PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – The Penguins not only readied themselves for a heavily predicted Stanley Cup Final preview against Edmonton on Monday, but they also welcomed their newest teammate in Riley Sheahan to the ice for the first time.
Sheahan, acquired from Detroit by General Manager Jim Rutherford via trade on Saturday, skated on the third line in practice Monday, flanked by wingers Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin.
“They’re both amazing skaters,” Sheahan said. “They get on the puck and they forecheck. Even today in practice just doing some drills, I felt like we connected a bit and I’m really excited to be able to play with players of that caliber.”
After scoring just two goals in the 2016-17 season, Sheahan will likely be asked to kill penalties and match up with opposing top lines.
Tuesday night, when the Penguins skate against the Oilers, Sheahan could see quite a bit of one of the game’s top players in reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid.
“He’s an amazing player obviously, one of the best in the NHL,” he said of the 20-year old former top NHL Draft pick. “It’s hard to keep up with them, so you have to play smart positionally and just try to limit his time with the puck.”
Pittsburgh, coming off a 7-1 blowout loss in Tampa on Saturday, will be in need of immediate defensive cohesiveness, as Edmonton, despite a sluggish 2-5-0 start, is a favorite to come out of the Western Conference.
At practice Monday, the work seemed to focus on puck responsibility in the defensive end of the rink and using the team’s speed to turn that control in rush opportunities.
“We’ve spent probably too much time in our own end and haven’t been able to get to that as much,” Sidney Crosby said after practice Monday. “Two teams that are probably looking for more consistency and are trying to play a similar game.”