Here's a few takeaways from Pittsburgh's 1-0 win over Chicago on Friday at CONSOL Energy Center...
After Tristan Jarry got a shutout on Wednesday against Chicago, Marc-Andre Fleury followed that up with one of his own on Friday. Fleury said after his first preseason game that he was looking forward to playing more and getting into a rhythm. He looked pretty good in that regard tonight as he was tracking the puck extremely well. It was changing direction on him a lot, but he reacted quickly every time it did as his reflexes were lightning fast. "I felt better today, definitely," Fleury said when I asked him how he felt. "My D were good too helping me out, moving guys in front of me so I could see the puck. That's always a big help, also." His best moment came in the second when a power-play turnover turned into a breakaway. Fleury showed patience as Tyler Motte came down the ice, waited for him to make the first move and then went made the save with his blocker. Overall, the veteran netminder made 23 saves on the night.
Matt Cullen re-signing in late August meant the Pens would be returning the exact same forward group they dressed for their Stanley Cup-clinching victory in San Jose on June 12. And even though I should know better, I was guilty of thinking that would be the same lineup they would open the season with. As Mike Sullivan reiterated the other day, it's a new year and nothing is guaranteed for the guys who played in the postseason last year. Players like Scott Wilson are doing their best to take one of those spots. He's having a strong training camp and is making a terrific case for himself. He's just so tenacious in the offensive zone and has the skills to make plays. He scored once and had a few other quality chances. Mike Sullivan said today he reminds him of a young Chris Kunitz, and I could see Wilson being that kind of player alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
There's some veteran guys looking to earn spots in Pittsburgh who have also been decent in their preseason games. Kevin Porter, who was injured around the same time as Wilson, has been solid in all three games so far. He's a tremendous penalty killer and is someone the Pens have been utilizing a lot in that situation. And even though he hasn't had a goal in a long time, he's been making things happen in the offensive zone. He could again be a decent depth guy just like he was for 41 games of last season before getting hurt.
The same goes for David Warsofsky on the back end. He had a strong showing tonight, finishing with three shots and four blocked shots after getting a power-play assist on Wednesday. He's the kind of player who fits into the Pens' style of play. He makes a good first pass and is strong on the breakout, can help out on the power play and just someone they can count on to be dependable on the back end.