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Pittsburgh Penguins 2007?08 Preseason Thoughts (part 1)

We are quickly approaching the face-off of the 2007-08 NHL season and as a Pittsburgh Penguins fan I have hopes for an even better season than last year. But a better season is certainly not assured.

I’ve already been through my season tickets and thought about each game on them and how the teams they will be facing this year in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup have changed. For the Pens, there will be no sneaking up on people this year. There will be no surprising our opponents. They know what the team can do and they will be ready.

So I wanted to sit down and put together my thoughts about the upcoming season and what it is going to take from individual players and the team as a whole in order to make it back to the playoffs and not get bounced in the first round again.

Sidney Crosby: He put together another stellar performance last year and is on his way to becoming the most dominant player on the ice but must do so again this year to keep people from scratching their heads and wondering if he can continue. I personally believe that he can. But there are other players that certainly could eclipse him if he doesn’t keep the pedal to the metal during the 07-08 season. One of those? None other than ...

Evgeni Malkin: Malkin was perhaps the player that shocked everyone the least last year. Anyone that didn’t expect greatness when the Russian phenom took to the ice wasn’t paying attention. Although his season looked in doubt when he collided with John LeClair in the preseason, Malkin didn’t disappoint. Even though Geno was not widely seen outside of Russia, his reputation preceded itself. His presence on the team automatically gives the Penguins two number 1 lines or a single super line when he plays with Sidney Crosby. But he still has a long way to go and needs to improve his game this year. He will. He’s a smart guy and has talent and skills on par with His Sidness.

Jordan Stall: Ok, no more hiding Jordan. Everyone knows about you this year and your ability to score shorthanded because of your tenacious two way play. This is the season where you have to prove yourself to fans across the NHL. Right now you are in the upper tier of third line players in the NHL but you can, and must, go further.

Marc Andre Fleury: For the Penguins to improve this year, our goaltending has got to improve. Fleury is the latest in the long line of potential superstars to stand between the pipes for the Penguins and yes, he won 40 games last year, but his stats were not as good as they need to be. Some will blame that on a defense which I still do not believe was as bad as it was portrayed at times, but he is still young and learning. His save percentage was a .906 and his (24th) and his goals against average was 2.83 (27th). Yes, there were games that he faced far more than his fair share of shots but Fleury has to stay on his angles watch his propensity to over commit which also didn’t help matters. If he can improve so will the Penguins.

Gary Roberts: Gary Roberts has been playing hockey longer than some of the Penguins have been out of diapers. The commitment to keeping him around another year shows the Penguins are committed to becoming a little more physical as his grit it legendary around the NHL. The fact that he wanted to stay tells you he thinks this team has potential because he would much rather be in Toronto. He’s perhaps the best conditioned player in the league and despite being over 40 can skate and play rings around most in the league.

Play The System: Too many times last year the Penguins gave up on their “system”. Michel Therrien is no slouch. He knows how to win and for the team to be successful they need to understand that they may not like their roles and they may really want to go and do their own thing, but they need to stick with what Therrien tells them to do.

Jeff Jackson is the owner of A Great Day for Hockey, a fan site dedicated to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is also the owner of Funny When Wet T-shirts and

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