bit in awe,” Johnston said. “I thought the last couple of days, especially yesterday … if you watch yesterday in practice, he hung on to the puck well. He showed some of his skill. Looks like he had extra jump in his stride.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him play against Columbus tonight.”

>>Your news out of the morning skate include the obvious, stuff that was probably already plucked from Twitter: Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz skated; Evgeni Malkin did not; and the team finished practice with yet another set of sprints.

Kunitz, Derrick Pouliot, Daniel Carcillo and Nick Drazenovic skated before practice with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.

Radio/TV: 105.9 FM
About Columbus: The Blue Jackets acquired Hartnell in the offseason from Philadelphia. Got him for Plum native R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. They also signed former Penguin Brian Gibbons. … Columbus set franchise records last season in wins (43), road wins (21), points (93) and goals scored (226). … Missing from that team, though, is center Ryan Johansen, who’s in the middle of a nasty contract dispute after scoring a team-high 33 goals. … Expect Sergei Bobrovsky to get the start in net and Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski to play together as a defensive pair.
The series: Pittsburgh won all five regular season meetings a season ago, outscoring Columbus 16-7 in those games. G Jeff Zatkoff earned his first NHL victory/shutout Nov. 2 of last year when the Penguins won, 3-0, and Zatkoff made 19 saves. Zatkoff was actually 2-0 against Columbus last season, allowing three goals on 47 shots (.936 save percentage).
Next up: Thursday vs. Minnesota, 7 p.m.

Links
The Trib’s Penguins page
The Penguins’ own gameday page
The Blue Jackets’ gameday page
NHL.com’s preview

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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September 23, 2014
by Jason Mackey


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Mackey: Postgame: Pens fall to Detroit, 2-1, to open preseason

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Beau Bennett said he’s eating his vegetables.

His shot certainly looked healthy when he scored in the second period during Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Red Wings in a preseason game at Consol Energy Center.

Off a faceoff in the right circle, Bennett took a pass from defenseman Taylor Chorney, glided backward — Root Sports color commentary Bob Errey said he was “doing the moonwalk,” yet another reason why the man is awesome — and whipped a wrister that beat Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard glove side.

Bennett’s wrist are healthy. Need proof? Watch the replay of that goal.

“In recent years, I’ve been shooting out there, just kind of muffing it toward the net,” Bennett said. “(Monday), I was trying to pick spots.”

Bennett said he was banged up last preseason, fighting through an injury for the first five games, but that’s not been the case this year. Not even close. Offseason surgery and rehab on his wrist have him feeling 100 percent.

“It’s nice to come in and be really healthy, eat my vegetables and have strong bones,” Bennett said. “It’s been a good summer.”

Other observations from Monday:

>>The Penguins fared well in the faceoff circle, better than I thought. They won 28 of 47 draws for a 60-percent success rate. Center Brandon Sutter went 14-5 for an absurd 74-percent mark. Jean-Sebastien Dea, who’s had an impressive camp and rookie tournament, won four of his five draws.

>>Pavel Datsyuk is good. Just ridiculously good. The pass he made to Tomas Tatar … the gathering of the loose puck then roofing the shot over Marc-Andre Fleury … Datsyuk is special.

But why the heck is the guy playing in the third period of a preseason game when he gets creamed by Rob Scuderi? We’ll likely never know the answer to that question.

“You’re facing a pretty good player there, a world-class player,” Penguins coach Mike Johnston said of Datsyuk.

“His puck movement, seeing players away from the puck,” Johnston added, “he’s going to test your penalty kill.”

>>So will penalties, and the Penguins had too many of those. Six, to be exact. And Detroit converted twice on the power play.

The Penguins’ top PK unit was Blake Comeau, Paul Martin, Nick Spaling and Scuderi, with Spaling and Scuderi logging more than 6:00 on the penalty kill.

Not good.

Considering two of those four are new, Johnston admitted there’s still some work to be done. Oh, and the Penguins went 0 for 4 on the power play, handing the special teams battle to the Red Wings.

“Do we have some things to work on? Sure,” Johnston said. “We have a lot of killers who hadn’t worked together before out there. With the changes, we have to implement some things on our special teams units.”

Scuderi didn’t think it was much of a problem.

“I think on the first one it was just a missed assignment. Mistakes happen,” he said. “The second one I thought was a pretty fortunate bounce. You have a scramble in front. They have five guys, we have four. It ends up in the back of our net. It’s something we want to work on, but I wouldn’t read too much into it. It’s one game.”

Thanks for reading, as always, folks. Really.

Some #TribHKY links for Tuesday:
Josh Yohe takes a look at all those offensive defensemen
Short gamer on Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Red Wings
Notebook: Crosby gets some early work
Lineups for Tuesday’s preseason game at Columbus

Be GRATEFUL to each other,

Mackey

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