Penguins Preseason Musings
More than halfway into the Pens’ preseason and one week/one game left until the start of the regular season and the final roster is starting to reveal itself. As part of the season that doesn’t count from an official standpoint, the preseason has its moments that I look forward to each year.
The run up to the regular season gives us a peek into the battle for a jersey, namely, the vacant center positions. More so if you’re lucky enough to see any of the games.
It’s been rumored the Pens could make a trade to fill one spot (Red Wings Riley Sheahan for Derrick Pouliot). But as the preseason winds down, that isn’t looking like it will happen.
There’s plenty of internal competition by the likes of Greg McKegg, Adam Johnson, Carter Rowney, Jay McClement, and Teddy Bluegar. Now that Rutherford seems to be giving the nod to McKegg and Rowney, focus on the regular season home opener against the St. Louis Blues begins.
I like McKegg because he’s a skater, and a skater is what the Penguins need in a Center. I’ve yelled at the T.V. more than a few times in the past for what felt like a sluggish line, not as aggressive as they could be. McKegg needs to combine his quickness with swift puck handling, and that remains to be seen. Ultimately, there’s still room for Jay McClement to get the position.
Things I like going into the regular season
1. CONTINUITY OF ROSTER. While we lost two key contributors of a championship team (Fleury and Bonino), as well as Matt Cullen, the Pens will enjoy mostly the same strength-lending members –always good for any well-oiled machine.
2. THE LINES ARE STRONG AND FLUENT.
The possible line combinations look promising. Some scenarios might include:
Guentzel/Crosby/Sheary - Proven effectiveness right here.
Hornqvist/Malkin/Kessel - Might be clunky, but smoothing out.
3rd line options: Hagelin/McKegg(?)/Rust - Experience/Skater/Versatility
4th line options: Kuhnhackl/Rowney/Reaves or Wilson/Rowney/Reaves
I liked the Hagelin/Bonino/Kessel line – a lot. So, I’m anxious to see what this third line shapes up to be.
3. MATT MURRAY. Excellent goaltender in an early peak. He’s THE goalie you want in the net for the playoffs. Second year, two Stanley Cups. ‘Nuff said.
1. The Pens seem a little sluggish, but that’s to be expected after 2 LONG seasons, and it’s not hard for them to overcome.
2. Their first month schedule is road-heavy with 8 out of 13 games in October away from home. Playoff Penguins wouldn’t have a problem, but a schedule like this early on isn’t optimal.
Can We Three-Peat?
Anything’s possible. The younger players are moving up and becoming seasoned. They won last year despite a few big-impact injuries. The Predators will be coming for the Pens, no doubt, so I’m cautiously optimistic.