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United States, NJ • United States • 29 Years Old • Male
It's been a couple months now since the Stanley Cup was paraded around the Mellon Arena in the hands of the opponent. While the sting has subsided, the memory of that painful sight has not and you can bet it hasn't been forgotten by the likes of Sidney Crosby and Co.

Due to prior engagements, I will not be able to see much more than the puck drop on Saturday afternoon. A new season has brought the dawn for the day of another Cup run and I shall be in a car missing the sun rise. Rest assured, I will be listening to the game on the radio though not really knowing what to expect.

The Pens open up in Sweden this year with two games against the Senators, who are quickly becoming a hated rival. While the general consensus seems to have the Pens coming out of the Eastern Conference once again, the skeptic in me is waiting to see how all the new faces in town will mesh with the strong core we already have.

Speaking of new faces, let's pause to look at those new to Pittsburgh and those who left town this offseason.

Additions Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, Matt Cooke, Eric Godard

Subtractions Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Ty Conklin, Marian Hossa, Adam Hall

Injuries Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar

Yep, we're already starting the injury bug thread before the season even starts. Whitney had offseason foot surgery and will be out until at least December. Gonchar suffered a shoulder injury in their preseason opener. The injury will require surgery and he will also be out until December at the earliest.

For those keeping track, on some nights that's our top defensive pair. So who could step up to fill in on the top pairing with what will most likely be Brooks Orpik?

My guess at this point would be Kris Letang. Mark Eaton is also back after another season ending injury early last season and is one of the best shot blockers in the league.

Hal Gill is also back, so that will help out a bottom tier penalty kill from last season. Despite his slowness, he's a big body that can clear the crease.

This almost ensures that Alex Gologoski will make the starting roster. Goligoski had 38 points for AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton last season and has two assists in three career NHL games.

While losing Whitney and Gonchar is a massive blow right now, if the team can stay afloat until they return, we'll be just fine.

Up front the Pens were able to give Evgeni Malkin an extension and bring in the likes of Fedotenko and Satan. With the departure of Malone and "Judas" Hossa, (expect from this point on for me to refer to Hossa as Judas. Big thanks to Jordan for coming up with this.) that frees up two spots on the top two lines.

I would put Satan with Crosby and Dupuis and have Fedotenko play with Malkin and Sykora.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Satan was a great pickup. The guy had 40+ points on an Islanders team that couldn't find the back of the net even if it meant being relegated to the Japanese premier league. (If someone knows if this league exists or not, let me know and I'll send a formal invitation on NHL letterhead asking them to replace a bottom 5 NHL team of their choice. Can't get any worse can it?)

I would expect Satan to get somewhere in the ballpark of 70 points this season. How sure am I of this? Sure enough to take him in my fantasy draft and make him an everyday starter. Of course having Crosby on my team makes this decision even easier, but the fact remains that he's on the team.

You can also expect 40-50 points out of Fedotenko. I'm fully convinced that even I could get this point total if I was on a line with either Crosby or Malkin. Those two guys make everyone around them better.

The farm was a big reason why the Penguins won the Atlantic Division last season and we will have to rely on them to step up once again this season at least to start out. If we can avoid the injury bug for the most part and not lose anyone for a significant amount of time in addition to Whitney and Gonchar, this team has a very good chance to repeat as division champions.

Take a look around the conference and try and come up with a more potent offense than what the Penguins have. While the likes of Montreal and the Rangers both got better, I still think the Penguins have the team to beat. What I don't like is all the hype and predictions from every hockey site I've seen saying that these guys will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals again this season.

I was utterly shocked to see that happen last season and would be surprised again to see that happen just based on how hard it is to assemble a dominant team from year to year now with the salary cap. I think we have the pieces to make another run at the Cup and if we stay healthy we are the odds on favorite to get there.

Maybe this time around things will be different.
September 30, 2008 4:09 PM ET | Delete
No depth, No grit, an average defense. You're not better then the Flyers even with Gonchar and Whitney. Stop fooling yourself from last year. The Pens from last year were dominant, but without Hossa, Malone, Ruutu, Laraque, Gonchar for most of the year, Hall, and Roberts you're going to be fighting for a playoff spot not the division.
September 30, 2008 4:10 PM ET | Delete
Your 06-07 team had more depth then this years, lucky for you though the East isn't as good as it was that year. The Pens can finish 4th at best though. The Flyers are too good this year especially if Gagne stays healthy and he looks good so far in pre-season.
September 30, 2008 5:29 PM ET | Delete
The Pens D without Gonchar and Whitney is still better than Phillys D. Yours is below average and with NO depth. The Pens will be gritty enough. There are other styles than phillys rock em sock em beat em up play. And good luck with Marty B and good ol' JS Aubin.
September 30, 2008 5:32 PM ET | Delete
what is in the water in philadelphia that they think their mediocre-overpaid team of 07-08 (which is practically he same team as 06-07) is the best team in the atlantic division? of the 5 starting goalies in the atlantic division, yours is the worst, and a suspect defense won't compensate for it. you'll be winning alot of games 6-5 and 5-4, I'd imagine.
September 30, 2008 5:43 PM ET | Delete
And Adam Hall? Seriously? a loss? i can no longer take you seriously phillyfan12
October 1, 2008 2:56 AM ET | Delete
Why does every Pittsburgh post start off with a Philthadelphia comment? The Flyers are the ugly step sister of Pennsylvania, jealous and ugly and you losers know it. The Pens "might" struggle without Gonch, but this much is certain, the Pens are still better than the Flyers. Instead of talking trash about the Pens I suggest you start coming to grips with the beating you received in last years playoffs and the beatings you are about to receive.
October 1, 2008 11:11 AM ET | Delete
Wait a minute, Wait a minute, Wait a minute..... a few observations.1. ScPensfan - Our 06-07 roster and 07-08 roster look nothing a like, we added Briere, Hartnell, Timonen, Coburn, Lupul, Jason Smith, Biron, Upshall, Kukkonen, Dowd, amongst other - thats 10 new faces, I hardly call that the same team.2. PhillyFan - You have to give credit where credit is due, the Penguins have arguably 2 of the top 3 players in the WORLD and a very capable farm system. Matt Cooke will provide enough grit for the whole team (see Flyers vs. Caps in 1st round last season). The Pens will be battling for the Atlantic all year - remember they only play the division 6 times each, they will be beating up other teams out west this year.3. Pens871 - the knock on our D last year was we are too slow to compete with the likes of the Pens and others. So we got rid of Jason Smith and put Hatcher on LTIR. Brought in agile puck mover Steve Eminger and rookie Ryan Parent, along with offensively gifted Brian Berard to add speed and puck moving ability to our back line. 4. The depth at D is quite debatable. Pens fans knw there prospects well as do Flyers fans. I think the players in the farm system is a wash, especially if Goglioski makes this team as he should. The problem the Pens are going to have is Sydor couldn't crack the line-up last season, Eaton has been hurt 2 years in a row, and Goglioski is a rookie - in a tough division. I think its hard to say with any certainty that you know what you will be getting from your D. Letang made some costly turnovers which led to his benching in the players, and Orpik isn't in a contract year anymore. So I think the "better D" has too many question marks to crown a winner for just yet. This is by far the greatest rivalry in hockey right now - but I don't think the gap got wider this off-season for the Pens, and these injuries don't help. I expect the Pens and Flyers to be battling all year for the division crown, and in my opinion I agree with you Pens fans - it comes down to goaltending and at this very second I would take Fleury over Biron.... it will be interesting to see how much of Biron's play in the playoffs was a fluke or a sign of things to come.Thanks for reading...
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