EDMONTON - Steve MacIntyre was salivating at the prospect of making his Pittsburgh Penguins debut against his former Edmonton Oilers club.
The enforcer got an opportunity to get into the lineup when Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch with was officially being called a lower body injury.
Signed by the Penguins this off-season, MacIntyre had been a healthy scratch for the first two games of the season.
Prior to making his presence known by hammering Jeff Petry into the end boards in the first period, then trash-talking Oilers winger Darcy Hordichuk from the bench, MacIntyre had been spending a lot of time skating with Sidney Crosby, who is still recovering from a concussion.
“The first couple of days that I got to Pittsburgh I was pretty much in awe, watching those guys in practice, it’s phenomenal,” MacIntyre said.
“But the other thing too, is that they go out there day in and day out and they work hard. It doesn’t matter what kind of drills they’re doing, they’re working hard and that’s something that’s instilled right from Sid all the way down.
“It’s a good thing. He’s a work-horse, he’s a phenomenal guy and a phenomenal athlete.
“He was actually my linemate for a couple of practices, so that was pretty cool.”
According to Crosby, MacIntyre, who was a fan favourite with the Oilers, has fit in well with the Penguins.
“He’s a great guy, he’s fit in really well and works really hard, that’s something that we’ve seen from Day 1,” Crosby said.
“He’s one of the hardest working guys out there. He’s always got a smile on his face, he keeps things really loose. Someone like that is contagious.
“You need different personalities on a team, but the one that he brings, he’s happy every day and he’s working hard and has a great attitude. Those are the teammates you love to have.”
An avid outdoors man, MacIntyre has fit in well and even invited Crosby to go out hunting with him sometime.
“He asked me if I’d been hunting before and I haven’t, but I told him I’d go scout for him or tag along if he wanted someone,” Crosby said. “But I told him that I wasn’t shooting anything.”
This season NHL teams are sporting numbers on both the front and back of their helmets.
It’s presented a challenge to some of the equipment staff around the league as some of the older style helmets do not have a lot of room for numbers towards the front.
Ryan Smyth presented such a problem for the Oilers equipment staff with his old bucket, but they were able to squeeze it in.
The league-wide mandate makes it easier for officials to identify players, especially in a scrum situation.
KEEPING IT REAL
The Oilers opening ceremony was scaled down this year, absent trapeze artists and bagpipers as had been seen at Rexall Place.
After a brief video introduction and a message welcoming fans to the “Edmonton-born” Daryl Katz production, the Oilers were introduced, the anthems were sung and the puck was dropped.
OILERS ANTHEM SINGER
Samantha King was able to hold it together after nearly tripping over the carpet on the way to centre ice.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be under the microscope for his first nine games with the Edmonton Oilers.
Critics of the 18-year-old, or those who wish to see him back in Red Deer, will point out the first-overall pick in last summer’s NHL draft struggled in the face-off circle, losing 13 of his 15 draws.
Yet, Nugent-Hopkins’ extraordinary passing ability was on full display, setting up a number of quality scoring chances for his teammates, then scored the tying goal with under five minutes left in the third period.
Tom Renney had never lost a home opener behind the bench heading into Sunday’s contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Renney had a perfect 7-0 record dating back to his coaching days with the New York Rangers. The Oilers head coach said that streak extends back even further to his assistant-coaching days.