Wednesday, October 4, 2006


Well, another season is upon us. Let's get down to business.
This is a preview, however, it is impossible to not look back on last year:

Record: 22 - 46 - 14 (58 points, last in Eastern Conference)

  • Home: 12 - 21 - 8
  • Away: 10 - 25 - 6
  • Goals per game: 2.96 (17th NHL) Goals allowed per game: 3.78 (League-worst)
  • Powerplay: 19.0% (6th NHL) Penalty Kill: 78.8% (Next to last)
  • Penalty Minutes per game: 19.0 (League-worst)
Bright Spots
  • Sidney Crosby: 39 G, 63 A, 102 P
  • Colby Armstrong, Ryan Whitney
  • Mario Lemieux played for a while
  • Penguins led the league in biggest increase in attendance from 03-04. (+ 33.07%)
  • Marc-Andre Fleury was finally able to set up camp in Pittsburgh
And that's it. Kinda wanna put 05-06 behind us.

Now, onto 2006-07.

The Pens have gotten rid of GM Craig Patrick and brought in Ray Shero. Ray Shero has done a lot to change the attitude around this organization.
They re-acquired Mark Recchi from Carolina. They brought in Mark Eaton to do some penalty-killing. They brought in the under-rated Dominic Moore. They finally have a right-handed defenseman in Kristopher Letang.
The Penguins will begin the season with the youngest roster in their 40-year history. They are 65-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. Sometime during this season, we may know for sure if the Penguins are leaving or staying in Pittsburgh.
We have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury. It might not happen this year, but the Penguins will make some noise in the playoffs soon.

Pensblog Predictions:
  • Record: 30 - 45 - 7 (11th or 12th in the Eastern Conference)
  • Crosby: 48 G, 70 A, 118 P
  • Malkin: 37 G, 30 A, 67 P
  • Penguins will beat the Islanders in a shootout
  • Top-5 powerplay in the NHL
  • Penalty Kill will improve
  • NHL, in general, will have a hell of a year

Opening Night Roster Breakdown:


CENTERS:

Sidney Crosby: 5'11" 193 lbs.
What can't you say about Sidney Crosby? He is durable...81 games played. He can score 39 goals. He creates 63 assists. The only negative is the 110 penalty minutes, but that is what it is. It should be a pleasure watching a more experienced Crosby this year.

Evgeni Malkin: 6'3" 192 lbs.
Other than Sidney Crosby, or King Mario, I don't think there has been a more anticipated arrival in Pittsburgh history, let alone Penguins history. The second pick in the 2004 draft gave us a scare in his first game, but when the shoulder heals, look out. The Malkin and Crosby duo could become the stuff of legends, but we will just take a solid (and healthy) year 1.

Dominic Moore: 6'0" 195 lbs
Moore, a rookie for the Rangers last year, is a penalty killing machine. He played all 82 games last year, and scored 9 goals and added 9 assists. He is a grinder, and will help the Penguins in the corners, and in their defensive zone more than on the scoreboard. And believe me, that's not a bad thing.

Jordan Staal: 6'4" 215 lbs.
Meet another first round draft pick. This time, the number 2 overall pick in the 2006 draft. He is huge even by NHL standards, but only 18 years old. No one is sure if he will stay the entire year, but you never know. He showed promise in the preseason, but also looked lost at times. What line he will play on is also up in the air. The Penguins have 9 games to decide on Staal.

Karl Stewart: 5 '11" 185 lbs.
Jobber number 1. Picked off waivers by the Pens, from Anahiem, Stewart will be a fixture on the fourth line.

Chris Thorburn: 6'3" 210 lbs.
Jobber number 2. But Thorburn is huge, picked off the waiver wire from the Sabres. He could come in when Andre Roy get his face rearranged.

RIGHT WINGS:

Colby Armstrong: 6'2" 190 lbs.
Crosby's Robin, Armstrong proved that he belongs on the Penguins top line. Let's hope he has one of them "break-out years".


Ryan Malone: 6'4" 216 lbs
Pittsburgh's prodigal son. Ryan Malone's dad isn't around the Pens organization anymore. He better bust loose this year. We hear Ryan Malone this, Ryan Malone that. Drop 35 goals this year man.

