I’ve been gone for far too long. No excuses, though, the regular season is upon us.
Is it just me, or did the opening two games in Sweden still feel like the preseason? As much as the players will dispute, there was no atmosphere overseas.
I was able to view bits and pieces of the first game, and it felt like an all-star game as far as the crowd goes. “ooo’s and aaaah’s” followed goals, and Evgeni Malkin deserved a red carpet roll out and Rock and Roll Part 2 for his shorthanded breakaway goal.
Nevertheless, the games did count, and here we are. A record of 1-1, and a home opener against New Jersey on Saturday night.
Several storylines lead in to the game, with one sticking out above all in my mind.
THERE WILL BE NO BANNER RAISING CEREMONY. This was brought to my attention by Tony Ferrante at the Confluence of the Three Rivers.
I’m very surprised, but then again Mario is not a big fan of these kind of things. It would be nice to see the banner raised, and give credit to last year’s team that went so far and gave Pittsburgh fans a month of summer action not focused solely on the Pirates.
What excited me about this is that there will be a slew of other banners occupying the dome at Mellon Arena as well. An Atlantic Division Champion banner will accompany the Eastern Conference Champion banner.
A banner will be dedicated to honoring the 12 times a Penguin has won the NHL scoring race, as well as another banner to honor the 5 times a Penguins has won the NHL MVP.
These additions are long overdue, and I can’t wait to witness them myself (Tuesday night against the Flyers!!!).
Surely of more importance is the fact that Petr Sykora is out of the lineup for the game, still suffering with a groin injury (FF).
It’s unclear how to feel about injuries this early in the season. With this team, I’m not sure it matters. We saw how well the team dealt with guys out of the lineup last year.
Petr Sykora’s groin injury doesn’t seem to be anything that will keep him out too long.
As far as Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney’s injuries go, I am worried. Such a long absence from two key blue-liners makes me nervous. Though the Pens have a decent amount of depth on defense, it is the weakest position on the team.
Sure, they improved drastically last year. However, I don’t have a ton of faith in Alex Goligoski (yet), Mark Eaton or Darryl Sydor.
Time will tell, and I’ve been nervous about injuries before…then we went to the finals.
~Chris @ Pittsburgh Puck Talk