Preseason Reflection: A Stocked Cupboard

I have been battling a nasty flu bug and have been bed ridden for most of a week now (TMI?). Either way, that has given me ample time to reflect on a fairly exciting pre-season for the Pens. I personally have to say this if anything about our 5-1 record this go around: The cupboard is stocked for a few years and the future looks bright for the black and gold.

As I am a " live in the moment" type person, I cannot help but look ahead at what this training camp offered us as not only a glimpse of what to come, but that the Pens draft picks of today and yesterday are buying into the Pens system. Sid is officially on the IR now and essentially in limbo no matter what is said or written from this point on. It's not until he steps on the ice for his first game this year that we'll all know for sure.


Naturally I am going to provide a list of disappointments first, but the list is a short one.

James Neal looked, well, average. Ultimately not much different than he did for a 1/4 of last year, which could go either way in my opinion. In my opinion however, not much is expected so what he does produce would be a bonus at best. But there are some who have the bulls-eye squarely pointed at 18's back and that is absolutely warranted. He needs to get that deer in the headlights look off his face and hit the back of the net...or at the very least go near it. We'll see how he does when on a consistent line with Sid or Geno.

Eric Tangradi had another much heralded shot, and pretty much did what he does best. Which is, not much. I really have trouble seeing why he is so highly regarded outside of his size and bull-in-a-china-shop attitude towards the opposition. But only if the new 25 even knew what to do out on his shift he might have stayed around a little longer, but I think he played himself down to WB/S. And sad as it is to say, that's where he belongs at the moment. You have to wo
nder how many chances he's going to get with Shero and Bylsma.


Now conversely, there are too many bright spots and many people who deserve to be mentioned in my "praises" category. But let's just look at the obvious.

Gino shined, Johnny was solid, Flower looks ready, and the D hasn't missed a step. Staal, Kunitz, TK and others looked as hungry as ever and looked what appeared to be mid-season-esq form. Even in a lack luster defeat vs. the Red Wings, they looked hungry.

Orpik's status is still questionable. With him not being in the pre-season opened the door for perhaps the biggest moment of the whole camp and pre-season. Enter, Joe Morrow. This kid looked a 10 year vet. He's gonna claim the man-among-boys title when he continues his stellar play in the juniors. Overall the Pens defence shows no glaring holes for at least the next 7 years and if every one of them had Morrow's game, I will sleep soundly for awhile. Can't wait to see if he makes it next year. What does it say about you when the perhaps the most touted defender (Despres) was sent down a full week and a half before you? It says, potential.

Long story short, we are just over 72 hours from the start of our 2011-2012 and I have to say I'm kinda wishing it was tomorrow rather than Thursday. But I'm still upset at the schedule makers that has an Eastern Conference powerhouse opening on the road (3 straight home openers to boot) against 3 teams that have no bearing or rivalry implications vs. the Pens at all. Yet all other Atlantic Division or Eastern teams open up against a rival or division foe. (With the exception of the teams who are opening up overseas, if you need them).

But this way we have time to rally the troops and try to take at least 4 of 6 points on this trip to start well and send an early message. That will make Sid's absence noticeably smaller and make everyone accountable as they should be. No passengers this time around and I don't expect there will be many. Oh, and by the way, was it just me or did anyone notice that Talbot even played here..... ;)


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