PENS IN COLUMBUS
We took the bigger plane to Columbus for the game, meaning myself and PensTV cameraman Mark Cottington sat at the front instead of the back - which means we were able to shoot the guys getting off the plane, a shot we don't normally get. Here's some pics...
First guys to step off...
Please note how epic James Neal's jacket is.
The last guys to step off...
Geno catches me taking his photo.
And then here's some from around the player locker rooms and the arena itself. I can't recommend making the trip out here to see the Pens play enough. Columbus' arena district is fantastic - a lot of coffee shops, restaurants, and just a cool overall look with a lot of brick.
The home locker room
YOUNGER GUYS NERVOUS FOR TONIGHT
The younger guys in Pittsburgh’s lineup for tonight’s game in Columbus have every reason to be anxious going into the first contest of the preseason.
Because not only will the majority of them be experiencing real NHL competition for the first time, but they’re also going to have to adjust to that elite level of play while trying to be at their best to make their case for a spot on the Penguins’ opening-night roster.
“Nervous, but excited,” defenseman Derrick Pouliot said of his emotions going into the contest. “It’s going to be fun. You know, this is the first game. It’s exciting, but I’m still pretty nervous going in.”
It will be intriguing to see how prospects like Pouliot, fellow defensemen Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington and forwards Adam Payerl and Tom Kuhnhackl – who all attended the rookie tournament with the Penguins last week in London – fare in tonight’s game.
Pouliot has especially stood out during the first few days of camp, most notably during simulated game situations. Today he manned the point on the power play with NHLers Matt Niskanen, James Neal, Evgeni Malkin and Beau Bennett during morning skate, saying afterward, “Those guys are really good and they’re pretty easy to play with, so I mean, you watch them, see all the stuff they can do, and now you’re out there with them. It’s pretty amazing.”
Dumoulin played 73 games in the American Hockey League last year with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but knows tonight is going to be different defending established NHL players like Marian Gaborik and R.J. Umberger.
“It’s different,” Dumoulin said. “This is my first training camp because of the lockout; I didn’t have one last year. So this is really my first real game against an NHL team and NHL players and stuff like that, so (I’m) definitely a little bit – not nervous, but just anxious to just go out there and start playing. Hopefully after that first shift I can settle in and be comfortable.”
None of them know how tonight will go, but they’re ready to give it their best shot.
“I’ve been looking forward to this – this is what you’ve been working all summer for, right? So just want to show what you got and give it everything you have out there,” Payerl said.
NISKANEN TALKS PRESEASON
The Penguins defensive group is filled with a number of qualified candidates to start the season on the NHL roster. And tonight, fans will get their first glimpse at the future when defensemen Derrick Pouliot, Scott Harrington and Brian Dumoulin suit up against Columbus.
In the early stages of their budding careers, these prospects observe and mimic the likes of veterans at the position like defensemen Matt Niskanen.
Niskanen, 26, talked about the importance of the six-game exhibition schedule for all players, with the end goal being fully prepared for the regular season.
“You can do as many skating drills, conditioning and scrimmages, but until you get that game-like atmosphere that you get in an exhibition game where physicality goes up, faster pace, more pressure and just a lot of game-like situations,” he said. “That is a good way to prepare for what we are doing.”
While Niskanen, a seven-year veteran, has become more and more comfortable with the way the Penguins play. The implementation of new quirks to head coach Dan Bylsma’s system will be an important thing to watch for throughout the preseason.
“The focus is more so on how we are going to play,” he said. “How we like to play, getting our systems implemented and things like that. We will take a look at the opponent and some of their players. Guys that have been around the league know how the opponent is going to play and that’s part of being a pro, just knowing who you are playing against. It’s a little of both, but for the most part preseason is about getting your team ready.”
JEFFREY, KOBASEW EYE UP SPOTS
Prior to training camp, head coach Dan Bylsma said the Penguins have three openings are their roster – two at the forward position. Two veteran forwards in camp that want to claim those spots are Dustin Jeffrey and Chuck Kobasew.
