Quick thoughts on the first official game in the arena branded as the PPG Paints Arena.
- Jake Guentzel with a beautiful saucer pass to the net right on time for Phil Kessel to get a great shot on goal from point blank. Didn't score but easily could have, great play by Guentzel.
- Detroit strikes first, capitalizing on a mistake a piece by the Derrick Pouliot / Justin Schultz pair - a confirmation of the wide-spread belief that neither are reliable enough NHL defenders to successfully help out. First Schultz makes a blind, weak pass behind his net that got picked off. Then Pouliot loses his man in front of the net and allows him an easy slam dunk goal from right in front after an incoming puck clicks off Schultz's skates and to the unmarked opposing player. Bad from any angle.
- Second goal for Detroit comes on a power play for them, also with Schultz and Pouliot on the ice as the puck gets rushed up without much malice and then the Pens out of position and don't pick up the guy going to the net. It happens, especially when not regular PK'ers are out there, not a good look but it happens. Still can't be confidence inspiring for coaches or the players. Not usually a look to see no defensemen in front of the net while killing a penalty (Carter Rowney is the lone Penguin there).
- Not too much else happens for a while. Pouliot continues his no good, very bad night by taking an offensive zone hooking penalty while on the power play, so for his sake I hope the coaches aren't putting a ton of stock into tonight's singular performance. Still, not a great night for a young player who probably couldn't afford a bad night. In a sentence that's been repeated many a September night for Pouliot, unfortunately.
- Pens PP goes 0 for 7 on the night, but at least gets a lot of time to practice almost the first unit (sans Crosby) out there. Some nice passing and plays between Malkin, Kessel and Letang
- Speaking of, nice to see Phil Kessel in a preseason game. Impossible to say without being him, but judging on his shot velocity, full range of passes, touch, accuracy, it didn't look like the surgically repaired hand was hindering his performance much, hopefully it wasn't hurting either.
- For further visual diagnoses, Olli Maatta generated the first goal rushing up the left side of the ice with the puck. His skating looks better than last spring. It remains to be seen if he's truly "back, back", but it seems like he's moving around out there more freely and willing to take offensive chances again, which is hopefully a good sign that he's feeling confident and healthy.
- Letang was the beneficiary of a nice pass by Matt Cullen to score a short-handed goal and then hit the cross-bar late in the game. Nice to see Letang's hands going in his first game of the year as well.
- As for Malkin, eh, still looks like the work in progress he's talked about as a carryover from the World Cup. He wasn't bad by any means, but clearly not feeling his game either. Not really of too much importance in the NHL preseason, but the storyline about his wingers could be one to keep an eye on. The Pens changed up after 2 periods, dropping Patric Hornqvist from Geno's line and adding Conor Sheary but they didn't get to play much together due to all the special teams time. Still, if HBK sticks together, the Pens need to patch some non-NHL-scoring line options to play and produce with Crosby/Malkin but we haven't found much obvious combinations yet, in what could be a very fluid tryout period.
- Marc-Andre Fleury did about as well as could be expected for a pre-season game with his team not playing very tight. He did make this great diving save on a Red Wing, which seems to be a specialty of his.
No major obvious injuries and the team moves on to the last preseason game of the year Saturday against Columbus.