Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013-14 Training Camp, Day 3
September 14, 2013
Day 3's format was the same as the previous two. The groups involved in the scrimmage had short practices before and after the scrimmage. The other group had a longer session to close out the day.
This open practice was the best one they've done since moving to Consol; the main reason being how seating was handled. Previously, ushers had been instructed to only herd everyone into specific sections and not to open others until they absolutely had to. There was none of that today. Except for areas reserved for media, the whole lower bowl was open. That made it a lot easier for everyone there to find a seat. Add in the fact they actually had tater tots and breakfast sandwiches at the concession stands and you have a home run.
Personnel groupings were basically the same throughout the day, though there was one change in the scrimmage. Brandon Sutter spent most of his time with Jussi Jokinen and Matt D'Agostini as he had in previous day, but later on in the scrimmage he worked with Brian Gibbons and Chuck Kobasew. Jokinen and D'Agostini then played with Dustin Jeffrey. I still think Jokinen-Sutter-D'Agostini is the odds-on favorite to open the season as the third line. Kobasew getting a look alongside Sutter is worth noting though; I think that's the first work he's had with any other NHL players this camp. Kobasew is also in the lineup tomorrow night in Columbus.
Drills were mixed. They started with easy, get-everyone-moving and warm up the goalie types. They got into some basic system stuff; quick puck retrieval and breakouts against forechecking coaches. Finally, there were some more competitive drills involving one-on-ones.
The scrimmage was fairly even in terms of play, but Group A was better at finishing their chances and won 3-0. Marc Andre Fleury pitched a scoreless first and Tristan Jarry was perfect in the second. D'Agostini, Jokinen, and Derrick Pouliot had the goals.
D'Agostini got his off a rush up ice. He took a pass in the neutral zone and came down the right side. The defenseman tried to step up on him, but missed and D'Agostini had a clear path to the net. He skated right in on Eric Hartzell, made a couple moves and scored.
Jokinen's goal resulted from some good work by Matia Marcantuoni and some great skill from Derrick Pouliot. Marcantuoni took carried the puck down the left side, backing of the defense with his speed. He pulled up and was able to find Pouliot, coming late. Pouliot spun and dished to the slot, all in one continuous motion. Jokinen was waiting and one-timed it home; the nicest play of the day, in my opinion.
Pouliot's goal was number 2 on that list. Group C was running around a bit in their end and Pouliot was able to pick up a loose puck near the point and walk all the way down the slot. He faked a shot and blew a wrister blocker side on Jeff Zatkoff. Goal went down unassisted but Harry Zolnierczyk may have helped it out. In looking at the play again, you can see him go to the front of the net, turn to face a defenseman, and box him out. If they had all been wearing the same jerseys, you'd have sworn Zolnierczyk was the defenseman. The defensemen couldn't get over and that's one reason Pouliot had so much room. Battle in front of the net? Sure, but was pretty blatant interference too.
I couldn't make out who the defenseman was for sure, but I think it was Matt Niskanen. Shortly after that goal, the two of them seemed to be having a pretty intense conversation. Nothing came of it, but they talked again at the end of the game. It didn't look like a fight was close, but it didn't look like Niskanen was too thrilled.
One penalty that was called was a Robert Bortuzzo trip on Chris Conner. They don't do special teams in these things and have always gone to modified penalty shots for as long as I can remember. The guilty player chases down the guy taking the shot. This time, Bortuzzo actually caught Conner and stole the puck. I don't recall that ever happening before. Conner never got a shot away and appeared to be a little confused, though I'm not sure why. This is his second time with the Penguins, so he had to have seen these before. Group A's bench protested to no avail and everyone lined up for the next faceoff.
Simon Despres had a good outing for the second day in a row, though his first shift was a little rough. The puck came to him and he skated back into his own end to regroup. Sutter pressured him and he attempted to skate out of trouble. Sutter closed in and Despres ended up taking the puck right to the front of his own net. That's an example of how he can get himself into trouble by trying to do too much. Fortunately, I think that was the only time that happened in the scrimmage. The rest of the time he did a good job of taking what was there. When you combine a smart game with the physical ability he has, things usually work out pretty well. That's why Beau Bennett is fitting in so well this early in his pro career.
Other trivial things...
Steve MacIntyre switched over to defense midway through the Group C practice. He took a spill while receiving a pass at the point and all of his teammates gave it to him pretty good. It looked like Clark Seymour was the missing defenseman.
In the toughest drill of the day, one guy would have to defend another player one-on-one, then a whistle would blow and the attacking guy would change. By the end, I think the defending player had to deal with 3 guys. It's really tough to go three times in a row, especially against a fresh guy each time. On one of these Rob Scuderi was defending Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis backed in on Scuderi, like a big center backing down a defender in basketball. He slipped the puck into his feet, spun off Scuderi and got to the net. He didn't score, but it was one heck of a move. Scuderi responded by completely shutting Sidney Crosby down right after that.
Bennett looked good alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal yet again. Even though it's only camp and I know the goals will come, I really would have liked to see them finish some of these plays off. Malkin and Neal combined for the faceoff play, but Jarry was ready and the shot caught him square in the chest. Malkin made a nice play to get Neal and Bennett a 2-on-1 at the end of a shift, but Bennett was a little gassed and didn't get up ice quite as far as he normally wanted. That probably didn't matter because Neal was looking to shoot all the way and did. That one was stopped too.
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