Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
2013-14 Training Camp, Day 2
September 13, 2013
Day two of the Penguins 2013-2014 training camp followed the same format as yesterday, just with the groups ordered differently. Group B got the first practice, and then scrimmaged against C. C had a short practice of their own, then Group A finished the day with a longer session.
All forward and defense combinations were the same as yesterday, with one exception. Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland started on defense for Group C, but shortly after the puck dropped, Simon Despres came on for Niskanen, and shortly after that Niskanen came back on with Robert Bortuzzo. Defense pairings remained constant after that. It was probably just a little confusion at the start.
Group B, which features the Pens' top line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, and Pascal Dupuis along with defensemen Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang, won again, this time by a score of 4-1. The first period (or more accurately today, half) was very close though, with B only to get up 1-0 off this stick of Letang. Crosby's line continued to impress, but they didn't tilt the ice quite like they did yesterday. They really came on in the second though, scoring three more times. Crosby with a nice one-timer off of a slick Dupuis feed, Letang with another wicked wrister, and Dupuis into an empty net.
Group C lost, but they weren't dominated. They had several good scoring chances, but couldn't quite finish them off. Beau Bennett looked really good out there with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. When he came up last year, I was really impressed at how good Bennett was at all the little things; being in good position, making good plays on the wall, etcetera. It was more of the same today. He played a simple game, made smart decisions, and took what was available. He didn't look to be deferring to his linemates at all, which is a concern when you put a young guy in with two star players. Here are two simple plays that really speak to what I'm talking about.
Malkin skated the puck out of his end. Bennett found some open ice in the neutral zone and Malkin hit him with a pass. Bennett delayed, allowed Malkin to pick up speed and got the puck back to him. That allowed Malkin to enter the offensive zone with speed and the puck, and he ended up getting a really good shot off from the left circle.
Later on, Bennett was carrying the puck up the right side. Scuderi was in his path and Letang was back. Bennett dumped it in, got by Scuderi and forechecked hard on Letang, pinning him and the puck along the wall behind the net. Malkin joined in and came out with the puck, generating another good chance. If Bennett continues to let the game come to him like that when the games start to count, he should have a pretty good year. Having a guy on a cheap, entry level contract that can jump into a top 6 role would be huge for this team.
Amateur tryout Jean-Sebastien Dea scored the lone goal for Group C. He rotated around a bit, but saw a lot of shifts with Zach Sill and Dominik Uher. Dea was passed up in the draft each of the past two years, despite racking up huge numbers in the QMJHL last year. He caught the eye of Penguin scouts and got and invite to their development camp this past summer. He did well enough there to get an invite to the rookie tournament last week. The Pens took a total of 8 forwards on amateur tryouts to that tournament; Dea was the only one of them to earn a trip to main camp. Earning the invite tells you he's a hard worker and hustles. From what I've seen, he has a pretty good skill level, especially the quick release on his shot. He skates very well, and is good at finding open ice. Right now, the knock on him is his size. Before last season, he grew 2" to a reported 6', 160. Pens have him at 5'11", 176 now. He still has some filling out to do though. He's 19, so the AHL is not an option for him, should he earn a contract from the Pens.
Other odd and ends observations...
Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington have been a pretty consistent pair. Andrew Ebbett practiced between Adam Payerl and Tom Kuhnhackl. Jayson Megna centered Tom Kostopoulos and Paul Thompson. Those combinations could all see significant time together in Wilkes-Barre.
A few guys may or may not be dealing with some minor tweaks. At different points, Harry Zolnierczyk, Chuck Kobasew, and Harrison Ruopp all left the ice. Zolnierczyk only went to the bench and could've just been gassed because he had just completed the conditioning drill. Could have also been some minor lower body thing too. He and Kobasew both returned and finished practice. I don't believe Ruopp did.
Kobasew is here on a tryout. He hasn't looked out of place, but the reality is he's competing against 12 forwards that have one-way deals plus Bennett. You would think he would need to not only outplay those guys, but do so by a wide enough margin to warrant waiving one of them. There's plenty of time for him to do that, but he hasn't separated himself yet. He has worked as a penalty killer, so if he gets some preseason work, that might be where he starts to make his move.
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