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‘I Left it Out There’: Grading Penguins Defenseman Battle, Smith & Joseph (+)

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P.O Joseph, Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins had exactly zero shots in the first 10:11 of the second period but had two more goals before another minute ticked off the clock. The decreasingly interested Buffalo Sabres provided less challenge than a spirited scrimmage at UPMC Lemieux. Still, the two young defensemen vying for an NHL sweater got to show off their skills.

And…both P.O Joseph and Ty Smith did. Sullivan called the game Joseph’s best of the preseason.

“I know how much he cares and wants to make a good impression. And I’ve had a couple of conversations here along the way through our training camp — I’ve been trying to encourage him not to put pressure on himself and just play the game, take what the game gives you, embrace the game and have fun with it,” said Sullivan. “His talent will emerge. He’s a really good kid and is a conscientious player. I think he’s got better as the camp is going on here.”

The Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 7-1 at PPG Paints Arena on Friday night, but that’s almost an irrelevant footnote to the more critical issues. The Penguins have until Monday at 5 p.m. to finalize their roster and get salary cap compliant.

It may be oversimplifying the game, but it was indeed the final chance for young defensemen to state their case to be on the Pittsburgh Penguins opening night roster.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.