Colby Armstrong is a perfectionist.
And, it paid off Saturday for the right winger in the Penguins’ 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
He tallied his first goal of the season – and it was one for the highlight reel. Skating on the left side, he took a feed from Gary Roberts and broke to the outside of defenseman Maxim Kondratiev. Armstrong flipped the puck from his backhand toward the net, circled around Kondratiev and chipped the puck over Jonas Hiller.
“It’s something you practice all the time in practice, just overloading the puck and Roberts made a good play up to me coming over and I just had a little more speed than the defenseman and flipped it by him,” Armstrong said. “He had to try to grab me or else I was going to go by him. It just worked out perfectly. It was actually a pretty lucky shot, too. All in all, it was a pretty lucky goal.”
However, like Armstrong said, it’s something he’s tried to perfect in practice.
“It worked out pretty well. I have tried to do that in practice and some guys can do it better than others. Obviously, Malkin and Sid can pull that move off pretty well,” he said. “It sat just perfectly for me and when I got around the defenseman, it landed right in front of me in just enough time for me to shoot it.”
But, he won’t take all the credit for the goal.
“I got new skates, so it’s a pretty good feeling,” he said with a smile. “It feels pretty good to have the new skates. When they get broken down a bit, you have to work a little more. It’s a little smoother now.”
The goal was a boost for Armstrong, since it helped the Penguins win in their second game of the year. Last season, it took Armstrong 23 games to find the back of the net for the first time.
“Personally, it feels pretty good to get that first win and that first goal early. Last year it took me a little longer,” he said. “So, mentally that makes things a little easier. That being said, we just have to keep getting better every day and build off this last win.
“That’s the mindset of everyone this year – to take that step and keep growing and improving.”
Armstrong, 24, continually seeks improvement and works hard to enhance his game.
“Yeah every year, I think you put a little pressure on yourself to improve and be better,” he said. “I know, personally, everything little thing that I do, if it’s not right, it really eats me up. I am just trying to focus on getting better every day in practice and games.”
Armstrong had 34 points (12+22) in 80 games last season. However, he’s not just a point producer. He brings plenty of intangibles to the table for the Penguins.
“I try to be a two-way guy and fit in wherever I can on the team. I know Coach Therrien likes to switch lines up quite a bit during games and whatnot, so wherever I can fit in, I just try to play the same way every game up and down and do my job,” he said. “Right wing is right wing with our system. It’s the same no matter who you play with. In the second game, it was just a matter of doing little things. We were getting pucks behind the defense and doing things like that. Our team concept is all the same no matter who you play with.”
After falling, 4-1, in Carolina on Friday, the Penguins worked to establish themselves against the Ducks.
“I think it was a little more desperation. We talked about it and looked back – I think pretty much the whole exhibition season we weren’t playing that great and we knew it. I think it came down to desperation and just battling a little more and being harder on the puck. We were getting knocked off the puck easier and making it easier for the other team.
“If you noticed, I think the improved play started a lot with our veteran guys,” he continued. “You saw Recchi carrying the puck down and just getting behind the defense and making it happen and getting after it. That’s what we had to get back to doing and we did a good job.”