Let Despres Play
The Penguins wrapped up the home portion of their preseason with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of what was announced as a sell out crowd in CONSOL Energy Center.
Walking away from this game, it wasn’t another solid offensive outing for the Penguins that impressed me.
It was their defense.
Lead by Paul Martin, the Penguins defense took away lanes, frustrated forwards, and did a great job of getting the puck out of danger all night long.
Brent Johnson was solid in net, stopping Patrick Kane on a clear 1-on-1 opportunity after a Derek Engelland turnover.
The race is on for the 6th defensive spot in the Penguins starting line-up. I am ready to cast my vote for young man we weren’t even talking about two weeks ago.
Simon Despres is earning his keep.
We’re seeing a maturation process occur right in front of our eyes. Despres has confidence, mobility, and a strong frame that has made him look right at home on the Pittsburgh blue line.
That’s not a knock on Ben Lovejoy or Corey Potter, but it might be worth it to give Despres the 9 game try out and see what his made of.
If it doesn’t work out, send him back to the Q. He’ll at least know that he gave it an honest try and turned some heads in the process.
Issues with mental mistakes and mobility were the major knocks that dropped him down the ladder into the lap of Ray Shero when he was drafted, but we’re certainly not seeing any of that now. He has the tools and he’s showing them off each game.
Without a doubt, he’s making it hard on management.
- The crowd was all over Brent Seabrook in the third period after he broke his stick off of the net. Both of the Penguins third period goals appeared to go off of Seabrook on their way into the Chicago net.
- The goal scorer for Chicago tonight, Kyle Beach, made a name for himself being a bad boy with some not-so-bad hands in the WHL as a prospect. He got his goal off of a juicy Brent Johnson rebound, but quickly declined the opportunity to take a quick dance with Mike Rupp at center ice. Can you blame him?
- Arron Asham has more talent than I gave him credit for.
- I’m not going out on a limb with this one, because it might be common sense, but Paul Martin will be a fan favorite by the end of October. I was more than impressed with his puck handling abilities tonight. He’s quick with his hands, has spectacular vision, and a true knack for jumping into the play. I can tell you now I will get a kick out of watching him this year.
- Good to see some of the WB/S regulars get some points tonight. Jeffrey had a great deflection, Johnson got the puck in the net via Brent Seabrook, and Mark Letestu worked hard for a goal in front.
- Speaking of Letestu, what are the odds he gets claimed if the Penguins try to re-assign him? Does he have the team handcuffed because he has to pass through waivers?
- For those wondering why Simon Despres only has 9 games for the Penguins to decide his NHL fate, the rule is as follows. Once Despres reaches the tenth game, his entry level contract will activate. At that point, regardless of where he’s playing, the Penguins will be using his entry level deal. You wouldn’t want to waste that by putting him in the NHL for 30 games and losing 50 to sending back to juniors. He is not eligible for the AHL because he doesn’t meet the age requirement.