Monday night the Pittsburgh Penguins fans went to their “igloo” to see the first home game for the Pens this year. Some went to see “Le Magnifique” after his first training camp since 1996, while others went to see the “Arbitration Line” and yet others went to see the young prospects play. The away team, Atlanta Thrashers, showed up at Pittsburgh with an old roster for a preseason game. Here’s the roster for the game:
Eric Meloche-Mario Lemieux-Kevin Stevens
Martin Straka-Robert Lang-Alexei Kovalev
Michal Sivek-Milan Kraft-Alexei Morozov
Toby Petersen-Shane Endicott-Tom Kostopoulos
Hans Jonsson-Ross Lupascuck
Darius Kasparaitis-Ian Moran
Andrew Ference-Michel Petit
Shean Donovan-Bob Corkum-Hnat Domenichelli
Dany Heatley-Tony Hrkac-Patrick Stefan
Lubos Bartecko-Per Svartadet-Brad Tapper
Darcy Hordichuck-Andreas Karlsson-Jp Vigier
Brian Pothier-Jiri Slegr
Frantisek Kaberle-Mike Weaver
Jeff Dessner-Brett Clack
Led by the “Arbitration Line,” the out-shot Penguins beat the Thrashers 5-3. Kovalev looked like he was still in playoff mode as he embarrassed the Thrashers with his incredible stick handling scoring 2 goals and an assist. As for Super Mario, well as always, Lemieux wasn’t so super for the PRESEASON game. He didn’t appear on the scoreboard and played only two periods.
In goal, the young Sebastien Caron stood for the entire game. Caron played a solid game, but isn’t worthy to unseat Hedberg or Aubin. Opposite of him, the veteran Damian Rhodes looked too slow against the Penguins forwards though most goalies do.
Ross Lupaschuck: The defensemen picked up in exchange of Jagr played very well in the offensive zone and on the power play but, he looked really nervous and made a lot of mistakes in his own zone. He will improve his defensive game at Wilkes-Barre for the year. If Lupaschuck can play a respectable defensive game and be more physical, he can become one of the best defensemen in the Pens in the future.
Michal Sivek: Also involved in the Jagr deal, he played on a line with Milan Kraft and Alexei Morozov. The young Sivek plays a strong 2-way game but does not appear on the scoreboard. Sivek has to learn how to use his speed in a good way. He should spend the bul of the year at Wilkes-Barre.
Kris Beech: The final player with the Jagr package, Beech didn’t play against the Thrashers. I should point out though, that he played very well on a line with Mario Lemieux and Tom Kostopoulos in the Wilkes-Barre vs Penguins game on Saturday night. Lemieux said “Beech is the perfect player to play with me.” Look for Beech to spend the season in Pittsburgh.
Eric Meloche: Matched with Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens on the first line, Meloche probably lived a dream Monday. He and Stevens played a strong game along the boards but didn’t produce offensively. Meloche obviously will not stay on the line, possibly even on the Penguins roster for the year. Although Meloche, who is 25 years old, isn’t expected to become a huge offensive threat, his physical play could land him a spot on the team in the future.
Milan Kraft: Kraft show cased his great hands against the Thrashers. Kraft will definitely secure a spot for the whole year at Pittsburgh. He should be the 3rd or 4th center.
Andrew Ference: After the last year’s playoffs Ference is a new player. Andy now plays with confidence and carries the puck nicely. He reminds me Scott Niedermayer some years ago.
Toby Petersen, Shane Endicott and Tom Kostopoulos: The fourth line didn’t see a lot of ice time until the third period Monday. They played well defensively and didn’t allow goals. Kostopoulos took the only two shots of the line.
Toby Petersen: The ninth round pick in 1998 looks like another steal of Craig Patrick. Petersen is not the biggest guy but he’s a strong skater and posseses good offensive abilities. He will play on the fourth line of the pens this year or one of the first Wilkes-Barre lines. Don’t forget he played for Pittsburgh last year and was replaced by non other than Mario Lemieux.
Shane Endicott: Endicott is a strong and big two-ways center but he’s still young and has to improve is skating in a lower level. Good fit for Wilkes-Barre.
Tom Kostopoulos: Kostopoulos proved he can play in a high level in camp. But with the excess of forwards, he will play another AHL season.