It took Jordan Staal all of 51 seconds to prove exactly what I’ve been saying all off-season: he needs to be playing on Evgeni Malkin’s left wing.
Staal came down the left wing with one defender in front of him and flicked a wristshot above Karri Ramo’s shoulder for the game’s first goal.
The score doesn’t matter, but the Penguins lost 5-4 in Overtime to the Tampa Bay Lightning. What does matter is what looked good and also what looked bad.
Staal looked outstanding skating with Petr Sykora and Malkin. He and Sykora seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.
Sykora scored both of his goals in much the same fashion: sitting at the side of the net.
His first came from Miroslav Satan. Satan sent a quick pass to Sykora from behind the net and he was able to slap it in. His second came off of a rebound, which he was able to put under Ramo’s outstretched leg.
All told, Malkin’s line did the best. However, Sidney Crosby’s line looked good as well.
Crosby looked as fast as I’ve ever seen him. He played so fast, in fact, that it seemed linemates Pascal Dupuis and Satan had trouble keeping up at times.
I still don’t like Dupuis on the first line. I do like Satan there, and would like to see Ruslan Fedotenko, who did not play, take Dupuis’ place.
To the disappointment of many Pens fans at the game, none of the former Penguins from last season dressed for the Lightning. No. 1 overall draft pick Steve Stamkos dressed, but didn’t do to much other than get a shot or two on net.
Janne Pesonen displayed many of the attriubutes I had heard pinned to his name. His speed is excellent, and his awareness was rather impressive. At one point, he kept the puck alive in the neutral zone and pushed play in to the offensive zone, creating a nice sequence of shots.
Eric Godard surprised me. I had no idea he was as fast as he is. Not to say that he is as fast as Pesonen, but I expected something more like Georges Laraque…not the case. He also got in a fight roughly 12 minutes in, and won the fans over with a good showing.
Mark Eaton didn’t play well. He looked lost out there on the ice for much of the game. His clearing attempts were rather weak, and one actually led to a Pittsburgh penalty because he couldn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone.
I have found myself rooting so much for Eaton that I almost am rooting against Darryl Sydor. If he plays well, which he did in the game, he is a great guy to have on the blue line. I just don’t know if he’s worth that $2.5 million salary.
Kris Beech took two penalties, both of which were stupid and exemplify reasons why he wont get a roster spot. However, I wouldn’t consider this bad. I’d much rather have Jeff Taffe manning the fourth line rather than Beech.
Ben Lovejoy got roughed up virtually all game. Despite his size, he got physically dominated when possessing the puck, and didn’t show good puckhandling skills. He inability to receive one pass actually led to a Tampa Bay goal.
Lastly for the bad, Kerry Fraser is still a terrible referee. He, more than anyone, needs the pre-season to figure out how to call a game.
It wasn’t a bad start. I was surprised the Penguins gave up as many goals, considering neither Vincent Lecavalier nor Martin St. Louis played. But the offense produced well and the power play looked outstanding (By the way, the first pp line was Crosby, Staal, Satan, and Malkin and Gonchar on the blue line).
You really can’t tell too much from the pre-season, but the game was physical and the Pens had a ton of energy.
Lets all agree that hockey season has officially started, and all is well with the world once again.
Pittsburgh Puck Talk