On Sunday morning I went with Poise and the rest of the family to Consol Energy Center to see the Pens practice. I hadn't been there before, so here are my initial thoughts on the arena and the practice.
|View from the top|
- Consol is a beautiful arena, but not state of the art. The sight lines are terrific and the fact that the upper consourse is above the upper level seats (as opposed to being behind the upper level seats) gives the arena a much more open feel. That being said, some of the actual pieces of construction seem a little cheap - I can't pinpoint it because I'm not a contractor, but it doesn't have that sturdy feel. Even the seats had a very soft foam that seems like it was the low cost option of the options that were available. I'm not knocking this design - when something is built with public funds, it can't necessarily be Falling Water. If some corners have to be cut to save money (aka, YOUR tax money), then that's ok with me.
- Another savvy PR/fan relations move by the Pens to have the arena open for practice this weekend. There were an estimated 6,000 people on Saturday and I'd say there was a similar amount on Sunday.
- As the jumbo-tron was showing video of Pens' players delivering season tickets, two women sitting in front of us struck up a conversation about the NHL/Vanity Fair party in New York at which Alex Ovechkin wore the t-shirt you'll see below. Here is the transcript of their conversation:
- "You see them in New York? They was all dressed nice except YOU KNOW WHO."
- "Ovechkin? He's dirty. Looks like a Russian. He's a scumbag, he's dirty."
- Some thoughts on the players:
- Derek Engelland was struggling. He looks like he should be good but he didn't seem to have any puck skills. Speaking of puck skills, I think we all need to just come to grips with the fact that Marc Andre-Fleury will never be good playing the puck behing the net and along the boards. It's not going to happen, so let's learn to love him in spite of that flaw.
- Geno Malkin was like a man among boys. He played on a line with Mike Comrie and Eric Tangradi and was dangling as he always does.
- Tangradi is a big body - imagine Mike Rupp but a smoother player. He did get pushed off the puck a little too easily and it seemed like he is still a little unsure of himself, almost as if he is thinking that NHL caliber defensemen are supposed to take the puck off him in the corners so he gives it up. He has all the tools and I anticipate he will be a big contributor this season. But let's temper the expectations early.
- Keven Vielleux looks like he should be good, but is another guy who seems like there is something missing. He's a big body and a smooth skater, but doesn't look comfortable in traffic.
- Tyler Kennedy is hustling like a rookie trying to make the team. Maybe he should stop with the goofy and ineffective hesitation move and he might regain the spark he had a few years ago.
- Goligoski still seems indecisive on his breakouts.
- Finally, Mark Letestu will be dressed with the big club on opening night. We learned last year that he was Bylsma's go-to call-up and at the scrimmage he was making something positive happen every time on the ice (and scored a beautiful goal on Fleury). He does what young guys are supposed to do - something good every time on the ice.
Those are just the quick thoughts for now. We have a huge NHL preview coming in the week leading up to opening night. Can't wait.