Penguins

Penguins Knock Off Hawks 4-1 in Final Home Pre-Season Game…

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(Updated throughout…final thoughts at the bottom…)

Well, after a much needed hiatus from all things “real life” I am back in the saddle and taking in my first game at the CONSOL Energy Center. Though I have yet to see any hockey played tonight, the experience of covering a game at the CONSOL Energy Center is already 500 times better than it was over at Mellon Arena. Yes I will miss all of the nuances of the old barn, but this place is tremendous.

I can see the entire sheet from my seat, which I couldn’t from the press row over at Mellon Arena…

The warm-ups are in the books and we are about 20 minutes from game time. The interesting thing is that the locals are clearly still getting used to the 7:00pm start time, as there are plenty of open seats. That generally wouldn’t have been the case…though it is worth noting that we are dealing with a pre-season game in which I saw a ton of season ticket holders trying to sell their seats for.

I will not be live blogging the game so much as just giving you a series of observations throughout the night. Stay tuned for updates throughout…

The Penguins have just hit the ice and are ready to face-off against the Chicago Blackhawks… the scoreboard looked great in showing the “Destiny has a New Home” montage and Pittsburgh’s own Sarah Marince just finished the anthem. We are off and running…

* * * * *

Meaningless note of the evening… the final game that I covered last season was the Blackhawks’ Cup clinching game in Philadelphia and my first of this season is tonight’s Penguins/Blackhawks tilt…

* * * * *

The above note was brought to you by the semi boring hockey game that we are watching this evening… neither team has really generated many chances, though the Penguins are leading the way in the shot dept. 5-3. It has been a tennis match of back and forth throughout…

* * * * *

Just as I call the teams out for providing a fairly boring game thus far, the Evgeni Malkin, Eric Tangradi, Mike Comrie line comes through for the Penguins. The line had been generating some pressure in the offensive zone when Geno Machino found himself with the puck behind the net. The Hawks sort of let him walk up the boards and out into the high slot area, as he shifted into shooting position both Tangradi and Comrie went to the front of the net. Malkin let a wrist shot fly and it sailed between the legs of Hawks goaltender Alec Richards…

1-0 Penguins…

* * * * *

The Penguins will get the first power play of the evening and they are employing an interesting unit… Malkin and Goligoski on the points… Letestu, Comrie and Kunitz down low…

* * * * *

That grouping played the first 1:27 of the PP and cycled throughout. Interesting that the only consistent point man on the unit was Goligoski…

* * * * *

The second unit: Tangradi, Jeffrey, Sterling with Martin and Michalek on the points…

* * * * *

One period in the books and the Penguins are leading 1-0 on an Evgeni Malkin goal. The action started to pick up after the Malkin goal, which hopefully translates into some excitement the rest of the way. The teams managed to combine for 14 shots in the period after a bit of the slow start through the first 10 minutes. The Penguins are leading 9-5.

Patrick Kane has 4 of the 5 Blackhawk shots…while Letestu has 3 of the Penguins 9.

Max Talbot is a hearty 60% in the face-off circle for the Penguins, while Ryan Potulny has 100% of the draws he has taken…

* * * * *

Dustin Jeffrey just scored one of those “gift from the heavens goals…  Craig Adams was trying to put the puck towards the net as they broke into the zone and he was taken off of his skates by Ryan Potulny… he still made contact with the puck and pushed it into the slot where it grazed off of Jeffrey’s stick,  changed direction and went through a defenders legs and past goaltender Alec Richards…

2-0 Penguins…

* * * * *

Deryk Engelland just threw down with Jake Dowell of the Blackhawks. Though I am not sure there is room for Engelland in Pittsburgh right now, that is one aspect of his game that could come in very handy. Having a defender who can play the game and who is capable of throwing down can offer the flexibility that might be needed when it comes time to make some tough roster decisions on players such as Eric Godard etc.

