THE LATEST BUZZ OUT OF SATURDAY’S 5-3 LOSS TO COLUMBUS
Marc Andre Fleury has stunk all preseason and camp and I’m starting to sense there is an uneasy feeling inside the organization about Fleury. Yes, it is only preseason hockey but how he’s also looked in practice is also starting to be a concern as he just hasn’t looked right.
With Tomas Vokoun likely sidelined for at least a couple months, the Penguins will have their fingers crossed that precedent sets in and Fleury is fine during the regular season.
“He’s been OK,” GM Ray Shero said of Fleury’s camp. “He’s been a work in progress, I think and I think you see that for a number of our players. But certainly, if Tomas is going to be out for a little while, it’s going to be a situation where Marc is going to have to step up.”
With Fleury, his struggles really date back to last April as his game started to tail off in the final month of the regular season when he posted a .277 GAA and .912 save percentage in nine April starts before he hit rock bottom in May during the post-season.
JOKINEN SHINES WITH MALKIN AND NEAL
Jussi Jokinen made an immediate impact with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal, netting a hat trick in the Penguins 5-3 loss to Columbus. “I think we were able to find chemistry right away,” Jokinen said. “I think we were able to create some good chances in all three periods. I just tried to fit in and I think those guys are pretty easy to play with.”
Jokinen needs to play with skilled players and as I said before the game, his best fit on the team is with Malkin and Neal. As intriguing as it is to put Beau Bennett in a top-6 role, based on the personnel, Bennett helps the team more in a third line role right now because of his two-way play.
The Penguins, though, are in a great situation when it comes to who plays on Malkin’s left wing compared to the start of last season when the likes of Eric Tangradi, Zach Boychuk and Dustin Jeffrey were getting tryouts next to Malkin and Neal. There’s no such hole at that spot this season.
*Zach Sill is having a strong second week of camp with 10 hits in his last two games, while going 22 of 28 in the faceoff circle during that span. Sill was 13-17 (76%) on faceoffs vs the Blue Jackets and 7-8 on defensive zone draws. Sill was tied for a team-high in hits with 4.
*In his second preseason game, Olli Maatta looked much more comfortable and poised out there than he did against Detroit. Maatta collected a plus-2 rating and he was on the ice for no goals against.
*Harry Zolnierczyk had the type of game he needed to have, playing fast and aggressive throughout. Zolnierczyk played on the edge which is an intriguing aspect he could bring to the team and he got banged up a bit when he tried to deliver a big hit on Jack Skille in the neutral zone early in the first period. Zolnierczyk returned and finished the game.
*Pascal Dupuis skated on a line with Brandon Sutter and Dupuis was a minus-5 in the loss. I wouldn’t expect to see that anytime during the regular season…….Defenseman Brooks Orpik was on the ice for three goals against and he has not played well in the preseason.
*I’ve always been a fan of Brandon Dubinsky’s game and what a fit he would have been in the Penguins system had the Penguins and Rangers struck a deal for Jordan Staal at the 2012 draft. As I’ve noted in the past, the Rangers made a late play for Staal and were offering Dubinsky as part of the package. Pittsburgh considered New York but Shero had already been set on moving Staal where he wanted to go, Carolina.
*Boone Jenner, the Jackets 2011 2nd round pick, looks like real deal and had a big game with two goals. I was very impressed with him. The Penguins passed on Jenner in the 2011 draft and took Joe Morrow.
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