DAY 3 CAMP REPORT
The third day of training camp has Beau Bennett, the Penguins top forward prospect, getting his expected look on one of the top-2 lines.
As Eric Tangradi got the first audition with Evgeni Malkin on Monday, Bennett was bumped up to the second line today with Malkin and James Neal.
From a skill set, Bennett obviously doesn’t look out of place but what the Penguins really need is some exhibition games to get a good feel on whether Bennett is ready to compete against NHL players. They don’t get that in practices and the only game situation will be tomorrow with the Black and Gold Scrimmage which will be televised on Root Sports. A few days into camp, there is really no chatter of Bennett being a serious contender for a roster spot.
Bennett being moved up to the second line had Eric Tangradi moved down to the 5th line with Dustin Jeffrey and Jayson Megna. It was status quo on the first, third and fourth lines.
As for the D-pairs, there was a shakeup again among the top-6 defensemen but one notable player was a part of the top-3 pairs for the third straight day.
Head coach Dan Bylsma continues to use Simon Despres in camp as a player he intends on having in the Penguins top-6 on the blueline to open the season.
Read what you want into this, but Despres opened Sunday’s camp paired with Deryk Engelland as the third pair, Monday he was with Kris Letang as the top pairing and today was the third pairing with Ben Lovejoy who was bumped up from the last pairing.
Bylsma yesterday also talked like a coach who envisions Despres being in the lineup vs the Flyers, saying “it’s a real possibility” that Letang and Despres will open the season as a pairing vs the Flyers.
As I’ve been saying for the days, the coaching staff wants Despres on the team, and if they get their way, expect Despres to start the year in Pittsburgh. Bylsma would love Despres to win that top pairing spot with Letang or many believe the Penguins are going to eventually have to look to the trade route in the coming months. Management, though, has been a little bit lukewarm on Despres and the one knock on Despres being in the top-6 is that he’s not ready to kill penalties at an effective level in the NHL just yet.
“He proved he can play at this level,” Kris Letang said of Despres on Monday. “
Brian Strait continues to work in as the 9th defenseman on the depth chart behind Bortuzzo.
DAY 3 LINES
Line 1: Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Pascal Dupuis (Black)
Line 2: Beau Bennett – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal (White)
Line 3: Matt Cooke – Brandon Sutter – Tyler Kennedy (Grey)
Line 4: Tanner Glass – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams (Baby Blue)
Line 5: Eric Tangradi – Dustin Jeffrey – Jayson Megna (Gold)
1. Paul Martin – Kris Letang (Black)
2. Brooks Orpik – Matt Niskanen (White)
3. Simon Despres – Ben Lovejoy (Grey)
4. Robert Bortuzzo/Brian Strait – Deryk Engelland (Baby Blue)
POWER PLAY UNIT 1
1st Unit: Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Evgeni Malkin
James Neal – Kris Letang
2nd Unit: Kennedy – Sutter – Dupuis
Niskanen – Martin
*Early on the Penguins were making a focus on getting James Neal in prime shooting positions just below the left face off dot. Neal is stationed very similar to how Ryan Whitney use to be.