CRANBERRY — Want to make a hockey player smile? Deliver a box containing new skates. The Pittsburgh Penguins had a few smiles on Monday. At least the Bauer guys did.
Boxes containing new Bauer skates sat in front of a few locker stalls.
Rickard Rakell joked that he’d take as many new skates as they’ll give him, but players generally go through six or seven pairs per season.
For rec league players, new skates might be a yearly occurrence, but as one player observed — as the skates get lighter, they wear down faster and must be replaced more often.
So, for those of you needing an excuse to justify new skates, you’re welcome.
Get the practice report and Penguins injury updates here.
Jeff Petry will run the top power unit if Kris Letang isn’t healthy enough to play on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. Atop the second unit, Petry has shown quick movement and a willingness to shoot, a more simple structure befitting a second unit.
It will be a different story at the top of the first unit. The player rotations are more significant, as well as the willingness to read and react rather than blasting away.
If Petry is at the point, look for him to join the movement and flow of the unit rather than dictating a new strategy. Petry can carry the puck up the ice and participate in many of the same ways as Letang.
It is not easy playing four games over six days in two different time zones. Just about the time your body adjusts to the west coast and Pacific time, it’s time to come home.
A few Pittsburgh Penguins woke up in the middle of the night. It seems about 3 a.m. was the common time for a few eyes to begrudgingly open. And a couple (plus me) went in the opposite direction and were awake until the wee hours.
More than a few of the guys will probably get naps before trick or treating tonight, though Jason Zucker does not yet have a costume.
Zucker does have a clothing company and these unexplained hats. We can’t take still photography in the locker room, but Zucker was kind enough to pose for a quick video. However, the origins of the design earned a “no comment” response.
Dumoulin pled ignorance regarding the origins, too. Zucker’s clothing line, Give16, does not yet have the hat.
Penguins Net Fronts
We’ll dive into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ play and things they’re not doing in greater detail over the next few days. One of the things coach Mike Sullivan stressed to the team during a video session was more play near the offensive net.
The Penguins had too many “drive-bys” on the road trip, which produced a four-game losing streak.
“We’ve been talking about the risk in our game a little bit, too,” Marcus Pettersson said. “And I think that’s been a part of not having that gritty down-low game. If you give up the puck too much and try to do too much in certain situations, it will go the other way. So I think that’s a big problem.”
For those of you who followed PHN on the west coast trip, Pettersson’s point dovetails with our game analysis. Pettersson’s insights that the lack of those low-zone cycles and hard play only exacerbates the effect of the turnovers.
The common phrase around the room was, “don’t try to do too much.”
Expect more simple plays and grinding against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.