Welcome to the Pittsburgh Hockey Now live blog and analysis of the Pittsburgh Penguins second preseason game and the first home game. We will specifically focus on the Penguins young defensemen PO Joseph and John Marino, who are both in the lineup. We will also be following the public rollout of the Brandon Tanev, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Galchenyuk line. And we’ll closely follow the first-round pick Sam Poulin with Nick Bjugstad and Patric Hornqvist.
The Poulin placement is especially interesting because he has played well in the rookie camp, Prospects Challenge and in the training camp scrimmages. Poulin also created a turnover in the first preseason game which led to a goal against Buffalo. It is highly unlikely, but maybe, just maybe, Poulin convinces the Penguins to give him a longer look in training camp and a nine-game NHL tryout.
The salary cap implications of the above are almost silly to consider, however. In a different year, or with a different team, it would be a different conversation.
Dominik Simon is centering Jake Guentzel and Dominik Kahun. Simon has played center throughout camp.
Marino led the rush, then sprung Guentzel with a pillow-soft touch pass into the offensive zone. Set up a Penguins chance. That’s the stuff Marino can hang his hat upon.
Joseph just pinched against less than favorable odds. That’s been the bugaboo of his game this preseason. He did same in Prospect Challenge. Hornqvist was the high forward and cycled back, but CBJ still transitioned to the rush and had a scoring chance.
Perhaps the young’ins are going all-in during the final period.
Joseph had a bad gap and Dalpe just got a breakaway between Joseph and Gudbranson. Oops. He looked like a 20-year-old d-man there.
6:03: 3-1: Scrum in the faceoff circle. Legare SNAPS the loose puck through the five-hole of Veini Vehvilainen.
6:26: 4-1: LEGARE AGAIN. Seconds later, the kid is alone in the high slot. Whether it was a loose puck or he intercepted a pass was unclear. He whipped it low glove-hand past VV again. The Penguins fourth line–wow.
7:58: Poulin created a turnover in the defensive zone and RACED to the offensive zone. His centering pass was disrupted, but that was his play. He stuck his nose into the battle on the wall and transitioned well.
11:30: tic-tac-toe passing up the ice from the Malkin line. Good first shot by Galchenyuk. Malkin and Tanev had whacks at the rebound. It’s not just the precision, but the creativity as well.
Poulin called for tripping. Odd call. He went flat on the ice to block a shot and went spinning towards the boards, where the CBJ defenseman tripped over him. I guess that’s tripping.
That does it for the live blog tonight! I have to head downstairs. But hope you enjoyed. I’ll summarize for everyone later.
First shift: Malkin creates a turnover at the blueline. Yes, CREATES. It was a two-on-one with Galchencyuk. Merzlikins made the save on Galchenyuk and kicked the net off the moorings.
More goodness from the fourth line with Lafferty, Bjorkqvist, and Legare. They hemmed CBJ into the defensive zone with help from a turnover created by Sam Poulin.
Another defensive zone takeaway for Malkin. If he plays like this in the regular season…look out.
PO Joseph just led the rush, 3-on-2. Joseph had a little more space but instead chipped it deep and set up on the blue line. Safe play. Good play. Joseph can SKATE.
Poulin and Bjugstad played catch up the ice and into the offensive zone. Poulin set up Bjugstad in the slot. The youngster looks at home.
Brandon Tanev just CRUSHED defenseman Eric Robinson along the wall. That should help win the fans over.
11:00 Bjorkqvist on the PK, goes the other way–catches iron with a good backhand. The kid looks so much better in the game than he did in camp.
7:58: 1-1. Warsofsky and Shultz left Sonny Milano alone in front. Eek. Poulin and Bjugstad were both below the goal line. That’s probably not a place for a winger, but that wasn’t his man.
Marino gets a minor for hooking. Legit call. That was a problem in the Prospects Challenge, too. Marino took a few minors there, too.
2-1: Malkin went end to end. When two defenders converged on him at the blue line, he shoveled a backhand forward to Jake Guentzel, who was unabated to the net. Malkin is pretty good, yeah?
The new Penguins power play…2nd verse, same as the first. Good puck movement. Malkin and Galchenyuk look for each other and usually connect in good spots.
Marino gets the Grade A chance as the horn sounds. End of the second.
2nd Period Wrap-Up
The game settled in well. The proper players looked like the proper players. Evgeni Malkin was very good. The period lacked a little bit of the nervous or eager energy of the first period. The Penguins fourth line continued to pressure Columbus.
