(No, this isn't Bruins101.com, but one of the Penguins who looked great last night spent three odd seasons in Boston.)
Last night was the first taste of competitive hockey for Pittsburgh Penguins fans, but the meal turned a tad sour as the Pens lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 in overtime. With less than thirty seconds remaining in the extra frame, Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray (the second overall pick in the 2012 Draft) wristed a shot pass Jeff Zatkoff. Losing in the preseason doesn't matter that much. Impressing your coaches does and boy-howdy did some Penguins do some impressing.
On the eve of training camp, the Pens brought in Chuck Kobasew on a tryout. After scoring twice last night, including the game-tying power-play goal, Kobasew might have earned himself some consideration on the third or fourth lines. A veteran of 568 NHL games, Kobasew spent the last two years in Colorado. He has 208 career points (108 goals, 100 assists) and looked like a the kind of player that can add unexpected offense on the bottom six. At least he did last night in Columbus. It'll be interesting to see how well he performs the rest of the preseason.
Kobasew sounds like a guy who wants to be in Pittsburgh, cautiously saying, "It's special putting that jersey on. But it's one game. I got some opportunities. I was able to capitalize. It's one day. Tomorrow's a new day."
And then there's Tom Kuhnhackl. After turning heads in the Ontario rookie tournament last week, Kuhnhackl furthered his momentum by pestering the Blue Jackets all night and tallying two assists (on both Kobasew goals). His speed, puck handling, and vision were all on display. Not to mention his aggressiveness. Kuhnhackl got dirty in front of the goal and didn't mind playing the body. He looked a little like Sean Avery (even his team photo has that Avery-attitude) and that's not a terrible thing considering the Pens loss some toughness in the offseason. Kuhnhackl will start the season in Wilkes-Barre, but the more this 21-year old German sparkplug plays, the harder it'll be to keep him down there.
Other quick notes from the Columbus game: Beau Bennett looked ever bit the top six forward the Penguins are thinking he'll be. Dustin Jeffrey and James Neal scored the other two Pens goals and much heralded defenseman prospect Brian Dumoulin will be sidelined for a week with a upper body injury.
The Penguins play again tonight against the Detroit Red Wings in the preseason home opener. Puck drops at 7:00pm and the game can be viewed from the comfort of your couch on The CW.
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