The Penguins were back at it again Wednesday night for their second preseason game in as many nights, this time making their home debut. All of the stars (87, 71, 81, 58) sat this one out again but some good talent were out on display tonight. So let’s get into items that stood out and were of note from this one.
Jake Guentzel: still good at hockey
Well, not shocking but Guentzel picked up exactly where he left off from leading the league in goals in the NHL playoffs and also from scoring 33 points in 40 regular season games. All Guentzel did was basically put up a Da Beauty League summer scoring line of a goal and four assists in his NHL preseason debut.
The whole line with Conor Sheary and Adam Johnson as a Crosby place-holder were great all night. Johnson made his NHL preseason debut with 2 goals and a team high 6 shots on goal. Sheary scored a power play goal and added two assists.
4th line center job competition heats up
After a good game against the Sabres, the coaches put Greg McKegg back in the lineup for game 2 against Detroit. Ditto Teddy Blueger making another preseason appearance himself. J-S Dea and Carter Rowney both made their debuts in this game. Of them all, McKegg had to be the most forceful, scoring a goal and looking strong on the puck all night. Aside from Johnson who also obviously did well.
Jay McClement, who scored last game, is also in the conversation, and right now if you had to take an early snapshot it would have to be McKegg, McClement and McRowney (or just Rowney) as the three top choices to be the 4th line center come opening night. Still a ways to go for that race, of course, but based on ice time Dea and Blueger were afterthoughts in this contest. Again, still quite a bit to go but it’s always telling to see who is getting the most opportunities and making the most of them. Last night it seemed like McClement. Tonight, McKegg and Johnson. Tomorrow? Stay tuned.
Refs are serious...for now
10 total minor penalties for stick infractions between the two teams - mostly slashing but a high-stick and hook mixed in too. The refs are calling everything this preseason. On a penalty kill already? Don’t care, it’s called. We’ll see how long it lasts, as always with NHL officiating, but across the board around the league so far the zebras have been on a mission to call any and everything so far.
The Pens got 15:31 in power play tonight. 15 minutes! I almost bet that Sid and Gene and Phil wanted to get into the game...Almost. Shoot even assistant coaches Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar probably had their mouths watering over that.
Schultz earning his money already
Really liked Justin Schultz as the clear general of the power play tonight, which led to a goal. He ended the game on a breakaway in the 3v3 overtime, a nice chip from Sheary sprung Schultz who darted ahead and roofed a beaut to end the game. Obviously it shouldn’t be surprising a near all-star type of player shows out in an exhibition, but it’s always good coming off a Stanley Cup summer to see a player like Schultz looking in regular season form very early in the preseason.
Pittsburgh’s preseason schedule rolls on next with a game Friday night in Columbus. Maybe they can chant C-B-J loudly as the Pens demolish all their hopes and dreams, that would be fun and familiar!