Jayson Megna claims he isn’t doing anything different on the ice, but the results say otherwise.
After collecting only three points in all of January, February and March combined, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie is riding a three-game point streak highlighted by a between-the-legs backhand pass against Hershey on Sunday to set up a goal by Paul Thompson.
His play has earned him plenty of power-play time and Penguins coach John Hynes has been using the speedy Megna on the penalty kill as well.
Still, despite the scoring streak and extra opportunities for ice time, Megna said his good fortune has more to do with luck than a change in his style of play.
“I’m just working hard and things are starting go in,” Megna said after Tuesday’s practice at Coal Street. “This isn’t an easy league to play in, and getting the experience I’ve gotten has given me a lot of confidence. My game has started to rise a little bit going into the playoffs.”
Hynes put Megna on a line with physical forwards Zach Sill and Bobby Farnham in an attempt to jump start his game.
“Anyone that’s been on that line has been able to get their game going a little bit,” Hynes said. “(Megna) is more driving now. Every time he comes on the ice there’s consistent speed and work ethic. He’s getting more scoring opportunities because his game has gotten better.”
That bodes well for the Penguins’ offense as they look to clinch a postseason spot this weekend. While the top of line Riley Holzapfel, Trevor Smith and Chad Kolarik has led the way with 37 points over the last 11 games, Megna pointed out the importance of not relying on the top trio to carry all the weight.
“Secondary scoring will be huge in the playoffs, and we’ve been scoring a lot more goals lately,” he said. “The first line’s been on fire and carried us all year in the scoring department, but the secondary scoring needs to be there as well.”
Shake it off
In the first period of Sunday’s game against Hershey, Farnham blocked a hard slapshot from Bears defenseman Tomas Kundratek and was forced to leave the ice.
Farnham missed only one shift before he returned from the locker room and finished the game. For a player who is third in the league with 250 penalty minutes, pain usually isn’t an issue.
Unless it results from getting drilled with the puck.
“That one really caught me,” Farnham said on Tuesday. “I couldn’t move. But once you shake it off, you still feel it, but you can play with it.”
Farnham’s toughness was lauded by Hynes.
“It’s going to take a heck of a lot for this guy to miss a lot of things because he just has a passion to play. He’s a tough kid,” Hynes said.
So what hurts worse? Getting crushed into the boards by an opponent or getting drilled with the puck while blocking a shot?
“The pucks hurts more than anything,” Farnham said. “When you get hit by a guy sometimes you don’t even feel it. Taking a puck… that’s the worst.”
Take it easy
With five wins in a row and coming off a three-in-three, Hynes gave his veterans a day off skating-wise on Tuesday with an optional practice. The move was as much a reward as it was to manage the energy level of his players with the season winding down.
“The effort and intensity level is there. Our job now is to make sure our energy level is where it needs to be at game time.”
Hynes said RW Keven Veilleux, who served a suspension for using a racial slur while playing for Wheeling, won’t be joining the team for the postseason.
“It’s just an organizational decision,” Hynes said.
While being around the team as they prepare for the playoffs certainly helps the young players called up from juniors, it also provides a benefit to the coaching staff as they get to know the future players of the organization.
“We don’t take it lightly having these young guys come up,” Hynes said. “We evaluate them, get to know them and observe what they’re like in the locker room and as people. It’s a great tool for us and them to get a feel for where they’re at and where they need to go as players.”