CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — If the first test for the Penguins was rediscovering their playoff selves, the second test will be getting recalibrated for Friday’s Game 2.
After a 7-0 win in Game 1 on Wednesday, they’re back at it on the pristine ice of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex this morning. I’ll have any and all relevant updates for you right here!
12:01 p.m.: One thing you can say about Mike Sullivan practices: They always start on time. No Matt Murray, though. The ‘third-string’ fill-in is out there. I forget his name but he’s a local.
12:11 p.m.: I’d imagine this will be one of those ‘don’t fix what ain’t broke’ situations. No sense of any line or pairing changes based on what we’ve seen so far, but it’s been a lot of skating and not much in terms of structure. Looks like that’s about to change with Sullivan going to the whiteboard.
12:20 p.m.: Now that the lines and pairings are working together, I’m noticing Olli Määttä is also missing. That appears to be it in terms of the attendance report.
12:21 p.m.: Friend of the site Mike Necciai tweets that the Penguins typically use Mike Chiasson as their fill-in goalie. He’s a Las Vegas native, former University of Michigan backup and current goalie development coach here at this facility.
12:27 p.m.: I suspected this would be a short practice with just the one off-day between games and it looks like I’m getting it. They’re on to special teams work, which typically wraps practice.
12:30 p.m.: Yeah, that’ll do it. Keep it here as I’ll continue to pile updates into the space below after I hear from the players and Sullivan.
1:30 p.m.: Sullivan calls the off-days for Murray and Määttä “maintenance days.” A little surprising considering the time off the players have had lately, but feel free to take it at face value or leave it.
1:50 p.m.: Some talk in the room about the top unit of the power play having a difficult Game 1. Sidney Crosby mentioned it last night and Sullivan did today, but their sloppy night was tempered by a conversion from the second unit.
“That’s one of the reasons we got Derick Brassard,” said Kris Letang, who was on the ice for Jake Guentzel‘s goal, set up by Brassard and Conor Sheary. “He’s a guy that’s on a first power-play unit on most teams. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you need someone to step up.”
Sullivan called it “critical” for the second group to provide backup.
“Our first unit has been very consistent this year, but there are going to be nights where they struggle,” Sullivan said. “I thought last night was one of them. The second unit did a really nice job. They give us a big boost when they do that.”
2:04 p.m.: Plenty of discussion about Murray’s spectacular save on Scott Laughton in the first period Wednesday, but Murray was also strong early in the second when the Flyers won several offensive-zone faceoffs and funneled pucks and bodies to the net.
“He’s a big-game guy,” Jamie Oleksiak said. “He went out there and did Matt Murray things.”