In a game where the Pittsburgh Penguins played perhaps just 2 forwards that will be in their opening night lineup, it should come as no surprise they did not have the talent or skill available to score any goals last night in Columbus. The only goal of importance was scored in the second period, with newcomer Thomas Greiss otherwise stopping 26 of 27 and the Blue Jackets tacking on an empty netter to win 2-0.
There's not too many takeaways from an early pre-season game, but here are some things that might be interesting:
- 9 shots on goal for Kris Letang, who skated a game-high 25:49.
- System changes are very obvious under new coach Mike Johnston. Take the GIF from Ryan Wilson with Craig Adams trying to skate the puck 1 on 4 into the zone. This doesn't happen last year. And it doesn't matter that it's outside of Adams' skillset and odds are long that he will pull this off with regularity- the point is there's a sea-change in philosophy in Pittsburgh.
- The Pens, by way of that new philosophy, ended up out-shooting CBS 42-28 on the night. That could be seen as a good thing, even though it's not a good idea to put too much stock in pre-season results. Still, for what it's worth (and it's not a lot) the Pens have out-shot opponents handily twice in two nights in Johnston's first games. That will be interesting to see how the trend continues as the games grow more important.
Brian Dumoulin seemed to have a very strong game, from reports. It's a shame that it seems the numbers (and waiver status) will stack up against him and he's likely to start the year back in the minors, barring injury. That last part is key though, the injuries always come, and when they do, you would have to think Dumoulin is the number 1 call-up, with a bullet. His time will come.
- 8 hits on the night for Zach Sill in 12:53 of work. Nice to add a physical edge, but you have to hit when you don't have the puck, and Sill almost never has the puck.
- Along with Sill, for other young guys on the bubble: Dominik Uher played a team low 9:39, Adam Payerl had a more impactful night with 14:52, 2 shots, 2 PIMs, 3 hits, 2 takeways. Just on paper, it would seem Payerl had the best night of the three.
- Everyone who watched the game said it was a very quiet debut for 1st round pick Kasperi Kapanen (who officially recorded 2 shots, 1 hit and 1 giveaway in 16:12. The odds are always long for an 18 year old to stick in the NHL, and by now it seems like the hill is so steep he's not going to make a real run at it. But there's always next year.
- Hey, it's just pre-season but it stuck out to me that Marcel Goc only won 8 of his 22 faceoffs (36%). He needs to be much better than that when the games count. As always, it's just one game and it's a meaningless one at that, but it stuck out to see a veteran center like Goc have an off-night in the circle.
- What does it say for the state of the backup goalie battle when Greiss gets to play all 60 minutes with Jeff Zatkoff on the bench the entire way? And then there's the performance, with Greiss getting high marks. It's just one day, but it was a good day for Greiss and one where Zatkoff had to have fallen further behind in the eyes of the coaching staff. It'll be interesting to see when or if Zatkoff gets a chance to get in the crease in a game situation, or if Greiss will get another chance to play sooner.
At the end of the day, get out of Columbus with no major injuries and we're one day closer to the opener. The Penguins have a day off today and are expected to make some cuts out of training camp. More on that when it breaks.