Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pens close out preseason tonight vs. Sabres

Quite the watered down squad tonight in Buffalo vs. the Sabres and their hideous new uniforms. No Crosby, Recchi, Ekman, Leclair, Gonchar, Eaton, and of course, Malkin.

By the way, for those of you who are fellow DirectTV'ers, it's on FSN New York, channel 627.

I have been reading today though that Malkin skated this morning in Buffalo with his teammates. I would doubt that he'd be ready to play for the opener on Thursday vs. the Flyers, but I would think a more reasonable date would be the Oct. 18th home game vs. the Devils. Too bad Malkin couldn't attend the team building training in West Point, even with the language barrier.

Overall, I'm somewhat satisfied with the changes that Ray Shero made in the offseason. I think the two portions of their game that are sorely in need of upgrade, their defense and their penalty killing, will be improved, time will tell just how much.

I would have really liked to have seen them pick up a scoring winger. While I believe Ekman will be a good compliment to Crosby, there's still not too much firepower below that, other than Malkin.

Fleury needs to tighten it up, or he's gonna find himself in Wilkes-Barre. Thibault has been surprisingly quite good, and Dany Saburin is making a case for staying with the big boys himself.

So I think that overall the Pens will be an improved team, and with a little luck, could find themselves in contention for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

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