Defenseman Jay McKee will make his regular-season debut in a Penguins uniform Friday night. At the same time, Alex Goligoski will begin his first full season as a Penguin.
The two are expected to be a pairing when the team opens the 2009-10 regular season with a contest against the New York Rangers at Mellon Arena.
“Myself and Goligoski, we’ve been together for some time here in camp,” McKee said. “We feel good together out there on the ice. I’m comfortable with him.”
McKee was brought in during the off-season to help fill the void left by the free-agent departures of Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi.
“Jay is a veteran defenseman and he knows the defensive zone and defensive play as well as anybody,” blueliner Mark Eaton said. “That’s kind of what we lost with Gill and Scuderi. He fills that very well.”
Goligoski stepped into the lineup several times last season, and his part-time play gave his teammates full-time confidence in him.
“With Goligoski, you saw what he could do last year,” Eaton said. “Him having a full-time role this year is only going to benefit him and the team.”
Goligoski echoed McKee’s feelings of defensive comfort.
“I think we’re really confident,” Goligoski said. “We have all the guys that played here last year and Jay’s come in and fit right in.
“I think everyone feels real comfortable with each other and we feel pretty good about the way things went in training camp as far as meshing with people.”
Eaton said the transition should be seamless.
“You don’t look at it as much of a change,” Eaton said. “Just some new personnel, we’re still playing the same system. In that aspect nothing has really changed.”
More than anything, the defense is ready to hit the ice and get the regular season started.