Day 2 Camp Quick Hits
1st practice session
The Penguins were back on the ice today for an afternoon on-ice session and during today’s first on-ice session (that ended around 1:15 p.m./ Players will go through a second session), there was a strong focus by the coaching staff on systems. Bylsma spent a lot of time on forechecking, regroup drills, in addition to defending the neutral zone where the Penguins worked on playing a 1-2-2.
Evgeni Malkin was back on the ice and centering Eric Tangradi and James Neal on the second line. With Malkin’s arrival, Dustin Jeffrey is down to the 5th line with Jayson Megna and Beau Bennett.
There has been a shakeup on the D-pairs among the top-6 from yesterday.
Simon Despres is paired with Kris Letang, a change from yesterday when Matt Niskanen worked exclusively as the top pair.
Despres and Letang are in black colored jerseys, Orpik – Martin (white), Niskanen – Engelland (grey) and Bortuzzo, Lovejoy and Strait (light blue).
It has been expected that Letang and Despres would get some work together. That shouldn’t be a surprise today.
While there was some rotating among the nine defensemen early on, when the team went into their system drills, Despres and Letang worked exclusively together, while Bortuzzo-Lovejoy and Strait rotated as the fourth pairing.
The Despres – Letang pairing is a pairing head coach Dan Bylsma is very intrigued about and Despres again today has looked very strong in defensive drills. He was rock solid once again in 1-on-1 drills.
Anytime it looks like a forward is going to get by him, he uses his long wingspan to pokecheck the puck away. He’s tough to beat one-on-one.
However, were the Penguins to start the year with Despres, would Bylsma be comfortable enough with Despres ability on the breakout and his suspect first pass to use him in a top-pairing role with Letang? I get the sense that’s what could hold Despres back in the coaching staff’s eyes and it’s an area he’s getting better at but still has some inconsistencies in making crisp clean passes to forwards on the breakout, which was evident today.
Line 1: Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis
Line 2: Eric Tangradi – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Line 3: Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Tyler Kennedy
Line 4: Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Line 5: Jayson Megna – Dustin Jeffrey – Beau Bennett
1. Simon Despres – Kris Letang
2. Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
3. Matt Niskanen- Deryk Engelland
4. Robert Bortuzzo – Ben Lovejoy