Casey DeSmith had a very impressive showing in the Penguins’ first preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night, and it’s only added to his strong, growing case for officially being named Matt Murray’s backup to start the new season.
When you look at the post-game report, allowing a 3-0 deficit through two periods doesn’t exactly scream “brick wall,” but it’s important to remember the Sabres basically dressed all their skilled starters that’ll suit up for the regular season. Pittsburgh on the other hand, after only listing Olli Maatta and Jake Guentzel to dress from their regular lineup, did not.
Instead, the Penguins iced young, depth players battling for roster spots and playing time to hopefully gain more insight as to who to keep and who to send back down to the AHL. Because of that, DeSmith had to weather a storm of stacked talent, and did so with flying colors.
He shucked away 26 of 29 shots all coming from stars like Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner, to extremely skilled young guns like Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt, which, with an inexperienced defensive corps crumbling in front of him, was a brilliant feat. In fact, the second puck that got past him was directly after DeSmith made a big save, and the third was off a breakaway by Eichel — hardly his fault.
DeSmith has also be sharp in the days of training camp leading up to this clash with Buffalo. Competing teammate Tristan Jarry has held his own, but DeSmith still seems to have the edge. After getting being rewarded for that with a full game start in the first preseason matchup of 2018-19, we’ll likely see Jarry get 60 minutes of real time under his belt too.
If Jarry also plays exceptionally well in that start, the coaching staff will trudge on, ultimately going back-and-forth until one of them finally cracks and shows a tiny bit of weakness. All eyes are focused on finding that consequential moment.