Penguins Notebook: Players making good first impression with Bylsma
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, right, talks to the team on ice during their first practice at the Consol Energy Center.
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First impressions count. They might not always be decisive, but making a good one never can hurt.
And Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday that several players grabbed his attention, in a good way, during the first two days of training camp.
The players he praised, and excerpts of his comments, were:
• Center Mark Letestu, who has accounted for two of the three goals the Penguins have generated in two scrimmages and who got the shootout-deciding goal for his squad Sunday. "It's tough to not have noticed Mark Letestu to this point. He's had 66 percent of the offense out there. That's [Evgeni] Malkin- and [Sidney] Crosby-like."
• Defenseman Corey Potter: "He's a guy in that mix for the sixth and seventh spots [on the blue line]."
• Left winger Eric Tangradi: "His skating has been noticeable. I think he's picked up his step."
• Forward Dustin Jeffrey: "He's had the smarts and he's been a good positional player [in previous seasons], but he's added a step to his game, I think."
• Left winger Matt Cooke: "Matt Cooke has come out and been a force on the ice, physically, and played like it was a meaningful game."
• Defenseman Alex Goligoski. "Goligoski [Saturday] was very good, and was good again [Sunday]."
Bylsma said "there has been a handful of veterans who I think really set the tone for this camp," and said Crosby and Malkin are on that list.
"Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin again were given high marks after Day 1 for pace and attention to detail," he said. "We have a group of guys out there leading the way, in terms of veterans."
Bylsma declined to say whether anyone has not performed to expectations so far because "I'm not at the point where I'm officially ready to be disappointed in anybody."
Tangradi had a fairly ordinary showing during the recent prospects tournament in London, Ontario, but spent the first two days of camp on a line with Malkin and Mike Comrie, and has meshed fairly well with them.
"It shows that the organization has a lot of confidence in me, that I can handle that task and play with those guys," Tangradi said. "Those guys are so talented I don't really need to be doing a lot of skill stuff with the puck.
"It's just got to be chips [into the attacking zone], get them the puck, get them space and they're going to make things happen. When you're young, all you've got to do is satisfy the veteran guys a little bit. I'm going to continue to do the power-forward thing out there."
The Penguins are expected to make their first roster cuts -- typically, those moves primarily involve returning young players to their junior teams -- by mid-week, and possibly earlier.
They are scheduled to go from two to three practice groups after facing Detroit in the preseason opener Wednesday, but with Tuesday as a scheduled day off, it's possible that some personnel paring will be done before the Red Wings game.
Bylsma cited Chris Kunitz and Cooke as the "types of players" who might be used on Jordan Staal's wings if the Penguins would opt to play Malkin with Crosby rather than alongside Staal. ... The Penguins' popular Student Rush program, which will make at least 200 tickets for each home game available to students with valid college and high school ID's for $25, will go into effect with the preseason opener. ... Bylsma turned 40 Sunday.
First Published September 20, 2010 12:00 am