Tonight the Pens take on the Pens in the Black vs. Gold game in Wilkes Barre, PA (home of the Penguins AHL affiliate). Although Sidney Crosby is not participating, there are many players to keep your eye on tonight (or ears if you are listening to the radio broadcast).
1.) Evgeni Malkin- Okay this may seem like a simple answer because, next to Crosby, he is the one people look for, but Malkin has a lot of proving himself to do. Well he may not give it near 100% tonight in the intra-squad game, this week of preseason game is crucial to seeing how Malkin has progressed over the season after his surgery and less than par performance before the injury.
2.) Eric Tangradi- I’ve said this before and I will say it again, this week is the most important week in ‘Big Dog’ career. He has been given numerous opportunities from prospect camp over the summer to rookie camp last week. Other than proving himself as a leader, he needs to prove himself as the big body the Pens need in front of the net. If camp is less than stellar, he will find himself back in ‘Wilkes Vegas.’
3.) Alex Picard- Signed as a free agent over the summer, Picard is currently on a two way contract, but still has a chance to impress coaches at camp. Although the Pens are stacked throughout their system defensively, Picard has the chance to be on the opening night roster if the Pens decide to go with seven defensemen.
4.) Richard Park- Back with the team that drafted him, Park also has a chance to impress management tonight while playing on a line with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. Who knows, that could be a future line.
5.) Jason Williams- Another free agent signee from this summer is playing with Chris Kunitz and Jordan Staal tonight. Coach Bylsma is setting him up to succeed tonight and hopefully he will take advantage of the opportunity.
With 21 players with one way contracts currently on the roster, there are only two spots open for competition. That means tonight’s game might be much more intense than we ever thought. Jobs are on the line and I bet we will see them fighting it out tonight. Play nice boys.