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Penguins/Sabres Thoughts: Stars shine bright in win

Crosby, Guentzel, Malkin and Kessel score as the Pittsburgh Penguins win a preseason game. Some thoughts on what we learned from this one

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NHL: Preseason-Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

Some thoughts about tonight’s second to last (thank goodness) preseason game for the Penguins against the Sabres.

More Jake n Bake

Jake Guentzel plays a game, Jake Guentzel scores. Just kind of the way it goes.

The way Guentzel sneaks around the back of the net, just watch his feet. He sees there’s a hole in the defense and scoots around the back of the net towards it. Sidney Crosby does Sidney Crosby things and senses this, knows where 59 is going, and boom it’s in the back of the net. Exactly whatJustin Bourne wrote in a very excellent article in The Athletic earlier today:

He finds the soft spot and gets open. This one is a true goal scorer’s trait. If there’s a pocket of ice, and the size and location of that pocket changes every second as players move, Guentzel always seems to find a way to be in the dead middle of it. That’s such a demonstration of hockey sense to me, because it can’t be reactionary, it’s anticipatory. He finds that open ice, loads up and gets that shot off quick.

For the second goal, Crosby goes to the net and knocks the puck home, but again look at Guentzel. He calmly goes to the back post, waits and was a hair away from the puck popping out to him for another goal. Again, Bourne pointed this out, almost as if the prophecy comes true

He sits off the back post. This is the ultimate spot for goal raccoons to find some delectable trash. Pucks will end up there. Pucks will end up everywhere of course, but when it’s there, it’s a free tap-in. So smarter guys – think Teemu Selanne, Sidney Crosby – will lurk around there and pick up the garbage.

Conor Sheary picked up two assists on the two goals and the “Sid and the Kids” has definitely showed they’ve picked up exactly where they left off.

Second line gets in the act too

Since the first half of the game featured goals from the 1st line, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel had to get in on the act for two goals of their own in the back-end of the game.

Some good luck for Malkin to score on a bounce, but good things happen putting pucks to net.

Kessel’s goal was much prettier. Carl Hagelin with a very nice long pass up to Malkin who found Kessel with speed up the middle of the ice. Kessel got the goalie leaning in, and shot back across his body for a nice, familiar looking Phil Kessel goal. Good stuff

Second power play on the board

Nice to see the second power play score a goal too. Justin Schultz hammers a puck home from the left-side with Sheary and Guentzel out on that group as well. Would be great to see these guys get some time and make the most of it in the regular season.

Other thoughts

—Shots were 42-27 for Buffalo, though the Pens led or were tied throughout the game. Pittsburgh definitely in September form in many regards, not really killing themselves on defensive structure (see basically the 2v4 rush on Buffalo’s first goal), but, again, it’s September. Not much reason to be worked up.

—Really enjoyed the Scott Wilson -- Carter RowneyRyan Reaves line tonight, seemed like they were a very active group. Reaves was in the middle of lots of scrums and got some face-punching in with Evander Kane. Wilson had a couple shots from down low and the group was definitely throwing out some checks. In all, looks like it could be a decent type of 4th line.

—3 holding, 1 intereference, 1 tripping and offsetting roughing calls in the game. Notice what was missing? No slashing, the emphasis of the early preseason. Have the refs given up already?

—In a long season coming off 2 Stanley Cups there’s only so much to get excited about, but watching Sid+Kids and what Geno and Phil will do to keep up certainly does add a dynamic of excitement to watch. Crosby’s making some really elite plays and passes and it seems like Guentzel is always right there to capitalize.