Pittsburgh Penguins: 5 Storylines to Follow Heading Into Training Camp
5 Storylines to follow for Pittsburgh Penguins heading into camp
The picture above sums up the end of the Pittsburgh Penguins' last season: disbelief. Disbelief for the fact that the team everyone expected to win the Stanley Cup did not let the Boston Bruins know about this plan before the Bruins dominated them in a 4-0 sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals.
There are always questions going into a season. Many teams just wonder if they are going to make it to the playoffs. Some teams like the Phoenix Coyotes wonder if they will even be in the same city during the upcoming season but in Pittsburgh, much more is expected; in Pittsburgh, championships are the standard.
This standard was set by their most famous player and now team owner Mario Lemieux. Sure, every Pens fan has the question, "Will the Pens win Lord's Stanley's cup again?" For the Pens, this is always a strong possibility, especially because they employ the two greatest players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins’ supporting cast is not too shabby either. Players like “The Real Deal” James Neal, Pascal Dupis, and All-Star defenseman Kris Letang.
However, this season there are five major questions going into the season that many Penguins' fans want to see answered quickly. Many teams wish they had the luxury of debating these five questions, but the Penguins will need to answer them in order to have success in the upcoming season.
5. Who will the Pens have play on the third and fourth lines?
Over this past offseason, the Penguins lost a few third and fourth line players: Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, and Brendon Morrow. Yes, the Pens employ some of the greatest offensive talents in the world, but can they find the players with the right tools that will complement their first two lines? Will the Pens get players from their minor leagues? Will some free-agent that no one knows about make an impact? It will be interesting to see what happens with this situation.
4. Where will young forward Beau Bennett play?
Pittsburgh has had some great young talent on their team but not many at their wing positions. Bennett is the brightest young winger they have and he seems to be ready to break out this season. The biggest question with him is on which line will he play? Should he be with Crosby? Malkin? Brandon Sutter on the third line? He spent time with Malkin last season, but looks like his skills will fit well with Crosby. But, how do you break up the line that Crosby is comfortable with?
3. Will coach Bylsma keep his job if the penguins struggle?
In 2011, coach Dan Bylsma won the Jack Adams Coach of the Year award while Penguins stars Crosby and Malkin were out for an extended period of time due to injuries. No Pens fan could imagine that only a few years later that they would be worried about what might happen if Coach Bylsma does not have a great season that he may be fired but that could. With the amount of talent that he has had on his team since he took over in 2009, he has only won one Stanley Cup. Bylsma’s lack of adjusting to change when necessary could lead to serious problems for his team and eventually him in the coming season. Will Bylsma get a new message across to his players, or will it be another disappointing playoff run for the Pens?
2. Will Crosby and Malkin play together for an entire season?
The Penguins have been lucky enough to be the franchise that has been home to some of the best players to ever play the game. In the ‘90s and early 2000’s, the Pens had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. Now, they still have two men who have won the Hart Trophy, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In Pittsburgh, they are known as the “two-headed monster.” However, this monster has not been able to be on the ice together much since the Pens won the Stanley Cup in 2009. Having both of these players together gives the Pens a dangerous one-two punch that teams have a difficult time handling. Can both of these players stay healthy this season and give the Pens the weapons they need to have a championship season?
1. Can Marc-Andre Fleury rebound from another disappointing playoff run?
Pittsburgh’s goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury (or as he is known in Pittsburgh, “The Flower”), has been the starting goalie for the Penguins since the lost season of 2004-2005. Fleury is a Stanley Cup winning and Olympic gold medal winning goalie. One would think that someone with this resume would have nerves of steel, however this has not been the case with Fleury. He has had some great regular seasons, but when it gets to playoff time, The Flower tends to wilt under the pressure. This offseason, Fleury saw a sports psychologist to help him overcome his problems. Can the Penguins goalie, who is arguably one of the most talented goalies in the world, mentally bounce back and become the rock solid goalie that the Penguins knew during their two Stanley Cup runs?