Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013-14 Training Camp, Day 4
September 15, 2013
With the Pens opening the 2013-14 preseason later tonight in Columbus, the format of today's session was switched up. Everyone playing tonight came out first for a morning skate, followed by a smaller group. Many players, mostly NHL vets, got the morning off (at least as far as on-ice work goes).
The Pens released their lineup yesterday, but it lists 13 forwards and 7 defensemen. Unless there's some rule that lets you dress additional players in exhibition games, two guys will be scratched. Columbus' roster lists only 18 skaters and from what I can find from the Edmonton/Calgary game last night, they both dressed 18 skaters as well. We'll find out at 6pm I guess.
From the drills they did, they lines will shake out like this:
Fleury and Zatkoff will share goaltending duties.
After getting everyone warmed up, the Pens settled into some special teams work. The top unit was Malkin's line with Pouliot and Niskanen on the points. The second unit had Ebbett between Kuhnhackl and Kobasew, with Jeffrey and Dumoulin on the points. The top penalty kill unit was Vitale, Glass, Scuderi, and Harrington. Sill, Payerl, Letourneau-Leblond, Samuelsson, and Mikkelson also got some PK work in. No one worked on both units, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Malkin, Kobasew, Jeffrey, Niskanen, or Dumoulin get some time shorthanded. When Malkin's unit worked on a 5-on-3, Glass, Scuderi, and Harrington had the unenviable task of defending them.
A new wrinkle is beginning to emerge from these practices as far as how the Pens enter the offensive zone. I don't think the stretch pass will be going away, but they do seem to be adding another option. A lot of drills over the past 4 days have worked on the puck carrier making a short pass to someone at offensive blue line, then getting up some speed before taking a return pass. It's kind of like a give-and-go and a breakout play combined, so the puck carrier can enter the zone at high speed.
At the end of this session, Fleury and Mike Bales stayed on for another 10-15 minutes on lateral movement. Fleury would start at the top of the crease and go down into a butterfly, then he had to move laterally back to the post as Bales took a shot.
The second group was lightly attended, with many players getting the day off. Jarry and Murray were in goal. Skaters were MacIntyre, Marcantuoni, Kostopoulos, Dea, Thompson, McNeill, Seymour, D'Agostino, and Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo's the only name on that list that figures to be on the opening night roster. This session was run by John Hynes, and was a pretty up-tempo practice. It also focused on skill; lots of skating, stickhandling, passing and shooting. Only having 9 skaters meant there wasn't much time to stand around.
At one point the nets were moved to the sideboards to create a smaller rink as they've done before. A 3-on-3 hockey followed, but with a twist. In each end, there were two attackers and a defender that were free to skate around wherever they wanted, but they couldn't cross the imaginary center ice line. The setup made for some fast-paced hockey with lots of quick transitions.
Dea jumped out at me here, but not offensively like you might think; it was when he was defending at one end. He was getting his stick on a lot of passes, was beating people to loose pucks, and even had a takeaway. Now to be fair, it's not like he had to defend a Crosby or Malkin, but he still made the plays and the effort level was pretty good. I wasn't expecting that out of an offensive-minded kid from an offensive league like the QMJHL.
Dea and Marcantuoni are both listed at 5'11, but Marcantuoni looks taller. Maybe it's just the extra muscle. He's listed at 203; Dea 176.
Things finished up with a breakaway relay. If you didn't score, you had to retrieve the puck and take it back to center ice. You also had to get off the ice before the next guy could leave the bench. If a guy came on early, Hynes would award a free shot to the other team. Dea had a couple nice moves, but the guy who stuck out for me was D'Agostino. I don't know if he had any experience in the shootout (some college leagues use it, some don't), but he looks like he'll do really well in them. He's a really agile skater and has good hands. He's just looks really fluid out there.
Thus ends yet another training camp for me. Thanks to Jason Seidling of the Penguins for the access the past four days, thanks to RJ for giving these ramblings a home, and thanks to you guys for reading.
While this may be it for reports, you can always find Pens and other hockey-related thoughts on my Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/LGP_netwolf
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