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Pre-season Impressions: Penguins defeat Detroit 3-2

What we’re thinking the day after Pittsburgh’s road win against the Red Wings

NHL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Penguins at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins went on the road and took a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings last night. Bryan Rust, Josh Archibald and Jason Zucker scored goals to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead that they would cling to in the third period as Detroit attempted to make a come back. Casey DeSmith made 37 saves on 39 shots to record the victory.

Here’s a cool stat, but one that also ultimately goes to show just what NHL pre-season means: virtually nothing for the future.

Mike Comrie would go onto score a grand total of one goal in 21 regular season games for the Penguins in 2010-11.

With that in mind, here’s an outlook of the Game Score impact card. Mike Sullivan probably has to feel good about what he is seeing from Ty Smith and Jan Rutta. Sullivan mentioned in the post-games being impressed with how Ryan Poehling performed in the absence of Jeff Carter and Teddy Blueger, who both remain unavailable with minor injuries.

A lot of big names are showing up at the bottom of the list between Jake Guentzel, Rickard Rakell, Evgeni Malkin and even Sidney Crosby. That can be noted but shouldn’t raise many eyebrows, these players have a six month marathon ahead of them and naturally aren’t going to be treating an exhibition tune up with a high degree of focus and effort.

Seeing Marcus Pettersson and Jeff Petry stand out negatively should not necessarily be a cause for concern, but could be something to note and remember for the future. That pair will be very important for the season and one the Pens will need to see better from.

Some other random thoughts and observations:

  • The Penguins brought a big time roster, and last time this core of players was seen on the ice they went 0-for-9 on one of the most disjointed power play “efforts” you will ever see at the NHL level. The results couldn’t have been different tonight, going 2-2. Rust scored early, sprung by a long pass from Crosby. Then the second group scored with Zucker finding the back of the net. Nice turnaround there after some practices to get things together.
  • DeSmith was by far the star of the game, making an untold number of tremendous saves to preserve the win with the Pens going up three goals and then taking their foot off the gas for the night. Detroit had a 18-6 shot advantage in the third period. One thing we have learned this pre-season is that DeSmith is sharp and clearly physically ready to go following another off-season surgery.
  • Danton Heinen ranked as the top player in the Game Score impact card above, and had a primary assist on the power play. For not being flashy, he does just consistently do a very good job. Quietly he’s looking like he should be able to pitch in again where the Pens need him on the bottom six.
  • There was a lot for Sullivan to like tonight from the bottom six. Ryan Poehling played over 17 minutes, had 5 SOG (and 9 total shot attempts). After the game Sullivan praised Poehling for his smart defensive play and PK work. Archibald’s goal came with 3 total SOG and a pair of hits and blocked shots.

There’s one more exhibition game to go, on Friday at home against Buffalo. That will likely be another tune-up for the team to get one more chance to go through the motions of a game experience that doesn’t matter prior to when it will start to count next week.