SEASON PREVIEW: A Winter on the Brink. 2007-2008 season preview

For the last six years we've written a season preview about the Pens. ( Obviously)
We have to fill a void somehow so we'll just post old season previews today, and all next week.

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2007-2008 preview orginally posted October 3, 2007.

 


What is it like to be a Penguins fan? Are you sure you want to know?
The story of a Penguins season is not for the faint of heart.

If somebody said it was going to be a happy little tale…
If somebody told you it was just your average ordinary season with no overtime losses, no blown leads, no gut-wrenching third periods…somebody lied.

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Last season:

We started the season praising the arrival of Evgeni Malkin.
What happens in his first preseason game?

However, Malkin managed to return a mere 5 games into the season.
In game 8, he electrified Mellon Arena with a goal that made every Pens fan stand up wherever they were and realize the Pens were back.

From October 5 till December 20, there were two things on the minds of Pens fans.
A) Rumors of a 4th Die Hard movie.
B) The Pens' new arena.

December 20th was the day that Pennsylvania awarded a gaming license to the city of Pittsburgh.
Isle of Capri promised to build a new Pens arena if given the license.
But they were shut down.

And although it really wasn't on your mind every second of every Pens game, the thought of the Pens leaving would hit you at 5:30 on some jobber Thursday afternoon, and you'd have to sit there for an hour, contemplating the fact that the Buffalo Sabres or Columbus Blue Jackets may be your new team to root for.

Amidst all this crap, the Pens decided to embark on an incredible 16-game point streak.
14-0-2 from January 13 to February 19.

It was during that stretch that Pens fans everywhere stood up wherever they were and realized the Pens were contenders.

March 13, 2007 — Lemieux announces the Pens are staying in Pittsburgh.

The Pens finished the season second to New Jersey in the Atlantic.
And for the first time since 2001, the Pens were in the playoffs.

In mid-April, Pens fans everywhere stood up wherever they were and were choke-slammed by the Ottawa Senators.

The Pens' only win of the series was in Game 2. It was a sweet victory.

But the feeling of playoff hockey for a hungry fan base came 8:08 into the second period of Game 4 with the Pens down 1-0.
After the Pens struggled for shots on goal, Jordan Staal found himself in front and pounded one past Ray Emery.

The swell of the Mellon Arena crowd in celebration of that goal, in a way, was comparable to a Stanley Cup championship, in regards to a team who hadn't seen the playoffs in 6 years.

But the Senators were all business, beat the Pens that game, and won the series 4-1.

And now, it's time for the 2007-2008 season.

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Home:

Mellon Arena

Sure, it is outdated. And everything is too small, parking sucks, etc.
But to many of us, Mellon Arena is like a second home.

Other than fornicating somewhere, there isn't a better place to be on a winter night than on Center Avenue, the sharp cold piercing your lungs as you walk faster than you ever have to the gates.

Ownership:

Lemieux Group L.P.

Mario Lemieux was well on his way to selling his interest in the team.
Then the Pens got Malkin. Then the Pens got Crosby. Then they got Roberts.
Then they got the new arena.

And Lemieux is staying at the helm.
And he is still a beast.

GM:

Ray Shero.

Maybe we were all sick of Craig Patrick. Maybe not. He gave us two Cups.

Ray Shero walks into his office every morning and dominates.
He has made some big-time moves.

Basically, fans want a GM that they trust.
Ray Shero is a man you can trust.

Coaching Staff:

Head Coach:
Michel Therrien

The thing about Therrien is you either like him or you don't.
A lot of people thought Shero would go in a different direction,
but so far Therrien has been the man.
His job should be safe for another year, unless the something awful happens, or Pierre McGuire tries to make up another rumor like he did last year.

Assistant coach:
Mike Yeo

Yeo dominates with a solid suit/tie scheme every night.
If FSN doesn't show him before the third period, call the police.

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Broadcast Teams:
(Presented by Ron Newcomer)

Radio team:

WXDX(105.9 FM)


Mike Lange and Phil Bourque

Fox Sports Net:


Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey

In-Game Reporter:

Dan Potash

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OFFSEASON DEPARTURES

Chris Thorburn, Nils Ekman, Jocelyn Thibault, Michel Ouellet.

OFFSEASON ARRIVALS

Daryl Sydor, Petr Sykora.

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NEW UNIFORMS


THE PATCH

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MAF's New Mask


Last year's was a flower from Little Shop of Horrors eating everything.


