CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP (93-7 The Fan) – Following Tuesday night’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins now prepare for Wednesday’s home preseason opener against the Detroit Red Wings at PPG Paints Arena.
For the second straight night, Mike Sullivan will sit his top players – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang.
But the team’s undisputed top goaltender will play, as Matt Murray will see his first action of the preseason. Murray will be backed up by Tristan Jarry, as backup Antti Niemi played two periods of the loss in State College.
In addition to their starting goalie, the Penguins will play three NHL level defensemen – Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin and Ian Cole.
Among the forwards, Pittsburgh regulars include Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Carter Rowney, Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel.
Making his Penguins’ debut will be winger Ryan Reaves, who General Manager Jim Rutherford acquired in a trade with St. Louis during the NHL Draft in June.
Reaves, viewed by many as an enforcer, is adjusting his game to fit the Penguins’ system.
“Ryan understands his role in how he’s going to help this team win,” Sullivan said. “He obviously brings a dimension that I think is unique, especially to our group.”
While the team continues to search for center position depth, Greg McKegg, who received high praise for his play in that spot Tuesday on a line with Carl Hagelin and Daniel Sprong, will again be in the lineup.
“What I’ve seen in the first week I’ve really liked,” Sullivan said. “I thought he had a very strong game last night,. He’s a good skater and I think that’s an important element when players come to our team.”
Sullivan added that injured players Patric Hornqvist, Tom Sestito and Ethan Prow are all making progress and that their injuries are not expected to be long term.