PENGUINS 3 – WILD 2 (OT)
PENGUINS GAME LEADERS
Goals: Brandon Sutter (2, OT Winner), Oskar Sundqvist (1)
Assists: Simon Despres (2), Blake Comeau (1), Beau Bennett (1), Marcel Goc (1)
Points: Brandon Sutter (2), Simon Despres (2)
Shots: Brandon Sutter (4), Steve Downie (4), Patric Hornqvist (3)
Hits: Zach Sill (6), Robert Bortuzzo (4)
Blocked Shots: Scott Harrington (3), Brian Dumoulin (3)
Faceoff Leaders: Marcel Goc (15-7), Brandon Sutter (11-9)
TOI: Paul Martin (24:55), Brian Dumoulin (21:50), Brandon Sutter (21:39)
On Bennett/Sutter combination
Beau Bennett and Brandon Sutter continue to show great chemistry with Sutter scoring twice in the win, including the overtime winner. Bennett arguably has been the Penguins best player through the preseason and one week of camp.
“Beau Bennett is a skilled player, he’s posed with puck, can make plays,” head coach Mike Johnston said of Bennett following the win.
Bennett’s biggest asset is his playmaking ability and vision. There’s not a better winger on the team in that area.
Johnston again tonight noted he likes the combination of Steve Downie, Bennett and Sutter as the Penguins third line.
The dilemma the Penguins are going to run into is whether they’re maximizing Bennett’s abilities by playing him with Sutter, instead of playing him with an elite center in Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.
Bennett’s not going to make Brandon Sutter suddenly a 30 goal scorer, but he could play a factor in getting Malkin back to being a 50 goal scorer — Nick Spaling can’t.
Bennett’s game is his passing ability and finding players in space. Put him with an elite goal scorer, barring he stays healthy, and you’re likely looking at a player who could get 40+ assists.
Although the Penguins believe Bennett has more scoring potential than he’s showed, he needs finishers around him.
“Believe he has good finish and that will come….once he takes puck to net more,” Johnston said of Bennett.
As for Sutter, the Penguins believe he is primed for a 20 goal season because of improved teammates. “I expect to push his numbers offensively,” Johnston said.
Does improving the third line outweigh weakening the wingers around Evgeni Malkin? We’ll find out soon enough.