With the 2016 NHL Rookie Tournament in action the weekend of September 16-18, Last Word on Hockey is the place to go for everything you need to know. Team-specific recaps will be posted from each game, and follow along live on Twitter for updates from @charliejclarke and @gSchroedes16
The Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off the 2016 NHL Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario Friday with an 8-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Pens started the game strong, with a goal just 21 seconds into the first period courtesy of free agent signee Lukas Bengtsson, who fired a one-timer past Montreal goalie Charlie Lindgren to make it 1-0.
Pittsburgh Penguins Rookie Camp Day 1 Recap
The Penguins’ rookie camp roster looks decidedly thin next to that of the Canadiens, but they managed to keep pace with the Habs for the first period. Pittsburgh is icing a fairly experienced roster, with nine players having played at least one game in a professional league. The team’s average age of 21.1 years gave them a slight edge in development over the younger Canadiens, but the more skilled Habs team pulled ahead later in the game.
For Pittsburgh, centre Jake Guentzel made a decent impression, particularly in the third period, where he picked up a goal. The 2013 third round pick had a strong game in the offensive zone, driving to the net and drawing a penalty earlier in the third period.
Goaltender Tristan Jarry, one of the most high-profile prospects Pittsburgh has brought to London (selected 44th overall in 2013), did not stand out. He only played half of the game – likely part of the plan heading in – but was beaten fairly egregiously on Montreal’s first goal, which bounced through him.
Rookie camp captain Josh Archibald stuck out at times, both positively and negatively. He was a catalyst for much of Pittsburgh’s offence, but also made himself known to the crowd at the end of the first period, when emotions got the best of him and he took a roughing penalty from a heated fight with Montreal’s Jeremy Gregoire.
Overall, Pittsburgh exhibited the weaknesses in their prospect pool. The Canadiens’ highly-skilled forwards at times made the Penguins’ defensive units look out of place, and they struggled to finish on the offensive chances they generated. The Pens outshot Montreal 39-30, but it seemed that the opposition’s chances were significantly more dangerous.
The withdrawal of Oskar Sundqvist from the tournament hurt Pittsburgh’s lineup, as he would likely have been able to offer more in the way of offensive generation and flair, but the Pens should still be able to find a way to get the puck in the net more consistently.
The Penguins are back in action Saturday afternoon at 3:30 when they take on the Ottawa Senators.