Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013 Camp, Day 1
January 13, 2013
The crowd at the Iceoplex at Southpointe this afternoon for the Pittsburgh Penguins first official training camp practice was absolutely HUGE. I have never seen that many people there, and I was in attendance for the first practice of Mario Lemieux's remarkable comeback. I watched from the restaurant side today, but the stands were completely full and fans appeared to be standing 3-4 rows deep at the top. I mentioned this earlier this week on the board, but I didn't think the Pens had much to worry about with regards to any fan backlash over the lockout. They only had 45 cancellations over it and have ~9500 people happy to take their places. Now they get a packed house almost an hour before a practice starts? NHL hockey is alive and well in Pittsburgh.
Personnel breakdowns for anyone that hasn't already seen them on Twitter (or elsewhere):
Some observations based on those, though your standard "it's only day 1 of practice" disclaimer applies...
Strait played as a forward outside of the 1 on 1s and 2 on 1s.
Glad to see Kennedy-Sutter-Cooke together. I think that even without Staal, that could still be the best 3rd line in hockey.
Also liked seeing Jeffrey and Tangradi out there with Neal. After practice, coach Bylsma said Tangradi would stay on the left side once Malkin returns. Hopefully, he gets a decent look there that last longer than a couple of practices or two shifts into the first game. If so, it's make-or-break time for him.
Cautiously optimistic about the Niskanen-Letang pairing. Both are great skaters and really good at moving the puck. Niskanen took big strides forward last year. If he can keep that up, that could be a really good combination.
Despite his struggles in the AHL, Despres would appear to have been in the top 6, at least for today. He was solid in the 1 on 1s and 2 on 1s.
During one of the line rushes, at shot was stopped hit Fleury and dropped between his skates. He stayed on his feet and as he was about to fling it out of his crease (the play was over), Kunitz poked it in. As Kunitz skated away to the corned, Fleury charged him Hextall-style. Kunitz got his stick up and playfully butt-ended him in the face. (Yes, I just described a butt-end as playful.)
Sidney Crosby was flying today. If you were just watching an isolation cam of him and he had been wearing a game jersey, you would not have been able to tell it was practice. He was skating at top speed, darting in and out of traffic, and ripping lasers under the bar or just inside the post.
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