-If you'll allow us a moment, we have a story which has nothing to do with tonight's game. On Sunday, following the second session of split squad workouts at Consol Energy Center, a handful of Penguins players lumbered into the dressing room. After a little idle chit-chat with a reporter, Brandon Sutter noticed something was amiss. Looking at the large television at the head of the home team dressing room, he viewed something horribly, horribly wrong. "Titanic" was on.
-Normally, some sort of sports related programming is on that television. Usually it's NHL Network or TSN. With it being just past 1 p.m. on a Sunday in September, NFL football "should" have been on. Sutter bolted from his stall and made a beeline at the television. Bellowing, "What is this?" he approached the television and fumbled through a collection of remotes stored near the television. After finding the correct remote, he ensured the only horror he and his teammates would be subjected to that afternoon was a Texans-Ravens game. Satisfied he had provided his fellow Penguins an opportunity to witness Joe Flacco trying to convert third downs, Sutter returned to his stall satisfied. In that moment, his leadership came through.
-Back to normalcy, the Penguins will be dressing a lineup tonight which will be close to what will enter the regular season with. The only exceptions are Tomas Vokoun who is still on the mend from a blood clot, Paul Martin who is attending to a family situation and possibly Matt D'Agostini who is dealing with a "lower-body" injury.
-Dan Bylsma expressed a desire to get a complete game from his team in this preseason. This lineup tonight will give him his best chance at accomplishing that.
-The big question still looming over everything is the salary cap. The Penguins are still $1,098,333 over the cap according to CapGeek.com. The easiest solution to fix that would be to deal Matt Niskanen who deal Matt Niskanen and his $2.3 million cap hit. But considering Tomas Vokoun's status remains murky and the fact that management is eager to retain Niskanen to man the third pairing, this situation won't be sorted out until Sept. 30 - the day all NHL teams must be cap compliant - at the earliest.
-Jussi Jokinen gets another crack on the left wing of the second line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal while Beau Bennett will man the third line on the third line with Sutter and Chuck Kobasew. Bennett has the highest upside, but Jokinen appears to be the answer on that line at this moment. Bennett will get plenty of chances on the top two lines this season, but at this moment, Jokinen is the best option on the second line.
-Kobasew has earned a spot on this roster if you ask us. He has shown so much versatility this preseason playing in all different situations. He can be this team's "Swiss Army Knife."
-Dustin Jeffrey has had a strong preseason as well and has shown quite a bit versatility as well. He's played on both special teams units and has even. We're not sure if he'll make the NHL roster but we can't think of an reason he shouldn't.
-If we had to fill out a lineup for a game of consequence today, we would make Niskanen and Bortuzzo the third pairing. Niskanen just understands how a defenseman is supposed to play for this team. And Bortuzzo has played with so much confidence this preseason. In addition to his imposing size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), he has shown a willingness to trust his skating ability this preseason. As a duo, they have looked very comfortable as a pairing.
-That would leave Simon Despres and Deryk Engelannd as the odd men out. Despres has done more than enough to make this team. But considering his contract situation is exempt from waivers, he might head to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton due to the team's salary cap concerns. His level of play this preseason has been at a level that justifies an NHL roster spot.
-Engelland is the team's seventh or eighth defenseman. Over the course of 82 games, you need players like him to fill the gaps created by injuries or other issues. Additionally, his fighting abilities still make him valuable against certain opponents.
-As pointed out brilliantly elsewhere, the Penguins have implemented a form of a 1-3-1 forecheck structure. Credit that in part due to Jacques Martin who has always been a defensively-minded coach. That structure resulted in this goal by Kris Letang Monday night:
If you haven't seen it, Sidney Crosby is on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week:
-The Red Wings have this odd preseason "tradition" of using a different font for the name plates on their jerseys. In the preseason, they have this "boxy" font:
(Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images)
-During the regular season and postseason, they have this "curvy" font:
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis Chris Kunitz, Deryk Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Paul Martin is not in the lineup as he is attending to a family issue. Engelland has replaced him.
-The Red Wings' starters are Justin Abdelkader, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff and Petr Mrazek.
19:17: A one-timer by Kunitz is fended off by Mrazek.
19:07: Brooks Orpik chops a slapper from the right point. it hits a body in front. Dupuis fights off a check and puts the rebound on net. Mrazek eats it up.
18:43: On a partial two-on-one with Jokinen, Malkin forces a pass from the right circle. Brendan Smith is able to slide down and block it with his left arm.
16:06: Crosby gets a step on DeKeyser on the left wing. DeKeyser gets a stick on puck and deflects it wide.
