Defensive zone turnovers will kill you in this league. They’ll kill you in any league, but especially in the NHL. That’s not to take anything away from the Jackets. They worked their nuts off to force some of them and they capitalized with 3 goals on their first 6 shots. That’s what happens when you outwork your opposition. Remember the Islanders series last year? Yep. Pens started to rally in the 2nd after the 3rd goal and fought their way back into it, but a great individual effort by Boone Jenner sealed it for Columbus.
That said, the Pens actually played really well in this one. We got some different looks at things and there were definitely some positives to take away from this. At the end of the day, the Pens are still 1-4 this preseason. Keyword there is “preseason.”
Early turnover by Sutter led to a Dubinsky goal just over a minute in. Hashtag Penguin Killer. 1-0
Not sure if that reversal of the puck was just miscommunication or what.
Scary moment early on as Zolnieragajka tried to kill Jack Skille in the neutral zone. Skille saw it coming, lost a bit of an edge and fell to his knees. Zolnieradgjkad came flying in and tried to avoid the decapitation bonus, but flipped and landed on his head.
Then Sutter took a retaliatory slashing penalty about 5 minutes in, so we got an early look at the Pens PK. Rough start to the game fir 16, but he played well as the game wore on. Pens killed it off by default as the Jackets took a too many men penalty on the powerplay. LOL
Pens got a shortened PP with Martin and Letang on the points and Malkin, Neal, and Kobasew up front. Letang was roving around the offensive zone, creating space for some of the other guys. They were pinging the puck around pretty well and got some good looks at the net, but Bobrovsky stood tall because you only become a real goalie after you leave Philadelphia.
After the penalty expired, the Pens turned the puck over deep in their own zone again and a Jack Johnson wrist shot from the point found its way behind Fleury on a Jenner deflection. 2-0
Jenner was everywhere in this one.
One guy that stuck out early on for the Pens was Harry Zolniasdfhj. He’s got a lot of speed and will knock the shit out of you. He kind of got under the Jackets skin early after he tried to murder Skille and drew a penalty midway through the period. Pens PP wasn’t great, but after it expired, Sutter drew another one. Just 48 seconds into the powerplay, Malkin tried to go around Ryan Murray and drew another penalty for a 2 man advantage. Neal was the trigger man early in the 5 on 3, but he couldn’t find the back of the net. Columbus ended up killing it all off.
Not too much else happened of importance the rest of the period. Side note: MAF gave up 2 goals on 5 shots in the period. Neither goal was his fault, but still, that’s not a good look for people that try to burn him at the stake based solely on stats.
Pens got another PP under a minute into the period. Jackets probably had more chances on the Pens PP than the Pens did. Then Cam Atkinson picked up a loose puck on edge and beat MAF high stick side. 3-0
Shortly after, Jokinen found Malkin along the blueline and drove the net. Jokinen’s backhander found its way 5 hole on Bobrovsky. 3-1
MAF made a big save halfway through the period and the Pens went the other way. Neal found Malkin. Malkin came in, turned his back to Johnson in the slot, froze the D, and slipped a backhander to Jokinen coming late with speed. It was a move straight out of NHL 14. Jokinen took it on his backhand, moved it to his forehand, and slid it in behind Bobrovsky. 3-2.
Sick little goal.
Didn’t take long for Jokinen to get another puck with speed in the neutral zone, coming in, and beating Bobrovsky for the hattie. 3-3.
Gotta say, we were typing that Jokinen looked a little lost playing as a true winger as he scored goals 2 and 3, but that Jokinen-Malkin-Neal line had a lot of movement and weaving going on in the neutral zone in the second period. It allowed for different players to come with speed through the neutral zone rather than strictly Malkin. On all 3 of Jokinen’s goals, he was the one coming with speed. That’s when he didn’t look lost and that’s why he was so effective.
That line was lighting mups the rest of the period, but they went into the break at 3-3.
Zolnieraweiorfj took a penalty in the first minute of the period after playing with a broken stick that was broken by a shot. He had no idea. Pens killed it no problem.
Both teams exchanged chances for a few minutes. Dupuis missed an open net. Jenner took the puck the other way on the rush and the puck worked its way to Dubinsky. MAF sprawled out to make the save. Jenner came back, stole the puck, went behind the net and threw one across the crease. It somehow skipped in off Orpik or Dubinsky. 4-3.
Great individual effort by Dr. Jenner.
Pens started pushing the pace later in the game. Jokinen missed the net on a point blank chance in front for his 4th of the night. With MAF pulled, the Pens were working the puck well and working the Jackets. They were getting shots, but nothing found its way behind Bob with the first sequence ending with a great clapper from Malkin. Columbus managed to get the puck out and find the empty net. 5-3.
1) We love Olli Maatta and this was another quietly solid game for him. He’s not very flashy, but he did a lot of little things right tonight. His first pass from the D zone is great for such a young kid and his vision and intelligence of knowing when to jump in/lead the rush is well beyond his years. What a player.
2) D’Agostini is another one that kind of had a quietly solid game. He defers to the pass a lot and you’re not going to notice him on most nights, but he is very, very solid in his own zone, especially along the walls. That may give Sutter a bit more space to go and do Sutter things, especially if his other winger has some wheels to keep up with him, like Pascal Dupuis.
3) Speaking of Dupuis, we still really like and want to see him play on that 3rd line with Sutter. Dupuis is basically an overachieving 3rd liner that gets to play with Sidney Crosby. But in 2 years when he’s 36, is he realistically going to be a top 6 guy? Probably not. But man, is he still great in his own zone. His speed would fit well on the wing with Sutter, shutting guys down forever. Plus, it would open up the opportunity to see Bennett playing with Crosby and Kunitz, which would make us super happy. They care about our happiness, right?
4) Like it or not, wherever you stand on Marc-Andre Fleury, but this team is his now. Gotta ride or die with MAF as Vokoun had surgery to take care of a blood clot in his pelvis. If Vokoun is going to be out long enough and is put on LTIR, it resolves the Pens cap situation temporarily, for what it’s worth. Goalies like Johan Hedberg, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jose Theodore, and Rick DiPietro are still free agents, if Shero wants to go that route in looking for a backup instead of letting Zatkoff have the job. Theodore and Hedberg would be reliable options. We wouldn’t hate having Bryz, not to actually play, but just to talk. Don’t even dress him for games. Just let him sit in the pressbox and troll Steigerwald and Errey all night. Worth it.
5) Finally, there’s Jussi Jokinen. It’d be irresponsible not to talk about him. What a game he had. As we said, we thought he looked a little lost playing as an outright winger, but when the creative movement started taking hold, he meshed really well with Malkin and Neal. He’s at his most effective when he can generate speed through the neutral zone (much like Crosby, Malkin, and Sutter) and that was evident in him scoring 3 goals. There realistically is the option of rotating Bennett and Jokinen on that wing as well. But we said from the start, Jokinen is wasted if he’s not in the top 6, whereas Bennett thrives in any role in the lineup.
Pens host the Blackhawks on Monday night at 7 PM. Go Pens.