* * * * *

This is the preseason for the ice crew as much as it is the players… they are working on getting the speed down for shoveling up the ice during stoppages in play. Gotta give ‘em credit, as they are pulling it off…

* * * * *

Ben Smith of the Hawks just laid a huge check on Simon Despres… it didn’t seem as if he had his head down, but Smith just caught him along the boards and put him on his wallet. Despres jumped right up, but quickly went to the bench…

* * * * *

Brent Johnson just served up a MEATY rebound to Kyle Beach, who made absolutely no mistake in putting the puck right back on net and in behind Johnson. Not the kind of rebound that you want to see, but this is the time to work those kinks out of one’s game. The initial shot came from Bryan Bickell…

2-1 Penguins…

* * * * *

I just took a look at the shots and surprised to see that the teams have now combined for 34 in the game… certainly doesn’t seem like there should be that many.

* * * * *

If there is one thing that I don’t like about the new building it is that EVERYTHING is sponsored. I understand why it is done, I just don’t like seeing an advertisement everywhere I look. I guess that is one of the reasons that the team is able to spend up to the salary cap on an ongoing basis…

* * * * *

The third period is underway and the Penguins have quickly found themselves in the box… Zbynek Michalek heads to the bin for holding… in case you haven’t heard, the Penguins are now on the “GNC Penalty Kill.”

* * * * *

The action has picked up in this third period… the team have been exchanging chances… the Penguins have looked pretty good in passing the puck in the offensive zone. They seem to finding the open man an awful lot…

So much so that they just found Brent Seabrook in front of goaltender Hannu Toivonen… a pass from Max Talbot found its way across the goal mouth to the blade of Seabrook and into the net.

3-1 Penguins…

Correction… the puck actually was passed by Talbot, but it quickly went to Nick Johnson before skidding across goal mouth to Seabrook for the tap in…

* * * * *

Mark Letestu, who is having a whale of a training camp just put the Penguins up 4-1… he found a loose puck in front of Toivonen and put it into traffic, where it deflected past the goaltender…

4-1 Penguins…

* * * * *

Mark Letestu is leading this game in shots with 5… The Penguins also have four other players with at least 4 shots…  Patrick Kane is leading the Hawks with 4 shots…

* * * * *

The Penguins are now leading 38-19 in shots…  the third period really opened up…

* * * * *

The final score from Pittsburgh: Penguins 4 Blackhawks 1…

* * * * *

Will have some specific quotes for you soon, but wanted to convey the basic message from Mark Letestu, Eric Tangradi and Brent Johnson…

First of all, Brent Johnson had a perma-smile on his face after this one. He was excited to get a full game in and to come away with the victory. He was very complimentary of the players in front of him, saying that the entire team did a great job of blocking shots, getting in lanes and clearing rebounds.

Johnson went out of his way to say that the ice was much better than when training camp started, but admitted that it was still a bit choppy late in the game. It is worth noting that it would probably be the same situation in any rink around the league, especially at this early juncture of the season.

Johnson also admitted that his heart did go out to the goaltenders on the other end of the rink this evening as they dealt with a couple of bad bounces that ended up in their net. He praised both Blackhawk goaltenders for playing a great game in the face of the 39 shots that they faced… he did admit with a wry smile that he was glad that they were the ones dealing with those bounces tonight…

He seemed just as blown away by his save on Patrick Kane tonight as the rest of the arena was…

Lastly, he said that the ice and boards in the building play “very true” and you can count on the puck to go where it is supposed to go when you play it off of either…

Johnny also gave a couple of us and up close and personal look at this year’s Led Zep mask. The paint job was fab-o… unfortunately, I wasn’t able to grab a pic.

* * * * *

Mark Letestu, who had 1 goal, a +1 rating, 5 shots and 2 hits in the game, said that though he has been satisfied with his performance, he is still very nervous about his chances to make the team. The young forward is not taking anything for granted and said that even if he were to make the team, he would still work as hard in his 20th game as he is right now.

