From the Point Too
by brianmetzer on 09/21/11 at 05:20 PM ET
The Penguins head into their first game of the pre-season this evening against the Detroit Red Wings. Having the Wings swoop through to participate in the first actual hockey game of the season is starting to be a Consol Energy Center tradition as they were the first opponent to skate against the Birds in pre-season tilt last year when the barn first opened its doors.
Personally, I am not expecting to see much tonight, but it will be nice to see hockey being played after a long off-season of NBA/NFL CBA talks. If you think that was painful, wait until next summer when Bettman and company get back in the negotiating room…. But that is a story for another day.
Today we are talking hockey.
The line-ups for each team were announced earlier today and they shake out as such…
The Penguins line-up will feature Evgeni Malkin, who has been flying thus far during camp. He will skate alongside Chris Kunitz and James Neal, which is a departure from the line he had been practicing with this week.
Richard Park will get a chance to center a second line that features Pascal Dupuis and Arron Asham. Could this be his huge audition for a role on the parent club? We shall see…
The forwards are rounded out by Brian Gibbons, Joe Vitale, Colin McDonald, Paul Thompson, Ryan Craig, and Geoff Walker.
Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Matt Niskanen lead a group of youngsters on the blue-line. They will be joined by Philip Samuelsson, Carl Sneep and 2011 1st round draft pick Joe Morrow.
According to head coach Dan Bylsma, Marc Andre Fleury will play in two periods of tonight’s game, while Brad Thiessen will finish things off.
The Wings line-up is highlighted by Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Niklas Kronwall.
Coach Mike Babcock is clearly using this evening to at least start the decision making process on a couple of guys, as the talented Tomas Tatar, will join the likes of Jiri Hudler, Corey Emmerton and Fabian Brunnstrom – all of which are competing for roster spots on the parent club this season.
The forwards are rounded out by Dan Cleary, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Ryan Johnson and former Penguins forward Chris Conner.
Joining Kronwall on the blue-line: Mike Commodore, Brendan Smith, Garnet Exelby Brad Stuart and Logan Pyett.
What to Look For:
-Will Evgeni Malkin’s pre-season successes carry over into live action? We shall see. The talented Russian has been flying during scrimmages and drills and most notably, scoring goals—something that he hasn’t done a ton of since the Penguins Stanley Cup winning season in 2009. Yes, I realize that he has still done his share of scoring over the past couple years, but he hasn’t looked like a guy capable of scoring 40-plus, as he did through the ’09 season.
-Matt Niskanen needs to have a solid game if he wants to stay on this team. He has run so hot or cold since arriving in the Burgh, but it has mostly been cold during camp.
-Joe Morrow has looked very confident during training camp. He isn’t afraid to jump up on the play, has skated with confidence and has looked every bit the player the Penguins were hoping to get with their 1st round selection. Will that all carry over into live game action? There has been no evidence to the contrary and I am excited to see him in action.
-Many have been waiting to see how James Neal would fare with Crosby or Malkin, well, tonight is a big opportunity for him. Will he pull a Jordan Chase and “reach out and take it!”
-Some feel that Tomas Tatar is ready for prime time and there just may be a spot for him in the Red Wings line-up this season. I am very excited to watch him play in person, as I have yet to do so. I was a fan of his coming into his draft year and am anxious to see his offensive ability make the leap to the NHL.
-Is this Fabian Brunnstrom’s final go-round? It certainly appears that it could be… however, if there is any place in the league where a talented Swede can make it happen, it is Detroit. He has all of the skill in the world, but will the rest of his game come around? Tonight starts his quest for a roster spot.
Marc Andre Fleury on if this game takes on any added significance based on the fact that it is being played against the Red Wings:
“I think so. It’s always been fun games every time we play them. We have a rivalry against them. It’s always a good challenge. There are good memories from beating them. It’s always a tough game to play.”
I will be live at the Consol Energy Center bringing you all of the action. Follow me on twitter @brian_metzer for updates and stay tuned for more post game.
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