We are previewing the 2011-2012 Penguins season all week.
Today we take a look at the defense, that thing Ray Shero has made a priority for years to come.
And the goalies...
If you were watching during the preseason, you noticed that the Penguins have defensemen coming off of some assembly line in Ray Shero's basement. It's becoming more and more clearer that Shero's plan is to bank on Crosby and Malkin and their satellites carrying the offense while he secretly builds a devastating blue line. The fact of the matter is that the Pens' blue line as it stands today is pretty devastating. You won't find a better top 4 in the NHL. It's when you start digging into those final 2 or 3 defensemen that shortcomings start peeking out a little bit.
But those shortcomings didn't stop the Penguins from giving up only 2.39 goals per game last year, tied for 6th-best in the NHL. Marc-Andre Fleury had a mental breakdown at the beginning of last season but then rebounded to have, statistically, the best year of his career, with a 2.32GAA and a .918SV%. Before both Crosby and Malkin went down with injuries last season, the Pens were the hottest team in the NHL, and the defense was a huge part of that. Down the stretch last season, MAF and the blue line were the only reasons the Pens were in games every night.
Now we take a quick look at every one of those guys as the 2011-2012 season kicks off.