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Pens Report: 10.07.16

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Pittsburgh Penguins

Here are a few things to know heading into Saturday's final preseason contest at 3 p.m. against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena…

-The game will be airing on ROOT Sports with the duo of Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey calling the action. Fans can also listen to the broadcast on the Pens' flagship radio station 105.9 'The X.' The legendary Hall-of-Famer Mike Lange will be making the call with the 'Ol 29er Phil Bourque.

-Saturday's game is the final tune-up for the Pens before opening the regular season. It will also give fans a look at how the lineup appears to be shaping up for the start of the 2016-17 campaign.

-The Pens used the following line rushes at Friday's afternoon practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, giving a possible glimpse not only of Saturday's lineup, but how the team could open the regular season.









With the exception of Wilson filling in for the injured Bryan Rust, that is the same forward lineup that won the Pens a Stanley Cup a few months ago - and the same defensive corps minus Ben Lovejoy.

-The Pens will start goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on Saturday and he will play the entire game. The Pens want to give him as much action as possible so that he'll be ready for the season.

"We're trying get Marc as much time as we can in a reasonable fashion to give him an opportunity to continue to build on his game," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "We think it's important the more game situations that he gets, the more opportunity he has to get his timing down, finding the sightlines and things of that nature that help him to be at his best."

-The only two Pens regulars to not appear in a preseason game this year are Crosby and Hagelin. Both will be in the lineup on Saturday. Although both Crosby and Hagelin have played in high-level action during the World Cup of Hockey, it will benefit them to get back with their normal teammates.

"I'm excited to get into a game before the season gets started," Crosby said. "We've played together in the past, but haven't played together as a group. Getting your timing, making sure you're in the right place, reading off of each other in the right way. Hopefully we can get a good preseason game in and get ready for the start."

Helping with the transition will be some familiarity. Both Crosby and Hagelin are working with the same line combinations from last year's championship postseason run.

"We know what each guy is going to do on the ice, but we still need to take a few more steps to get where we were," Hagelin said. "Just like any other player, it's a work in progress and you have to put in the work every single day."

-The coaching staff placed a huge emphasis in today's practice on special teams. That isn't shocking since the staff said this portion of training camp would be special teams heavy. Now that all of the power-play guys have returned from the World Cup of Hockey (Crosby, Hornqvist, Malkin), the top unit is finally getting some reps.

"The fact that we played together last year will help adjusting," Crosby said. "But there's always adjustments at the start of the year. Everyone is trying to get their timing and feel for what they need to do out there.

"We want to make sure we're getting on the same page. And make sure we're executing the right way heading into the season."

Special teams is all about rhythm and repetitions. The Pens have the same players from last year, so the challenge this late in camp isn't so much the Xs and Os as much as execution and feel.

"Even last year in Game 60, 70 and in the playoffs, you're still working on things and there are things to clean up," Crosby said. "It's not going to change because we've played together already. There are constant habits you work on, and try to be as sharp and as crisp as you can."

-The Pens have re-assigned forwards Jake Guentzel and Carter Rowney to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. They've also placed forward Kevin Porter and defenseman David Warsofsky on waivers. If they clear they will be assigned to WBS.

-Saturday's matinee matchup will be the sixth annual "Free Game for Kids." All 18,000-plus tickets for the contest were donated and distributed to local youth hockey teams and other organizations throughout the region.

"It makes for an exiting and unique atmosphere to an NHL preseason game," said Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse. "Some of these kids have rarely had an opportunity to see a professional sporting event in person. The feedback we've received over the years from children, parents and youth organizations has been tremendous. And our players and coaches love the atmosphere."


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