10 key takeaways in Penguins and Blackhawks clash; and update on extension talks between Penguins and their ‘forgotten star’…

Here are  from the Chicago Blackhawks’ victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Connor Bedard’s NHL debut, as originally reported on NBC Sports Chicago:

  • Connor Bedard made his highly anticipated NHL debut. He displayed some initial jitters with the puck in the first period, but he quickly caught the eye with an impressive performance. Bedard attempted seven shots in the opening frame and finished with a game-high 11 attempts, five of which were on target. Notably, he didn’t seem to force his plays and played his natural game. His efforts were rewarded with his first career NHL point when he provided a secondary assist on Ryan Donato’s second-period goal, reducing Chicago’s deficit to 2-1 and kickstarting the comeback.

  • Bedard had the special opportunity to take the opening faceoff against his childhood idol, Sidney Crosby, on Opening Night. This unique experience will surely become a cherished memory for Bedard, even though he lost the draw to Crosby.

  • Petr Mrazek delivered an exceptional performance in the game, keeping the Blackhawks in contention throughout the night with several crucial saves. He rightfully earned the title of the first star of the game and secured the two points for his team.
  • Jason Dickinson made a costly turnover in the neutral zone late in the third period of a tied 2-2 game. However, fortune turned in his favor on the same shift when he capitalized on a fortuitous rebound from Corey Perry’s blocked shot and netted the game-winning goal. This dramatic turn of events completed a remarkable two-goal comeback for the Blackhawks.

  • Lukas Reichel, alongside Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh, initially struggled to control the puck in the first period. However, they noticeably improved their performance in the second and third periods, impressing the spectators.
  • Seth Jones demonstrated his skill by faking a shot and waiting for the ideal moment to pass to Cole Guttman, who was positioned in the slot. Guttman made the most of the opportunity by scoring the game-tying goal in the third period. Jones’ play was a thing of beauty.

  • Kevin Korchinski made his NHL debut but was somewhat overshadowed by the spotlight on Bedard. Nonetheless, Korchinski showcased his skills, although there was one instance in the second period where he should have taken a shot but chose to pass instead.
  • The Penguins dominated the Blackhawks in faceoffs, highlighting an area of weakness for Chicago. Bedard, in particular, struggled, losing his first eight draws before finally securing a win at the start of the third period. Faceoff performance is expected to be a challenge for Chicago this season, especially after the loss of Jonathan Toews.
  • The Penguins also had their own share of excitement as they ushered in the Kyle Dubas era and saw Erik Karlsson’s first game with the team. There was curiosity regarding Karlsson’s role, given the presence of Kris Letang, but the initial signs suggested that their coexistence would be successful. The writer predicts that Pittsburgh will make the playoffs this season.
  • Philipp Kurashev began the season on the injured reserve list due to a left wrist injury and did not travel with the team for the five-game road trip. Additionally, Colin Blackwell (lower body), Colton Dach (right ankle), Luke Philp (right Achilles tendon), and Sam Savoie (right femur) started the season with injured/non-roster designations.


An insider provides an update on ongoing contract extension discussions between the Pittsburgh Penguins and their somewhat overlooked star player, Jake Guentzel.

According to David Pagnotta of The NHL Network, while talks have taken place, both parties are still some way from reaching an agreement.

Pagnotta also suggested, based on insider information, that these negotiations may be put on hold until after the current season concludes.

Guentzel, who is 29 years old, is entering the final year of his five-year, $30 million contract and stands to earn a significant raise if he continues to perform at the level he has maintained over the years.

With back-to-back seasons of 35 or more goals and a near point-per-game average since his NHL debut in November 2016, Guentzel has consistently put up impressive numbers.

Critics have often argued that his success is largely attributed to playing alongside Sidney Crosby, but no other player has managed to replicate the level of achievement that Guentzel has achieved while on Crosby’s line.

For example, Chris Kunitz, who was Crosby’s linemate for nearly a decade, only had two seasons with more than 60 points, whereas Guentzel has exceeded 70 points three times in the last five years.

Despite his accomplishments, Guentzel tends to be overshadowed in Pittsburgh by Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and now Erik Karlsson. Nevertheless, his presence was crucial in the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship in 2017.

The Penguins are currently in a peculiar situation this season, as they are dedicated to an aging core of players but could have a significant amount of salary cap space available next summer if they choose not to re-sign their pending free agents. It’s possible that the team is waiting to see which impact free agents become available in the unrestricted free agency market next summer before deciding whether to secure their own impactful free agent, such as Guentzel.

From Guentzel’s perspective, he has earned the right to explore free agency and may have concerns about the Penguins’ future, particularly as Crosby, Letang, and Malkin approach the end of their careers, which could happen sooner than later. If Guentzel opts for a long-term re-signing, his later years in Pittsburgh could coincide with a rebuilding phase for the team. This could lead to a more challenging situation for him.

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