SWAGGA LIKE US. 2009-2010 PENS SEASON PREVIEW

 
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It's been our own personal mantra around to stay the course. It's not advice for anyone.
If people followed our advice all the time, no one would be alive.
 
 

But we're keeping that mantra heading into this year.
 
No use grandstanding here. The Pens are defending Cup champions.
We are where every NHL fanbase wants to be.
 
 
Good thing we're not Dan Bylsma or a Pens player.
Disco has been preaching to forget about last season.
As fans, we never will; we'll keep watching Game 7 highlights every day like we've been all summer.

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2008-09 was a vegeance tour. It was about righting the wrongs of years passed.
2009-2010 is a defense. A defense of the greatest title in professional sports.
It is one last defense of the only Arena we've ever known.
 
 
There's talk of giving your favorite team a grace period after they win a championship.
You can't expect them to win it every season.
F that. As a fanbase, we have the swagger now.
 
 
When Pens fans roll into Columbus, 1,000 deep, people will be pissed.
When we storm the steps down in D.C., threats will be aplently.
But they are forced to respect it.
 
 
And opposing fans coming into the Mellon? Look up in the rafters, jokes.
Here's to one last season in the Mellon Arena.
 
 

 
 
 

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The daylight is just lifting. Throw a quarter to some homeless guy. You head past Gate Two and high-five some random dude….. flick the Flyers bus off, keep walking up that godforsaken hill. You look up at the parking lot where you spent hours waiting in traffic as a kid. You give a "wooo…" to tailgateblog up there, throw a wave to the hockey jesus. Open up to Gate Three and get your sac touched by some guard- getting close now. The blast of cold air hits you right as you peek behind the curtain and see the empty red seats. The arena is busy; you're in line behind 200 people. You're a goddam Penguin fan in the only Arena you've ever known. Is there any thing better in the world?
 

 

What do you say to the Arena that has given us everything?
Every time you step into that place this year, it could be your last.
 
And that's all right. Its time has come.
The anticipation we all have for The Con is insane. We've waited so long.
 

But the proper respects have to be paid. There is nothing like walking into the Mellon arena. Nothing.
When the final act is staged, and the lights dim. A piece of all us goes dark.
Crying is lame. But there will be tears everywhere when the final horn goes off.
 

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Beast.
Honestly, nothing else left to say.
 

 
 
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Ray Shero gave an interview when he first came to Pittsburgh.
It has stayed with us during his tenure.
 
Stan Savarn was in panic mode back in 2007.
He asked Shero about trading and whatnot.
Shero responded that he looks at the season in 20- to 25-game segments.
 

Basically, Ray Shero isn't going to make a knee-jerk reaction.
Just think about the moves the Shero made last season.
 

Brian Boucher: Goal in Game 1 of the ECF, innumerable other little plays.
 
After the Ryan Whitney/Chris Kunitz trade, the Pens went 5-0.
And guess who had the primary assist on the GWG in Game 7. The Koon.
 
The Pens don't win the Cup last year without Craig Adams.
Throughout the playoffs, his presence allowed the Pens to have four better-than-solid lines.
His goal against the Caps in Game 7 to make it 2-0 in short order was as big as it gets.

 
And Bill Guerin? Unreal. He was a force in the playoffs.
His pass to Bing in Game 3 of the ECF is prayed to in Ulan Bator.
 

 
As scary as it sounds, you can almost compare Shero's first few years to Craig Patrick's.
Two big trades, two Stanley Cup appearances.
 

The one thing that seems to differ, however, is that Shero has a plan.
Craig Patrick didn't even have the internet.
 
 
To get back to the Finals for a third straight year, Shero is going to have to be better than ever before.
 
And Ray Shero is a man who pisses excellence.
 
 
 

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When Disco took the reigns for HCMT, we had no clue what was about to happen.
His coaching style appealed to everyone. And he shook up the world.
 
But it's hard to believe he's only coached these Pens for less than half a regular season.
This will be his first go-around in the pressure-cooker of an 82-game journey.
 
How will he manage two of the best players in the NHL? How will he handle the second line?
When will he dress seven defenseman?
 
Why do we even care?
Does he even have to answer any of these questions after taking a team to the Cup as a rookie coach?
The coaching decisions he made throughout the entire playoffs were spot-on.
 
But how will Disco handle Dave Molinari being unhappy with a 3-game winless streak?
How will he handle a blowout loss on opening night?
 

 
Another dynamic to the coaching staff is the addition of super villain Tony Granato.
With Disco being a "player's coach", Shero knew he needed to bring in a disciplinarian.
Granato will get the job done.
 
And the embattled Mike Yeo begins his third season of getting bashed about the powerplay.
Life isn't the same until the second-intermission Mike Yeo interview.
 