Michel Ouellet: 6'0" 202 lbs.
The captain of the garbage goal, Oullet looked pretty solid on powerplays last year for the Pens. You're wearing number 7...don't disgrace our boy Joey Mullen.

Ronald Petrovicky: 6'0" 195 lbs.
Starts the season on injured reserve. Had 20 points in 60 games last year with Atlanta. Hopefully, he will not be Jobber number 3.

Mark Recchi: 5'10" 190 lbs.
Everyone in Pittsburgh loves Mark Recchi. His image was tainted a little when the locker room quarrels with Crosby broke into the media, but these are grown men and they better get over their bullcrap. 57 points in 63 games for the Pens last year. Recchi is deceptively fast for a 38 year-old.

Andre Roy: 6'3" 221 lbs.
Jobber number 4. If he doesn't make mistakes that cost us a goal, then it's hard not to like Roy. He's a big guy trying to survive in the new NHL. Knock some bodies around but don't forget that goals against your team are bad.

LEFT WINGS:

Nils Ekman: 6'0" 190 lbs.
A benefactor of the Thornton-CheechnChong line last year in San Jose (57 P in 77 games), Ekman was shipped to Pittsburgh in the offseason for a second round draft pick. He'll be on the top line with Crosby and Army. He looks like he can skate with Crosby for the most part.

John LeClair: 6'3" 225 lbs.
An aging veteran, John LeClair hasn't given us much reason not to like him (except for the Malkin thing). He's not worthy of the top two lines anymore, but what team of the Penguins caliber wouldn't want a John LeClair on the third line...or in the locker room...

Jarkko Ruutu: 6'0" 200 lbs.
Sweet name. Played all 82 games for Vancouver last year, scoring 17 points. If you want a better look at this guy, watch the clip below of his vicious hit on Jagr in the 2006 Olympics. Watch Straka in that clip, too.





DEFENSEMEN

Eric Cairns: 6'6" 230 lbs.
Starting the year on injured-reserve. 27 games with the Pens last year. 1 Goal. 87 PIM. He's a big-guy that will own people who bully Crosby and Malkin.

Mark Eaton: 6'2" 212 lbs.
We got this guy in free agency. Played with Nashville last year. Accomplished penalty-killer. 69 games last year. 3 goals, 1 assist.

Sergei Gonchar: 6'2" 215 lbs.
Came on strong in the second half last year. Judging by his pre-season, he'll be a huge asset to the team this year. In 75 games last year, 12 G and 46 A. He'll be mentoring Malkin this year, too, so let's be nice to the guy.

Kristopher Letang: 5'11" 190 lbs.
If there's anyone that I want to do well this year, it would be Letang. Looked good in the preseason, better than Welch, according to Pens management. And, of course, we finally have a right-handed defenseman. His handedness alone will get him on the powerplay.

Josef Melichar: 6'2" 220 lbs.
Seems like no one around these parts is fond of Melichar. 72 games last year, 15 points. People want to point to his shoulder injury and say he's been playing like a wuss since. On a terrible Pens team last year, Melichar was only a minus-2 in plus-minus.

Brooks Orpik: 6'2" 228 lbs.
Has silently become the Penguins go-to enforcer. When he wasn't ramming Erik Cole's head in the boards, he was a minus-3 last year. Played in 62 games, with 9 points.

Rob Scuderi: 6'0" 214 lbs.
Unless Welch is banging Orpik's wife, which would cause unrest in the locker room, there's no reason that Scuderi should be here while Welch is in Wilkes-Barre.

Ryan Whitney: 6'4" 202 lbs.
38 points in 68 games last year. Stop making mental mistakes and shoot some more.

GOALIES

Marc-Andre Fleury: 6'1" 175 lbs.
This is it. This is the year for Fleury. A better-than-last-year defense in front of him. This is where he has to start showing what he has. Fleury has been resilient, with criticism bouncing off of him in the same manner that rebounds do. Ouch. All jokes aside, let's all REALLY pull for the 21-year-old this year.

Jocelyn Thibault: 5'11" 169 lbs
He had a solid pre-season and wants to erase last year's debacle. Fleury is the go-to-guy, but when we play our third game in four nights, and that third game is in Toronto on a Saturday night, I can be comfortable with Thibault in goal.

Let it be said:

LET'S GO PENS!

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