Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013-2014 Camp, Day 1
September 12, 2013
Day one of the Penguins 2013-2014 training camp saw the 55 players split into 3 groups. Group A began the day with a short practice (40-45 minutes), followed by a scrimmage with Group B. Group B then had a short practice of their own, with the day closed out by a lengthy practice (about an hour and 15 minutes) for Group C.
During the practices, players did not have names or numbers on their jerseys so it was hard to identify people at times. Those helmet numbers aren't very visible, even from the 100 level. Due to that, only being able to get so much out of 5-on-none drills, and me chatting away with real media types, I don't have a ton to report on from the practices.
The big takeaway from today is what the initial lineup could look like. I stress the word "could," as change is never far away. Groupings could be tweaked tomorrow, just to get another look, or injuries and/or trades could impact the roster. Qualifications aside, the depth chart appears to be as follows:
Nothing is terribly surprising there, although I suppose an eyebrow or two might be raised at Despres being where he is. Bennett and Jokinen could end up trading spots at some point. D'Agostini isn't locked into his spot either, but I'd be surprised if he's not on the team. Note on him, courtesy of Ian Altenbaugh at Hockey's Future: D'Agostini had his best year under Davis Payne, a friend of Bylsma's with a similar coaching style. If he can replicate that here, it would be a huge plus for the Pens. I don't know where he'd fit, but while tryout Chuck Kobasew mainly skated with minor leaguers, he could very well work his way on to the team. Cheap veteran depth is never a bad thing to have if they can find the room.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the defense. Niskanen still seems like the logical guy to go, but the team is pretty high on him and if they can find a way to keep him, I'm sure they'd love to. He would give them more of a safety net against an injury to their top 4; none of the other guys they have could really jump into that role, at least not right now. We'll see if there are any new wrinkles to the lines tomorrow.
Let's talk about the scrimmage for a bit. The two-period contest ran less than an hour and the ice was decidedly tilted in favor of Group B, largely due to Crosby's line. They all looked perfectly in sync with each other; not even the slightest hint of off-season rust. All three members scored a goal: Crosby with a bullet wrister on a 2-on-1 against a hesitant Brendan Mikkelson, courtesy of Dupuis forcing a blueline turnover, Kunitz with a tap-in into a virtually empty net, and Dupuis with a wrister from the RW circle off a rush. The first two goals came courtesy of the 4th line though, with Adams jamming one in from the crease on a bang-bang play and Glass getting a slapshot through Fleury's glove from the left wing circle. The Glass goal was bizarre. Fleury got a piece of the shot, but it popped up in the air behind him. He swiped his glove behind his back, again getting a piece of it, but he couldn't hold on and the puck dropped to the ice and rolled in. That surely isn't the start Fleury wanted to have today, but it is day 1 of training camp. The word perspective comes to mind.
A few other notes from the day's events:
Matia Marcantuoni had perhaps the best day of anyone not listed in the above depth chart. The kid has NHL speed and as long as he is coachable (and can avoid the injuries that caused him to drop to the 4th round), he should be able to carve out a career as a bottom 6, penalty kill type down the road. If he can develop offensively, maybe he can get to a second line someday. During the scrimmage, Crosby had the puck at the point for some reason. Marcantuoni pressured him, caused a turnover, and got a breakaway out of it. Not bad for an unsigned prospect.
Derrick Pouliot figures to have a bright future, but Kunitz showed him there's big difference between juniors and the NHL. Kunitz carried the puck down the left side and just bulled his way through Pouliot to the net. I doubt Pouliot has dealt with many forwards as strong on the puck as Kunitz. He'll learn.
Crosby was pretty physical today. At one point, he locked up with Sutter off a draw, and the two fell to the ice. Crosby conveniently landed on top of him, almost looking like a Hulk Hogan leg drop. Both appeared to be laughing about it. There were no smiles when he pancaked Adams in the corner in their practice session. Adams appeared to land on his head and was slow to get up. He didn't look particularly happy about it either. Adams stretched his neck quite a bit, but didn't miss a drill and finished the practice.
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