Sounds heard around the locker room
I caught up with Ben Lovejoy, Mark Letestu, Tyler Kennedy and Eric Godard after practice. Here’s the latest:
Ben Lovejoy remains the front runner for the No. 6 spot after today’s practice. Lovejoy worked in as Alex Goligoski’s partner for the majority of practice and indications are barring a trade or waiver wire pickup, Lovejoy has locked down the job.
When I spoke with Lovejoy today, I got the impression from him that he’s sticking around. He appeared very excited and is eyeing the opportunity to start the season in Pittsburgh.
Lovejoy said he settled in during last night’s game after having some nerves.
“Some nerves out there against Chicago and then again last night against Detroit, Lovejoy told Inside Pittsburgh Sports. “But, really after the first couple shifts i settled down and got to my game. I’m not going to be a guy whose going to get up and make plays. I’m going to be a guy who plays good hard defense, blocks some shots and just try to keep the puck out of the net.”
Another factor in Lovejoy’s corner is the familiarity Alex Goligoski and Lovejoy have together.
“Very comfortable, Lovejoy said when asked about playing with Alex. “We lived together for a year in Wilkes Barre, we’ve been playing together for a long time. I respect his game, he is an extremely good player, fun to play with, fun to watch and we will complement each other well.”
*Mark Letestu centered the Penguins third line today and appears locked in to start the season in Pittsburgh. Letestu has been one of Pittsburgh’s top overall performers in camp and has brought consistency on a day-to-day basis.
“Mark Letestu has been certainly given an opportunity but he’s made good with that opportunity in just about every case, every game, ” head coach Dan Bylsma said today.
Letestu has yet to receive official word from the Penguins that he is staying but he was extremely happy to still be around and is anxious to learn his fate.
“It’s another day, that’s all, Letestu told Inside Pittsburgh Sports. “Any day to survive through now is a blessing. I’m happy that I’m still here, I think we still have some guys to move out of here but today is a good day.”
One area of Letestu’s game that appears to be developing is his offensive game. However, Letestu told me the goals and points are a bonus and that he still needs to work on his face-offs going into the season.
“Offensive side of things, that is a part of my game, ” Letestu said. “Create offense whether its 5-on-5 or the power play.
“You know right now, faceoffs is something I have to get better at, Letestu said. “It’s kind of been inconsistent during the preseason, and that’s something i can definitely bring. Just playing a solid game, not going to hurt the team while I’m out there is kind of what they expect out of me. Any goals and points are a bonus.”
What Letestu provides to the Penguins is versatility. He feels he can play anywhere in the lineup and attributes that to knowing the Penguins system to perfection.
“I know these systems in and out, Letestu said. “My entire pro career has been under this system. So, 4 years now, real comfortable, every time I come in here, I know the drills, know practice and it’s giving me confidence to execute out there. I know what needs to be done and it’s just a matter of doing it.”
*One player under the micro-scope during camp is Tyler Kennedy who in the past had played a big role on the Penguins third line. After being the odd-man out for most of camp, Kennedy is back on the third line with Matt Cooke due to Arron Asham being sidelined with an injury.
“Yeah, I kind of played with everyone during camp, Kennedy told Inside Pittsburgh Sports. “But, I’ve been with Cookie and I felt pretty good today, I feel we have pretty good chemistry and even Maxie we still have good chemistry. We’ll see what happens and where I play.”
I asked Tyler after practice if this is the deepest team upfront he’s seen and he told me that the competition in camp is pushing him to get better.
“Yea, for sure…. if you have one day off, you may not play the next day, ” Kennedy said. “You gotta push everyday and that’s good about having such a good team is that it makes you better by pushing everyday.”
“A popular discussion of late is whether Eric Godard should have a role this team. With the influx of heavyweights in the Eastern Conference, Godard is looking to play a bigger role with the team.
“I hope so, tried to come into camp ready and hopefully fill that role, Godard told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.