Marino got caught flat at the blue line and took a hooking penalty. Growing pains…
Joseph was solid. His rush could have been special but he showed poise and patience by pulling up. I’ll give credit rather than taking it away for making the safe play. A lot of players would have tried to force it, but he chipped it forward and defended.
Brandon Tanev dished a pair of HEAVY hits. That has to make the Penguins happy. Malkin and Galchenyuk also created space. Tanev hasn’t yet been involved in enough of the offensive fun. It is tough to say how much space he’s creating with his hard play and how much is there because Malkin is controlling the game.
First, shift not a good start for the Tanev-Malkin-Galchenyuk line. They were pinned in their own zone. Defenseman David Warsofsky couldn’t find an outlet pass until Malkin finally skated below his own goal line to grab the loose puck and try to skate it out.
PO Joseph paired with Erik Gudbranon on the Penguins penalty kill. Yep, I just checked, the arena is still standing.
Bjorkqvist with a nice wraparound attempt as the Penguins penalty expired. He showed a good burst of speed; the first time I’ve seen that from him.
For a second straight shift, Malkin and crew were in their own zone. Five minutes into the game.
Third shift for Malkin’s line: They gave up a good scoring chance. Warsofsky and Schultz are having their lunch taken. Penguins forwards didn’t cover the trailer. Oops.
There’s Sam Poulin. He and Bjugstad converged on the forecheck and Poulin created a takeaway. Hornqvist had the resulting scoring chance in the slot. Hard not to wonder if he’s close. His positioning is always good; he cornered the defenseman who Bjugstad pursued.
1-0: The new-look Penguins power play picked where the old one left off. Good puck movement and Alex Galchenyuk snapped a wicked wrista past CBJ goalie Elvis Merzlikins form the left circle. The assists were 2nd unit PP regulars Jake Guentzel and Justin Schultz.
9:00: Malkin’s line got out of its own zone but couldn’t break into the CBJ zone. Malkin eventually had to skate low again to help defensively and the Penguins avoided any scoring chances.
Poulin–you won’t notice it on TV but he just showed great agility. He tracked the play and the CBJ breakout then put himself in a perfect position to take away the neutral zone crossing pass. He deflected the pass and changed direction effortlessly to create a puck battle. Hockey is fun when you can zone-in on the little things like that.
11:00: Gudbranson and Joseph just protected their own zone and the Penguins AHL line centered by Sam Lafferty was able to break out. I just checked…Yep, arena still standing. The defensive pairing has not yet brought about locusts or plagues.
11:30: Malkin line finally got into the offensive zone. Malkin a sweet pass between his legs to Galchenyuk. Subtle, ridiculous little play. Galchenyuk read it, too.
13:30: Haven’t been able to type John Marino’s name–because the Penguins fourth line with Lafferty has been on the puck. Lafferty and Bjorkqvist just created another turnover on the forecheck and forced Merzlikins to make a good save.
14:00: Tanev finally got on the forecheck and thundered the CBJ defenseman, which set up an offensive sequence for the Malkin line. Malkin just missed a cutting Warsofsky.
17:00: Penguins won the faceoff and Bjorkqvist made a beeline for the net. He had a good poke at the rebound. Resulting scrum–Nathan Legare threw mitts and gloves and fashwashes with Scott Harrington. No penalty. Shake hands and go to the bench, boys.
Marino got tangled with forecheckers. He didn’t take the safe play around the boards–he tried to move the puck forward, on his backhand. Bad move. Turnover. CBJ Grade A scoring chance. Save Matt Murray.
1st PERIOD WRAP UP:
The Penguins fourth line was on the puck. Sam Lafferty is worlds ahead of last year. The 24-year-old from Hollidaysburg is putting himself solidly in the conversation to be an injury recall this season. He very well could see NHL ice. Bjorkqvist also had his best moments of training camp, too. Third-round pick Nathan Legare was a solid sidesaddle, too. He was aggressive on the forecheck. The line spent very little time in the defensive zone.
The Malkin line took a while to find their legs. They were hemmed into their own zone for the first half of the period but finally got on the right side of the puck after Tanev plastered a defenseman on the back wall and the line gained offensive zone possession.
Not much from Marino or Joseph. That’s not a bad thing. Marino had a rough turnover, but the Harvard grad will probably hear from Sergei Gonchar during intermission. It’s a mistake every defenseman in the NHL has made.
I literally spent the entire period thinking No. 73 was Jack Johnson. I know better, but I made the mistake. That was Joseph. He played very well in his own zone and on the PK.
Go watch the game at Redbeard’s! A great sponsor of PHN.