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.