Toronto — Fielding a lineup that was missing Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to name a few, Pittsburgh played an aggressive, up-tempo game against the Maple Leafs Tuesday night.
A positive sign was the fact that a number players on the bubble played with a lot of determination.
Cuts will be made tomorrow afternoon.
*The top forward on the night for the Penguins was prospect (RW) Nick Johnson. Johnson played a complete game at both ends of the ice.
Johnson assisted on Ryan Bayda’s first period goal, controlling the puck behind the net and finding Bayda in the slot as the puck got deflected off of a Leafs defenders stick.
Johnson has great awareness and made smart decisions, although there’s an icing call late in the third period he would like back.
He made a few key plays off the boards in the neutral zone creating offensive chances for his linemates Ryan Bayda and Michael Rupp. His positioning in the neutral zone has been sound. It is very rare that he leaves his spot.
In the offensive zone, Johnson was solid controlling the puck behind the net and finding the soft spots in the slot.
* Michael Rupp has been a great fit for the Penguins. Rupp causes havoc on the fore-check and had some good chemistry with Nick Johnson and Ryan Bayda. Rupp had 2 assists and 3 hits on the night.
Rupp is more effective playing center but Pittsburgh would like for him to play wing.
*Jay McKee gave Tim Wallace a suicide pass in the third period and Leafs defenseman François Beauchemin delivered a hard hit on Wallace.
Seconds later, Bissonnette stepped up for his teammate and dropped the gloves with Beauchemin. It was Bissonnette’s second fight of game and he’s a player that will go to battle for his teammates.
Speaking of McKee, there’s some concern about him in the organization.
*Tim Wallace had a much stronger game than last night but it might be too little too late for him.
*Mike Komisarek delivered two hard rights to the back of Jordan Staal’s head during their second period fight.
The vibe coming out of the locker room is that Staal did not intend to fight Komisarek but he had no choice.
*Nate Guenin was solid in his own end and I’m told has locked up the No.7 defenseman spot, unless the Penguins make a move via the waiver wire which hasn’t been ruled out.
*Chris Conner’s a player the Penguins would like to keep around in their system. Could be a solid depth player in Wilkes Barre who can play at the NHL level and step in when needed. He appeared in 38 games for Dallas last year and has some offensive ability.
Conner scored his second goal of the pre-season tonight and had an excellent game.
The surprise in camp among team insiders? Center Wyatt Smith. Coaching staff really likes him.
*Two teams were in attendance scouting Ryan Bayda tonight who had a goal in the first period. More on this later. Also, Pittsburgh is scouting two players who maybe potential waiver cuts.
*Ben Lovejoy suffered a shoulder injury in the first period. He is day-to-day
The Penguins five defensemen were Alex Goligoski, Jay McKee, Mark Eaton, Robert Bortuzzo and Nate Guenin.
*Alex Goligoski continues to have a strong camp.