This year's is darker with an aggravated Penguin breaking through ice with a vengeance.
There's probably a flower on it somewhere.
It's pathetic that this is the best pic we could find.

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Crosby's "C"

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FORWARDS

#8 MARK RECCHI

What can be said about Mark Recchi?
Most players his age are hanging around while their respective team waits for them to retire.
It definitely isn't that way with Mark Recchi.
As was documented more and more during last season, anyone hating on Mark Recchi thinks this is still the mid-90s.
His point total may drop off a couple points this season as burgeoning Pens stars eventually take his place beside Crosby.

#10 GARY ROBERTS

Gary Roberts was rejuvenated when he joined the Pens at the deadline last season.
He had a new team and an entire fanbase to show what was up.

Over the course of Penguins history, and maybe Pittsburgh sports history, no athlete has ever captured the hearts of fans as quickly as Gary Roberts.
He became a legend.

Even we can't stop and wonder if Gary Roberts can maintain that insanity over the course of the entire season coming up.
He will maintain it because this could be his last run at a Cup.
It will be fun as hell watching him.

#11 JORDAN STAAL

Hopefully Jordan worked on his fist-pump/woooooo! goal celebration during the offseason.
He might be using it an extra 10 times or so this season.
That would mean Jordan Staal is a 40-goal scorer this season.
That is scary.

#12 RYAN MALONE

Over the last couple years, rumors of Ryan Malone being traded were enough to warrant putting Ryan Malone on the New York Stock Exchange.
Then again, what was he supposed to be when he got here?
He's been a consistent 20-goal scorer (on pace for about 20 last season if he didn't get injured).
Give us a 20-goal scorer every day of the week.

#16 ERIK CHRISTENSEN

Christo has ridiculous sniper potential, as he gave us shades of Alexei Kovalev last season.
He turned into a shootout specialist, leading the league with 8 shootout goals in 06-07.
If he doesn't become a semi-household name, his potential could be enough for him to be tradebait at the deadline.
Everything else aside, he's a natural center who learned the winger position on the fly last season.

#17 PETR SYKORA

The expectations circulating around Syko are pretty high.
He's entering the prime of his career, and he's sitting pretty beside Sid the Monkey.
Sykora could bump in 35.
Staal and Sykora combining for 70+ goals? Wow.

#18 ADAM HALL

Hall played his way onto the team, so he is no joke.
Got to respect a man who does that.
We don't know much about him, but we will in time.

#20 COLBY ARMSTRONG

Okay, he benefited from playing with Sid during Sid's rookie year.
But either Sid has outgrown Colby, or Colby is slumping.
It's probably a combination of both.
But how can anyone seriously hate Colby Armstrong?

#25 MAXIME TALBOT

Colby and Talbot look like they're the comic relief in the locker room.
We've never been in an NHL locker room, so we base that assumption on us touching ourselves.
He agitated a bunch of people last year, with a Sens fan throwing shit on him at the end of Game One.
And again, how can someone hate Maxime Talbot?

#27 GEORGES LARAQUE

He's basically the bodyguard for Sid, Evgeni, and Jordan.
He didn't quite fit into Therrien's plans at the tail end of last season, but his presence will be felt over the marathon that is looming.

#37 JARKKO RUUTU

And now another player that no Pens fan could seriously hate.
He's the jobber who will piss people off and draw stupid penalties that send the Graphite Company out onto the power play.

#71 EVGENI MALKIN


Oh, baby. Oh, baby.
With one year under his belt, oh, man.
He spent all last season adapting to the size of NHL rinks, not to mention jobbing back and forth between center and winger.
40 of Malk's 85 points last season came on the power play. Whatever that means.
We're not saying less than 100 points would be a disappointment, but you know Malkin is expecting to hit 100 points.

#87 SIDNEY CROSBY

If you need a synopsis of Bing, you shouldn't be here.
Only the fourth man to (legitimately) wear the Pens "C" since the late '80s, Crosby is entering the stage of his career (meaning his entire career) where he may be unstoppable at times.
We are all witness.

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DEFENSEMEN

#3 MARK EATON

People that watched the Pens during the Dark Ages know the defense was poop.
Mark Eaton came in last season and helped solidify the blue line.
There were talks that his play declined after returning from his injury.
But the plight of a steady NHL defenseman is that he doesn't show up in the stats, regardless of a good game or a bad game.
What Eaton does for the team doesn't show up in the NHL.com box score.

