After a 113 day lockout that shortened the 2012-2013 NHL season to
the 48 game shortened 2013 NHL season we are finally 6 short days till
puck drop, as we all look ahead to the upcoming season I have compiled
the top 5 keys to the Stanley Cup returning to Pittsburgh for the
first time since after the 2008-2009 NHL season when the Penguins
defeated the Redwings 4 games to 3.
1)    A MVP season from Evgeni Malkin:
2011-2012 was a career defining MVP season from number 71. With  post
concussion syndrome limiting captain Sidney Crosby to 22 games, Malkin
had a career high goals to go along with 59 assists for 109 points (3
hat tricks as well). 2012-2013 needs to see the same MVP play from
Malkin for the Pens to make a deep playoff run.

2)    A healthy Sidney Crosby:
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two plus years
you know the concussion/neck issues Crosby, arguably the most dynamic
payer in the NHL, has dealt with. First it was a concussion followed
by rehab and a short lived return to the ice, and then it was revealed
that it may have been a fractured neck the whole time. In spite of
past injury the Penguins desperately need Crosby to return to pre
injury form. With a healthy Crosby in the line up the sky is the limit
for the Penguins.
3)    Blue line help:
As every Penguins fan across the county from New York to Seattle
witnessed in the first round defeat to the rival Flyers, the Pens need
blue line help. After Letang and Orpik the Pens are a little thin on
the blue line, now while they did address this in the draft this past
summer, it is still a pressing issue that could ultimately derail the
Pens Stanley Cup aspirations.
4)    Overcoming divisional opponents :
It’s no secret that the Atlantic Division is the best division in the
NHL, if not the best division in all of sports. The Atlantic Division
has 3 potential Stanley Cup winners, the Pens, Flyers, and the
Rangers. As we learned last season the Atlantic Division will be
tightly contested, and in this lockout shortened season points are at
a premium, and with a schedule that sees the Pens opening on the road
against the Flyers and Rangers and playing a lot of divisional games
the pens must start fast and hit hard against our division rivals.
5)    The reemergence of Marc-Andre Fleury
The goalie every Penguins fan knows and (most) love, commonly referred
to as the flower, needs to have a 08-09 season to forget that dreadful
Eastern Conference Quarter Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers and
an equally atrocious Bryzgalov. The flower allowed 26 goals, had a GAA
of 4.63 and a SV% of 0.834. Now that the Penguins have added Tomas
Vokoun as a credible backup (compared to Brent Johnson) that may
motivate Fleury to play his best with his job and future with the Pens
could be cloudy with another disappointing first round exit. (On a
side note my friend and fellow pens fan Sean will probably not be too
thrilled with my unwavering support of Fleury as I do think he can be
a top 5 goalie in the NHL)

Key offseason Additions:
   Brandon Sutter: Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in the Jordan
Staal trade
   Tanner Glass: Signed as a free agent to add some muscle when we play the Flyers
Thomas Vokoun: Signed as a free agent to back up Marc-Andre Fleury, in
case he has another                 bad stretch like against the
Flyers in the playoffs last season, and it seemed like when the Pens
played Brent Johnson last season they had to put up a minimum of 5
goals to secure a victory.
Make sure to follow me on twitter @pensdude1  GO PENS GO

 

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