Ottawa 4 – Pittsburgh 1
*Based in Southern Ontario, Junior “A” Talent Evaluator Brian Kelly is a special contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the 2009 Rookie Tournament.
Kitchener, Ontario – Pittsburgh is off to a 0-2 start in the 2009 Rookie Tournament, falling to the Ottawa Senators 4-1 Monday Night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
Generating offense has not been much of an issue for Pittsburgh through two games but the Penguins have not been able to find the back of the net.
The team jumped out of the gates fast, controlling the play for the first 8-12 minutes of the game. Ottawa killed a key power play about 12 minutes into the first period and took momentum of the game.
Ottawa struck twice in the first period on goals by Geoff Kinrade and Keegan Dansereau. Goaltender Brad Thiessen started for the Penguins and did not play well. He was fighting the puck all night and lacked adequate rebound control.
Ottawa controlled the play for the second period, playing very aggressive and doing an excellent job on the fore-check.
Erik Karlsson scored late in the second period to push the Senators lead to 3-0. Thiessen (22 saves) did not play his angle well and was beat short side.
Down 3-0, the Penguins power play got the Penguins on the board. Nick Johnson scored his first goal of the tournament on a deflection (Robert Bortuzzo shot from the point) past Senators goaltender Robin Lehner. The first unit had great puck movement led by Alex Grant who was the catalyst working the point.
Grant has played very well through two games but his defensive game has a ways to go. Playing in Wilkes Barre will benefit him greatly.
Pittsburgh gained some momentum following Johnson’s third period tally but 18 year goaltender Robin Lehner stood tall. Joe Vitale and Eric Tangradi each had prime scoring chances in the third.
Keegan Dansereau added his second goal of the game with less than a minute to play to push the Senators lead to 4-1.
*There were 10 fighting majors assessed between the two teams.
*Center Joe Vitale has been the Penguins top forward throughout the camp. Great speed and has shown some offensive ability in the tournament. Vitale’s strength is his ability on the fore-check. He was making plays all night.
Penguins scouts are pleased with the performance of defenseman Alex Grant and Simon Despres. Despres has been one of the top defenseman in the tournament.
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has improved his skating considerably.
Eric Tangradi had a subpar night. Recorded two shots on goal. Finds the soft spots very well in the slot. Didn’t make as many plays as he did last night.
Still appears he’s getting his legs into game shape.
Top 5 prospect Luca Caputi was an healthy scratch and has been a bit of a
disappointment through the first two games of the tournament and practices. It is early though…. He’s been playing some right wing (did so in practice today) and he has struggled catching the puck on his off-wing. The coaching staff will be better off moving him to left wing where he is much more comfortable.
For the most part, the puck has been bouncing off his stick and he appeared to be trying to do too much against the Leafs. Caputi’s game is driving to the net creating havoc.
What I continue to marvel about his game dating back to his junior days is his positioning on the fore-check. He did a very good job on the fore-check yesterday. Caputi still needs to develop his overall offensive game though.
In talking to some team personnel this week, the organization will have Caputi assigned to Wilkes Barre. The team just doesn’t feel he is ready and he won’t be under serious consideration to make the team out of camp.
Forward Dustin Jeffrey returned to the lineup playing on a line with Nick Johnson.