 
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CRAIG ADAMS

 
 
 
In a vintage Ray Shero move, Adams was picked up off of waivers at the deadline last season. He went on to become a stabilizing force with the Pens and showed the team how to be beasts in big-game situations. The fact that he was the last ever Hartford Whalers draft pick makes him even cooler.

"I think Kris Draper needs to get a life, honestly."
–Craig Adams
 
PREDICTION:
Playing on a line that will usually include Godard and/or Rupp, Adams will get to watch a lot of fights up close.
Such a shame.

 
 
 
 
 
CHRIS BOURQUE
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Picked up off of the waiver wire after Washington forgot how salary caps work.
Is expected to start the season with the big team
He has skill, but lacks size. Just like 90% of the league.
 

PREDICTION:
 
Lemieux dekes around him and scores in practice, just to bring back bad memories for his dad.
 
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PASCAL DUPUIS
 

 
 
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Dupuis is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a Penguins jersey.
Sometimes he looks like he could play on one of the top lines.
Other times, he's a reason to break at least 4 Commandments during a Pens game.
 
He'll try to do his best filling in for Tyler Kennedy on the third line until Talbot comes back.
After that, we have no idea. He'll probably go back to Minnesota.
 
Then again, why are we jobbing him?
The Pens just won the Cup with him. He was an important piece on the grinder lines.
 
And he has a Penguins tattoo.
Why hasn't he endeared himself to Pens fans because of this? No clue.
 

PREDICTION:
After missing a shot on goal, someone in cblog will post that picture of him without hands.
Some people will laugh. Others will call it mean.

 
 
JORDAN STAAL
 

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He's still just 21 years old, but he's constantly criticized for developing too slowly.
 
We're done jobbing him.
When we were 21 years old, we couldn't even go to an Applebee's without wondering if we should kill ourselves.
 
Staal stepped up when Crosby and Malkin were neutralized against the Wings.
It'll be hard to forget that even when Staal is not doing anything for stretches this season.
 

PREDICTION: Trade Staal.
 

 
 
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BILL GUERIN
 

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What a human. This year he will get the chance to spend the entire season on a line with Sidney Crosby.
 
If you've seen the Pens Cup DVD, you know what he brings to the rink every day.
The intangibles that only get appreciated in a one-minute segment on a DVD.
 
He's possibly on the bubble of being on Team USA for the Olympics.
He knows playing with Sidney Crosby only helps his chances.
 

PREDICTION:
Probably his last NHL season. Upwards of 60 points.
And probably a blog-generated cult status will rise from the depths of the internet.
 

 
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CHRIS KUNITZ
 
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A whole year on a line with Crosby and Guerin?
It could mean big things for Kunitz.
 
He's scored at least 20 goals in his last three seasons.
And conventional wisdom suggests he will do the same this year.
 
 
PREDICTION:
He ends Kimmo Timonen's life at least one more time.
 

 
MIKE RUPP
 

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Grinder, grinder, grinder.
Wants another Cup.
 

PREDICTION:
He's probably gonna fight and stuff.
 
 
 
MATT COOKE
 

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Matt Cooke probably spent his offseason eating doughnuts and taunting Wings fans.
The ideal summer.
 
Of course, Matt Cooke did it with the Stanley Cup by his side.
We did it while not having any friends.
 
He was supposed to fill that Jarkko Ruutu void, and he did.
Case closed.
 
 

PREDICTION:

If the Pens are becoming a well-oiled machine, Cooke will be getting a career-high in points.
 
 

 

 
MAX TALBOT
 
 
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PREDICTION:
He's gonna be out of the lineup for a good bit of the beginning of the season.
 
A more-rested-than-other-players Max Talbot heading down the homestretch to the playoffs?
Nice.
 
RUSLAN FEDOTENKO
 
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He took less money to stay in Pittsburgh.
He wants to be here.
 
He had a big goal in Game 5 against the Caps last season.
If you can't visualize that goal in your mind right now, we can't help you.
 
PREDICTION:
Malkin's wingman. Do the math.
 
ERIC GODARD
 

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[clearly not a defenseman]
 

Regular-season player who keeps teams in check.
Not really. He just Tweets to another fighter before a game to set up a fight.
 
Fans of fighting are endeared to him.
Others will say there's a reason he didn't sniff the ice in the playoffs last year.
 

PREDICTION:
He'll wear a red suit while smashing in someone's face.

 

TYLER KENNEDY
 
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Who scored the GWG in Game 6 of the SCF last year?
Kennedy.
 
 
 
Too lazy to go check out Kennedy's contract situation.
But he's getting his shot as a permanent fixture in the top 6 early this season.
 
In the salary-cap era, a big season with Malkin will pay dividends.
 
If his goal column escalates, someone will grab him up eventually.
He's like 24 or something, has a ring, and proved he can score goals when it counts.
 
