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Insider Only Preseason Game 5 Takeaways: Comfort level evolving for Brassard line; Where Sprong’s hold on 4th line spot stands & more buzz

Phil Kessel | 2 Goals
Kris Letang | Goal, 5 Shots
Derick Brassard | Goal, 3 Shots
Matt Cullen | Goal
Matt Murray | 21 Saves

In what is expected to be their final dress rehearsal before next Thursday night’s opener, the Penguins as a whole had the type of performance you want to see in a 5-1 win over the Sabres on Wednesday night.

Pittsburgh played fast and explosive in beating the Sabres up and down ice in all three zones.

Don’t be mistaken, this was a big-time watered down Sabres lineup that was on the ice at PPG Paints Arena. No Jack Eichel, no Jeff Skinner or no Rasmus Dahlin, amongst others, but for the Penguins encouraging signs from some lines/groupings carried over from practice to Wednesday’s game.

Most notably the Simon-Brassard-Rust line.

Coaches have loved what they’ve seen from the line in practices and there was more to like against the Sabres.

The trio controlled possession all night and seemed to be creating offense every shift.

In 13 minutes together 5-on-5, the Brassard line drove possession at a 90% clip, on the ice for 18 shot attempts for and just 2 against. Scoring chances were 11/0 for the line.

The regular season will obviously tell the story and you should never read a ton into the preseason, but a goal for the Penguins in camp was to get Derick Brasssard to develop a comfort level with his linemates and heading into the season, they’ve accomplished that goal.

Bryan Rust has always been an ideal fit here with Brassard.

Rust has been lights out all camp and it continued against the Sabres. He was all over the ice and as mentioned the other day, he looks even more explosive with his skating.

Dominik Simon secured the third line left wing spot for opening night with his performance against the Sabres, along with the chemistry he’s shown with Brassard over the last week in practices.

Pittsburgh’s top-3 lines are now locked in and the only question marks with the lineup for opening night is the 4th line right wing spot and Justin Schultz’ availability.

Unlike Simon, Daniel Sprong has not gone out and won a roster spot in the top-12 among the forward group. That has been most disappointing for the organization. Sprong was not Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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