Once again, just a massive turnout for training camp. I'd say roughly 1k more than yesterday's practice.
Incredibly interesting turn of events in this group during the drills and the scrimmages. The Bash Brothers (Cooke and Asham) had 3 different centers on their line; Letestu, Talbot, and Rupp. The 3rd line center spot may be one of the most intriguing battles to follow as camp progresses as it could go to any of those 3.
Arron Asham-Mark Letestu-Matt Cooke
Mike Rupp-Craig Adams-Maxime Talbot
Zach Sill-Alex Smigelski-Jesse Boulerice
Chris Colins-Tyler Brown
Deryk Engelland-Derek Peltier
Mike Comrie - Evgeni Malkin - Eric Tangradi
Tyler Kennedy - Dustin Jeffrey - Brett Sterling
Kevin Veilleux - Ryan Craig - Tim Wallace
Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Steve Wagner - Carl Sneep
Corey Potter - Ryan Schnell
Patrick KileenGroup A:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Eric Godard-Chris Conner-Joe Vitale
Nick Petersen-Casey Pierro-Zabotel-Joey Haddad
Brooks Orpik-Zbynek Michalek
Robert Bortuzzo-Simon Despres
Brian Strait-Jason DeSantis
And now for something completely different...
Mike Comrie: Just a great day all around from him. He got to the puck, he fought hard along the boards, he went to open spaces. He's also fast, really really fast. The Comrie-Malkin-Tangradi line was pretty impressive during the scrimmage. They didn't score, but they controlled the puck and carried the play. If this is what we can expect out of Comrie for this season, then it looks like the Penguins picked up some much needed winger relief for Malkin.
Eric Tangradi: Another good day from Tangradi. Bylsma is giving him a prime opportunity to showcase his abilities and he seems to be making the most of it. If Tangradi keeps this up, I have trouble believing he won't be on the opening night roster, on Malkin's wing.
Mark Letestu: During the drills and scrimmage, Letestu centered Cooke and Asham, but wasn't the only one, as he shared that duty with Rupp and Talbot. In the scrimmage, only one shift rotation after Talbot had centered Cooke and Asham, Letestu went out with Cooke and Asham and buried one with extremely quick hands. His hockey vision is unbelievable and has both goals for Group B in scrimmage play. Yeah, he also scored the GWG for Group B in a sudden death shootout with the score tied 1-1. He's making an extremely strong case as to why he should start the season as the 3rd line center.
Arron Asham: I know its early, but once again, it looks like Shero hit the jackpot with another free agent signing. Asham has been one of the hardest workers so far in camp and he seems to be having the time of his life doing it. It looks like he already fits in pretty well with the team and the chemistry with Cooke is already there. With Letestu, this could be an extremely dangerous 3rd line, not just physically, but offensively.
Andrew Hutchinson: Strong showing for him today. He was very solid defensively and knocked the puck away just about everytime it was anywhere near him or the net. Exactly what I want to see from the defensive prospects.
Marc-Andre Fleury: He is ready for the 2010-2011 season. Period. He was on all day, from the scrimmage to the drills. He was also chippy today and let anyone near his crease know it. I spent a lot of time watching Fleury today and just can't believe how much better and more confident he looks on the ice right now. The one drill consisted of Pechurskiy passing pucks to Goalie coach Gilles Meloche, set up to the side of the net, where Fleury would have to slide from post to post to stop the shot. He moved smoothly from side to side, didn't overcompensate, and had a good read on most of the shots.
Alexander Pechurskiy: I continued to be impressed with the development of this kid. One of the two youngest attendees at camp (20, Killeen is also 20), he definitely seems like he could become a legitimate backup goalie for the team someday. He still needs to improve sliding from the right post to the left post, but otherwise looked pretty good.
Others who didn't do too shabby:
Dustin Jeffrey, Corey Potter, Chris Conner, Kris Letang, and Zach Sill.
They've Seen Better Days:
John Curry: I really didn't like what I saw from Curry today, at all. He didn't cover the puck well, he had trouble seeing shots, and gave up a ton of goals during drills. The space above his right should was open all day and most of the players exploited it. He has really regressed in his development over the past few years and doesn't seem like he could be a legitimate backup for the Pens, or even a full-time starter for the WBS Pens.
Max Talbot: That bad hands comment by Malkin has never been truer. Talbot had trouble putting anything by anyone. He missed a ton of scoring chances and just wasn't on his game today. It wasn't so much that he shot it into the goalies' pads, but that he missed the net altogether, especially during drills. I'd be surprised if he's anywhere but the fourth line to start to the season.
Brett Sterling: I didn't see anything from him that would make me believe that he deserves a shot at the NHL roster to start the season. He had trouble taking passes today and it was really noticeable during the drills.
Tyler Kennedy: For someone who isn't guaranteed a roster spot, you think he'd put forth a little more effort. He wasn't hitting the net, he didn't seem to be skating hard, and it seemed like he was extremely winded after most of the drills. The only thing he had going for him was decent chemistry with Jeffrey, which include some good back and forth passes and breakouts.
The Scrimmage (B vs. C)
This scrimmage was a little more exciting than yesterday's matchup, but outside of Letestu's strong play, there's not a lot to take from it. Group C controlled play throughout most of the scrimmage, led by the Malkin line and the Martin-Letang D-pairing. Group C's goal, scored by Jeffrey, resulted from hard work down low in the offensive end.
Other Noteworthy Items from the day:
- There was a little bit of a scary moment with Fleury with shades of the High Ankle Sprain fall that happened 2 years ago. He went to play the puck and kind of just slipped on the ice and lost his balance and went down, but thankfully his legs/feet didn't get caught under him and he got right up and was fine the rest of the day.
- I'm not a fan of the new electronic boards. (see first picture below)
- The pulled pork sandwich from the Smokehouse is all business.
- 3 days till the first official puck-drop in the CEC.
- Enjoy some pictures from the second day of training camp: