Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena.
*The player that stood out most to me in the game was defenseman Justin Schultz. He picked up two assists on the night, and both were beauties.
On the first he unleashed a heavy slap shot-pass from the near blue line. It was a low, line drive shot that Brandon Tanev was able to tip into the game. On his second assist, Schultz basically shot the puck into the net off of Bryan Rust's stick. Seriously, Rust had his stick on the ice and didn't move. Schultz went bank shot, corner pocket.
Schultz also saw time on Pittsburgh's power play. They used a two-defensemen look with Schultz and Kris Letang. Schultz wasn't shy about shooting the puck, ripping at least three shots toward the goal. He has a cannon and I hope he does more of that once the season starts.
*Dominik Simon scored the game-winning goal for Pittsburgh. It was a big goal in a big preseason for the Czech native. Right now, the Pens have 13 serviceable forwards with only 12 open slots. Simon is fighting for a spot in the lineup. He's been used at center during this preseason with the hope that adding some versatility to his game will help him stay in the lineup.
Simon connected with linemate Zach Aston-Reese for the winning tally. Both players are battling for a job. Aston-Reese threw a shot on net and Simon crashed the crease and knocked in the rebound.
*Tanev got his first action on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. He scored the game's opening goal with a nice tip in front. Not a bad way to start with your new linemates.
*It's amazing watching smart players work together. They don't play much together (other than say the occasional power play) but Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin ended up on the ice for a short shift during a line change. They connected on a nice give-and-go play that sprung Guentzel for a shot off of a rush. Both players read the play right away and executed it to perfection. You can't teach hockey IQ. And those two showed it.
*Goaltender Matt Murray looked strong between the pipes. He played the full game in a tune-up prior to the start of the regular season. He stopped Valtteri Filppula on a re-directed shot in the slot early in the game. He made another clutch stop on Turner Elson on a chance driving down the center of the slot with his elbow.
*The Pens dressed their A lineup against Detroit. This was as close to their regular-season starting lineup without it being finalized. Only forward Alex Galchenyuk, who no doubt will be in the lineup when regular play begins, was scratched due to a lower-body injury. On the defensive side, Jack Johnson and Chad Ruhwedel were scratched.
The puck drops to begin the regular season in one week, next Thursday against Buffalo. Some final decisions are still to be made.