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Penguins set to jet away

by Adam Kimelman

A few random thoughts while we wait to check on airfare to Prague and Stockholm for the Bridgestone NHL Premiere 2008 games:

The Steve Miller Express
-- The Pittsburgh Penguins have their bags packed and they're ready to get on that big ol' jet airliner, the one that will carry them very far from their home.

After the Penguins' game Friday in Toronto, the Pens will fly to Stockholm, Sweden, to prepare for their next game, an exhibition in Helsinki, Finland, against Finnish league club Jokerit on Oct. 2. Then it's back to Stockholm for the season opener against the Ottawa Senators, Oct. 4-5, all as part of Bridgestone NHL Premiere 2008.

"The Pittsburgh Penguins organization is proud to help represent the NHL on this historic trip, and our players and coaches are looking forward to a tremendous experience," Ray Shero, the team's executive vice president and general manager, told the Penguins' Web site.

The players plan on taking advantage of their far-flung road trip.

"It's going to be really cool going to Stockholm," Pens center Jordan Staal told "I know fans are always pretty crazy about hockey in Europe and I know they'll do a great job of showing us around and showing us the city."

While there will be fun, there also are four points on the line for a team with huge expectations.

"We have to realize we're going there for four points and the regular season," said team captain Sidney Crosby. "It's not just a trip."

Back at it already -- There's no rest for the Atlanta Thrashers and their new coach, John Anderson. One day after winning their preseason opener -- and his first game as an NHL bench boss -- Anderson's troops march into St. Louis.

"There were some beautiful things out there and there were some ugly things out there but that's to be expected. I guess there was more beautiful things than ugly because we won." -- Thrashers coach John Anderson

And they'll go with a smile, thanks to center Grant Stevenson's two goals in a 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.

Anderson also is smiling from what he saw Thursday, with the hope that he's still smiling late Friday night.

"There were some beautiful things out there and there were some ugly things out there but that's to be expected," Anderson told the club's Web site Thursday. "I guess there was more beautiful things than ugly because we won."

Another reason to celebrate -- This season is all about celebrations for the Montreal Canadiens, who are going through club's centennial.

While there will be a season-long party atmosphere at Bell Centre, and one of the presents the team bought itself will be unveiled Friday night when the Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators.

The arena's new central scoreboard is being touted as the largest of its kind in the League. It stands 25 feet high and 40 feet wide, and weighs 50,000 pounds. It features four 510-square foot high-definition video panels.

And as a jab to their neighbors in Toronto, the Canadiens' Web site points out that the scoreboard is 2½ times the size of the scoreboard recently installed at Air Canada Centre.

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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