I really like his attitude, as he is not taking anything for granted and is quick to praise his teammates for helping him look good in what he has been able to do thus far in camp…

* * * * *

Eric Tangradi is another of the youngsters that has really shown a great attitude during this camp and it was again evident this evening. He is very happy to have been given a huge opportunity to play with Evgeni Malkin and Mike Comrie during camp, but realizes that his role during training camp doesn’t mean he is a lock for this team. One quote that really stood out tonight was:

“I really need to work on the defensive side of my game, yes things have been good in the offensive zone with creating space and getting to the front of the net, but if you are a young kid in the league, there is no use for you if you can’t play defense…”

He admitted that he has tried to make a more concerted effort to get to the front of the net to screen the goaltender for Malkin and Comrie. He is really embracing his role as a power forward on that line and it is enhancing his chances to make the team…

* * * * *

Head Coach Dan Bylsma intentionally split up Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek tonight so that each could play with a player who has previously been in the Penguins system. He also admitted that the number six defensemen on this team, whoever it is, will not be playing a ton of minutes… probably not even close to the number of minutes played by the number five guy…

Bylsma said that the play of Letestu, Tangradi, and Dustin Jeffrey is making some of the coaching staff’s decisions very hard as they come closer to the start of the regular season and finalizing a roster…

Bylsma had the gathered media laughing during his press conference when he shared Max Talbot’s thoughts following the turnover that caused Johnson to make a huge stop on Patrick Kane…

“That’s why we have a goalie…”

Bylsma said that he had no comeback and had to try and keep himself from laughing…

* * * * *

Joel Quenneville was not very pleased with the performance of his team tonight… when asked if anyone on his team impressed him this evening he said:

“It’s a short list tonight, so I don’t want to mention anybody…”

He was disappointed in his team’s effort from top to bottom….

“It wasn’t a very good game for us. I didn’t like our game at all. All night long, our passing was off, our puck support wasn’t there and our puck possession game wasn’t what we traditionally see. It was tough.”

* * * * *

More later… signing off from press row at the CONSOL Energy Center…


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About Brian Metzer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live and co-host of PensWeek on the Penguins Radio Network, serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, does similar work for TSN 1050 in Toronto, is a contributing writer for NHL.com, the Beaver County Times and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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11 Comments

  1. Francine Boudreau

    September 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Is Crosby playing tonight…don’t see his name anywhere?
    Francine

  2. bmetzer

    September 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    No Francine, he is not in the line-up tonight… they gave him the evening off.

    Here is the line-up for tonight:

    Penguins: Goligoski, Michalek, Engelland, Lovejoy, Martin, Letestu, Sterling, Kunitz, Jeffrey, Rupp, Comrie, Talbot, Adams, Johnson (Nick), Tangradi, Asham, Despres, Malkin, Johnson (Brent), Curry

    Blackhawks: Hjalmarsson, Cullimore, Seabrook, Beach, Pisani, Potulny, Skille, Brouwer, Stalberg, Morin, Dowell, Bickell, Scott, Bolland, Leddy, Campbell, Smith (Ben), Kane, Toivonen, Richards (Alec)…

  3. Walshy

    September 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Go N Johnson Go!

    Nice to see Tangradi park himself in front of the net on that first goal!

  4. RL

    September 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    And that last update was brought to you by MAF Landscaping Bricks.

    Build a wall around your garden with Marc Andre Fleury’s Landscaping Bricks.

  5. Francine Boudreau

    September 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks Brian for taking time in your busy night to answer me. You are great! Francine

  6. bmetzer

    September 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Never a problem Francine! thanks for being here to ask the question!

    Love when we can get some comments going for the blogs!

  7. Francine Boudreau

    September 28, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Well, I couldn’t see it on TV but it was just as if I was there with your play by play. Can’t wait for the opener…..OMG… Can’t wait. I love the summers but I always miss my hockey… I truly have hockey withdrawal :-)

  8. OneSmugPug

    September 29, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Hmmm…wait until the phone conference…..woooooo

  9. bmetzer

    September 29, 2010 at 7:05 am

    @onesmugpug Are you threatening me boy??

  10. ejjams18

    September 29, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Brian, How was the sound system there? Was the music the same?

    Eric from VT

  11. bmetzer

    September 29, 2010 at 8:54 am

    @Eric The sound system is great! Yes, thus far Vin has been playing a lot of the music from last season… I know that he has a couple of gems up his sleeve that he will be sneaking in this year as well. Overall, I think you will be very pleased with the sound and the music that is blaring in the CONSOL Energy Center…