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Penguins July 23rd scrimmage: what we’re watching for

The Pens are scrimmaging in camp again today at 7 PM

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Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Joe Hrycych/NHLI via Getty Images

The Penguins are back at it tonight, playing a 7:00pm scrimmage. Same start as a normal game! And this whole day has been tailored as a practice full “game-day” dry run for the team, to help get back into the normal routine of a day.

“It’s going to be as close to a game day as we can possibly come,” coach Mike Sullivan said on his video call yesterday. “We are going to keep the same times that we always have — morning skates, they will get pregame meals. All so the players will have an opportunity to go through a team game-day.”

After today, the Pens have one more scrimmage on Saturday at noon. Fans can watch both through online outlets, the team has been streaming them over Twitter, Facebook and YouTube platforms. Follow the Pens’ official accounts in those areas to see it.

Here’s three things (out of a lot) as for what we’re watching for:

#1: Captain sighting?

Sidney Crosby has been out since Saturday. He skated on his own briefly before practice yesterday. Is he ready to come back? Is it worth it or more prudent to give him another day off? The Pens are using Evan Rodrigues as a pure placeholder in the lines, will today be the day Crosby is able to get back in his place?

#2: All eyes on the usual

—After a perceived up and down week of training camp, Jim Rutherford said he watched Matt Murray’s Wednesday work very closely and came away very impressed. Can Murray carry that over into a scrimmage? How will the work between Murray and Tristan Jarry be divvied up? Based on the rotation, it could be Murray’s shot at facing the camp team that contains Evgeni Malkin and the other big guns.

#3: First chance for the third line

Patric Hornqvist is back from an antsy week of being held out for covid precautions. Hornqvist will join Patrick Marleau and Jared McCann on a very interesting line. The top six is set, health-willing. The “fourth” line is set and not changing. Then you’ve just got...well three guys leftover. They haven’t had any time at all to gel, with yesterday being their first chance of all playing at the same time.

Getting the most out of McCann may be a playoff key, but will these wingers be the ones to do it? Especially with Rodrigues and Sam Lafferty standing out? It feels impossible that, say, Lafferty will relegate one of them to be a healthy scratch, but that’s the Pens’ unique issue now. All the other forward jobs and roles are settled. Then there’s just these seemingly random three pieces that don’t fit in anywhere else at the moment.