SEASON PREVIEW: It’s All Part Of The Plan. 2008-2009 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 the rest of week.


2008-2009 season preview, posted Friday, October 3, 2008.




Late into the night of June 4, 2008, the lights went out. The memory is still fuzzy.

We can’t even remember what it felt like to watch Nicklas Lidstrom hoist the Cup on Mellon ice.



And while it hurt, for some reason, the Volek-esque pain never came.

Don’t get us wrong. Watching the Wings win the Cup was Vomit City.

But it wasn’t the stomach punch or even the crippling "can’t get out of bed for 5 days" type of loss.

It wasn’t Volek. It would crap in Garry Valk's mouth.

It wasn't even as debilitating as Tom Fitzgerald's goal in Game 7 in 1996.


The Wings were better. We all knew it.

We didn’t want to admit it, but we were just happy to be there.

Talbot's tying goal in Game 5’s triple-OT classic was the pinnacle of the season.

It was upstaged roughly two hours later when Sykora put it home.


Oh, here comes the hangover.

Oh, the Pens have lost too many players.

Pens fans better shoot themselves in the ass.


What retarded sportswriters and people around the NHL don't understand is,

Pens fans can't be more pleased.



For the last 3 or 4 years, free agency was the last thing on Pens fans' minds.

We just wanted our team to stay in the damn city.



Right now it looks like Paul Bunyan just took a shit.

But it will soon be magical.


For once, we didn’t have to worry this offseason. It feels great.

A new arena is on the horizon. Our team can spend to the cap.

Our team has 2 of the top 10-15 premier talents in the NHL.

Probably 3 of the top 50-60.

And they're locked up for a while.




But we, as Pens fans, have been told to shoot ourselves.



Oh, because Ryan Malone left.

He's a so-so player who played top line for half of the season by default because Crosby was hurt.

The Lightning ended up throwing way too much money at him.


Then the "tornado" gained steam when Hossa rejected the Pens' contract offer and pulled the worst back stabbing since [Shawn Michaels gave Marty Jannetty sweet chin music in Brutus the Barber Beefcake's Barbershop.]



It was a full-fledged monster when Malone and Roberts left

and Hossa signed with the Red Wings.


After the dust had settled, everyone from [Puck Daddy] to [Joe Starkey] and back to [Mirtle]

has nearly buried the Penguins because they lost too much in the offseason.


So, even though we don't have to fret over our team leaving,

we should just phone it in this season.

That seems to be the prevailing opinion.


The reasoning "Runner's up Curse," just doesn't seem to do it for us.


Not only are the Penguins not going to drop off from last season. They are going to be better.




[We list all the reasons, but if you really want to know? Mark Recchi isn't on the top line to start the season, jokes.]








Yes, everyone is aware of the SCF-loser hangover curse.

Those teams, such as Tampa Bay and Ottawa, are in huge cap trouble.

They loaded up on rent-a-players (plural), and it wasn't enough.


Plus, those teams didn't have a core nucleus of talent who weren't even in their primes yet.

Advantage: Penguins.

:: F Hossa


Wahhhh the Penguins lost Marian Hossa.



He was like the college relationship we all had once. The sex was aplenty, and it was good.

But there was no meaning, and in the end, it was better to just walk away before you got AIDS.


Look, Hossa was great. He really was. But he was great in the playoffs.

He had minimal to no effect on the Pens regular-season success in 07-08.


For the money the Penguins didn’t spend on Hossa’s large contract,

they were able to get some unreal quality.


[Mikie J]


Satan is all business.

[Empty Netters] made a great point early this year in saying that since his rookie year,

only 11 players have scored more than him.


He will benefit from the Crosby Halo Effect.

Satan's never played with a player of Crosby's caliber.



[Daniel L]


We don’t understand the gloom and doom about the players the Penguins lost.

Gary Roberts was a beast. He left his mark with all of us. Hell, we still wear the wristband.


Ryan Malone was a hometown kid who made good. He had a hell of a season.


Jarkoo Ruutu was insane. He is a guy you loved to have on your team.

Adam Hall — whatev.

BGL — good fighter, solid human. Whatev.


Really, are those losses all that staggering?


Roberts is 41 years old. He just didn’t fit here any more.

Recchi could still score, but he couldn't keep up with the speed on this team.

Same situation here. We wish him the best, as if he cares what we wish him.


Ryan Malone, before last season, was a so-so average player.

He got a chance to play on the top line with Malkin when Bing went down.

The points started piling up.


He isn’t worth $5-million in any country.

Ruslan Fedotenko is going to make us forget about him.

More on that shortly.


Rutuu is a tough loss, but he is getting older.

Matt Cooke is a younger version, with a touch more of talent.

Talk about a seamless transition from a old player to youth.


Adam Hall missed like 300 games last season, so if you are getting your balls all jammed up,

go to hell.


BGL is a good guy. His mere presence last year was important.

We liked BGL. How couldn't you?

But he sometimes had the attitude of, "Do I really have to fight? Fine," sometimes.




Once again, Ray Shero has shown he can get the best for his dollar.

Ruslan Fedotenko is clutch and has a Stanley Cup ring.

