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New Guys at a Glance

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
A lot of new faces were added to Pittsburgh's roster these past few months, so here's a quick refresher on the players that will be wearing black and gold in front of Pens fans for the first time on Thursday night.





BLAKE COMEAU, LW
In his own words: “I play a physical style of game and I think I have the capabilities to pitch in offensively as well. I’ve had some good seasons in the past with the Islanders, so I’m hoping coming in here I can get back to those kinds of numbers and continue with my physical play as well.”


* The 28-year-old had his best season with the New York Islanders in 2010-11, establishing career highs with 24 goals, 22 assists and 46 points with five power-play tallies and three game-winners in 77 games.

* He’s someone who’s real strong on the puck – especially along the walls – as he uses his size, skating and patience to hold onto it. He plays a possession game, and that’s exactly the kind of player the Pens need in their bottom-six.

* The coaches were very impressed with Comeau’s preseason, and not just because he finished with a team-high four points (1G-3A) in five exhibition games. They like how responsible he is on the ice.


STEVE DOWNIE, RW
In his own words: “I’m a physical player, I like to go in the areas most people shy away from. I pride my game on that. I like to take the body. That’s just what I plan on bringing to the team.”


* His presence should act as a deterrent for opposing players trying to get Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin off their game. Downie guaranteed that there won’t be any liberties taken on the Pens’ superstar centers this year.

* Downie isn’t just an agitator. He can score goals as well. He does his best work around the crease, wreaking havoc and looking for loose pucks and rebounds while getting open for feeds when he can.

* The 27-year-old had his best NHL season with Tampa Bay in 2009-10 when current Pens assistant coach Rick Tocchet was his head coach. He established career highs in goals (22), assists (24), points (46) and penalty minutes (208) in 79 games.
 

CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF, D
In his own words: “I’m a puck-moving defenseman. I can get the puck up quick to the forwards and play in all aspects of the game, log some minutes and just be a good all-around player.”


* The Pens were lauded for signing Ehrhoff to a one-year deal this offseason, as the 32-year-old defenseman was arguably the most coveted defensive free agent on the market.

* Look for him to be paired with Kris Letang, as the two played together all training camp.

* Like Letang, Ehrhoff is an effortless skater with hockey sense and vision who can move the puck and join the attack. He can quarterback the power play and is a shoot-first guy who rips the puck on net whenever he gets a chance.
 

PATRIC HORNQVIST, RW
In his own words: “I’m going to go hard to the net and shoot a lot and try to create space for my teammates and give the team energy.”


* The 27-year-old is a talented player with a finisher’s touch, as he’s a four-time 20-goal scorer (and posted a career-high 30 goals in 2009-10). He’s also a gritty competitor who takes pride in his willingness to get to the dirty areas.

* He’s set to begin the season on Sidney Crosby’s right wing. Hornqvist complements elite players like that because while he can create space for them to do their thing. He can also put the puck in the net if they get it to him.

* Hornqvist has slotted in on the top power-play unit, where he and Chris Kunitz are tasked with working down low and in front of the net.


THOMAS GREISS, G
Goalie coach Mike Bales: “Thomas has great size and covers a lot of net. He has a good combination with his size and play-reading ability.”


* Greiss beat out Jeff Zatkoff for the backup goaltender position behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Both goalies played in two games and had almost the same amount of minutes (Zatkoff – 91, Greiss – 89). But Greiss put up better numbers in goals-against average (1.35 vs. 2.64) and save percentage (.944 vs. .846).

* Greiss played last season with Arizona and set career highs in games played (25), wins (10), goals-against average (2.29) and save percentage (.920). He played eight-straight games for Arizona while starter Mike Smith was out with an injury and has proven that he can be a reliable backup, but also carry the load if called upon.

* Head coach Mike Johnston likes the demeanor Greiss displays in the crease, calling him a “quiet goaltender.” Added Johnston, “He takes care of business, but looks very calm and controlled in the net.”


NICK SPALING
In his own words: “Playing the corners, playing the front of the net, playing the so-called hard areas, that’s the style of my game. I just want to bring the work ethic, compete every night and make sure I do whatever it takes to win.”


* He has the versatility to play all three forward positions and was one of just two Nashville forwards to average more than a minute of shorthanded and power-play ice time per game in 2013-14.

* The 25-year-old is coming off a career year this past season, recording 13 goals, 19 assists and 32 points in 71 games.

* His line with Blake Comeau and Marcel Goc stayed together throughout all of training camp and was one the coaching staff liked for its reliability.
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