Penguins Training Camp Primer
The Stanley Cup Champs return to the ice this morning at 9:00 a.m.
Well some of them.
The Penguins’ officially open training camp in what will be an unorthodox training camp due to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist, four of the Penguins top-6 forwards still playing in the World Cup.
Here are five key storylines to watch
1. Will Marc Andre Fleury have a chip on his shoulder? The Penguins goaltending situation is certainly not going to be resolved in training camp. All indications are Matt Murray, who is dealing with a thumb injury, will start the opener and go into the season as the No. 1 netminder with Fleury as a 1B. From there is anyone guess on how it plays out.
For Fleury, he’s talked about this summer how he’s determined to regain his starting job back and remain the Penguins’ long-term goaltender. Nothing he does in training camp/preseason is going to have an impact but I think you’re going to see a goaltender who’s motivated to have a lights out training camp/preseason.
2. With Finland (Olli Maatta) out of the World Cup and Trevor Daley healthy after fracturing his ankle last spring, the Penguins will have their entire defensive corps on the ice for the start of camp.
One promising development for the Penguins is they look to have finally found a long-term d-partner for Kris Letang in Brian Dumoulin. That pairing should only get stronger together this season.
A key for the Penguins coaching staff this season is getting Olli Maatta to max out his ability and that’s something they’re setting out to do. Maatta’s performance in the World Cup was a mixed bag where he had his good moments and there were quite a few bad moments in getting overwhelmed against a team like North America.
Coaches feel he needs to have a D-partner with speed, pegging Trevor Daley as the top candidate to play with Maatta.
In the first year of a 6 year, $24 million contract, expectations now change for Maatta where he has to emerge into a consistent No. 2 pairing type.
Elsewhere on the defensive front, Penguin coaches are excited about the chance to work with Justin Schultz for a full camp. There’s always going to be some limitations there but the staff feels he’s a player who is trending up.
3. Which regulars are on the bubble? No veterans or young contributors from the Cup run are going to lose a roster spot right away with a bad camp, but the impact of a Bryan Rust and others last season has this coaching staff and management team being very open to inserting more youth into the lineup if this group is stagnant through the first month of the season or so.
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