Pre-season Game 1
The Pittsburgh Penguins open up the Consol Energy Center tonight against the Detroit Red Wings in the team’s preseason opener.
Regulars including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik and Marc Andre Fleury will all be playing but tonight will be about opportunities for players vying to make the roster.
The Penguins will have a shakeup on their top line tonight and Tyler Kennedy begins his battle to get back into the top-12.
Line 1: Sterling – Crosby – Dupuis
*Smallish winger Brett Sterling will move up to left wing on Sidney Crosby’s line along with Pascal Dupuis who will remain on right wing. Head coach Dan Bylsma said prior to camp that Sterling will get an opportunity with Crosby or Malkin this preseason and during the first couple games of the preseason, players such as Sterling are going to get that look.
Line 2: Tangradi – Comrie – Malkin
*A second player getting a prime opportunity tonight is top forward prospect Eric Tangradi. Tangradi will remain on a line with Mike Comrie and Evgeni Malkin.
Tangradi will not only be getting top-6 minutes tonight but will also play a key role on the power play, skating with the Penguins top power play unit this morning.
Line 3: Kennedy – Letestu – Wallace
*Tyler Kennedy’s battle to get back into the top-12 begins tonight. Kennedy will skate on the third line with Tim Wallace and Mark Letestu. Kennedy has skated mostly with Dustin Jeffrey and Brett Sterling through the first four days of camp.
Line 4: Craig – Vitale – Boulerice
*The Penguins fourth line rounds out with Joe Vitale centering Ryan Craig and Jesse Boulerice. Vitale and Craig are two players to keep an eye on, especially Vitale who in the eyes of some evaluators is NHL ready but faces a numbers game in the Penguins organization. Vitale has all the tools to be a role player at the NHL level but it’s hard to find a spot for him in the top-13.
Orpik – Michalek: The Penguins top pairing tonight will be Brooks Orpik and Zbynek Michalek. Both players have opened up camp together as the Penguins are looking for a true shutdown pair this season.
It’s been a struggle for the pair at times as the two are still looking for some continuity and familiarity.
Strait – Letang: Brian Strait has had a tremendous camp and will be rewarded tonight being paired with Kris Letang as the Penguins second pairing. This is another example of the coaching staff wanting to see a young player in a prominent role tonight. Strait continues to inch closer to being NHL ready.
Potter – Hutchinson: The Penguins third pairing will be Corey Potter and Andrew Hutchinson who are two longshots looking to win the No. 6 or No. 7 defensemen spots.
Marc Andre Fleury will start in goal. Brad Theissen will be the backup tonight.
Brent Johnson is expected to start Friday night.
Power Play Rotation
1st Unit: Tangradi – Comrie – Crosby
Malkin – Letang
Latest Buzz: The Penguins top power play unit tonight will include Eric Tangradi and Mike Comrie down low with Sidney Crosby at the half boards.
One question mark surrounding the Penguins is Evgeni Malkin’s role on the power play. There has been some talk that with Sergei Gonchar gone, Malkin would be a sharpshooter at the point, playing an Alexander Ovechkin type of role.
That remains to be seen if that will play out as Alex Goligoski will not be playing tonight.
During the majority of 1st team reps this morning, Malkin was positioned at the left point with Kris Letang at the right point.
Red Wings to sit big names
The Detroit Red Wings will not be playing their top guns tonight as Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nik Lidstrom will all not play.