14:49: off a chip play by Bennett, Sutter has a little bit of a breakaway. He goes to his backhand is denied by Mrazek.
14:18: Orpik lobs a wrister on net from the left point. It sneaks through traffic and is fought off by Mrazek.
14:00: The Penguins are controlling things early. Using Bennett as a screen, Bennett snaps off a wrister which Mrazek fends off.
12:41: Off a steal, Abdelkader pumps a wrister on net from the left wall. Fleury kicks it away.
11:42: Spinning off a check in the Red Wings' right corner, Malkin deals a pass to Niskanen at the left point. Niskanen strikes a one-timer which hits a body in front.
8:16: After a strong forecheck by Bennett to dig the puck out of the end boards, Bortuzzo takes a pass at the right point and deals a pass to Niskanen at the left point. Niskanen wires a one-timer which Mrazek denies.
8:10: Letang gets a way with a bit of a trip on Todd Bertuzzi at Detroit's left point.
7:49: From the right half wall, Bertuzzi floats a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
6:43: The Penguins will get the first power play as Jakim Andersson gets his stick into Orpik's face at the Penguins' blue line. Neal, Crosby, Letang, Kunitz and Malkin take the ice.
6:14: Neal rips a wrister from in tight in the right circle. Mrazek gloves it.
4:54: The Penguins' J.V. power play strikes. Collecting a puck behind his net, Niskanen leads the rush through hi zone. At the Penguins' blue line, he snaps off a sharp pass to Jokinen at the Detroit blue line. Jokinen gets behind the Detroit defense and is off on a mini-breakaway. He attacks on his forehand, goes to his backhand and lifts the puck over Mrazek's glove hand. Wow. What a pass by Niskanen. Niskanen and FLeury get assists. Penguins 1-0.
3:23: Glass pounds a slapper from the right half wall. Smith blocks it.
2:26: The Penguins double their lead with simple hustle. Kunitz backhand chips a puck by a Smith at the Penguins' right point. Crosby pushes the puck up with one hand on his stick along the left wing wall of the neutral zone. DeKeyser tries to slow him down but falls at the Detroit blue line. Crosby draws in Stephen Weiss and pushes a forehand pass from the left circle to Dupuis all alone in the slot. Dupuis is able to punch a forehand shot by Mrazek's blocker and into the cage. What a pretty but workmanlike goal. Crosby and Kunitz get assists. Penguins 2-0.
2:00: Gustav Nyquist snaps off a wrister from deep in the right corner of the Penguins' zone. Fleury steers it away.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Red Wings 0.
-That was a pretty complete effort by the Penguins. Dan Bylsma said he was seeking his team's first complete effort of the preseason, well he has about 1/3 of it so far tonight.
-The third defensive pairing of Niskanen and Bortuzzo showed a lot of chemistry once again.
-Bennett and Sutter showed a little chemistry on the forecheck.
-Dupuis, Crosby and Kunitz looked lethal.
-The Penguins have a 12-5 lead in shots.
-Bertuzzi leads the game with three shots.
-Niskanen and Dupuis each lead the Penguins with two.
-Smith leads the game with 8:25 of ice time.
-Engelland leads the Penguins with 8:03.
-The Penguins control faceoffs, 13-7 (65 percent).
-Crosby is 5 for 9 (56 percent).
-Weiss is 3 for 7 (43 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
19:21: Orpik snaps off a wrister from the left point. Kunitz is in front of the cage and re-directs it on net. Mrazek fends it off
18:52: The Red Wings get their first power play as Malkin is called for tripping Smith. Jeffrey, Rob Scuderi Craig Adams and Letang take the ice.
18:12: Nyquist snaps off a wrister from the left circle wide to the far side.
17:34: Bortuzzo gives Weiss a good thump into the right wing boards of the Penguins' zone and forces a turnover. Dupuis recovers the puck and chips it down ice for a clear.
17:03: Franzen takes a pass in the left circle and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury fights it off and falls down to hold the puck out. A Weiss and Dan Cleary jab at him for a rebound but Fleury is able to prevent a goal.
16:47: The Detroit power play ends and the Penguins strike. Crosby pushes the puck up deep on left wing into the Detroit zone. He turns in the left wing corner and deals a pass to Scuderi at the left point. Malkin exits the penalty box and skates into the offensive zone. Scuderi deals a simple pass to his right for Malkin. Malkin drops the hammer on a one-timer which blows by Mrazek and into the net. We're not sure if Mrazek was screened but he could have made a save there. Scuderi and Crosby get assists. Penguins 3-0.
14:30: Dupuis is taking a shift with Sutter and Bennett.
