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Penguins notebook: Bylsma to give Tangradi, Bennett extended looks

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By Josh Yohe
Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 8:06 p.m.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma doesn't have much time to experiment, given that the regular season begins in three days in Philadelphia.

But Wednesday is his chance to tinker, and the two players in the spotlight when the Penguins play an intrasquad scrimmage are wingers Eric Tangradi and Beau Bennett.

Members of the Penguins and their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton AHL affiliate will face each other in a game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. The event is free and open to the public.

A spot on the left wing beside reigning MVP and scoring champion Evgeni Malkin and all-star right wing James Neal is also open.

“Eric Tangradi and Beau Bennett are on the same team with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal tomorrow,” Bylsma said. “So you'll see Eric play there. You probably also will see Beau play there, as well. This wasn't out of the hat. That was planned.”

Tangradi appears to be the favorite to man Malkin's line when the season begins Saturday in Tangradi's hometown, Philadelphia.

“I feel good about myself right now,” said Tangradi, who has dominated at the AHL and OHL levels but has produced just one goal in 41 NHL games.

Tangradi, 23, feels like a summer regimen in which he dropped 20 pounds could make a healthy difference.

“I definitely feel like I'm skating better,” he said. “I'd love to get out there with Geno, but we'll see.”

Tangradi has spent most of his time during the abbreviated training camp on Malkin's left wing. Bennett saw time there Tuesday.

• Many Penguins believe defenseman Simon Despres is going to make the team. Some considered him a long shot before camp began because his previous month at Wilkes-Barre did not go particularly well. However, Despres has been paired with all-star defenseman Kris Letang almost exclusively. Other defensive pairs have included Brooks Orpik skating with Paul Martin in what Bylsma described as a “shutdown pair.” Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland have spent most of their time during camp on the same pairing.

• Wednesday's scrimmage will include an overtime period and a shootout. Bylsma wants to simulate a regular-season game and wants his team to have an opportunity to play situational hockey, which will happen when each team will pull its goalie for a minute — and imitate being down a goal — in the third period of the scrimmage.

— Josh Yohe

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