It has been a nice long summer. The empty feeling of last years summer is gone like a beer can on a warm vacation day.
Did we miss hockey? Sure. Did we need a break? Yes. But the itch is slowly returning isn't it? A defense of the title looms.
The old adage is that "the cup changes everything."
We were at a party this summer where the Stanley Cup just happened to be at. We were going to get in line to get our pic with the cup, but one of us wanted to ride it out.
"The line will get shorter."
It never did. People showed up from everywhere. The rumor of the Stanley Cup being in attendance spread like bad acting in a Billy Zane movie. And before you knew it...
We never saw the Cup, never had our pic beside it. But we learned how much the Stanley Cup means.
And now the quest begins.
Welcome to training camp Bylsma 2009.
We couldn't pick just one:
Thanks to everyone who sent these in. It was tough.
Mother Goose was asked to write all the storylines for this camp, then she killed herself.
It is no joke this year.
When will you do it?
You know you have been itching to do it. When will you offically make the lines up in your head.
Guerin - Crosby - Kunitz
Dupes? - Malkin - Tenk
Kennedy - Staal - Cooke
Godard - Adams - Rupp
Gonch - Candy
Letang - Eaton
GoGo - Mckee
God that felt good.
Let us say, just for the record, that in the first game of the season against the Flyers you dress Godard-Rupp-Biz Nasty.
No questions asked.
Second Line City
Talbot is out for like two months or something. Who do you put with Malkin? Dupuis has been the rotating guy, but is he the answer? When Talbot does come back, do you still play him with Malkin?
Do you make Staal Malkin's left wing?
This is why message boards live.
Who could shock the roster?
Two names come to mind:
[pic from PG]
[pic from pg]
No question the Pens need to develop younger players. But Tangradi and Cpz could have a good camp and, with Talbot down, you never know. Luca Caputi had a cup of coffee in the NHL last season. Can he get back this year?
Remember, Jordan Staal wasn't supposed to make the team his rookie year either, so anything can happen.
In two years Tangradi will be paying a mortage on the second line with Malkin.
See: Ryan Malone.
Who the hell are these people?
Chris Conner, Joey Haddad, Wyatt Smith, Joe Vitale.
No clue who those dudes are at all.
Wasn't Chris Connor on SNL or something? If Wyatt Smith changes his last name to "Earp" he makes the team. Bottom line.
Pens are also bringing Ryan Bayda, aka the guy who got a match penalty in Game of the ECF in for a look.
One horrible bounce, or John Leclair, can derail the defense of the title in a blink of an eye.
Guys like Malkin, Bing, and Gonch don't really need to see much preseason action. Especially Gonch, who suffered that joke injury thanks to that sociopath from Tampa Bay last preseason.
In The Defense Of
Depsite losing the two defenseman who were on the ice for the last six seconds of the game against Dechoke, the Pens D is deeper than the hole you keep your dark secrets in.
One of the best battles in camp is going to be for the seventh defenseman.
Ben Lovejoy would seem to be the favorite, but it all depends on Disco's system. Alex Grant is another guy we are looking forward to hearing about.
Backing Up The Flower
There will be three goaltenders, other than Marc-Andre Fleury, walking into training camp with thoughts of playing in the NHL this season.
Brent Johnson is the definite favorite, as he has by far the most NHL experience out of the three. Unless something strange happens, he start the season behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
That doesn't mean that Thiessen, who was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last year, and Curry, who played three games for the Pens last season, won't get their chances to shine at camp. Both are good talents.
With Johnson likely taking the backup role, John Curry will get another season to develop in the AHL, which is a good decision.
Plus, should Fleury or Johnson go down with an injury, it's good to know the Pens have options in goal.
Jordan Parise, brother of Zach Parise, will also be at camp.
Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh Here I Am At Camp Granato
In a very interesting move this summer, super villian Tony Granato was named assistant coach due to Tommy Fitz stepping down.
Granto is all business and it most likely the most intimidating-looking human ever.
How his coaching styles mesh with Disco and the embattled Mike Yeo will be interesting.
The Last Ride...
We don't want to harp on this too much, but when training camp starts we begin the last ride for the Igloo.
Will the old girl finally see the Pens raise the Cup on her ice?
Will the nachos be more steady this year?
Is the cotton candy guy ready to make the jump back to the arena?