VERIZON GAME DAY REPORT--Michelle Crechiolo
BENNETT FLANKS MALKIN
One of the storylines in training camp was whether Beau Bennett or Jussi Jokinen would win the open spot on Evgeni Malkin and James Neal’s line. Well, with Neal currently sidelined with an upper-body injury, both Bennett and Jokinen are getting the chance to play on that line at the same time.
Judging from morning skate rushes, it looks like Jokinen will play left wing while Bennett will slot into Neal’s spot on the right to start tonight’s game. Bennett had been playing left wing no matter where he was in the lineup, but the right-handed shot was a natural right winger before turning pro, so he’s not concerned about the switch.
“I’ve been playing left for a while now, so it’s kind of just getting back into the swing of things,” Bennett said. “There’s really not that much difference, especially with a smart guy like Jussi. And when we come back into the zone, if he’s on my side I’ll stay on his and whatnot. So we’re kind of all over the place just reading off each other and for the most part it’s pretty much the same.”
It’s not necessarily an easy job being Malkin’s linemate, as he demands a lot from the players who flank him. It takes a unique blend of skill and smarts to work well with one of the best players in the world, but Bennett and Jokinen have proven they are capable of doing that.
“He carries the play for the most part, so it’s all about kind of finding openings and supporting the puck and being a responsible F3,” Bennett said of playing with Malkin. “I wouldn’t say it’s any harder or easier, it’s just kind of a different scenario than playing with ‘Suttsy’ (Brandon Sutter). So it’s definitely different, but I like either way.”
Bennett is fine with all of the reading and reacting that comes with playing alongside Malkin, and has taken cues from Neal.
“I think when you see ‘Nealer’ playing on that side they’re kind of always supporting each other no matter where it is on the ice,” Bennett said. “So you want to develop that chemistry, that trust and it’ll only get better with time.”--Michelle Crechiolo
A couple of roster notes from head coach Dan Bylsma...
- Marc-Andre Fleury will start in goal
- Kris Letang skated briefly on his own and is progressing. No timetable on return to practice
- Matt D'Agostini expected to practice on Oct. 16th or 18th
Jhonas Enroth will likely get the start tonight for Buffalo
Tyler Ennis--Sam Kasan
"Geno" working with new linemates to start the season
Fleury getting low to protect the side of the net
Beau steps on a nail during practice
Gather around nobles
Vitale eyes up our camera while chatting with Sid
Engelland with the loose straps
Dupuis all smiles, as usual--Sam Kasan & Dave "Slayer" Uhrmacher
I had a chance to talk to Evgeni Malkin exclusively about his new linemates this season with Neal out on a week-to-week basis.
“It’s tough losing Neal,” Malkin said. “We had just 11 forwards. We had to adjust the lines and it made it tougher. It was still a great win, great two points.”
Regardless of who Malkin plays with, he will no doubt be the driving force on his line.
“I’m ready. I’m excited to play,” Malkin said. “The first game I was a little bit nervous. I played all right. I can play better and will play better.
“I’m just doing what I can to help the team win.”--Sam Kasan
Full story here.
MORNING SKATE INFO
The only missing players from practice are James Neal (upper-body, week-to-week) and the players on IR (Vokoun, Letang and D'Agostini).
Pens used the following lines:
The Sabres come to town to face off against the Pens. Click here for a preview of tonight's action or click below. --Sam Kasan
START ME UP
Good morning hockey fans. Tonight the Pens host the Buffalo Sabres at CONSOL Energy Center at 7 p.m. We'll get you set for game day right here at the Pens Report with the latest info and updates on tonight's game. --Sam Kasan