As another page turns on the hockey calendar, still short of the All-Star break, 2010-2011 already looks drastically different than it did just a year ago in the Atlantic Division. Though the Pens are on their always steady pace, hovering towards the top of both the Divisional and Conference standings, the landscape surrounding them has changed quickly and decisively… Now that this season’s sample size is large enough to draw some conclusions what have been the biggest surprises thus far?
1. The Devils’ Demise – The logic doesn’t follow that an already potent team could bring in Ilya Kovalchuk, the biggest goal scoring free agent acquisition on the market, and still struggle to put the puck in the net. Then again, no one ever promised hockey would make sense. A season ago, the Devils not only won the Atlantic Division but took a 2 seed into the playoffs. Since then it’s been all downhill without warning for New Jersey. At this point, the Pens are so far out in front of the Devils, unless they splurge for Center Ice on DIRECTTV Pittsburgh may be completely out of sight.
2. Philadelphia Flying – Philadelphia was a playoff team in 2009-2010, but not by a safe margin, finishing just one point ahead of the Rangers who spent the post-season on the outside looking in. They have spent a significant chunk of this season pacing the Atlantic, the primary foe for the Pens in a hotly contested divisional race. (more…)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been very closely tied to their home arena, dating back to their expansion season of 1967. When the franchise architects sat down to christen their incoming band of professional hockey players, they derived what proved to be an enduring team name from the very roof under which the squad would soon suit up. Mellon Arena, recently reverting back to its original name of Pittsburgh Civic Arena, has been referred to by a more affectionate, informal moniker over the course of the past several decades. The sharply domed stadium has been known citywide as “The Igloo” since its opening in 1961, a key inspiration when Pittsburgh’s beloved hockey franchise was first dubbed the “Penguins.” Now, for the first time in their 40 years of NHL play, the Pens will lace up their skates and take to a new home ice with the onset of the 2010-2011 season. (more…)
The Penguins have enjoyed significant success over the past several years, just one season removed from the franchise’s 3rd Stanley Cup victory. Though 2009-2010 did not see a major addition to the team’s trophy case, the Pens remained a competitive squad, advancing to the second round of the playoffs after finishing in the upper echelon of qualifying teams during the regular season. Of course, the recent string of success surrounding Pittsburgh hockey was built the old fashioned way, through the NHL Entry Draft, when the Penguins selected Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby with their top 2004 and 2005 picks, respectively. Here is a look at the first few selections from this year’s draft that will join the flock this season, hoping to likewise make invaluable contributions to the team in time. (more…)