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Insider Only Penguins @ Blue Jackets Preseason Opener: Players to Watch

photo (44) PENGUINS AT BLUEJACKETS, 6:00 P.M.
TV: ROOT SPORTS
PROJECTED LINEUP
Beau Bennett – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Tanner Glass – Dustin Jeffrey – Chuck Kobasew
Letourneau-Leblond – Joe Vitale – Bobby Farnham
Tom Kuhnhackl – Andrew Ebbett – Adam Payerl
DEFENSEMEN
Rob Scuderi – Matt Niskanen
Brian Dumoulin – Scott Harrington
Philip Samuelsson – Brendan Mikkelson
Derrick Pouliot
GOALTENDERS
Marc Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff
PLAYERS TO WATCH (Focus on young, bubble players)
Scott Harrington/Brian Dumoulin – The two have been paired together all camp and are expected to remain together this evening vs Columbus. It’s an important preseason for Dumoulin who is looking to prove he is NHL ready. Harrington has made a strong impression on team officials four days into camp, showing great defensive instincts while also being able to make the necessary plays on the breakout. He’s a very smart player and don’t be surprised if the coaching staff has Harrington and Dumoulin going up against the Blue Jackets top-2 lines tonight. Top forwards for the Blue Jackets expected to dress include Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, R.J. Umberger
Derrick Pouliot – The Penguins top pick in the 2012 draft was the star offensively in Saturday’s scrimmage with a highlight reel goal and he also picked up an assist. Fans got a glimpse of Pouliot’s offensive potential as he is a special player when the puck is on his stick. When the puck isn’t on his stick, that’s a different story and that’s where I’ll be focusing on in evaluating tonight’s game. The sense on Pouliot is that you have to hide him defensively (needs to play with a shutdown defenseman) and I believe that’s what the Penguins will do tonight as he’s expected to rotate with Rob Scuderi and Matt Niskanen. The coaching staff will put Pouliot in position to flash his offensively ability, as he’s expected to run the No. 1 power play unit.

Adam Payerl – Those in management such as Tom Fitzgerald really pumped Payerl up during the summer prospect camp, naming Payerl a surprise candidate for a roster spot. I don’t see it happening due to numbers game but the Penguins haven’t had much looks at Payerl up and against NHL action and Payerl is an intriguing power forward type bottom-6 player coming up through the organization.
Tom Kuhnhackl – Wrote about him in Friday’s scrimmage where he did some good things and the puck was following him around all game. He’s becoming an effective player around the net but how will his skating match up against NHL talent? We’ll see tonight.
Chuck Kobasew – He’s looked ordinary through three on-ice sessions. On a PTO, he has to make his mark in the preseason and show the Penguins something that others battling for the final roster spots don’t have. The sense from team sources is that Kobasew, Zolnierczyk, Ebbett and Conner are the four primary candidates battling for the 14th forward spot (if Penguins keep 14 F’s).

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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