14:21: Orpik floats a wrister from the left point on net which hits Marazek. There's a battle for a rebound and Mrazek is able to eat it up.
13:34: Smith has a wrister from the slot blocked in front.
13:00: Adams was given credit for the third goal. Malkin and Scuderi get assists.
11:39: A turning slapper by Dupuis from the left wing is blocked by Abdelkader.
11:32: Xavier Ouellet lifts a wobbly wrister from the left wall. Fleury bobbles it but fights it off.
10:52: Bennett chips a puck up the right wing wall and chases after it. Adam Almquist holds him up slightly and is called for interference. Kunitz, Crosby, Neal, Malkin and Letang take the ice.
10:11: Off some perimeter passing, Neal lifts a wrister from the left circle on net. Mrazek fights it off.
8:51: As the Almquist minor expires, Bortuzzo chops a loose puck from above the right circle. It hits something and deflects wide.
8:36: Bortuzzo booms a slapper from the right point. Mrazek knocks it dead and covers.
7:18: Engelland booms a slapper from the right point. Mrazek fights it off.
7:11: Fleury takes a gamble and loses. Drew Miller takes a pass at the Penguins' blue line and is able to chip behind Engelland who tried to step up and hit him. As Engelland collides with Orpik, Miller chases after the puck. Fleury bounds out of his crease to knock it away but Miller gets to it first and chips it over Fleury in the right circle and into the cage. That was a little luck and lot of hustle by Miller there. Orpik looked like he needed a moment to collect himself after Engelland collided with him. Former Penguin Mikael Samuelsson gets the only assist. Fire Craig Patrick. Penguins 3, Red Wings 1.
3:47: Andersson tries to jam in a forehand wraparound attempt but Bennett is back on a backcheck and knocks it away.
3:30: Off a feed by Jokinen, Neal whacks a one-timer from the slot which hits a stick and bounces in on net. Mrazek fends it off.
2:56: Using Ouellet as a screen, Neal snaps off a wrister from the slot which Mrazek fights off.
2:34: Ouellet, a rookie gets a little casual with the puck and learns a hard lesson. After initially stealing a pass by Crosby, Ouellet tries to push a puck through the neutral zone but has it stolen right off his blade by Kunitz. Kunitz walks down the slot with a breakaway. He winds up for a slapper, hesitates for a moment to jam up Mrazek and blows a slapper by his glove hand for a goal. What a heads up play by Kunitz. The goal is unassisted. Penguins 4-1.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Red Wings 1.
-Aside from one error which led to a goal, the Penguins have controlled this game from the start.
-Jussi Jokinen has come back to earth a bit after recording a hat trick Saturday. He's been okay tonight and has seemed to be on the same page with Malkin and Neal but he's clearly not on the same level he was Saturday.
-More of the same from Niskanen and Bortuzzo. A ton of chemistry.
-Rob Scuderi was very quiet. And that's fantastic. He's a guy you should never notice.
-The Penguins control shots, 24-11.
-Kunitz and Bertuzzi each lead the game with three shots.
-Smith leads the game with 17:26 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 15:26.
-The Penguins have an 18-17 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Jeffrey is 5 for 6 (83 percent).
-Andersson is 7 for 9 (78 percent).
20:00: As the period starts, ROOT Sports has a camera focused on Fleury's face. We'd be lying if we said we ever noticed this before, but he has this peculiar series of hand gestures in front of his face:
16:47: Kyle Quincey pushes a puck to the Penguins' blue line but has it stripped on a backcheck by Tanner Glass.
16:30: Samuelsson collects a loose puck in the slot and releases a big wrister which Fleury knocks dead and covers.
16:15: DeKeyser pounds a slapper from the left point through traffic. Fleury kicks it out.
14:46: The Red Wings get a little sloppy with a puck retrieval in their own zone. As a result, Bennett has a chane in tight off a steal but can't get one behind Mrazek.
14:14: Crosby has a chance jut to the right of the cage but Quincey does a night job of tying up his stick to prevent it.
13:58: Kunitz has a point blank look at the net just to the left of the crease. Mrazek challenges and fights it off. Tough save.
12:19: We'll have four on four play as Miller is called for interference while Neal is called for roughing.
12:07: Franzen lifts a wrister form the right wing. Fleury fights it off.
11:47: Malkin chases after a puck behind the Detroit net but is held up by Quincey who sort of just got in Malkin's way with his back to Malkin. It's sort of a ticky tack penalty. The Penguins will have a four-on-three power play for 1:28. Malkin, Letang, Crosby and Kunitz take the ice.
11:27: A loose puck is cranked on net from the left circle by Crosby. He ends up hitting the side of the cage.
