Three games down, thee tallies in the 'W' column and three more to go. What better time than now to start chatting about some of the early preseason highlights?
So far, you have to like what Evgeni Malkin is showing out there. We all read reports of his ridiculous work ethic during the offseason, but now it's really showing that he's primed to flip the switch back to "Beast Mode." Admittedly, I think it's safe to say he's not going all out at this point, but do you really want to see that from him during the preseason? He doesn't need to prove anything other than the fact that he is capable and healthy. He's done both with a few goals, some solid passing on Pascal Dupuis' goal the other night and no signs of wear and tear. Should he feel 100% by the season opener, we may see a completely different monster wearing #71 this season.
Nice showing from Brad Thiessen against Minnesota. While the Post-Gazette was quick to point out the next day that there is little room for him to elevate to the Pittsburgh squad this season, seeing as how Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson are ahead of him, you can't rule out the possibility heading into 2012-13. Barring any sort of serious injury to either MAF or BJ, I don't think we'll see much of Thiessen this season. But Thiessen is playing for next year, in my opinion, and if he's prepared to play as an NHLer in the AHL this season, then I don't see how Ray Shero and company can pass on the option next summer.
Simon Despres time with the team was short and sweet but it's already been noted that the Pens will likely take the Alex Goligoski-like slow-and-steady ride to The Show over the Kris Letang approach to cracking the Pittsburgh lineup. That's not a knock against Despres' abilities by any means. I'm actually a fan of that approach because honestly, what's the rush?
Props to Joe Morrow for potting one the other night against Minnesota. Even though he still has a ways to go before he is a legitimate contender for a spot on the starting roster, it has to at least be a nice confidence boost to light the lamp during a Pittsburgh preseason game.
The Eric Tangradi situation could be an interesting one worth following. If he doesn't start this season in Pittsburgh, then I don't think he will be even the first option coming out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton if/when the Pens need to call on some reserves. Does it come down to work ethic? Natural-born talent? Chemistry? So hard to say at this point but the window is closing quickly. With any luck he cracks the lineup and shows some solid play this season. Otherwise I fear he may soon go the way of Luca Caputi and Janni Pesonen.
Those are just a few reactions I figured I'd throw out there at this point in the preseason. By all means, feel free to jump in with some of your own in this preseaosn feedback thread.