Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
Camp 2010, Preseason Opener vs. Detroit
September 23, 2010
By now, you already know Mike Comrie scored the first NHL goal (albeit preseason) at Consol Energy Center, that Brooks Orpik got tossed for a knee on knee hit to Johan Franzen, Sidney Crosby was held out of the third period, and that newcomers Ryan Craig and Brett Sterling found their way to the goal column. Here are some other observations:
I know it's most everyone's first night in the new digs, but never underestimate the stupidity of some people. Despite how much bigger the concourses are, they will never be big enough as long as there are oblivious people that decide to stand right in the middle to have a conversation. It's a walkway people. If you want to talk to someone you haven't seen in a while, go off to the side and get out of everyone's way.
However, my anger over that was short-lived. A kielbasa grinder may not be the answer to everything, but it's got to be close. After getting a bite of that, it was all good. Also, a tap of the stick to whomever came up with the idea to put the high tables at the top of each section. It was nice to be able to stand up there, eat dinner, then walk down to our seats.
Nice of the Penguins to have the moment of silence for the late John Barbero. I welled up and I'm sure I was not alone. RIP, John.
Head Coach Dan Bylsma's revamped power play looked pretty impressive on it's first try out. There was a lot of puck and player movement. While it didn't produce a goal, I thought it looked promising.
I stand corrected on my earlier tweet about Letang's great pass on the Crosby goal. Upon seeing a replay, the great diagonal pass came from the stick of Jesse Boulerice. I'm chalking that mistake up to the fact that by brain was incapable of processing that he could make a pass like that. =)
Evgeni Malkin, who looks like he's been playing with Mike Comrie for years, threw a mile long pass to Comrie, but he couldn't quite settle it down in time to get another shot on Chris Osgood. Still, a heck of a pass from Malkin.
My initial view of the Orpik/Franzen collision was that Orpik's leg didn't come out. On the way home, Phil Bourque said it did, and the call was deserved, though he didn't believe it was intentional. Upon seeing a replay as I type this, I'd agree with that assessment.
Zbynek Michalek was as advertised, maybe even better. I don't recall ever seeing him out of position and his first pass is very good. He won't be a big point producer, but he's not exactly Hal Gill or Rob Scuderi with the puck on his stick either.
Robert Bortuzzo was a late addition to the roster, after Brian Strait got hit by a puck in practice and couldn't go. I liked what I saw of him. He's not a speed burner, but is pretty mobile and not shy about roughing guys up. His first pass isn't quite as good as Michalek's, but it's still pretty good. I don't know that he's quite ready to make the team, but I can't say I'd be shocked if he does work his way into the 6 spot by the opener.
Ryan Craig might be emerging as a dark horse candidate as well. Craig was a pretty decent player for Tampa Bay before his career was derailed by injuries. He scored 15 goals in 48 games for the Lightning back in 2005-06. If he's finally gotten himself healthy, this under-the-radar signing could pay dividends later on.
Speaking of under-the-radar, if you are talking about this game, you have to talk about Brett Sterling. When Ray Shero signed him, everyone (myself included) figured this was minor league depth. A week or two ago, when HCDB mentioned he might be in line to play with Crosby, most people laughed that off. While tonight doesn't cement him on to the opening night roster, much less guarantee him a spot on the top line, it should quiet some of that laughter. We knew he had a knack for scoring goals at the AHL level. I had not seen him play before though, so I was surprised to see the other parts of his game. He went into the high traffic areas without hesitation. He didn't shy away from contact, and even initiated it at times. He also worked his tail off on the backcheck. On one occasion (I think while the Pens were on a powerplay, but not sure), he manages to catch a Red Wing from behind and strip the puck away. On another, his hustle turned what would have been a 2 on 1 into a 2 on 2. Again, it's just one game, but I was really impressed with his game tonight.
Tyler Kennedy continued to play in a manner that suggests he's heard management's message loud and clear. He had the motor running pretty good tonight. Mark Letestu had what will probably be a typical game for him - you don't really notice him a ton, but at the end of the night he had 2 assists and was +2. He had a rough night in the faceoff circle, winning 6 and losing 10, but I think that will likely be the exception, not the norm. From what I understand, he's normally pretty good there.
Eric Tangradi had an okay game. He didn't really stand out good or bad; he was just okay. I hadn't thought of this until I heard it mentioned on the post game, but the Pens were in the box quite a bit in the second and Tangradi doesn't kill penalties. It's going to be tough to get your game going when you sit that much.
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