Once again, I could not have been much more thrilled to be watching some Penguins hockey. A little bit of an interesting day with the first round of cuts being made:

1st Cuts:
Joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are forwards Brandon DeFazio, Brian Gibbons, Ben Street, Paul Thompson and Geoff Walker; defensemen Simon Despres, Alex Grant, Joey Mormina, Philip Samuelsson and Carl Sneep; and goaltender Patrick Killeen.

Forwards Tom Kuhnhackl (Windsor, Ontario Hockey League) and Dominik Uher (Spokane, Western Hockey League) were returned to their respective junior teams.

Only big surprise is that Despres didn’t even get a pre-season game, but Bylsma said they have seen enough to get an impression of where his game is at. I would’ve liked to see Kuhnhackl get a shot at a preseason game. I have high hopes for this kid, but he was returned back to his OHL team, Windsor. Maybe next year.

Quick Recap:
Penguins won 4-1 over the Blackhawks
Penguins goals by Jordan Staal(2), Matt Cooke, and Tyler Kennedy.
Blackhawks goal by Michael Frolik.

Impressions:

- Nick Johnson – In my opinion, he got off to a bit of a slow start, but then really picked up the pace and looked like someone who is fighting to earn a spot with the big club. What a play on the Kennedy goal.

- Deryk Engelland – Um…wow. One of the players I was most impressed with tonight. He had solid positioning all night, played physical (as usual), and even showed some offensive flair. If he keeps playing like this for the rest of the preseason, I would not be the slightest bit surprised to see him as the #5 to start the season.

- Ben Lovejoy – Great showing by Lovejoy. He played a great offensive game and kept getting shots towards the net. Could still use some help defensively, but would pencil him above Niskanen for the #6 slot right now.

- My Dark Horse Candidate for the #6/7 defense spot goes to Picard. I thought he played a great game tonight, and did it under the radar. He created chances offensively and played a sound defensive game in his own end.

- Staal and Kennedy looked to have picked up right where they left off last regular season.

- How about the New Matt Cooke, eh? Not only does he play a clean game and a good game, he also goes out there and scores. For his sake, I’m really hoping he can keep it up on both parts.

- It looked to me like Brent Johnson was doing his best Tim Thomas impersonation out there tonight at times. Getting way out of position, then diving back to make great saves.

- Eric Tangradi – Everytime I start to get down on the kid, he proves me wrong. He had an exceptional game today in my opinion. It seems he might be running out of time to show his potential on this team, but I felt he set up good chances, took some great shots, and even played solid two-way hockey. I’m still not expecting him to start this year with the Pens, but the improvements I saw on the ice tonight were encouraging.

- 2 other players stood out to me; Bryan Lerg and Steve MacIntyre. Lerg looks to have a pretty good two-way game and some offensive potential, while MacIntyre looks more gifted offensively and much more physical than other enforcers in recent history for the Pens.

Final Thoughts:
So glad to watch Pens hockey on back to back nights and get wins both nights, even though its only the pre-season. The only thing that made me slightly depressed, was that the team out there tonight, reminded me too much of the team the Pens were forced to field throughout parts of the regular season last year, but their hard work pushed through it then and they did it again tonight.

LET’S GO PENS!!!