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Insider Only Scrimmage Analysis: Malkin unit shines showing continuity and chemistry

Group B (Team White) 5 – Group A (Team Black) 1

Group B Goal Scorers: Tyler Kennedy (2), Evgeni Malkin (PS), Steve Sullivan, Richard Park
Group A Goal Scorers: James Neal
Group A Roster – Forwards: Chris Kunitz, Jordan Staal, Nick Johnson, Joe Vitale, Tom Kuhnhackl, Bryan Lerg, Ben Street, James Neal, Steve MacIntyre
Defensemen: Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Joe Morrow, Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson, Brian Strait
Goaltenders: Marc Andre Fleury, Scott Munroe
Group B Roster – Forwards Evgeni Malkin, Tyler Kennedy, Steve Sullivan, Eric Tangradi, Jason Williams, Richard Park, Paul Thompson, Brian Gibbons, Dominik Uher
Defensemen: Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, Simon Despres, Joey Mormina, Geoff Walker, Alex Grant
Goaltenders: Brett Johnson, Patrick Killeen
Scrimmage Recap, Analysis & Buzz
*Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma opened up camp with Evgeni Malkin not centering Chris Kunitz or James Neal, the team’s top two wingers. Instead Malkin has started camp with Steve Sullivan on his left wing and Tyler Kennedy on his right, going with the type of second line the Penguins envision when Sidney Crosby is back at full health.
The line shined, contributing for four of the five goals, led by Tyler Kennedy’s two goal effort and strong play all over the ice.

Kennedy scored two early goals on Marc Andre Fleury, scoring goal scorers type of goals, something he showed last season in his breakout year. On the first one he came down the right side showed great patience beating Marc Andre Fleury glove side.
On the second one, Kennedy one-timered a shot in the low slot past Fleury, taking a great feed from Malkin, giving Team White a 2-0 lead.
Malkin would score on a penalty shot for Team White’s 3rd goal, low glove side on Fleury and Sullivan would add a 5th goal near the end of the first period, with Kennedy and Malkin assisting on both goals.
The line was extremely effective down low in the offensive zone, especially with their passing ability, showing good chemisty. It should be noted that there wasn’t any type of strong play defensively from either team, which opened up the ice pretty much.
After the scrimmage, Bylsma appeared extremely pleased with the lines chemistry and continutity, saying it wasn’t hard to not notice them out there.
*Much discussion yesterday came about Evgeni Malkin saying his knee was 90%, while head coach Dan Bylsma tried to refute that. “My knee is 90 percent ready. But we have time. It’s 20 more days till the start of the season, ” Malkin said on Friday. Bylsma came back….”He didn’t tell me 90 percent. He said, ‘I’m good coach.’ He’s good.”
From a skating standpoint, it was difficult to guage where he is exactly as there were several non-NHL players out there. Malkin though seemed to get stronger with every shift.
What caught my eye was how he carried the puck with condifience and a purpose through the neutral zone. That was good to see and how he was hustling on the backcheck. He did, however, seem to be trying to pass up on shooting the puck a lot. Not sure if he’s still not comfortable with the strength of his knee but we’ll see how that plays out. Overall, a very good showing for Malkin on the first day of camp.
* Jordan Staal centered the top line for the Black team with Chris Kunitz on left wing and James Neal on right wing for the most part. Watching Neal in practice and in the scrimmage, it’s going to be an adjustment for him on the right side, most notably on the breakout with pucks coming up the boards.
Offensively Neal made things happen and he had a nice goal with Chris Kunitz chipping the puck off the boards and Neal coming from the left side and cutting to the middle (slot) with the puck and beating Brent Johnson for Team Blacks only goal. A key play on the goal was Jordan Staal with a center drive, taking two defenders to the net.
Bylsma said today he believes Neal can be a 30 goal scorer this season.
*Simon Despres saw a lot of time paired with Zbynek Michalek, most notably in the first half of the scrimmage. Despres was solid for the most part and what really stands out about him is his ability to allude an incoming forechecker. He changes directions extremely quick and that part of his game has evolved.
*Richard Park had a goal and made things happen with his speed on the forecheck in the offensive zone. He opened the scrimmage centering Eric Tangradi and Jason Williams but as the scrimmaged progressed, Williams went on to center the third line.
*Marc Andre Fleury gave up all five goals and looked like he was still on vacation.
Notes
Tyler Kennedy had 2 goals and an assist…..Evgeni Malkin had 1 goal and 2 assists….Sidney Crosby is scheduled to skate at 12:00 p.m. with Group C and will speak afterwards….The scrimmage consisted of two periods…..Marc Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson played in period 1. Scot Munroe and Patrick Killeen played in period 2…..

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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