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Impressions from the Bench/Press Box: Wild 4, Pens 1

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew shares his three observations from the bench on Monday's 4-1 loss to Minnesota.

1. First and foremost, I thought our forecheck was really spot on. I thought we put a lot of pressure on their defense. Got pucks turned over. Even when we didn’t, we were getting above the puck and making sure that we turned it over from behind even though we had missed on the initial pass.

2. I thought secondly, again in the offensive zone, we spread them out nicely. We had a lot of good quality opportunities, shots at the net. We’re trying to generate offense by putting pucks there and making sure we have a lot of traffic. I thought we did sustain a lot of traffic.

3. And then thirdly, this isn’t really a tactical thing, but I thought our effort was there. We worked hard in all three zones. Certainly we gave up a couple of goals in the third that hurt us, but for the most part, the effort and the physical play was there.

Michelle Crechiolo shares her three impressions from the media level.

1. It was fantastic to see Pascal Dupuis back in game action for the first time in over nine months. The winger’s biggest asset is his speed, and with a knee injury like his there’s always a concern that could be affected. But Dupuis vowed that he would be able to return to the form he was in before going down, and it looks like he was right. Dupuis looked as quick and agile as ever out there. Obviously it’s going to take some time for him to get his timing and game legs back, but overall, it’s great to have him back – both on the ice and in the room.

2. I'm absolutely loving the additions of Patric Hornqvist and Steve Downie. They're exactly what the Pens needed. They’re both so tough to play against, but while they both get to the net, work the corners and generally just make defensemen and goalies’ lives miserable, they have plenty of offensive talent (Hornqvist especially) and can put the puck in the net as well. Downie was around the crease all game, and scored a goal and nearly got another because of it. It’s exciting to see what those guys are capable of out there.

3. As head coach Mike Johnston said this morning, these last two preseason games are an evaluation. “There’s still a couple guys here that are battling for spots. So it’s still a pure evaluation of where those guys are at. … You can see with the guys who are still here, that they’ve caught our interest.” One of those guys on the fringe that isn’t necessarily considered part of the core lineup is Andrew Ebbett. He’s been making a case for himself all camp and had an especially a great game tonight. He made two plays that really stood out: one was defensive, where he hustled on the backcheck to break up a 2-on-1. The other was his cross-ice feed to a wide-open Downie on the backdoor, who was absolutely robbed by Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper.
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