Tuesday is in the books, and with it, the second day of Pittsburgh Penguins training camp as they prepare to begin an abbreviated 2020-21 season in exactly one week against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Much like we saw when camp opened on Monday, players ran through a gamut of drills with their position groups, doing everything in their power to be ready for when the puck drops in seven days.
The view from training camp pic.twitter.com/hIDV8GOIp1— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 5, 2021
In addition to the traditional set of drills, the practice day ended with a short scrimmage between ‘Team Gold’ led by Evgeni Malkin and ‘Team Black’ led by captain Sidney Crosby. Malkin’s ‘Gold’ side, backstopped by goalie Tristan Jarry skated away to a 3-0 victory on the back of goals by Jason Zucker, Colton Sceviour, and Bryant Rust.
As you may have determined from above, Colton Sceviour returned to Penguins practice on Tuesday, just a day after he was excused to attend the birth of his child. He was greeted with congratulatory stick taps from his new teammates.
New dad Colton Sceviour, who was excused from practice yesterday for the birth of his child, just got congratulatory stick taps from his teammates at center ice.— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 5, 2021
With Sceviour back in the fold but still without the services of Kasperi Kapanen, here’s how the Penguins lined during the practice portion of Tuesday’s activities.
Here is the Pens' workflow with Sceviour back and Kapanen still absent:— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) January 5, 2021
It was also noted that forward Drew O’Connor was practicing with the main group listed above, showing his first day performance made an early impact on the coaching staff and he could find a role on the team this season if he keeps it up.
Following the day’s on-ice work, head coach Mike Sullivan sat down with the media to answer an array of questions and the Penguins bench boss spoke at length about the goaltending situation with Tristan Jarry as the starter and heaped praise on Jake Guentzel.
Starting with Jarry, Sullivan was asked about his goalie’s mindset entering the season as the starter and what he expects from Jarry this season.
“I think Tristan has the ability to be a real impact goaltender for us,” said Sullivan. “He’s really matured both on the ice and off the ice and established the necessary work habits that give him the opportunity to have success.”
During the conversation on Jarry, Sullivan also touched on Jarry’s evolution as a goaltender just in the last year since he became an NHL regular. He credited Jarry for his work ethic and says he earned the right to be the starting goaltender and believes he will be a key part of the Penguins success.
After the discussion on Jarry, Sullivan spoke in regards to others on the roster, beginning with one of the newest faces on his bench, defenseman Mike Matheson.
“I had some familiarity with his [Matheson] game and I watched him on film when we acquired him,” stated Sullivan about how he studied up on Matheson. “To this point, the one thing that jumps out at me is his skating ability, he’s an elite skater and we’re going to try and harness that.”
Last up on Sullivan’s player rundowns for Tuesday was forward Jake Guentzel, who as you will remember went down to a shoulder injury last season but the pandemic shutdown allowed him to return for the playoffs. Suffice to say, Sullivan is expecting Guentzel to be his normal self when the games begin.
“I think the sky's the limit for Jake. He’s a terrific player and he’s established himself as one of the elite goal scorers, said Sullivan. “His hockey IQ on both sides of the puck is extremely high and I think that’s what gives him the ability to play with a guy like Sid.”
Needless to say, Sullivan already thinks incredibly highly of Guentzel and what he can do on the ice, but he did state that he believes there is still plenty of room to grow for the former 40-goal scorer.
Aside from Sullivan, players Guentzel, Matheson, and fellow teammate Evan Rodrigues held court with the media on Tuesday following practice. Guentzel said his confidence is high and he hopes it translate to success on the ice while Matheson was impressed with the level of speed the Penguins play with.
Rodrigues discussed his brief stint with the Penguins last season and how a conversation with Sullivan when he was traded away helped him return back to Pittsburgh as a free agent. Both he and Sullivan feel confident there is a place for Rodrigues in Pittsburgh and feel his versatility will pay dividends for the Penguins on the ice.