Hockey is a simple game to follow and assess. Watching what's happening away from the puck, you can do no wrong. Players spend a bulk of their time on the ice sans a puck on their stick. You can spot good players quickly, and players that suck even quicker, given the right circumstances.
Over the course of a typical training camp, coaches and GMs can take their time flushing out the bad players. But with a week-long camp, you have to get to the point. So in addition to getting CEC packed and putting on a show for the number-one stars, the Pens were going to use this game really to nail down a couple question marks in the lineup.
Best way to do that: Get a big-time atmosphere, simulate game conditions, and hope for no injuries. To the best of our knowledge, the Pens accomplished this.
Our summary after the jump.
Brandon Sutter, a.k.a. Suttertron, is going to be a hell of a player. Actually, he already is one. We probably should say he is going to be a hell of a Penguin. Sutter looked at home with Matt Cooke and set up two of his goals. Sutter is a little more offensively skilled then we thought. The Canes put handcuffs on his offensive game, and those are off now. He had the lead role on the PK, as well. Hard not to walk away being completely impressed with him.
A pleasant surprise was the artist formerly known as Brooks Orpik. Orpik lit up Warren Stevens or something and looked really pissed off all night. If it's true and Orpik was playing hurt last season, it looks like he is back. Could be a completely different ballgame on the Pens' blue line if Orpik plays with this new-look chip on his sac.
The puck followed Bennet early and often. He def looks NHL ready, but you can see where he is a tad bit unpolished. He looks out of place in the ol' traffic areas. Either way, the guy looks like he'll be at the top of the list when it comes time to plug some AHLers into the lineup.
Bonus star: Root Sports Broadcast
Looks like the offseason hire of John Szpala is already coming up roses. The game was watchable, with limited zoom-ins and bizarre cut shots to players in the midst of an odd-man rush. One non-game-related issue: Apparently the game was blacked out for some DirecTV users. No idea what happened.
Probably should just call him Lennay Kekua. Nowhere to be found. The dude looked completely lost with Malkin and Neal. Granted, Crosby, Neal, and Malkin had it on cruise control for most of the night, but Tangradi still looks like he's skating in mud.
The Letang and Despres pairing
The French Disconnection looked like a tubful of bad together. Despres had a really, really tough night — tough enough that even Bylsma had to mention it after the game. Those will be the growing pains he'll have all season if he sees NHL action. Depres could be anywhere from 6th to 9th on the D depth chart when Saturday rolls around, and that 9th spot will basically put him on a bus to Wilkes-Barre.
The Pens raising their sticks at center ice
Not really deserving of a NOT Three Star. Probably shouldn't have even put this here. We just wanted this section to highlight Tangradi's shortcomings.
The Pens are probably leading the league in showings of gratitude to their hometown fans coming out of the lockout, and that's a good thing. A sell-out (actually a free-out) crowd for the scrimmage? Man. We're pretty sure the raising of the sticks thing has its origins in Blades of Steel on NES, but the New York Rangers really took this tradition and ran with it a couple years back. Not even sure if that's factual. Double J probably had something to do with. If the Pens raise their sticks again, they should probably do it at MSG to be dicks.
-Pens power play looks bizarre.
-Vokoun looked like a veteran who knew what this scrimmage was all about. He's not in any kind of position battle (at the moment).
-As we mentioned, the big guns took the night off, more or less. That didn't stop Malkin from triggering MAF's MJ reflex.
-The players did take this game pretty seriously, though. We expected to see some half-ass facewashing during scrums and stuff with the players joking around, but they were all business. Crosby looked pissed at times for some reason.
Pens play in 16 minutes.