PENSTV SOUNDPaul Martin Kris Letang (minus hair)
Blake Comeau --Michelle Crechiolo
Penguins fans got their first glimpse of the team after a long summer when the organization held a free open training camp practice at CONSOL Energy Center on Saturday morning.
Players took to the ice at 9:00 a.m., with doors opening for fans a half hour before. However, the line to get into the arena formed long before that – with some fans arriving as early as 7:15. Full story here. --Sam Kasan
THIRD LINE COMBO?
Prior to the start of training camp, head coach Mike Johnston warned not to read too much into the combinations and defense pairings the first few days. However, there was one trio that the coaches are considering putting together.
A triumvirate of Steve Downie, Brandon and Beau Bennett worked together in practice and a controlled scrimmage in what could be a preview of the team’s third line.
“You can read a little bit into that one,” Johnston said. “I’m trying to look for someone to fit with Sutter, who’d be a good long-term fit and add balance and depth to our group. A guy like Beau Bennett is a skilled player, he hangs onto the puck, makes plays. Complimentary wingers for Sutter would be a skilled player and a guy who’s a real worker, to me that’d be the perfect combination. That’s what we’re looking for to make sure that line is as good as it can be.”
Sutter, who played with Bennett at various times last season, likes the makeup of that third line.
“So far it’s been great,” Sutter said. “It’s fun to play with Beau. We’ve played a lot the last couple of years. Downie has that physical presence. They’re hard workers, too.
“We all have a little bit of everything. That’s why I think it’s a good mix. Downie has that grit and forecheck in him. And we all know what Beau can do. It’s a fun couple of guys to play with.”
Bennett also likes the combination. But what he likes more than his linemates is being moved back to his natural position of right wing.
“Being on the right side, being able to make plays coming down the wing, make passes, it’s a fun aspect of playing the right side,” Bennett said. “On the backhand on the left side you’re limited. I like either way. There are pros and cons to each side. The right is fun for right now.”
Johnston also said he likes the top line from the past few seasons of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis. He called the three “an obvious combination and we really liked that.”
On defense, Pittsburgh paired up Paul Martin with Christian Ehrhoff, Rob Scuderi with Kris Letang. --Sam Kasan
BENNETT'S WRIST ALMOST 100%
Penguins winger Beau Bennett underwent wrist surgery in late May
after the season ended. After roughly four months of rehab, Bennett said his wrist is almost back to being 100 percent.
“It’s still getting strength back,” Bennett said. “I felt good with the fitness testing. I feel good on the ice. It felt good with my shot. Back to my normal stick. It was a good summer. I’m feeling positive going into this year. No limitations whatsoever.” --Sam Kasan
SUTTER HAS A SCARE
Center Brandon Sutter had a small scare during Saturday’s scrimmage. Sutter was struck in the face with the puck on a clearing attempt. Sutter skated immediately to the bench with his hands over his face, went down the runway and to the locker room.
Luckily, there wasn’t any damage (other than maybe some swelling later).
“It caught me off guard a bit, but I think I’m alright,” Sutter said. “It kind of scared me a little bit. After a minute or two I knew it was alright.”
Minutes after leaving Sutter rejoined his teammates as they finishing their on-ice session with wind-sprints. Sutter jumped right into the mix of a sprint and finished out the session.
“I felt bad just leaving the ice so I went back out there and got my reps in like anyone else,” he said. --Sam Kasan
QUOTE 'EM--Michelle Crechiolo
Mike Johnston gave us the latest updates from today’s practice and scrimmage…
- Crosby was held out of today’s work as “more of a precautionary thing.”
- Kunitz practiced, but did not scrimmage. Johnston had no update on him other than to say that the team trainers are being very cautious with any slight thing.
“I found out about the same way I did yesterday, just before practice,” Johnston said on learning of Crosby’s participation. “Two days ago, I didn’t think he was going to skate. He just wanted to try it. He went out yesterday. I was pleased with how he skated. Really, we thought it would be a couple of days when we talked to everyone. I still think it’ll be a couple of days. Today was more of a precautionary thing. He was happy with the way his skate went yesterday.
“As we’re going through these first couple of days, any player that may tweak a hip flexor or have a bit of a pulled muscle, we’re just going to be cautious.
“(Kunitz) had a good skate. He had a good practice. He didn’t come out for the second part, but we’ll be cautious. We have to make sure we’re building them up the right way. Any small sign they’ll come off, get rehab and some good stretching and therapy and go on from there.” --Sam Kasan
GROUP A PHOTOS
The group listens to assistant coach Rick Tocchet
Pens 2014 first-round draft pick Kasperi Kapanen
Can you spot Dupuis?
Jeff Zatkoff tends the net
Rob Scuderi defends Oskar Sundqvist
Kunitz settles the puck
Another one of Tanger--Michelle Crechiolo and Joey Sykes
GROUP A PRACTICE INFO
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is not on the ice with Group A for their practice session. We'll get an update from coach following the scrimmage if he doesn't skate for a portion today. (Also, Crosby, Dupuis and Kunitz did not take part in the controlled scrimmage).Team White
Again, players rotating through. A couple consistant groupings...
GROUP B PRACTICE INFO
Group B finished their practice session. They're about to scrimmage. I'll be posting the action, as well as thoughts and analysis shortly. Team White
The Pens used many different combinations. For what it's worth Martin and Ehrhoff were paired together the entire session, and a trio of Downie-Sutter-Bennett was used. The rest of the groups rotated with each other.
"I’ve always been a big fan of Christian watching him on a couple different teams he played in San Jose and Vancouver and then into Buffalo, and now we’ve got him," Martin said. "Very similar to a lot of the guys we have here. He skates really well, very poised, moves the puck great and he brings that offensive upside too. But he’s not afraid to compete, so he’ll be a good addition back there."
Sutter left the scrimmage momentarilly after getting hit in the face with either a puck or stick. He skated to the runway with his hand over his mouth. But he returned shortly after as the team was doing wind sprints. Sutter didn't miss a beat and joined the team mid-sprint.
"Just a puck. Kind of caught me off guard a bit, but I think I’m alright," Sutter said. "Just kind of caught me by surprise, kind of scared me a little bit, but after about a minute or two I knew I was alright. Kind of felt bad just leaving the ice, so I had to go back out there."--Sam Kasan
OPEN PRACTICE PHOTOS--Michelle Crechiolo and Joey Sykes
Here is what's on tap for today's practice(s)...
9-9:45 = Group B Practice
10-10:45 = Group B Situational Scrimmage
11-11:45 = Group A Practice
12-12:45 = Group A Situational Scrimmage
Here are the updated rosters for today, with Sidney Crosby officially listed. Here's what's going on with his current situation
START ME UP
Good morning hockey fans. Today is Day 2 of the Pens' on-ice practice sessions for Camp Johnston 2014. Today the team will do controlled, situational scrimmages at CONSOL Energy Center. Today's practice is also open to the public (full details here
). So if you're in the area and want to watch some quality ice hockey practice, come down to the rink from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Let's hope the Pens put on a good show for the masses. --Sam Kasan