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Early returns from preseason hockey

September 25, 2023, 2:48 PM ET [88 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Penguins and Blue Jackets played twice on Sunday in two different cities with two different lineups. Both games made it to overtime with the Penguins winning the afternoon game at home in a shootout and Columbus taking the nightcap in Ohio with a 4-3 overtime win.

The Penguins lineups were pretty thin. None of their notable players were in the lineup. It is a tough time to evaluate considering opposing lineups don’t provide the most authentic NHL experience, either.

Some notable happenings from both games to be taken with a grain of salt:

In a game where the Penguins were out attempted at 5v5 53-37 Alex Nylander scored a goal and had a CF 20 CA 8 for a CF% of 71.43 and an xGF% 81.38. He also added a goal in the shootout. The bottom six competition will be fierce and Nylander has to make the most of every opportunity. He did so yesterday.

2023 first round pick Brayden Yager got in on the action. He scored the game winning goal in the shootout. I’d like to see him get some game action with some of the Penguins top six players this preseason at some point.

Matt Nieto had the lowest CF% of any Penguin at 23.33% (CF 7 CA 23) and an xGF% of 15.48. It wasn’t one of those situations where he was buried by defensive zone starts. He had zero of those. It’s preseason so no need to sound the alarm. If we’re two or three weeks into the season with similar results that wouldn’t be great.

Much like Alex Nylander, Sam Poulin has to make the most of his opportunities this fall. He also scored while having an xGF% of 62.76. Much like Ty Smith last year Poulin will have to fight against his contract status. He is waiver eligible and will almost certainly be moved back to WB/S regardless of how he plays.

Up next on the agenda is a preseason tilt against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night in Detroit. It will be interesting to see how the lineup plays out.

Thanks for reading!
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