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|Plotnikov making immediate impact with Penguins
30 сентября 2015 года. Mackey, Jason. Tribune - Review / Pittsburgh Tribune - Review
Adjusting to the speed of the NHL has been the biggest thing, Sergei Plotnikov said.
Sure hasn't looked like it.
With his size and willingness to play a physical game, Plotnikov, who came from Russia and the KHL this offseason, has made quite an impression with the Penguins, especially playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist.
"I'm getting adjusted well," Plotnikov said Wednesday through interpreter George Birman. "I'm getting used to my linemates and the ice. Everything is going well."
In four preseason games, the 6-2, 202-pound Plotnikov has one goal and three points while averaging about 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Prior to Tuesday's game in Johnstown -- Plotnikov's best yet -- he had produced eight hits in three contests. (Hits were not tracked in Johnstown.) If you need more evidence that Plotnikov has had a positive effect on his peers, consider what has happened when he's been on the ice.
The Penguins have given up 15 goals in those four games, and Plotnikov was on the bench for all but one. Meanwhile, the Penguins have scored 14 goals in the four games Plotnikov has played. He's been on the ice for nine.
So much for being overwhelming by a different style of play or smaller ice.
"The speed is the biggest difference between the KHL and NHL," Plotnikov said. "You have to make faster decisions, make quicker passes and keep your head up."
Coach Mike Johnston on Tuesday praised Plotnikov's work down low and his ability to protect the puck. He was also plenty happy about how Plotnikov has fit with his linemates.
"I'm getting used to playing with those guys," Plotnikov said. "They're helping me a lot on the ice. They're telling me what to do and where to go. They're a big help."
Whether he fits on the second line or in the bottom-six is still to be determined. But what the Penguins know they will definitely get from Plotnikov is a physical style, something that dates back to his time in Russia.
"I've always been a physical player," Plotnikov said. "I'm pretty comfortable playing a physical style. It's a big part of my game to play physical, so I'm very comfortable."
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
Credit: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review