With a Pittsburgh Penguins lineup heavy with regulars set for the preseason game Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena, some Penguins line combinations seem to be taking shape.
That includes winger Rickard Rakell on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Jason Zucker, according to the line combinations at the morning skate.
Rust was mostly a fixture on the top line last season, but has also played with Malkin. Coach Mike Sullivan said the team is “exploring some of the combinations” they are considering.
Rakell developed some chemistry on the top line late last season, but he said Tuesday he doesn’t know how this will shake out.
“I think we’re just taking it a day at a time right now,” he said. “We haven’t really talked about anything so far. I think we’re just going to see how it goes.”
On defense, Brian Dumoulin and Kris Letang took up their normal spot on the top pairing, as well as the expected pairing of Marcus Pettersson and Jeff Petry and Ty Smith with Jan Rutta.
Those aren’t set in stone, of course, but what happens at the morning skate is usually a strong indication of what will happen in the game.
Pittsburgh Penguins Lines:
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Rickard Rakell|
|Danton Heinen||Ryan Poehling||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Brock McGinn||Sam Poulin||Drew O'Connor|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|P.O Joseph||Jan Rutta|
Pittsburgh Penguins Notes:
*Dan Kingerski assisted with this story.
*Defenseman Owen Pickering, the Penguins’ 2022 first-round pick who has not practiced during camp because of an unspecified injury, had an on-ice workout before the morning skate, then returned for the morning skate in a white, apparently non-contact, jersey. He took a couple of spins filling in for Dumoulin with Letang.
*Despite being listed on the roster sheet, Kasperi Kapanen did not participate in the morning skate. Sullivan said Kapanen is ill and won’t play, but it is not something expected to be a longer-term problem.
*Center Jeff Carter, who left a scrimmage Saturday, is day to day because of an upper-body injury, Sullivan said.
*Crosby on what he wants out of preseason games: “You want to just get your timing. Game situations, timing, execution. It’s all at a higher speed when you’re getting into games. That’s the biggest thing.” He said he wants to play in “two or three” preseason games. “I missed last year, and then (previously) things were fast-tracked (because of COVID-19).”
*Sullivan indicated that goaltender Tristan Jarry will start, with Casey DeSmith playing the second half.
*The last time the two teams met, six different goal-scorers, including a two-goal game from Evgeni Malkin, propelled the Penguins to a 7-2 win on April 23rd in Detroit. During their final two matchups last season, Pittsburgh outscored Detroit 18-4.
*The Penguins’ blue line configuration appears close to, if not precisely, the six for opening night. Ty Smith is battling with P.O Joseph and Mark Friedman for the third-pairing job. Friedman is the known commodity, while Joseph is on his last chance. Otherwise, Joseph must be exposed to waivers to be sent to the WBS Penguins to begin a fourth season there.
What to Watch:
*PHN previewed Drake Caggiula on Saturday and anointed him a favorite to land an NHL roster spot as the 12th or 13th forward. He gets to play with the big roster tonight, too.
*Jeff Carter’s injury could also open a door or two on the Penguins lineup. Ryan Poehling is a natural center.
*The blue line has taken shape. By getting the start tonight, is Ty Smith auditioning or the favorite to win the third-pairing position?
*Watch Jan Rutta. He keeps players away from his goalie. The Penguins’ penalty killing and 5v5 play could use some net-clearing help.
How to Watch:
Listen: 105.9 the X.
Pittsburgh Penguins Roster for Preseason Game 3