Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Exhibition Recap and thoughts: Pens a bit sloppy and flat in tune up game


Welcome back to a recap, it’s great to see you again.


The first, and possibly biggest question of the day was answered before the game even started when Sidney Crosby was announced as a participant for this exhibition game.

First period

Three minutes into the game Matt Murray is tested for the first time, the Flyers get a 2-on-1 and find Jakub Voracek cutting to the net. Voracek dekes to his backhand but Murray stretches out and gets a toe on it.

Sheary atones for the minor mistake with the game’s first goal. John Marino makes a heck of a long, accurate outlet feed across the ice for Jake Guentzel to lead a rush. Guentzel makes a nice pass of his own to find Sheary in space after Crosby provides a center lane drive. Sheary has time to pick a spot and blows a shot by Carter Hart to make it 1-0 Penguins.

The Flyers get that goal back after a bit of a broken play leads to Philadelphia picking up space and Claude Giroux utilizes that to find Sean Couturier in the slot. Crosby doesn’t really track with the center but Marcus Pettersson steps up to block the shot. Unfortunately it clicks off him and a puck going far-side changes directions and careens in to the other side past Murray. 1-1 game.

The Pens get the game’s first power play when Michael Raffl has to hold Teddy Blueger who used speed to beat him and drive to the net. Justin Schultz is with the first group (along with Crosby, Malkin, Guentzel and Hornqvist) and they look very disjointed and barely have any zone time with the puck. The second PP group doesn’t fare much better.

Late in the first Sheary leads a 3-on-1 with Crosby and Guentzel but his pass doesn’t connect. Top line looking very dangerous though.

Evgeni Malkin makes a very lazy pass right up the middle that goes directly to Kevin Hayes. That’s problematic since Hayes plays on the other team. Hayes has all the time in the world to deke on Murray and tuck a backhander behind him. 2-1 Philly.

Shots end up 10-6 Flyers through one period.

Second period

Murray still in net, Crosby draws a penalty early and the Pens are back to a second power play on the game with the same personnel. Malkin sets Hornqvist for a chance in close to the net, which isn’t much, but more than last time. They fail to score again.

The Flyers get a 3-on-1 that Marino almost breaks up (strong game) but a bad bounce fuels another chance where Hayes is all alone in front of the net. This time the back-pressure of Marcus Pettersson helps prevent a great shot by Hayes, but he also gets a follow-up from another bounce.

The Pens get caught with too many men to give the Flyers their first power play of the game. Murray makes another good stop, then Brian Dumoulin is hobbled big time blocking a shot and Murray is able to freeze the puck.

At this point it’s halfway through the game so Tristan Jarry is sent in cold to replace Murray. Hayes hits the cross-bar on Jarry but the puck stays out and the Pens kill the advantage off.

At the end second the Pens only have 12 totals shots on goal. Rust has 5 of them on his own, so the only 17 skaters have combined for a piddly 7 SOG in 40 minutes. The first line only has one SOG (Sheary’s goal). Jason Zucker has none. The defensemen only have one total (Marino).

Shots 16-12 overall in the game. Murray stopped both shots he saw in the 2nd in 9:55 of work. Jarry stopped all 4 SOG he faced in the last 10:05 of the frame.

Third period

Game ambles on, neither team is sharp with just 1 SOG (by the Pens) in 3:40 of time when the Flyers take a third penalty of the game. It’s Voracek going after jousting with Brandon Tanev. Malkin gets a long shot from a Crosby faceoff win but there’s no follow-up opportunities. After that, the Pens can’t get anything going yet again.

Zucker fed Malkin with a great pass, Geno had a lot of net to shoot at but his backhand went into goalie Brian Elliott.

The Pens keep after it and get the better of the play in the third, Malkin stays with a puck and shoots it. Elliott is down and out, Zucker collects the loose puck and slams it home to tie the game at 2 with 3:53 left.

Shots in the third were 12-3 Pittsburgh.


Malkin-Rust-Schultz start. Really doesn’t matter since the Pens won’t see any 3v3, 5:00 minute OTs in their format. Rust gets a couple shots away on a 3v1.

Crosby-Guentzel-Letang the second group. They give up a breakaway to Hayes, who has been great but at the end of his shift, and Jarry does well to stone him in rare work for him.

Blueger-Zucker-Marino next. Marino sets up Zucker for a chance.

Malkin’s group comes back and they let Scott Laughton get behind them, Laughton gets a nice stretch pass and he beats Jarry up high to end the game 3-2 Flyers.

Random thoughts

  • Sheary continued to build on his strong Phase 3 with a goal early. Nice to see him shooting the puck with confidence and power.
  • Great job by Marino on the outlet pass. Everything he does is just so smooth, also displaying a good stick in his own end and was great positionally.
  • The book closes on Murray with 29:55 played and 10 saves on 12 shots. One goal was bad luck catching Pettersson’s deflection, another bad defense with Malkin’s egregious decision. A few strong saves along the way. A pretty strong showing that won’t change the coach’s mind if he was leaning in Murray’s direction.
  • Jarry was strong as well. He only got 3 shots in his full period of play, which is a bit of a shame, but did what he was asked until a second breakaway had him beat via a really nice shot.
  • Nice to see some mistakes in this one. Better to make them now. The pass Malkin made was awful and surely will be in a video session, even if no reminder really needs to be made at the NHL level that it can’t happen. But it can’t happen. Same with the too many men that was 10 players on the ice at the same time. Gotta have something to coach to about cutting mistakes and there were some good examples.
  • It was weird how Schultz suddenly showed up with the first PP group after it was mostly Letang in camp. That move, plus the addition of Crosby, seemed to put the whole group in disarray and looking very disjointed.
  • After going 3 for 10 in the faceoff circle, Jared McCann shifted to wing just for faceoffs and Patrick Marleau was taking draws (the veteran won the first two faceoffs he took). Nice little coaching wrinkle and advantage to have Marleau on that line.
  • No crowd is weird. Many online wasn’t a fan of the fake crowd noise created for the broadcast, but I didn’t mind. Player on-ice audio levels wasn’t turned up much and will prevent hearing raw rated-R language. Tarping off the low seats did make it feel like an outdoor game, and was a nice visual. NBC is also experimenting with more and new camera angles, since there doesn’t have to be netting behind the goalies to protect fans that aren’t allowed at games right now. That felt dizzying and awkward.

With the idea, it’s still an exhibition and doesn’t count, some other random closing accolades from immediately after the game..

Initial things that stood out good:

—Sheary, Marino, Murray not folding, Jarry playing well coming in cold, first line working some magic.

Initial things not so good:

—The power play, Johnson-Schultz pair getting pinned in and icing the puck, first line not getting shots out of their chances today.

In all, this was a tune up after 4+ months of not playing a meaningful game. And this still wasn’t a meaningful game, there’s no major takeaways of joy or concern. Just kinda is what it is. The Pens needed a tune up and this was it. The Flyers weren’t exactly sharp either, and frankly no team is going to be looking great early for obvious reasons.

But next time the games start counting, so hopefully some rust was knocked off and the team can gear up to be better in general next time.

Ebenezer Robbins
Ebenezer Robbins
Introvert. Beer guru. Communicator. Travel fanatic. Web advocate. Certified alcohol geek. Tv buff. Subtly charming internet aficionado.

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