The Pittsburgh Penguins rookies take the ice for their second game of the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London, Ont. today and attempt to end up on the right side of the scorecard after yesterday’s barn-burner against the Montréal Canadiens. Today’s opponent is the Ottawa Senators, who fell 2-1 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects yesterday night.
This afternoon’s game once again is set for a 3:35 p.m. puck drop. Here’s some other important points for you to know before the Pens take on the Sens:
STILL QUICK, BUT MORE CRISP
The Penguins’ speed game was evident throughout their contest with Montréal yesterday. Every player who spoke with the media after the game agreed that while their quickness was on point, many of the group’s passes and positioning were not.
“We need to be better with executing,” said Penguins forward Thomas DiPauli. “We gave a lot of pucks away. But I think in time – I mean, a lot of guys haven’t played since April – we’ll get better from here. I’ll get better from here.”
If DiPauli’s right and the Penguins successfully shook off the rust in their first contest, smoother breakouts from the defense and forwards alike will go a long way towards making that team speed even more effective.
DRIEDGER DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP
In Ottawa’s first game of the tournament, goalie Matt O’Connor left the game with an injury. Chris Driedger went in to replace O’Connor and became the goaltender of record in the Senators’ OT loss, but more importantly, he’s the team’s only other rostered goalie at the tournament. That means the Penguins will face Driedger today.
Driedger went in for O’Connor at the start of the second period, and did not allow a goal until Colin Smith’s breakaway OT-winner. He was sharp against the Maple Leafs, but on less than 24 hours rest, this could be a prime opportunity for the PEnguins to take advatage of a tired goalie in the latter parts of the game.
Also, Driedger allowed 13 goals and posted a .903 save percentage in four games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year.
INSURANCE NEEDED FROM JAKE
Jake Guentzel was a dynamo for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, so it’s no surprise that Clark Donatelli and the rest of this team are counting on him to be a key offensive producer in this tournament. In spurts against the Canadiens, Guentzel showed the type of play that opened eyes when he was in the AHL at the end of last year, but he only had one goal to show for his efforts.
When assessing his performance after Game 1 against Montréal, Guentzel was unimpressed.
“It was alright,” Guentzel said. “I should have had three (goals), really.”
And he isn’t wrong. He rang one off the post in the second period just before Montréal went the other way and scored to extend their growing lead. Later in the third, Guentzel was set up right on the doorstep only to be stoned by Charlie Lindgren with what was probably the save of the game.
If Guentzel can find a way to finish on just one of those type of chances in Game 2 against Ottawa, it will certainly boost the team’s chances of walking away with a win.
Be sure to stay right here all weekend long for player stories, game previews and recaps for the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London!