Pittsburgh Penguins rookie forward Sergei Plotnikov feels at home when he's on the ice. Everything else is an adjustment.
The 25-year-old Russian signed with the Penguins on July 1 after playing six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He arrived in Pittsburgh on Aug. 16 and is trying to get used to life in North America, on and off the ice.
That starts with the language; he doesn't speak English, though he's trying to learn.
"Most of the time I spend at the rink and around the area," Plotnikov told the Penguins website Thursday through a translator. "I'm trying to learn as quickly as possible. Right now I'm trying to find a place to live and adjust myself."
Plotnikov is a two-time KHL all-star and had 15 goals, 36 points and 71 penalty minutes with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl last season. He said he made the move to the NHL "because first of all I'm getting older. If I wait any longer, it will be harder to adjust in the future."
He could end up on a line with fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin, whose presence was one of the reasons he decided to sign with the Penguins.
"They're a great team, great organization," Plotnikov said. "I like the style Pittsburgh plays. I like the players on the team, Malkin, [Sidney] Crosby. They have a lot of great players. And every year they're trying to win a Stanley Cup. That attracted me to Pittsburgh."
Plotnikov has some on-ice adjustments to make as well. He is skating with some of his new teammates at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex while getting ready for the start of training camp next month as he tries to adjust to the smaller ice surface and quicker style of play in the NHL.
"I have to learn everything," Plotnikov said. "I have to adjust my entire style. You have to think quicker. You have to make decisions quicker. Everything is different. That's why I'm here early, to have that feel and make adjustments.
"For me it's important to meet everybody, get to know the guys, to adjust myself to a new ice size and get closer and ready for preseason."