CRANBERRY — It was just a 20-minute slice of training camp for the Pittsburgh Penguins, a bit of a respite from the drills that dominated the first week of training camp.
And while it was brief, Mike Sullivan said he believes it was productive for his team, which will play its fourth preseason game Saturday at 1:08 p.m. in Buffalo.
“I thought we got a lot out of the scrimmage,” Sullivan said. “We’re trying to get our guys in game scenarios. That was part of it. There’s a whole different level of conditioning associated with that, just the grind game down low, things of that nature.
“The pace of the five-on-five scrimmage, I thought, was really good. There were a lot of good things to watch. We’ve been introducing different aspects of our team concept every day. These guys have watched different videos — we’ve had video meetings every morning, with respect to our team concept, different concepts — so when you have an intrasquad (competition) like that, it gives you an opportunity to get reps with all of those things that we’re trying to implement, from a team standpoint.”
After the five-on-five portion of the scrimmage was complete, the Penguins spent an extended period on special teams, what Sullivan described as “an opportunity for our power plays and penalty-kills to get reps. From that standpoint, I thought we got a lot accomplished.”
*** Drake Caggiula, who is trying to claim a spot on the bottom-six, opened the scoring for the Gold squad in its 2-0 victory over Black by wristing a shot over Casey DeSmith’s left shoulder. The second Gold goal was scored by Ryan Poehling or Brock MGinn.
*** Marcus Pettersson might have injected himself into the Steelers’ quarterback competition when he defty lifted a pass over the Black defense in an effort to spring Jason Zucker on a breakaway. The puck skidded a bit too fast after touching down, however, and DeSmith was able to corral it before Zucker could catch up.
*** Here are the personnel combinations used during the five-on-five portion of the scrimmage.
Jake Guentzel-Sidney Crosby-Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen-Radim Zohorna-Kasperi Kapanen
Filip Hallander-Alex Nylander-Kyle Olson
Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Ty Smith- Jan Rutta
Xavier Ouellet-Mark Friedman
Jason Zucker-Evgeni Malkin-Bryan Rust
Brock McGinn-Ryan Poehling-Josh Archibald
Drew Caggiula-Drew O’Connor-Lukas Svejkovsky
Marcus Pettersson-Jeff Petry
P.O Joseph-Chad Ruhwedel
Jon Lizotte-Jack St. Ivany
No. 1 power play: Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Guentzel, Rust
No. 2 power play: Petry, Smith, Zucker/Zohorna, Heinen/Zohorna, Rakell
Penalty-killers (rotated): Kapanen, McGinn, O’Connor, Archibald, Poehling, Caggiula, Hallander.
Rakell plays ‘with courage’
Rakell, who put up four goals and 19 assists in 19 regular-season games after being acquired from Anaheim at the trade deadline, has been working with Crosby and Guentzel on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ No. 1 line, filling a role previously held by Bryan Rust.
To this point, Rakell has done nothing to suggest he’ll be surrendering that spot.
“He’s versatile, in the sense that he’s really skilled with the puck,” Sullivan said. “He has good playmaking ability. He has good offensive instincts. He’s good in tight areas. But he also has the ability to go to the net.
“He has a good stick around the net. He plays the game with courage, and you have to be brave to go there because usually, when you go to the net, you’re going to get cross-checked. It’s not an easy area of the rink to go to, and he’s not reluctant to go there.”
Jeff Carter headlined a group of five injured players who worked out on the ice before the Pittsburgh Penguins’ regular practice sessions.
He was joined by Jonathan Gruden, Taylor Fedun, Brooklyn Kalmikov and Sam Houde.
Teddy Blueger and Sam Poulin did not participate in either the small-group or the regular workout. Sullivan said Poulin has been excused from camp “for a couple of days” for personal reasons.