EDMONTON, Alberta – The Penguins held an afternoon practice at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Thursday. And they had some special fans in the stands to watch.
Edmonton native Deryk Engelland invited his family – including several young nephews and a niece wearing No. 5 t-shirts – to enjoy the skate.
“It’s good. Good to see everyone, you don’t see them too much,” said Engelland, who resides in Las Vegas during the offseason. “A lot of people come down, you get to see a lot of people. And I grew up watching (the Oilers) when (Wayne) Gretzky and all those guys were here. So it’ll be a lot of fun.”
The Penguins had a full day off Wednesday in Edmonton. Engelland used the opportunity to join his family for dinner and to “rough up” his little nephews.
“We got picked up in the morning, went down to my cousin’s house and they cooked a nice dinner for us and just kind of hung out,” Engelland said. “Played some floor hockey with the boys and tried to wrestle with them all day, so I was pretty worn out by the end. Not too bad, got a little sweat but it was good to see them all.”
After practice, Engelland plans on getting some more quality time with the family.
“I’ll change and then probably go for dinner,” he said, “and just kind of lay low again and hang out.”
While the Penguins players had a day off on Wednesday the coaching staff did some scouting. The Edmonton Oil Kings played Kelowna at Rexall Place that evening.
The Penguins brass were keen to see Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry, the club’s second-round selection (44th overall) in 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey.
Jarry had a busy night. He faced 45 shots and had three breakaways against in the first period in a game in which the Oil Kings would prevail over the Rockets, 4-2.
Head coach Dan Bylsma, whom spoke to Jarry before the game, was impressed by the prospect goaltenders play.
“He was very good in the game. Excellent in the game,” Bylsma said. “He saw a lot of shots, 45 in total. He was tested. He had a couple breakaways right in the beginning. One of them he had to stop twice. I thought he was very good in the game.”
At the end of most practices the Penguins hold a shootout. The last player to score usually has to fulfill some unenviable task – whether it be sporting a mustache for a month, buying magazines for the plane or wearing a Hawaiian shirt during a road trip.
On Thursday the Penguins made the loser immediately take of his skates, climb the stairs at Rexall Place and touch the sign at the highest level of the upper deck.
That unfortunate person was Rob Scuderi.
“I lost the shootout, so today’s little adventure was going up to rafters in the nosebleed section and touching one of the signs that coach picked out,” Scuderi said. “So I got it done. It took a while for me to try to find an elevator, and then that didn’t work out, so once I found the nearest concourse, just start jogging up the stairs. It’s not common, but hey, that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to pay the piper.”
All the Pens healthy players were present and accounted for at practice. The team used the following workflow…
PP1: Letang, Malkin on points. Crosby, Neal, Kunitz up front.
PP2: Maatta, Niskanen on points. Gibbons, Jokinen, Sutter up front.
PK1: Adams, Glass, Orpik, Engelland.
PK2: Sill, Pyatt, Scuderi, Despres.