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Impressions from the Bench/Press Box: Pens 2, Wings 0

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet shares his three observations from the bench on Wednesday's 2-0 win over Detroit at Joe Louis Arena to close out the preseason.

1. I think we had a slow first period. I don’t think we had the greatest first period, but I like that we reacted from it and we had a really good second period. So that says a lot about our team in an 82-game schedule. You’re not always going to have great periods. It’s bouncing back after a bad period.

2. We had a lot of good looks on the power play. Obviously (it helped) having Sid out there and getting guys out that will be on the power play this year. It’s the first time we really had the five guys, other than (Evgeni Malkin) when he comes back. Sid makes a big difference. He works the half wall, he gives a lot of guys a lot of chances.

3. I thought the (Marcel) Goc, (Blake) Comeau and (Nick) Spaling line was really good all game. Comeau’s been playing very good all training camp. Not just because he scored the goal, but that line was very reliable. We really utilized them a lot when we had the change of momentum.

Michelle Crechiolo shares her three impressions from the media level (with bonus input from head coach Mike Johnston).

1. We haven’t gotten a chance to write about Sidney Crosby yet this preseason, so bear with me as I dedicate this bullet point to the captain. Now, while it’s only one game, he certainly looked like himself out there. He was so strong on the puck, keeping possession and holding guys off as he worked the boards behind the net before finding an outlet who could get a shot off from a better angle. And on the power play, he was as dominant as ever. The game just slows down when he has the puck on his stick. And as our friend @HockeyMeesh (Meesh Shanmugam) put it, “Crosby's vision is so good that I assume he can see the Pirates game from the ice in Detroit.”

Johnston: "I think for Sid, the main thing for me was he just got into a game. He was able to get his legs under him. I thought he was quick to loose pucks. I thought he was strong on pucks. He was hungry in the offensive zone. He’s a dynamic player. I thought he looked pretty sharp tonight for his first game."

2. Marc-Andre Fleury was absolutely fantastic tonight, making 25 saves to get his first shutout of the year. And while he was consistently excellent throughout, but had to be especially sharp at both the beginning and the end. The Red Wings got two power plays within the first five-plus minutes of play, and generated a ton of chances on both. Detroit did a phenomenal job of getting bodies and traffic in the slot, but despite all the screens Fleury was seeing every shot and absorbing them for whistles. Then as the Red Wings, down by two, pushed hard at the end and pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, Fleury was able to make some strong saves to preserve the goose egg.

Johnston: "I mentioned in (the locker room) that I thought tonight he was outstanding. If you really look at the first period, they had way more jump than we did. They were quicker to loose pucks and as a result, they had some very good scoring chances. They had the two power plays in the first period, and I thought Fleury was a key reason that we were able to settle the game out and were able to take over in the second."

3. Oskar Sundqvist scored his second goal of the preseason tonight, which tied him with Brandon Sutter for the team lead. Sundqvist has played in a team-high five preseason games, partly because he’s a guy that management has needed to get a look at since he’s spent the last two seasons since being drafted in 2012 over in his native Sweden, and partly because he’s earned it. The 20-year-old an intriguing prospect with his mix of size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds), skill (he had four goals in 13 playoff games last season as Skelleftea won the Swedish Elite League Championship) and toughness. And, like Kasperi Kapanen, he’s been playing against men over in Europe. Tonight he centered Dan Carcillo and Craig Adams, and they played a strong game. They had a few noticeable O-zone shifts, which is what you want from your fourth line.

Johnston: "He’s led to a lot of conversations between our coaching staff and management. He’s had a very good preseason. Every game, no matter where I seem to play him, if he’s with very experienced players or he’s in more of a checking situation, he seems to have responded. He got the goal tonight. He’s a very good prospect."
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