After a disappointing end to last season, all eyes are on what the Penguins will do now. Two years of first round exits in the playoffs aren’t what fans, let alone the front office, expect from this team, and this season definitely has a feel that a rebuild/restructure could start at the trade deadline if things go south. As always, I try to walk the line of being fair and a fan, so let’s dive into what expect this season!
This line combo will not be how the season starts, due to injuries to Crosby and Malkin, but are the ideal lines when everyone is healthy. The team is mostly the same from last year in the top 6 and defense, so don’t expect any wild predictions.
Guentzel – Crosby – Rust
Zucker – Malkin – Kapanen
ZAR – Carter – McGinn
Heinen – Blueger – Rodrigues
Dumoulin – Letang
Petterson – Marino
Matheson – Friedman
For those of you already looking at my bottom six and looking and trying to figure out why I’m even a writer on a hockey site, allow me to explain myself. McGinn and Rodrigues could switch lines, but I have more faith in McGinn to fit a 3rd line role than Rodrigues for a long stretch of the season. I also loathe Simon and would rather have our mascot Iceburg be the last spot on the roster if it meant keeping Simon off. My third pair defense is more of a logical choice then the “right” choice. Pierre-Olivier Joseph should be on the third pairing, but the pens love their 3 lefty/3righty defense pairing, and there’s really no room for POJ to take a spot from Dumo, Petterson, or Matheson to be on the left side.
As mentioned, the Pens start the season with a short term injury to Crosby (will miss at least 4 games) and a long term injury to Malkin (minimum of 2 months). This means that a team which was a playoff hopeful with the an entire healthy roster, starts the season in my mind as a fringe playoff team. Let’s face it, the goalie situation still isn’t comforting to a fan of any hockey knowledge, the roster without the offensive super stars has some solid pieces, but is not a team that you fear. The one thing that should be keep the faithful with some optimism is that Sully has always been able to squeeze the last bits of talent from a roster that doesn’t look stacked with talent during time of distress. I still think the Pens make the playoffs (and maybe the second round if lucky), but the 15 year playoff streak may come to an end. Either way, I’m so happy that hockey is back, and regardless of your team, you are too. Let’s enjoy this season regardless what happens and as always: Keep your stick on the ice!