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Examining the Pittsburgh Penguins

by John McGourty

Complete Penguins Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Will Sidney bring Stanley to Pittsburgh?

A lot of people were already touting the Pittsburgh Penguins as Stanley Cup contenders — and then they went and signed Petr Sykora! One of the NHL’s best offenses added another weapon.

The Penguins' 47-point improvement last season — fourth-best in NHL history — put them in the thick of the Atlantic Division race and earned them a playoff berth. The Penguins were led by Sidney Crosby, who won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and became the first teenager to lead a major North American professional league in scoring. Second-line center and No. 2 scorer Evgeni Malkin won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie, narrowly edging teammate Jordan Staal.

Sergei Gonchar was No. 2 in scoring among NHL defensemen last season, but teammate Ryan Whitney, in only his third season, may be rapidly overtaking him as the Penguins’ best blueliner. The Pens also strengthened their defense with the free-agent signing of Darryl Sydor, a two-time Stanley Cup winner whose side job may be to groom talented youngster Kris Letang, a scoring juggernaut in Canadian juniors.

Wings Mark Recchi and Gary Roberts also return, in part to help guide this young team, and its 20-year-old captain, Crosby. But that's not all they're there for. Recchi was the Penguins’ third-leading scorer behind Crosby and Malkin, while Roberts adds strength along the boards, a veteran presence in the locker room and another player who can put the puck in the net. Georges Laraque, an enforcer who can also play good hockey, is there to protect the talented young 'uns.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury came into his own last season. As impressive as his statistics were, it was his easy confidence that he belongs in the NHL that seemed to seal the idea that the Penguins have a goalie they can win with.

2006-07 Record:
47-24-11, 2nd Atlantic

Who's In:
F Petr Sykora, D Darryl Sydor, D Kris Letang, D Mike Weaver, G Ty Conklin, F Jeff Taffe, G Dany Sabourin

Who's Out:
F John LeClair, G Jocelyn Thibault, F Michel Ouellet, F Nils Ekman, D Josef Melichar, D Joel Kwiatkowski, F Ronald Petrovicky, F Chris Thorburn, D Eric Cairns

2006-07 Leading Scorers:
Sidney Crosby (36-84-120), Evgeni Malkin (33-52-85), Mark Recchi (24-44-68), Sergei Gonchar (13-54-67), Ryan Whitney (14-45-59)

2006-07 Goaltending Leaders:
Marc-Andre Fleury 40-16-9, 2.83 GAA, 67 appearances, .906 save percentage, 5 shutouts; Jocelyn Thibault 7-8-2, 2.83 GAA, 22 appearances, .909 save percentage, 1 shutout
                  's 2007-08 Penguins Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
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