Jeffrey, 25, and Kobasew, 31,will both be in the lineup tonight when the Penguins travel to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets.
“It’s an opportunity to make an impression,” Jeffrey said. “There’s a few spots open, there’s some ice time opened up with guys leaving. It’s a chance for us to go out there and put a claim on one of those spots.”
Jeffrey is in his fourth season with the Penguins. He’s played 90 career NHL games over that span, but has never played more than 26 games in a season. He would love to get some consistent time in the lineup.
Jeffrey has been a valuable member of the team because of his ability to fill in at various roles (wing, center, first line, third line, power play, penalty kill, etc.).
“Tonight I’ll get a chance to play the point on the power play and maybe some PK,” Jeffrey said. “It’s a chance to show that versatility that you can be used in different spots and hopefully make an impression.”
Kobasew signed a professional tryout contract with the team on the even of training camp. He played for the Colorado Avalanche in the past two seasons. He’s played 10 NHL seasons with Calgary, Boston, Minnesota and Colorado.
“(The organization) is first class,” he said of the Penguins. “It’s a team that had a lot of success lately and if I can make the team it’d be exciting to be a part of that.”
Tonight will be Kobasew’s first chance to show what he can do.
“I’m going to work hard and keep it simple, it’s the first exhibition game,” Kobasew said. “I’ll go out there, skate hard, be good in my own end and see how it goes.”
MORNING SKATE PICS
"Bounce right to left and let your shoulder lean..."
Fleury will get the start in net for the Pens.
A look at the future. Pouliot will get some work on the power play tonight.
Niskanen worked with Pouliot and Scuderi in the morning skate. We'll see where he plays tonight.
The Real Deal.
Joey V proves you can kill penalties with your eyes closed.
--Sam Kasan and Dave Uhrmacher
The Pens used the following lines at their morning skate:
Scuderi-Niskanen-Pouliot (the three rotated)
START ME UP
Good morning Pens fans! Today the Pens will have their first game-action of training camp when they travel to Columbus for a 6 p.m. showdown with the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in their first preseason game of the season. The game can be seen on ROOT SPORTS Pittsburgh. In fact, all six Pens preseason games will be televised. Click here for all the info on where you can catch the action.
Some notes on the Pens' lineup:
- Fleury will make the start in goal
- The Bennett-Malkin-Neal line will skate together and start to build some chemistry
- Scuderi will be in a Pens' sweater for the first time in four years
- Dumoulin, Harrington and Pouliot will all get looks on D
29MARC-ANDRE FLEURY – G
37JEFF ZATKOFF – G
2MATT NISKANEN – D
4ROB SCUDERI – D
6SCOTT HARRINGTON – D
8BRIAN DUMOULIN – D
10TANNER GLASS – F
12CHUCK KOBASEW – F
17DUSTIN JEFFREY – F
18JAMES NEAL – F
19BEAU BENNETT – F
24BRENDAN MIKKELSON – D
25ANDREW EBBETT – F
32PIERRE-LUC LETOURNEAU-LEBLOND – F
38ZACH SILL – F
42BOBBY FARNHAM – F
45ADAM PAYERL – F
46JOE VITALE – F
51DERRICK POULIOT – D
54TOM KUHNHACKL – F
55PHILIP SAMUELSSON – D
71EVGENI MALKIN – F
BLUE JACKETS LINEUP
31 CURTIS MCELHINNEY – G
60 OSCAR DANSK – G
5 JACK SKILLE – F
6 NIKITA NIKITIN – D
10 MARIAN GABORIK – F
11 MATT CALVERT – F
13 CAM ATKINSON – F
14 BLAKE COMEAU – F
17 BRANDON DUBINSKY – F
18 R.J. UMBERGER – F
21 JAMES WISNIEWSKI – D
27 RYAN MURRAY – D
29 IILARI MELART – D
32 CODY BASS – F
42 ARTEM ANISIMOV – F
48 CODY GOLOUBEF – D
55 MARK LETESTU – F
58 DAVID SAVARD – D
76 TRENT VOGELHUBER – F
83 BROC LITTLE – F