We’re not going to make any crazy predictions, but Tank is going to be nasty.

Matt Cooke is a feisty SOB that has played in tons of big games and is a younger, better version of Ruutu.



With Gonch and Whitney both sidelined, the defense is on the backs of Scuds, Sydor, Eaton, Gill, Letang, and Go-Go. And we all wanted to get rid of Sydor? Ray Shero made sure he was deep with the d-men, and it has paid off.


Besides Gonch, last season the Pens had trouble getting points from the Defense.

With Letang and Go-go, we could be seeing some solid numbers.















Beast 2.0





Of the last 5 Penguins coaches, none of them were able to keep the job for 3 complete seasons.

Eddie Johnston was the last to do it, and one of his was the strike-shortened '94-'95 season.

Part of consistency as a team is not having a different guy in a suit behind the bench every other season.


This will be Therrien's 3rd year. Already he's 2nd in franchise history in wins.

At a couple points through his tenure he's been in tight spots, with some calling for his replacement. But after the playoff run, HCMT is sitting comfortably and he's earned some slack.


That being said, if the Pens drop 3 straight, someone will once again start calling for his head.

But it's gonna take a lot more than a few losses before Therrien's job is in question.








Crosby is a robot.

Every question he answers, every moves he makes, every pass he makes,

is all calculated and followed through with exemplary precision.


Malkin? He introduced himself at the season-ticket holders meeting by saying "Hi, People."

He's the wild card. And it's great.


That's what makes these two mesh.

One thing people don't realize is that they have yet to play a full season together where they are both completely healthy.


They push each other, and that in turn pushes everyone else.


Each will have snipers, Satan and Sykora, by their sides.


The biggest question is, where will Jordan Staal play?

After a tough year, Staal is going to be unreal this year. You can feel it.


Guys like MR. KENNEDY and Max Talbot are what the new NHL is about,

and like we said, Ruslan Fedotenko will be money.


The real story though is depth. Yhe Penguins are deep, and that is what is important. Last year injuries were aplenty, but because of depth, the Penguins were able to find success.


It all is a testament to Ray Shero.








The Pens defense corps is hurting, reiterating the importance of depth.


Whitney's out until at least December.

Gonch could be back in time for the playoffs.

That'll open ice time for Gogo to step and prove he can contribute at the NHL level.


It also leaves a hole on the point in the powerplay and in the neutral-zone transition.

Count on Letang to audition to fill that role.

He didn't make the roster out of camp last season, but he manned up and eventually made the squad.

At the very least, you can mark him down for some shootout game winners. [ Youtube ]


Eaton played 36 games last year, and 35 the year before that.

When he's on the ice, he is a shutdown defenseman.

If he can suit up for 70 or more games this season, it would take our defense to another level.


Darryl Sydor was scratched most of the postseason.

He was inserted into the lineup for Game 3 of the SCF, and the team was more cohesive.


Over the offseason, there was talk in some circles about moving him.

Then he looked expendable. Now he's an integral member of the defense.

Go ahead and put Scuderi in the group, as well.


Brooks Orpik is just one of the guys we could afford to keep because Shero didn't throw money bags at Malone or Hossa.


[ jeffe ]







Over the past 3 seasons, Marc-Andre Fleury has grown into an elite NHL goaltender.

He entered the league talented and too quick for his own good.

In a short time, he's vastly improved his positioning and composure.


And he's still only 23. At this rate, it's scary to think how good MAF could be between the pipes.

Even if he does handle the puck with the grace of Michael J. Fox.


Last year, Conklin came up big when Fleury went down. This season, the backup role falls to Dany Sabourin. Even if MAF stays healthy, Sabourin is going to be key.


John Curry.

We don't know much about him. He's yet to occupy an NHL crease,

but Shero decided to take him with them to Sweden to fill the extra roster spot.

If nothing else, it's good to know what Plan C is.




In conclusion of this freight train, it's time to piece everything together.


Being the underdog is great. Everyone and their mother have inked the Pens as such.

Good. Great.


The only important cog the Pens lost in the offseason was Ryan Malone.

All the Hossa talk aside, he WASN'T THE REASON we got to the playoffs.

He was part of the reason why we ABSOLUTELY COASTED through the East in the playoffs.


Maybe this season, the Pens may actually have to play a Game 6 here or there

against the beleaguered Eastern Conference.


And a quick aside on Malone: He's not worth what he was given.

We don't care who you are or where you're from.

He may be in the prime of his career right now, so he'll be tapering off by the end of his 5-year deal.


Speaking of primes of their careers, the Pens youthful corps of studs aren't even close yet.

And they have the experience of a trip to the SCF.


The Pens season will break down to two things:

A) Marc-Andre Fleury's health.

B) The blue-liners holding their own.


Anyone thinking the Pens' offense will taper off this season is high.


How quickly everyone forgets how the Pens were more than treading water last season

with a motley crew of Ryan Stone, Jeff Taffe, and the like.

Oh, and Crosby was out, too.


Don't let anyone talk you into thinking the loss of Hossa and Malone is the end of the world.

It's only just the beginning.



Go Pens