#4 ROB SCUDERI

Scoods is definitely the sitting duck on the Pens blue line now, with Joe Melichar leaving.
We all understand that some people love hockey because it's entertaining.
When the Pens weren't an entertaining team, people lost interest. Big deal.
But these people better not jump in now and say Rob Scuderi doesn't belong on the Pens.
Therrien trusts him enough to put him out there when we're on the short end of a 5-on-3.
Rob Scuderi is there when it counts.

#5 DARYL SYDOR

The addition of Daryl Sydor is a big deal.
Again, our knowledge of an NHL locker room is mud.
But seeing now three vets on that blue line has to have some psychological effect on the other D-men and the entire team.

#19 RYAN WHITNEY

As long as Crosby and Malkin are on the ice during the power play,
expect the Whitney Play ( TM) to sneak in the back door for some more gimme goals this season.
But that's not to say Whitney isn't coming into his own.
If he isn't a household name yet, he will be.

#32 ALAIN NASREDDINE

The big thing he did last year was during the Montreal game.
Five seconds left in the first period, the Pens were in the Montreal zone, and he knew that he meant absolutely nothing to the team if he stayed on the blue line.
He creeps in and scores on a one-timer from Sid with 0.2 left.
We don't know what us remembering that means.
Nazzer played 44 games last season and led Pens d-men with a plus/minus of +12.

#44 BROOKS ORPIK

He is the closest the Pens have to a stay-at-home enforcer defenseman.
The only problem is that he stays at home until he goes to hit someone.
And then he doesn't get back into position.
We made that observation while finishing off a bag of Pepperoni Pizza Combos, so that means whatever you want it to mean.

#55 SERGEI GONCHAR

48 of Gonchar's 67 points last season came on the power play.
By comparison, Scott Niedermayer had only 34 of 69.
Niklas Lidstrom — 33 of 62.

That could mean Niedermayer and Lidstrom are better breakout passers than Gonchar.
Or it means Niedermayer played on the team that won the Stanley Cup.
And Lidstrom has been unanimously the best defenseman in the NHL for the last 5 years.
Whatev.

Gonchar could've run a blog in the penalty box during the 05-06 season.
He improved dramatically in that department last year.
He'll make mistakes. He's human. 
We don't want to know what life would be like if he wasn't on the blue line.
We stand by him.

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GOALIES

#29 MARC-ANDRE FLEURY

Personal blog:
Pensblog Adam recalls calling into Mark Madden during the 05-06 season, saying MAF is repeatedly beaten over the shoulder because MAF commits to the butterfly a millisecond too early.
Madden proceeded to call Adam a homo.

If you want to give MAF criticism now, your name better be Gilles Miloche.
Miloche has worked behind the scenes to mold MAF into a big deal.

MAF wasn't in the top 5 in the NHL last year in terms of GAA, Save%, or Shutouts.
Those categories were dominated by goalies of teams that employ a defensive scheme or goalies that are just sick.

But if you look at MAF's 40 wins last season and still say MAF won't give you a chance to win against the Haseks and Brodeurs, you're a joke.

#30 DANY SABOURIN

He doesn't use Reebok goalie equipment.
That's all you gotta know.
If a mediocre backup goalie is an achille's heel, we're about to find out.

He's overall an unproven goalie. He may dominate.

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PREDICTIONS

Predictions and opinions are total mud.
We don't want to be homers, yet we don't want to cloud our judgments just because we don't want to be homers.

As the New York Rangers have stockpiled talent during the offseason, they have looked more and more disgusting.

We'll cover our bases and say either the Rangers or Pens will win the Atlantic.

Regarding offensive firepower, the Rangers and Pens are among the tops in the Eastern Conference and probably the NHL.

Everyone wants the Cup this year, and it could happen.

We now expect the Pens will be in the playoffs, but how can anyone be sure.
It is an 82-game battle, and you know there is going to be some tense times.
We started last year taking one game at a time. And we will do that this year as well.
There is nothing worse than an overconfident fan base.

If the Pens do make the playoffs, it will be a matter if last year's playoff experience, and if the season-long tutelage of Roberts, Sydor, and Sykora, will be enough to win 16 games in the Spring.

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Hopefully if you have come this far, you are willing to come a little further.
You remember the name of the arena, don't you?

Let's kick the tires and light the fires.


DROP THE PUCK.

 

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