Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not out of His League Rookie Sheary's Offensive Skill, Instincts Allow Him to Blend in with Superstar Veterans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Not out of His League Rookie Sheary's Offensive Skill, Instincts Allow Him to Blend in with Superstar Veterans

Article excerpt

Before Game 1, there were some butterflies for Conor Sheary.

Sure, this Penguins rookie had played in the Hockey East Association playoffs in his college career at Massachusetts and had 23 American Hockey League playoff games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton under his belt.

But this was the Stanley Cup playoffs, with nearly 20,000 fans packed inside Consol Energy Center, in full throat, waving bright yellow towels.

"I mean, I was expecting a ton and I think it's brought everything I was expecting," Sheary said. "It's exciting, the crowd's into it. It's a different atmosphere than the regular season. It's a lot of fun to play in."

Sheary's nerves didn't exactly show, either. He notched an assist on Patric Hornqvist's opening goal, and looked like he fit in playing in the postseason alongside his more experienced counterparts. In Game 2, he registered 11:08 of ice time - including 1:34 on the power play - playing alongside Evgeni Malkin in Malkin's first game back from injury.

Sheary said the experience he got in his 44 regular-season games helped him establish a level of comfort and familiarity, with the organization and his teammates.

"I think if I had only played a few games this year and injuries had me called up for the playoffs, it'd be a little bit different," he said. "I felt very comfortable."

Plus, as he tried to steel his nerves before Game 1, he could also draw upon his success in the AHL postseason over the past two years. In 23 playoff games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Sheary recorded 23 points.

He's not quite on that pace through two playoff games in the NHL, but coach Mike Sullivan said the coaches are seeing some of the same traits that have made him successful.

"There are certain players that are at their best in a high-stakes environment, and I think he's one of those guys," Sullivan said Saturday after the Penguins' Game 2 loss. …

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