The very first taste of action for the pre-pre-season happened yesterday when the Penguins prospects met against the Boston Bruins prospects in Buffalo. The Pens will be back at it today at noon against a group from the Ottawa Senators.
Here’s some quick thoughts about yesterday, starting with the lines that the young Penguin team rolled with for a 4-2 loss to the Bruins squad.
- It looked fitting that the Pens team showed up with game shells but only a practice jersey on yesterday. The Bruins had legit NHL jerseys and looked better in the early going, but Pittsburgh found their footing and stabilized after going down 2-0 early on, before fading away in the third period.
- Joel Blomqvist started and played the first half of the game before a planned change. Blomqvist stopped 12 of 14 shots on the contest, which looks better considering the first shot he saw deflected off a Penguin and into the net just 37 seconds into the first period. Nothing like a little adversity early and Blomqvist bounced back to steady the ship from there on out. The only other goal he allowed was a broken play that resulted in a tap in. Wilkes-Barre coach J.D. Forrest was also impressed with Blomqvist’s ability to battle and deal with a lot of traffic in front of him.
- Liked the game from undrafted and unsigned player Evan Vierling. He probably got away with one on the second Pens goal where he totally ran over the Boston goalie, leading to Lukas Svejkovsky having an easy tap-in to an open net with the goalie completely washed out of the crease. The refs conferred but somehow allowed the goal to stand. Hey, if it counts..
- Sam Houde was the other goal scorer of the game and looked noticeable too throughout the game. He’s 23-years old and has played two AHL seasons, which is conducive to pop at this level of play. Houde is on an AHL contract but rose up the ranks to be one of the more important WBS forwards towards the end of last season, and probably will be again this year.
- As far as former first round picks go, Sam Poulin and Brayden Yager stood out a little to have small flashes to pull attention to them. Nothing too revolutionary or exciting, but not bad showings from them.
- This tournament has minor importance, but drew a large group of the Pens’ important hockey people with Kyle Dubas, Jason Spezza from the front office there. All of the NHL coaches in Mike Sullivan, Todd Reirden and Mike Vellucci were in attendance as well. Goalie coach Andy Chiodo and director of player development Tom Kostopoulos were also among those who made the trip up to Buffalo to keep an eye on the youngsters.
- Forrest and his two WB/S assistants Kevin Porter and Sheldon Brookbank were in charge on the bench, and they were joined by Wheeling head coach Derek Army to guide many of the players who will be playing for their respective teams in the minors during the regular season.
It’ll be a quick turnaround and early start for today, so we’ll see how this one goes. The game will be on the Penguins’ website but seems to be geo-locked, so check for YouTube and the Ottawa website if you have a hankerin’ to see the action.
After today, the Pens’ prospects wrap things up with a game on Monday at 5pm. At that point focus will shift back to Cranberry with training camp officially starting on Wednesday but not getting back on the ice for the first real practice of the season this coming Thursday. After a very long summer, we are almost back and things are starting to pre-heat in the pre-season.