11:20: Letang whips a falling wrister from the slot. Mrazek fends it off.
10:53: Crosby takes a pass at the center point. He fakes a shot then deals a pass to Malkin in the right circle. Malkin jams a one-timer on net. Mrazek reads it all the way and eats up the shot.
10:34: Crosby chops a one-timer from the center point which is blocked by Andersson. Crosby recovers the rebound on his backhand, fakes a slapper then deals a pass by Andersson to Kunitz in front of the blue paint. Kunitz takes the pass on his forehand, turns and lifts wrister over a helpless Mrazek. What a play by Crosby. Crosby and Malkin get assists. Penguins 5-1.
10:19: Play returns to five on five.
8:47: Engelland is called for interference against against Bertuzzi. Jeffrey, Bortuzzo, Adams and Scuderi take the ice.
8:00: Orpik has not recorded a shift since there was 42 seconds remaining in the second period.
6:47: The Engelland minor is killed with little threat from the Penguins.
5:47: Neal whacks a one-timer from deep on the right wing on net. Mrazek fends it off.
5:02: Off a steal by Kunitz, Crosby deals a pass to Bortuzzo at the left point. Bortuzzo booms a one-timer which Mrazek fends off.
4:45: Crosby is called for hooking Smith at the Detroit blue line. Sutter, Scuderi, Adams and Letang take the ice.
3:42: Samuelsson booms a one-timer from the right point. Fleury fights it off.
2:54: Off a steal, Adams races up the right wing and booms a slapper wide to the far side.
1:14: Abdelkader takes a pass in front of the Penguins' bench and is stood up on a hit by Bortuzzo. Abdelkader takes offense and shoves Bortuzzo. The drop the gloves. Bortuzzo pretty much wins the fight with on big right which bonks Abdelkader on the nose. The fall to the ice with Bortuzzo on top. Abdelkader scambles to his skate and tries to land in a few late shots but the officials step in.
0:00: End of game. As the horn blows, Samuelsson slashes Adams' stick. A scrum ensues. Officials hold everyone at bay and each team heads of the ice. Penguins 5, Red Wings 1.
-First things first, on ROOT Sports Dan Bylsma said Orpik left the game "I think at the time of the game [it] was a lower-body injury but really not a concern." He followed it up by saying he didn't have an update. He added that removing Orpik was precautionary and he didn't think the collision with Deryk Engelland had anything to do with Orpik's ailment.
-Yesterday, Dan Bylsma said he wanted to see a complete effort in the preseason after five up and down games. He finally got that as a stacked Penguins lineup dismantled a partial lineup for the Red Wings.
-Marc-Andre Fleury had a rough game Saturday as he allowed four goals against the Blue Jackets. In that game, the Penguins had a few error which led to the scoring chances which Fleury allowed. In other words he looked bad and he got little in the way of help. Tonight, the Penguins controlled the play, limited the Red Wings' scoring chances and he looked outstanding. Amazing how that works.
-Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis looked outstanding as a trio as you would expect. It's hard to imagine a line in hockey with more chemistry.
-Matt Niskanen and Robert Bortuzzo looked outstanding as a pairing tonight. We have to imagine management would be comfortable entering the season with them on the third pairing.
-Engelland had a rough night. His "hit" on Orpik may have injured Orpik and it led to Detroit's only goal.
-Beau Bennett and Brandon Sutter showed a lot of chemistry as forecheckers tonight.
-That was easily Chuck Kobasew's quietest game of the preseason.
-Jeffrey once again showed a lot of versatility by playing in a sorts of situations. He had 11:04 of even-strength ice time, 1:27 on the power play and 2:23 on the penalty kill.
-Compared to Saturday's outburst which led to Jussi Jokinen's three goals, the Jokinen-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal light just seemed a bit off. They made some fancy passes and set up some creative scoring chances, but something just seemed off.
-Rob Scuderi and Kris Letang looked nearly flawless as a pairing.
-The Penguins dominated shots 37-17.
-Neal led the game with six shots.
-Mikael Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi each led the Red Wings with three shots.
-Kyle Quincey led the game with 23:08 of ice time.
-Letang was right behind him with 23:06.
-Faceoffs were even, 26-26 (50 percent).
-Joakim Andersson was 10 for 14 (71 percent).
-Jeffrey was 8 for 9 (89 percent).
-Engelland and Brendan Smith each led the game with three blocked shots.
-UPDATE: Detroit's Justin Abdelkader was roughed up a bit in his fight with Bortuzzo:
Wings said Abdelkader sustained cut to left hand and is being stitched up, result of fight near end of game.— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) September 26, 2013