PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Given some of the discourse between the fans in the past, maybe it’s a bit surprising fans haven’t been banned from Pens games at Philadelphia before. Today will definitely be unique with faceoff between the rivals at 5:30p and no spectators allowed.
“It’s always been an exciting place to play because of the rivalry, the fan engagement and all of those things,” said head coach Mike Sullivan Wednesday afternoon. “I would anticipate both teams manufacturing their own emotion. I know our guys are excited to get going here. I’m sure Philly is the same way.”
Sullivan puts his team on the ice despite just a couple of practices.
“We feel good about our group,” Sullivan said. “The majority of our group has been here for quite some time. We need to go out and make sure we pay attention to the detail and we focus on the task at hand.”
“Simplifying the game is certainly is a message that we are going to try and relay to our group. Simplicity is going to play in our favor here until we get more comfortable with the group that we have and we get some games under our belt.”
Sullivan wouldn’t commit to line combinations, but judging by the last few practices, and Sunday’s scrimmage, they will look like this…
The latter two defensive pairings are a switch from earlier in practice when Mike Matheson and Cody Ceci were together. Sullivan said he likes future number one defenseman John Marino with Matheson.
“Two guys that have great size, a long reach and real good mobility,” Sullivan said. “They’re guys that can get back to pucks. They dictate time and space and close as good as any defense pair that we have with their mobility.”
The Pens will be the opening game to the NHL season and Sullivan appreciates the opportunity to play during a pandemic.
“To do what we do and to be able to play the game that we love,” Sullivan said. “To have the ability to get back on the ice with these guys is a thrill for me. Maybe I just don’t take it quite as much for granted anymore.”