I really does not seem that long ago that I was celebrating the Pens winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and going downtown for the City of Champions parade. It was sure a short summer for the Pens and I’m so glad hockey is back! The Penguins were able to keep most of their core players over the summer so they did not lose anyone that important. There were some people that left and some new faces in town so let’s take a look at what the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins looks like.
Let’s start with the new forwards. I guess the biggest name the Pens picked up in the off season would have to be Mike Rupp from New Jersey. Rupp is basically a grinder that you will most likely see on the 3rd or 4th line. Also on offense the Pens acquired Chris Bourque of the waiver wire from Washington. He is the son of All-Star defensemen Ray Bourque. He definitely has talent, but not that much size being only 5ft 8in. He will also end up being on the 4th line at times. On defense the Pens picked up Jay McKee. He is hard working and known for blocking shots. He was picked up to replace Rob Scuderi who went to the LA Kings. Finally the Pens picked up a new backup goalie in Brent Johnson. The past 2 years he was playing for the Capitals and had a SV% of .908.
As I said the Pens were able to keep their core players. So we have the same 4 centers, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Adams. It will be interesting to see how Crosby plays since all the pressure of winning the cup is off of his shoulders, although there will be the pressure of being the captain and still being successful. Malkin was a beast in the playoffs and I hope he continues that as this season starts. It is Jordan Staal’s 4th season in the NHL and it has been great seeing him develop as a player as well as Tyler Kennedy. Of course in goal we have Fluery, he played great in the playoffs last year and he seems a lot more confident this year. Gonchar and Letang are still back on defense and Goligoski has a permanent spot on the team now.
So do you think the Pens can repeat winning the cup? Honestly I don’t think that anyone can make that prediction so early in the season. It takes time for the new players to get used to playing with the team and you have no clue what can happen throughout the 82 game season. There can be injuries, trades, etc. Unlike at the start of last year the Pens know what it takes to win as they won the Cup last year. Going through all that it takes to win the cup really brings a team together. I really hope that the Pens can be a successful team for years to come, making the playoffs every year.
Well this year is the last year the Pens will play at Mellon Area, or as we all know it…the Igloo. I’ve seen some great games at the Igloo including the raising of the banners back in 92′ and when the Pens won the Price of Wales trophy 2 years ago beating the Flyers in 5 games. That was an insane experience, the crowd was so loud at that game. So if you are able to make it to a game this year make sure you enjoy it because it will probably be the last game you will see at the Igloo. Next year the Pens will be playing at the Consol Energy Center right across the street from the Igloo. I’m really excited to see the new arena, I will definitely be going to some games when the new arena opens.