The Pittsburgh Penguins easily outpointed divisional rival, the New Jersey Devils, in their season opener, 3-0, and looked good in all aspects of the game.
Goals by Chuck Kobasew, Sidney Crosby and Craig Adams, as well as 27-saves from Marc-Andre Fleury propelled them to victory. While there are many things to take away from the game, here are the three biggest ones.
1. Beau Bennett Is Going To Be Good, Really Good
Bennett showed the potential that made him a first round pick and the hope was that he could take the next step into being a real factor on this team this year. If one game is any indication, expect Bennett to be one of the better impact players on the Penguins this season.
Bennett was everywhere on the ice, blocking shots, leading 2-on-1 breaks, and using his speed to create in the offensive end. The hard work earned him a secondary assist on Chuck Kobasew’s goal, and with the uncertainty of James Neal, expect Bennett get regular top-6 minutes if Neal should miss time.
Bennett has the potential to be a game changer, and his progress through the season is something that Pens’ fans should keep an eye on this season.
2. Did The Top Line Take Any Time Off At All?
Ok, they weren’t quite in top form, but good enough to where their immense chemistry was on display. Both Crosby and Dupuis registered points, as they hooked up on Crosby’s first of the season when Dupuis dished a beautiful lead pass to Sid, in which he quickly got the shot off and put it past Corey Schneider.
Both Dupuis, and Chris Kunitz signed big contracts to stick around in Pittsburgh and play exactly like this with Crosby. If this line continues to click, there isn’t going to be a lot of games the Pens lose.
3. Fleury Was Atop Of His Game
Unfortunately for Fleury, it hasn’t usually been how he starts that haunts him, it’s how he finishes but no matter the Flower played amazing in the opener, stopping all 27-shots he faced. It’s not often that you see Fleury play such a positional sound game, but he did, and have to be encouraged with his first real performance under new goaltender coach, Mike Bales.
Fleury was able to track the puck well, finding the shooting lanes and getting in position to stop the puck. He rarely had to make the ‘spectacular’ save that he usually had to due to his mishap position wise, but when he did, Fleury was on top of it.
One Thought Going Forward
Speaking of Fleury, one thing that should have an eye kept on, is Fleury’s workload while Vokoun is out. The Penguins brought Vokoun in to take the load off of Fleury, with the philosophy – A fresh Fleury is a better Fleury – their motto, but now with Vokoun out the Penguins have to turn to Jeff Zatkoff, who has zero NHL experience in his career. How much he gets a chance to play, whether it be strictly on back-to-back games, or a ‘maintenance’ day of the long grinding season every now and again will only be answered later in the season, but how the Penguins handle Fleury will be something to watch, as their success depends.