Questions will be answered...

For most Pens fans, the next month probably can't come fast enough. I'm a little more guarded as I watch the replay of James Neal's double overtime goal and realize last season still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Now as training camp looms, what can we look for in our 2011-2012 Penguins?

After the shock and awe of July 1st, I felt a little more despair than hatred as the deflection of Jagr and Talbot was truly the last straw on the camel's [already] broken back. Then as summer progressed, it slowly dawned on me, that we are a lot deeper than we were this time last year.

Obviously optimisim is guarded when we mention Camp Crosby and the sight of weekly workouts from Gino is encouraging for sure. But what is the true measure of the Pens going into camp? Defence first or the 12 straight, shoot out the lights Penguins? If healthy, I think we are a formidable opponent on a nightly basis.

Steve Sullivan, if healthy, can grind with the best of them and has shown a fearlessness for the net. Cookie is back from exile and let's not forget that the Big 3 played a combined 1 game together before it all unravelled. Talbot is gone and with him the memory of Game 7. But that's all that remains, his memory. Since then, Talbo hasn't been able to justify his roster spot beyond past accolades. Tears aren't enough as his defection will draw the ire of me and many others, but that's all that should be left for Max here in Pittsburgh.

There are many that are looking for Chika Chee and Rupp's roster spot in camp. That, and the 4th line with Asham should prove interesting come the pre-season. But round out out top 3 lines and I think there's so much too look forward to. A lot of what if's and pairings that will keep Bylsma busy for sure right up until opening night.

Can Fleury pick up where he left off from last year, with the crowd raining down his name in glory, even in defeat? Will Sid even be ready for the first go round in Vancouver (we could know as soon as today)? Will Gino finally find the proper motivation and drive to return to MVP form and be the beast we have seen in the past?

We haven't had to worry much about the defence, as they literally ran out of gas in the playoffs after having to shoulder the team from January on. But Letang must find the right motivation to build on what amounted to a lot of talk early and no finish when it mattered. Engo and Benny will battle for the left-overs, but will Despres make the team? At the expsense of whom? And as I mention expense, Paul Martin has to justify that salary beyond 82 games. There was a reason he hasn't had much success in the post season with the Devils and it was glaringly evident in the playoffs. 4 and 44 already get a pass, so we know what to expect there.

Always lots more questions than answers going into any training camp, but I feel a little hesitant to ramp it up before the start of the season. We know what and where the best part of our team lies. All the bases are covered, it's just a matter of staying healthy and driven as we wait until Aprilw...when the real chase is on.

Stanley is sought by all, but promised to no one. Can the Pens deliver? Has Shero made the right moves by letting too much go in favour of a new approach? Will the Philly connection continue to torment the Pens as it did last year? And will the two newest Flyers sink us or makes us stronger? I know that game in December will be beyond bedlam at Consol. But one thing is for certain going into this NHL season. The Pens will have a lot to prove and too much to make up for.

It would seem the window is closing on what was a good run from 2007 until now. But as I said, it all comes down to what happens in April. Forget about the division, forget about the conference and top seeding. It gets you a lot of nothing - just ask our opening night opponent. Stanley is what we live and die for, and it's within our grasp. If healthy and motivated, the Pens will make a deep run, provided the players are in place and willing to pay the price that it takes.

Predictions are for the weak of mind and heart. Winning is all that matters and the Penguins need to re-discover that winning formula. Here's to the last days of summer and the start of another run at Lord Stanley.


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