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Impressions from the Bench/Press Box: Red Wings 2, Pens 1

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

FROM THE BENCH


Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet shares his three observations from the bench on tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Red Wings.

1. Compete
After a game you’re looking at if the team worked hard. I thought the team worked extremely hard. When you’re evaluating players that’s the first thing you look for. I honestly can’t tell you a guy that didn’t work hard today.

2. Shots
We got a lot of shots, a lot of pucks to the net. We did a good job of getting some shots. That’s the way to start a game, get as many shots as you can.

3. Penalty kill
We ran into penalty trouble. I thought the penalty killers did a good job for the most part. I know they got a couple of power-play goals. We had to kill the first 10 minutes of the first period. That’s a lot. Basically half the period. They did a pretty good job.


FROM THE PRESS BOX
Michelle Crechiolo shares her three impressions from the media level.

1. Bennett is back
Beau Bennett had surgery in May after being hindered by a wrist injury he played through in the postseason that left him "useless out there, to be honest. I was just trying to get the puck deep. I couldn’t make plays, couldn’t push on guys.” Well, he worked tirelessly all summer to rehab and get back into the best shape possible, and it showed tonight. Bennett looked as comfortable and confident as we've ever seen him on the ice. Most notably, he held onto the puck as much as possible and didn't pass up a chance to shoot when he had it on his stick. He scored a big goal by patiently dragging the puck back to the blue line off a faceoff win and picking a corner. “In recent years, I’ve been shooting out there kind of just muffing it towards the net and today I was trying to pick spots,” he said.

The coaches gave Bennett a lot of responsibility in tonight’s game, and he thrived in the increased role. His line with Brandon Sutter and Anton Zlobin saw a lot of ice time, getting double-shifted at times. In his 20:17 minutes of ice time, Bennett skated almost six minutes on the power play and even saw nearly two minutes shorthanded, which is noteworthy as penalty killing was something he virtually never did in his previous two seasons. It's just one game, but from what we've seen the wrist issues that have plagued Bennett for the last three years look to be a thing of the past.

“It feels good (to be healthy),” Bennett said. “Even last year I was a little banged up in preseason. And in the first five games I played through something and I had to sit out after that, so it’s nice to come in and be really healthy and eat my vegetables and have strong bones (laughs). So it’s been good. It’s been a good summer.”

2. Young guys stand out
Zlobin provided the screen on the play where Bennett scored, and he didn’t look out of place whatsoever on that line. Zlobin is a skilled player who’s come up with clutch goals in big games at both the junior and American Hockey League level. But what the coaches like about him is that he’s continued to evolve his offensive game by being a guy who can play through traffic and is more willing to go in the hard areas of the game. He did that on Monday. Other younger players who stood out with their speed and compete level were Jayson Megna and Josh Archibald. Archibald only skated 6:42 minutes, but he was noticeable every time he was on the ice by giving the Wings fits with his wheels, winning every footrace and getting to every loose puck, while Megna did a great job of carrying the puck deep and working the cycle.

3. Defense plays solid
The defense as a whole looked solid, especially during even-strength play. Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres are two guys fighting for spots on the blue line, and they were noticeable with their physicality on Monday. Neither player passed up the chance to lay a hit, especially in their own zone. They also showed flashes of offense by leading rushes, taking shots and following the play deep when the opportunities were there. And of course, Paul Martin was a stud as usual, skating over 27 minutes in the game.

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