The Penguins had an audience Sunday morning as runners were invited to watch practice after completing the Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K Run and Family Walk.
As players took the ice, a cheer erupted when winger Bobby Farnham walked out of the locker room. He had arrived as an NHL player, soaking in the adulation of an adoring public.
OK, that’s not true. Fans cheered when Farnham walked out because he was behind captain Sidney Crosby, but the underlying point still remains. Farnham is an NHL player, a member of the opening-night roster after surviving Saturday’s last round of cuts.
“You’re looking at your phone from 9 to 12, hoping you don’t get a call,” Farnham said. “It was nice to stick around and be a part of this.”
Sprong has sprung for opening night
When coach Mike Johnston told Daniel Sprong he made the roster, he half-expected a yell or a fist pump or maybe a Whip/Nae Nae — whatever 18-year-old kids do when they’re happy about something. He didn’t get it.
“He was calm, controlled,” Johnston said. “He didn’t jump out of his seat.”
It was a fitting reaction because Sprong largely has taken a workmanlike approach to his bid for an NHL roster spot since he was drafted in the second round in June.
“I knew the roster was going to be very hard to make,” Sprong said. “I was thinking about going back to junior for sure and just trying to get as much experience here as I can. But the second I started playing more games, I felt more and more comfortable, and I thought I could really play here this year if I got an opportunity. I’m happy I did.”
A request to guard against injury
Framed by a discussion of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being used on the penalty kill, Johnston said he would like more of his players to wear skate guards to protect their feet while blocking shots.
“It is an individual preference now. It’s not something we’ve legislated. But we’re going to try to push more players in that direction,” Johnston said.
Throwing support behind the Pirates
During his post-practice meeting with reporters, Johnston seemed glad hockey doesn’t have a system that requires teams to play one game for their playoff lives like the Pirates will Wednesday.
“I’m not going to give Clint (Hurdle) any advice, that’s for sure,” Johnston said. “All our support’s here in Pittsburgh this week as they head into that battle.”