The Penguins first "training camp" practice was held at Iceoplex in Southpointe to a standing room only crowd of NHL hockey starved fans. Players were welcomed to the ice with applause, of course, none louder than for team captain Sidney Crosby. The franchise center was absolutely flying on the ice today during drills. If today was any indication with what we're about to see, this is going to be a great season from Crosby.
While Crosby was blowing by defensemen, he was also buzzing shots high on Vokoun and Fleury. He was battling down low using that patented big butt of his to defend his position. During one sequence, he was along boards behind the net, got a loose puck chipped to his forehand, made a quick pass to a winger (Dupuis or Kunitz, couldn't see who it was) and then came around the net to get the return pass for the one-timer behind Fleury. That's why Crosby will play with Kunitz and Dupuis.
I thought it was great coaching by Bylsma and Reirden, if done on purpose, to get Simon Despres against Crosby on a few drills. I believe Despres needs to be challenged, which will increase his compete level and confidence. I thought he did well defending Crosby on the rush drills. His performance today is why I had Despres starting the season in the top six.
Each time I sought out to watch Eric Tangradi, it was disappointing seeing him slow down the pace too much skating into the offensive zone and taking too much time to get his shot off. He's going to get a shot to play with Malkin and Neal, it could be his last chance if he doesn't produce on that line.
If Tangradi's game is more along the boards and banging bodies, it is in total contrast to Jayson Megna and Beau Bennett. Both players are smooth skaters with quick shots. These two guys may not start the season in the NHL but after a week or two of disappointing performances by Tangradi and I think one of these two could move their way up the depth chart.
Glad to see Sutter anchor the third line with Cooke and Kennedy. I hope Bylsma is smart enough to leave enough alone.
I really liked what I saw from Tanner Glass, hustling, moving well, and after practice working against Crosby, Vitale, and others on faceoffs. I had no idea Glass would capable but at one point, he was dominating Vitale on the draws with Fitzgerald dropping the pucks. What a huge improvement of a roster spot over last season's Arron Asham!
Didn't really pay much attention to either goalie today as I was trying to watch the skaters and the different drills.
Watching the drills, didn't see a whole lot different than last year's strategy for breakouts or offensive zone faceoff. Did notice more forwards pushing back high off the draw to the center of the ice to get a pass from the right defenseman.
After drills were over, players listened to Bylsma and then raised their sticks to the crowd thanking them for their attendance and coming back after a lockout.
No Malkin today, I believe he'll be practicing on Monday. Because of that, Strait had to take a few shifts at forward during drills. I would take that to mean, he's at the bottom of the nine man depth chart on defense.
Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis
Tangradi - Jeffrey - Neal
Cooke - Sutter - Kennedy
Glass - Vitale - Adams
Bennett - Megna- Strait
Orpik - Martin
Niskanen - Letang
Despres - Engelland
Lovejoy - Bortuzzo
Last edited by Bowser
on Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.