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It's a Hockey Night In Pittsburgh! Banner Raising, Pens v Rangers

October 2, 2009, 11:04 AM ET [ Comments]

Here are the line-combos from the Penguins official site. Pretty much what we expected...



Sam Kasan also posted a note on the power play....

The Penguins top power play unit will consist of Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Gonchar and Goligoski.

* * * * *

It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Though the run to the Stanley Cup victory produced a shortened off season, it certainly seemed as if this night took it’s good old time getting here. But get here it did…the Penguins will finally be back on frozen water playing a meaningful game of puck against an improved division rival.

The new look New York Rangers come into the Mellon Arena for a 7:30 tilt. I am sure that they will be fired up to knock off the reigning Stanley Cup champions too, especially after watching the Penguins raise their championship banners to the rafters of the old barn.

Many of the Rangers might have hoped to sit back in the cramped visitor’s dressing room until the 7:25 banner raising ceremony was complete, but head coach John Tortorella had other plans. The fiery head coach wants his players to sit through the ceremony on the bench so that they can get a look at where they want to be.

Tortorella explained the motivation for having his players watch the ceremony from the bench to News Day in New York.

"I don't want to be disrespectful to what that trophy is . . . I hope it's not long [but] I think it's important," said Tortorella, who won the Cup in 2004 with the Lightning. "I don't want to disrespect what the National Hockey League is about and what we're trying to win, and get a little flustered that we don't want to be out there. We'll be out there and then be ready to play.

"I've been on the end of these the other way, and on the end of one the right way, and I think it's a great thing. Especially for some of the youth on our team, I think it's good for them to see, as far as the culmination . . . I can be stubborn in some ways, but I don't want to disrespect the league and that Cup, because that is something we're looking to get to."

Watching another team’s celebration is a very effective way to get another group fired up. The Rangers haven’t sipped from Lord Stanley’s Cup since 194…make that 1994 and have been trying to get back there ever since. They made some high profile acquisitions this off-season and think that they have a group who can compete for the chalice this season.

The Blue Shirts fortunes still ride on the play of Henrik Lundqvist, but GM Glen Sather greatly enhanced his team’s offense…an area that dogged them all of last season. He brought in Christopher Higgins, Ales Kotalik, Vinny Prospal, and one of the most explosive players in the league when healthy, Marian Gaborik. All of which will be in the line-up this evening.

Don’t think he neglected his back end while reshaping the forward ranks. Sather convinced Matt Gilroy that he should sign with his team and had a top prospect in Michael Del Zotto rise up and make the final roster. The two youngsters will join the likes of Marc Staal, Michal Rozsival, Dan Girardi and Wade Redden in what looks to be a pretty decent crop of mobile defensemen.

This should be a great test for the Penguins, who have not exactly had a pre-season to be proud of. The Birds won only one game and didn’t look much like the team that won the Stanley Cup on June 12th.

However, it is worth noting that they didn’t exactly ice their “A team” most nights, as they were testing out different options to fill the few roster spots that they had open. Players like Deryk Engelland, Nate Guenin, and Chris Conner were getting an awful lot of ice on the back end.

Defense aside, the Penguins are a completely different team when they have their three stud centers in the game at one time, which they will this evening. Crosby, Malkin, and Staal down the middle makes life easier for the entire team and alleviates some of the pressure on their defensemen.

I am a bit concerned about the second line. Dan Bylsma made it known that he is utilizing Pascal Dupuis on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko. Dupuis has great wheels and a nice shot, but his hands leave an awful lot to be desired. I realize that he has experience playing in a top six role, but he is better suited for the third line. The move isn’t supposed to stick for long, but time will tell.

I am not at practice this morning and have yet to see a line-up. Will update you with that information as soon as I get it. I will tell you that Chris Bourque is not supposed to make his debut until tomorrow night.

The goaltending match-up looks to be Marc Andre Fleury against Henrik Lundqvist. Which tends to make for a 2-1 or 3-2 game.

Regardless of how things turn out, it is indeed, a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Hopefully you are all as fired up as I am! I will be live at Mellon Arena bringing you all the action as usual!

* * * * *

Also, do not forget to be in your seats for 7:25 for the actual banner raising ceremony this evening. Also, a reminder that you can watch the game on the Tribtron outside of gate 3 this evening. I am sure it will be a bit chilly, but dress for the fall weather and have a great time! There will also be a fireworks display following the game, weather permitting.

Penguins Youtube of the Day:

Little Kid Herb Brooks seemed appropriate on such a big day… I am sure the real Herbie will be looking down on his old team with a proud eye today. Probably competing with Badger Bob in some kind of heavenly game!

And a parting shot…with our last Cup celebration, a last look at the Cup Tribute!

Just found the opening montage from HNIC in last night as well... awesome. Especially with the Killers being a part of it...sorry I dig them!





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