Pens Practice Report
The Penguins returned to the ice this morning after having an off-day on Wednesday. HBO was in the building filming for their 24/7 program which will run for 6 weeks on Wednesday’s.
With the roster being reduced to 30, the competition will really pick up this weekend and the Penguins had some interesting line combo’s today.
Line 1: Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis
Line 2: Malkin – Comrie – Jeffrey
Line 3: Cooke – Talbot – Asham
Line 4: Tangradi – Letestu – Kennedy
Line 5: Rupp – Adams – Godard
The Penguins D-pairs included:
Martin – Letang
Goligoski – Michalek
Despres – Lovejoy
Engelland – Hutchinson
Notes: Defenseman Brooks Orpik did not practice and neither did forward Ryan Craig who remains sidelined with a groin injury. Craig was in the facility working out but he doesn’t appear close to participating at full strength.
Jeffrey elevated to Malkin’s Line
Dustin Jeffrey is playing with confidence and making a late push for one of the final roster spots. After performing extremely well in Tuesday’s 4-1 win, Jeffrey was elevated to Evgeni Malkin’s line this morning.
I spoke with Dustin after practice about the move to wing and what he brings to the table for that line.
“I think i can be first on the forecheck, be a guy that goes to the net, Jeffrey told Inside Pittsburgh Sports.
Jeffrey believes he can bring a defensive minded presence to that line and let Malkin and Comrie do their thing offensively.
“Obviously be taking a lot of faceoffs…stuff like that, be responsible defensively, Jeffrey said. “I can play in the my own end and let those guys use their creative offensive abilities.”
Jeffrey spent a lot of time playing wing last season in Wilkes Barre but hasn’t seen much time at the position thus far in camp until today.
“Yeah, it’s different because since I’ve been here I’ve been playing center, Jeffrey said. “Going back to wing is a different mindset, have to make sure your a good winger, coverages is right. I think it’s just more mental and have to get back into the swing of playing wing.”
With camp heading into the final weekend, Jeffrey says it’s a huge weekend and he has to put it all on the line.
“It’s awesome, going into final weekend, Jeffrey said. “Two games before regular season starts. It’s a huge weekend and i have to leave it all on the table.”
Dupuis remains on top line
You should never read too much into “September” lines but Pascal Dupuis remains a fixture on the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Come opening night, don’t look for that to change.
The Penguins coaching staff loves Dupuis versataility, speed and his ability on the forecheck. I spoke with Dupuis about what he brings to Crosby’s line.
“I think everybody knows one of my strength in my game is my skating, Dupuis told Inside Pittsburgh Sports. Just the way I work and battles for pucks, that’s what i bring to the team. Some puck tenacity and work ethic, Dupuis said.
Dupuis who has played just about everywhere in the lineup since he arrived in Pittsburgh, appears to have found a stable spot with Crosby. Dupuis said he enjoys playing with Sid and hopes Sid likes playing with him too.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve played with Sid…. I’ve played Geno, I’ve played with everybody but most of time yes I play with Sid, and I’m happy to play with him….I hope he is too, ” Dupuis said with a chuckle.
* I kept a close eye on Andrew Hutchinson today in practice who I’m hearing a lot of positive vibes about from team contacts. The Penguins ran a lot of drills that were good to evaluate defenseman and while he has some good puck moving ability, he struggled mightily down low in the defensive zone today in some of the cycle drills.
*Tyler Kennedy continues to battle extremely hard in practice. As one former NHL player told me today, “look for Kennedy to drop the gloves” on Friday. He’s a player who you can tell knows he’s on the bubble.
Notes: Brett Sterling, Chris Conner, Tim Wallace, Corey Potter and John Curry have all cleared waivers.