Penguins make changes after season-opening loss to Sabres
A day after an insipid season-opening 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at PPG Paints Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins made several changes to their lines, defensive pairs and power-play units during practice at Cranberry on Friday.
The team’s lines and pairs were:
59 Jake Guentzel – 87 Sidney Crosby – 12 Dominik Simon
18 Alex Galchenyuk – 71 Evgeni Malkin – 13 Brandon Tanev
19 Jared McCann – 27 Nick Bjugstad – 72 Patric Hornqvist
46 Zach Aston-Reese – 53 Teddy Blueger – 24 Dominik Kahun
8 Brian Dumoulin – 58 Kris Letang
28 Marcus Pettersson – 4 Justin Schultz
3 Jack Johnson – 50 Juuso Riikola – 44 Erik Gudbranson
2 Chad Ruhwedel – 6 John Marino
Simon was promoted from the fourth line to the top line in place of Hornqvist, who was dropped down to the third line. The second line remained unchanged while Kahun was bumped to the fourth line.
While the top defensive pairing was unaltered, Pettersson was reunited with Schultz, his partner for most of the preseason, after skating with Gudbranson on Thursday. Johnson was moved from the second pair and rotated with Riikola and Gudbranson.
Coach Mike Sullivan critiqued a disjointed approach his team took to Thursday’s loss.
“There was a lot of isolated effort, not cooperative effort and that’s what we showed them on film this morning,” Sullivan said. “We’ve got to work together as a group of five out there in order to get the puck back. And if we have the puck, we’ve got to work together to support one another. If we do that, it breeds confidence. It’s a hard game when it’s isolated effort. The league’s too good. We tried to show them some examples of that today. Hopefully, we’ll have more of a conscious effort of understanding what your job is out there.”
On the power play, the top squad was composed of Schultz at the point, Galchenyuk on the left wall, Crosby at the net side, Guentzel at net front and Malkin on the right wall.
The second unit featured Letang at point, Pettersson on the left wall, Bjugstad at the right wall, Hornqvist at net front and Kahun in the slot.
The Penguins’ lone goal was scored by Malkin on the power play, but the team was mostly underwhelming on the five opportunities it had with the man advantage. They had three power-play sequences in the third period alone and could only generate four shots during those.
“The one thing that I liked is that we scored,” Sullivan said. “But that’s probably the only thing that I liked about it. I don’t think we made good decisions. Our execution was poor and it started with our breakouts. And as a result, we had limited zone time.
“Once again, we’ve got to work together and we’ve got to recognize when players are under pressure and support the puck. Sometimes, you can draw up a power-play breakout, for example, but if things happen out there and a defenseman is under pressure, we might just have to cut our routes short and just get available, make one pass and then play fast. And just play hockey from there. If we can beat the first forechecker on a penalty kill with one pass, we should have success gaining access to the zone. A lot of it is awareness and making sure we execute when those opportunities present themselves. “
Note: The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins signed forward Stefan Noesen to a one-year AHL contract. Noesen, 26, was a former first-round pick (No. 21 overall) of the Ottawa Senators. During his NHL career, he has played for the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils. Noesen previously played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach Mike Vellucci during his junior career with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League.
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .