Penguins learning on job after abbreviated training camp

One game into his season, Sidney Crosby is somewhat muddled.

The Pittsburgh Penguins captain was uncertain when answering a query during a video conference with media from the team’s hotel Thursday in Philadelphia.

Frankly, his answer was ambiguous and lacked conviction.

What is new teammate Mark Janowski’s nickname?

“I’ve heard ‘Janko,’ ” Crosby said. “That seems to be the most common one.”

After a fairly brief training camp in which face-to-face interactions were limited, either by social distance or surgical masks, Crosby and his incumbent teammates still are working through “nice-to-meet-yous” with Jankowski and other newcomers.

They’re also working through how the coaches want them to play.

That was evident during their 6-3 road loss to the Flyers in their season opener Wednesday.

“A short training camp, new people coming in, we’ve just got to get the chemistry down,” said defenseman John Marino, whose team faces the Flyers again at 7 p.m. Friday in Philadelphia. “I don’t think anyone is too worried about it. It’s the first game of the year, and we have a lot to build off of.”

Even before camp opened Jan. 3, coach Mike Sullivan cautioned there would not be enough time to install or teach each and every concept as there would be during a typical camp.

One concept that apparently is still a work in progress is how to prevent the opponent from scoring a touchdown.

“We have to get better every day,” Sullivan said. “That’s our goal as a team. Sometimes it’s going to be on the ice. Sometimes it’s going to be in the film room. Sometimes it’s going to be in the weight room. It might all of the above in a day. But we’re going to try to improve and get better every day.”

On Thursday, the team canceled practice — in part because of the logistics of maneuvering through a condensed schedule — and focused on video work at the team hotel.

“The coaches broke the film down (Wednesday) night,” Sullivan said. “We had a lengthy discussion this morning on what we were going to show them and why. A lot of it just boils down to the details of our game. There are certain aspects of Philadelphia’s game that we try to make them aware of. But the majority of it, quite honestly, is on our own team game and just execution and the attention to detail that’s necessary for us to have success.”

A detail they focused on was the quality of scoring opportunities they yielded to the Flyers.

“The chances that we gave up were grade-A chances,” Crosby said. “We didn’t give up a ton, but the ones that we did give up were pretty big ones. Just eliminating those. You’re going to make mistakes, but you don’t want to make big ones that are grade-A chances like that. So we’re just trying to look at those. Eliminate those, and we’ll give ourselves a better chance at success if we do that.”

Another thing that could increase the Penguins’ odds at success? A greater level of familiarity.

“I thought we had some good scrimmages over the week (during training camp),” Crosby said. “I felt like we were ready. We played a pretty good game. Personally, I think timing and execution, that’s something that’s going to come.”

“We had some momentum at times,” forward Brandon Tanev said. “There were a couple of breakdowns in our game. As the group grows and we get better day by day, we’ll try to eliminate those things from our game. We’re looking forward to the next one.”

Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at or via Twitter .

Penguins/NHL | Sports

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