The greatness of the preseason is the score isn't that important and frankly the Pittsburgh Penguins clobbering the Detroit Red Wings last night 5-1 isn't the best story coming out of the Motor City. The Penguins dominate win can best be summed up like this: the biggest Red Wing name who suited up yesterday was Todd Bertuzzi. Recapping for the purists out there, the Pens beat the Red Wings 5-1. Now here's the real juicy storylines.
Head coach Dan Bylsma rolled out a lineup that is pretty close to what fans will see in the regular season opener October 3rd against the New Jersey Devils. Not only did it show on the scoreboard, but the Pens held the puck most of the night and put on a passing clinic. If the team that rolls into the season is a shadow of the one that appeared in Detroit, good times are waiting.
Chris Kunitz thinks so, "We didn’t have a great preseason leading up to this one. I think we played a little harder, we watched clips, we talked about what we need to do. Maybe just play better in our zone and come with our speed."
The Penguins stat sheet was loaded with superstar names. Kunitz notched two goals, and one each was Pascal Dupuis, Jussi Jokinen, and Evgeni Mal– uh, Craig Adams (who redirected a beautiful one-timer from Geno, great no look pass for Rob Scuderi too). Sidney Crosby and Malkin each had two assists.
Jussi Jokinen will start the season on the second line. There can be no doubt after the way he's played with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin the last two games. The three mesh so well together. Their speed, vision, and puck handling combine for a matchup nightmare. Beau Bennett, who did not look horrible with Brandon Sutter, will probably be eased into the role later in the season. Right now, it's Jussi's job.
The game was also a great confidence builder for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He stopped sixteen shots and if it wasn't for a unforced error (aka bonehead play), he would've walk out of the Joe Louis Arena with a shutout. Fleury's going to be tested mentally when the season begins because he's the only option between the pipe right now. The first five games will say a lot about he well that sports psychiatrist helped this offseason.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are also a twenty-nine man squad after the reassignments of defenseman Brain Dumoulin and forwards Zach Sill and Harry Zolnierczyk to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Zolnierczyk will have to clear waivers Friday before buying a bus ticket east. The Pens have until Monday to be at twenty-five players and under cap. No word yet on whether the team will try and keep Chuck Kobasew, who has impressed the coaches.
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