Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-1 loss against St. Louis in the Kraft Hockeyville USA game at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
* The tandem of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel were quite formidable last season, especially during the postseason during their Stanley Cup title run. They've picked up right where they left off during their first preseason action together.
Just 10 seconds into the game Guentzel collected a loose puck in the slot and whipped a backhander off of the post. Later in the first period Crosby and Guentzel were unleashed for a 2-on-1 rush. Crosby made a quick pass across to Guentzel, who buried a quick snap shot into the net for a goal.
* Also of note on the above mentioned goal was the bank pass from the defensive zone by Conor Sheary to Crosby to create that 2-on-1 opportunity. Sheary has flown under the radar a bit in this training camp and preseason. But I have a feeling he's got another 20-plus goals in him this season.
* Pens defenseman Kris Letang played in his first NHL game (albeit it the preseason) since Feb. 21 at Carolina, a little over seven months. It a great to Letang darting around the ice with his patented hanging string (tail) waffling in the wind.
Letang's skating was superb, as usual. Letang's passing was crisp, as usual. Letang played in all situations, and logged a lot of ice time, as usual. His timing was a bit off and sometimes he needed an extra second to make a play, but those aspects will return with a few games and muscle memory kicking in.
* The "A" on Letang's sweater is a nice addition. Well deserved. And long overdue.
* The Pens have stated that the top power-play unit will feature both Letang and Justin Schultz, who filled in for Letang after the D-man was sidelined in February of last season with a herniated disc in his neck.
Though head coach Mike Sullivan said both defensemen will see time on that top unit, Letang took all of the shifts in tonight's game.
* A big question for the Pens this season will be which forwards will be on the penalty kill. There are obvious staples like Carl Hagelin and Tom Kuhnhackl. But a lot of other spots are open with many players vying for such positions. Tonight Carter Rowney, Garrett Wilson and Teddy Blueger made their case.
Pittsburgh finished an astounding 7 for 7, including a full two-minute 5-on-3. Thanks in a large part to its goaltender.
* Matt Murray was excellent in net for the Pens. He was never rattled and in perfect position for every shot. Murray saw a lot of rubber during the game, stopping 42 of 45 shots in the contest.