In training camp you expect star players to shine, especially today’s action where Evgeni Malkin’s camp team plays the mostly younger “Team C” that doesn’t have a lot of NHL talent.
And that’s exactly what happened, with perhaps the most important thread going forward being the burgeoning chemistry being built between Malkin and newcomer Alex Galchenyuk.
Malkin just made a ridiculous pass to set up Galchenyuk in a drill. Geno was drifting to his left behind the net and slipped a behind-the-back backhand pass the other way to Galchenyuk on the doorstep. Casey DeSmith, thinking Malkin still had the puck, was looking the other way.— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) September 14, 2019
Galchenyuk figures to be a huge x-factor for the Penguins’ season. If Galchenyuk can find the form that saw him score 30 goals in Montreal in the 2015-16 season, it’s obviously going to go a long way towards helping Pittsburgh win a lot of games. If Galchenyuk is quiet like his pretty anonymous stint in Arizona, that’s a big problem.
The other interesting note is the other winger on that line. If briefly started with Bryan Rust on Friday but during the first practice it was changed to fellow newcomer Brandon Tanev and it’s worked surprisingly well.
Malkin seemed satisfied with how the initial practice went.
“They’re really fast,” said Malkin. “Tanev, he’s probably one of the fastest guys in the NHL. We try to understand, we talk. We have lots of time to have good chemistry. The first day, we scored two goals but we can play better for sure. They’re new guys, they need to understand the system. They will the more we have meetings, they will [use video to see] how we play. We’ll be fine, I like to play with these two guys. They’re hungry, they’re young.”
The way Galchenyuk, Malkin and Tanev read and react off each other is really impressive. Definitely some good chemistry there. -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 14, 2019
Coach Mike Sullivan often scrambles and juggles lines, and definitely favors pairing forwards together and then finding one variable to move around — think Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby mostly always together with a rotating winger on the right side.
In that instance, it makes more sense that Galchenyuk and Malkin probably are the duo, and the rotation would come on the other side.
But no matter how it shapes out, one of the best things about it being so early and at the very beginning of the season is that the possibilities seem virtually endless. Much like how the Pens were using Dominik Kahun with Guentzel-Crosby, it makes a lot of sense to “see what ya got” with the new faces and abilities to stick Galchenyuk and even Tanev with Malkin as an introduction to the team. Many of the other wingers (like Rust and Patric Hornqvist) have been around for years, and the staff probably knows what they have there. Now is the time to see what else they’ve brought in to see how it will go.
So far the reports are very encouraging about a Galchenyuk-Malkin-Tanev line. We’ll see if it lasts one more practice or all the way to opening night, but either way the possibilities are the exciting part at this point.