PREDICTION:
Rejects the MR. KENNEDY phenomenon and retires.
 
 

GENO MALKIN
 

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PREDICTION: One million points.
 

SIDNEY CROSBY
 
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diver
 
 
PREDICTION:
Career-high in goals this year. Just part of his own development process.
He's pissed as hell that he gets shut down in the SCF.
 
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ALEX GOLIGOSKI
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Pretty sick that Go-Go is the third best offensive d-man on the Pens.
Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the behomo.
 

PREDICTION:
Will challenge Kris Letang's goals and points.
 

MARK EATON
 
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Mark Eaton saves lives. Best stay-at-home D-man on the Pens. This year.
He had like 30 goals in the playoffs last year.
 
 
PREDICTION:
Bylsma's system lets him join the rush when he wants to.
Last season proved he knows when to do it.
Is that even a prediction?
 
BROOKS ORPIK
 
 
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We were the first to wonder if Orpik's payday would see him start being a jobber.
It didn't happen.
.

 
PREDICTION:
 
Will throw Tootsie Rolls in the next Cup parade.
 
SERGEI GONCHAR
 
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You don't fully appreciate Gonch's prowess until you play NHL10.
He's important back there.
 
He was playing on 1.5 legs for the bulk of the playoffs last season.
How can anyone job this guy?
 
He's currently in contract negotiations.
The outcome will be intriguing.
 
 
PREDICTION:
 
We have dreams of this Pens team being like that 92-93 team.
That would mean 80 goals for Gonchar.
 

 
 
KRIS LETANG
 
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The knock on Letang has been a lack of confidence with the puck.
He became a mainstay on the blue line last year.
And he came to life in the playoffs.
 
 

PREDICTION:
Hope he doesn't do well for one year so Shero can sign him to something realistic.
 
 
 

JAY McKEE
 

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He'll be one of the most watched players on the roster.
 
 
Prediction:
Pretty huge shoes to fill. McKee might struggle at first, but keep faith in him.
 
He'll be blocking your car in your driveway by the end of year.
 
 

 
 
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MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
 

 

The Flower wants to make Team Canada and he knows the best way to do that is to perform.
Last year, Fleury showed the world that he can play under pressure.
This year he's going to establish himself as one of the league's best.
 
More than any individual player (including Crosby and Malkin),
the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins depends on Marc-Andre Fleury.
 
He'll have to avoid injury while playing in what could be his third straight very long season.
 

PREDICTION:
He'll end up with somewhere around 40 wins and make the Canadian Olympic team.
 

BRENT JOHNSON
 

 

Johnson is a solid backup that should be able to fill in for Fleury whenever necessary.
This will become even more important if Fleury makes Team Canada.
Johnson will have to be able to step in and give MAF a break from time to time.
The main concern here is that he's had a few injury problems.
 

PREDICTION:
10 wins isn't out of the question.
 

 
 

JOHN CURRY
 

He's the Penguins back-up of the future, but he'll likely play a few NHL games this year.
Should Johnson or Fleury go down with an injury, Curry will be able to step in and hold down the fort.
 

PREDICTION:
He plays at least five games for the Pens and performs well.

 

 
 
 
 
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Will they defend?
Yeah, they probably won't even lose a game this year.
 
People near and far aren't picking the Pens to repeat.
Basically because it's boring to them. You need fresh blood.
 
The Flyers and Bruins are getting the most play out of the East.
 
You only need a dangerous team to squeak out of one or two rounds in the playoffs. (See Carolina).
The Pens are dangerous. Check.
 
You need a talented, cohesive team in order to have a chance in the Conference Finals.
The Pens won the Cup last year and didn't have a ridiculous amount of roster turnover. Check.
 
The intangibles it takes to win the Stanley Cup can be an enigma.
But the Pens had it last year. Semi-check.
 
Will they have the intangibles this season? Nobody knows.
 
Nobody thought they were anything in 2008-09 when they breezed to the Finals.
 
The Penguin fan in us says the Pens will repeat, 'cause we want them to.
Our common sense says it's a new year and anything is possible.
 
PREDICTION: No idea. Go Pens.

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The banner gets raised tonight in the final home opener in the Mellon Arena.
It hurts even typing that.
 
We don't have to detail the road we Pens fans have traversed these past three or four seasons.
We should simply be thankful that the Mellon wasn't demolished when the Pens moved to KC.
 
But here we are. Celebrating a Stanley Cup championship.
Our new cathedral is being erected.
We have two of the top players in the world.
 
And it's awesome that we've been able to chronicle all of this since we started this blog.
It's on the internet forever.
 
We ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
Here's to another season of mediocre writing and nefarious pop-up ads.
 
Thanks for reading.
 
go pens
 

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