Dave Molinari from the Post-Gazette tweeted some comments today from Eric Tangradi about his first game with the Jets against his former team just days after the Pens dealt him for a 7th round draft pick.
He also had this to say, according to the Pens Report:
On if he’s going to try to score:
If I just focus on playing my game and playing north-south, hopefully good things will happen. It’s not the number one thing in my head to score, but I’m just looking forward to getting an opportunity and playing my game.
On how the last couple days have been:
I think it was Wednesday (I was traded) but it feels like a long, long time. Wednesday I got the call and have had a huge smile on my face even to today. Yesterday was a long day of travel but no complaints here, I got a good night’s sleep and just ready to put on the Jets sweater and go to work tonight.
On what he’s been told about his opportunity with the Jets:
I’ve been told that it is an opportunity. I think I’m going to start with (Kyle Wellwood) and (Olli Jokinen) there on the left side. I’m just looking forward to it. It’s up to me if I stay there or not. That’s an opportunity I feel like I haven’t been given in the past, so I’m looking forward to it.
Many fans echo the sentiment of Tangradi, stating that he didn’t get a fair shake in Pittsburgh. The problem is, he played 45 NHL games. And statistics aside (1 goal and 4 assists), it wasn’t just production that was an issue area. Not everyone is a goal scorer. You need guys like Joe Vitale and Craig Adams on every team who are play makers. They can forecheck. They can dig in the corners, crash the net, and screen goals. Screening goals was something Tangradi could do very well…when he chose to actually do it.
But when you are a 6’4″ guy who looks like he is skating in mud and cannot keep pace with anyone in the top 6 and get shoved around instead of battling for your position, what is the team to do?
Tangradi’s size was his greatest asset, and for all that he may or may not have done to hone in on that strength, he came up short.
While it may be alarming to some fans to hear similar comments from Tangradi, Brian Strait, and Ben Lovejoy on their departures from Pittsburgh the past few weeks, there are other factors to consider. They may not have exactly been throwing the Penguins under the bus, but the Pens are extremely deep with young, defensive depth and there are only so many roster spots. Ben Lovejoy can be a great third pairing guy (or even perhaps a second) if he is on a team that can properly utilize him.
Going to another team is a great thing for Ben Lovejoy and he should be excited about it. With Bortuzzo playing as well as he has been, there was simply no room for him here. Brian Strait as well should be on a team that has more room for him. With Joe Morrow, Harrison Ruopp, Brian Doumolin, and the others waiting in the wings, what are the Pens to do with this defensive overflow but make the best use of it that they can?
As far as Tangradi is concerned, the Pens don’t need another 3rd or 4th line winger, which is where Tangradi proved he belonged. He played alongside 3 of the absolute best players in the National Hockey League (Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, and Sidney Crosby) and came up short. For every spark of a competent hockey player that he showed, he blew it out with mistake after mistake with poor puck management, turn overs, and an inability to keep up with his line.
He says that he spent his games worried about making mistakes and that he is going into his time with the Jets with a nose to the ground mind-set. That’s what he needed to do here. Not overthink and just play.
You had your shot man.
Beau Bennett is making his NHL debut tonight against the Jets. According to the Pens Report, there is no word yet on who his line mates will be. Bortuzzo will be a healthy scratch with Engelland playing on the third D-pairing. Tangradi is expected to play alongside Olli Jokinen and Kyle Wellwood.
This is the Pens second game in Winnipeg this season. It’s a difficult arena to play in, as the Jets have some of the most relentless and quite frankly awesom fans in the NHL.
Let’s Go Pens!