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Penguins Practice (Updated): Penalty-Kill Making Progress

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special teams practice

The Pittsburgh Penguins gave up three goals during the first six times they were shorthanded this season.

And they usually looked bad doing it.

But even though Montreal’s Kirby Dach scored a 4-on-3 power-play goal in overtime to secure the Canadiens’ 3-2 victory, the Penguins’ penalty-kill has improved significantly over the past couple of games.

Having a 2-0 lead melt into a 3-2 defeat at the Bell Centre obviously was disappointing, but the ongoing upgrade to their play when down a man has to be encouraging.

“We’ve been working on it,” Josh Archibald said after practice at PPG Paints Arena Wednesday. “As a whole, I think we’re moving in the right direction. … I think it can be a really (good) unit. We’re all hard workers. Obviously, everybody on the team is, but when you get a chance to get out there and help the team defensively, you want to take pride in that. And I think we all do.”

No line, defense changes

The Penguins are hoping for a different result than the one they got in Montreal when they face Los Angeles Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.

But they apparently aren’t planning to switch any of their personnel combinations to try to do it.

During practice Wednesday, they stuck with the same lines and defense pairings they’ve deployed since the regular season began.

Those are:

Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen-Jeff Carter-Kasperi Kapanen
Brock McGinn-Ryan Poehling-Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson-Jeff Petry
P.O Joseph-Jan Rutta

No. 1 power play: Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, Rust
No. 2 power play: Petry, Rakell, Zucker, Heinen, Carter

Moving on

The loss in Montreal, in which the Penguins failed to protect a 2-0 lead they built over the first two periods, was their first defeat of the season.

It also, Jake Guentzel said, was a fair outcome, given the way they played for much of the evening.

“I don’t think we liked our game very much,” he said. “It’s disappointing when you’re up, 2-0, going into the third, but you just have to move by it.”

Wardrobe Malfunction?

Teddy Blueger, who has missed the Pittsburgh Penguins’ first four games because of an unspecified upper-body injury, was wearing a standard-issue gold practice jersey when he stepped onto the ice for the workout.

That suggested he had been cleared for contact, which would be a significant step in his recovery.

A few minutes later, however, he switched to a gray jersey, indicating that he still can’t have contact.

Sullivan said “I have no idea” what led to Blueger’s change of attire, but suggested it might have been the result of a late decision by the coaching staff.

“We changed the jerseys before we went out,” he said. “We originally had them in lines, and we put them into power-play and penalty-kill jerseys.”

He added that he “would not anticipate” Blueger playing against the Kings.

Blueger’s usual place between Brock McGinn and Archibald on the fourth line has been filled by Ryan Poehling, and Sullivan praised that unit’s work.

“I think they’ve played well,” he said. “In the short time they’ve been together, they’ve developed an identity for the team. … I think they could be a great momentum line for us.”

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Alan Smith
1 month ago

Poehling has stepped in and help create a solid 4th line. Let him play and keep Teddy under wraps! Teddy is gifted but too small to play PK and center man at the moment! Poehling could be a great young pick up! He has the size Teddy doesn’t! Got to wait!

Bachinga
Bachinga
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Smith

Teddy is gifted but too small to play PK and center man at the moment!

Huh?

Kris
Kris
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Smith

So you basically just started watching the penguins this season? Teddy Blueger is the Penguins BEST penalty killer BY A MILE.

Ethan
1 month ago

Color me crazy but feel the game tomorrow night will be first real contest worth trying to gage the Pens n’at this season! Kings seemed to cause Guins some problems last year as well.